Homepage > New Sonos Beam Adds Dolby Atmos Audio to Its Small Design

New Sonos Beam Adds Dolby Atmos Audio to Its Small Design

Notice to audiovisual enthusiasts, there is a new Sonos sound bar in the neighborhood.

The Sonos Beam has been one of the best soundbars you can buy since its launch in 2018, thanks to its compact design, excellent audio performance, and unmatched integration with the larger wireless speaker ecosystem of the world. ‘business.

Now the company has announced a new version of the pint-sized soundbar: the Sonos Beam (2nd gen) shares the same compact build as its predecessor, but adds immersive Dolby Atmos sound, HDMI eARC compatibility. , an improved speaker array and a polycarbonate grille.

The second-generation Beam will be available for purchase from October 5 for $ 449 / £ 449 / $ 699, which is more expensive than the original; At launch, the first-gen Sonos Beam was priced at $ 399 / £ 339 / AU $ 599, although it’s often discounted nowadays. (In fact, we could take advantage of some fantastic Sonos Beam deals during Black Friday 2021 now that there is a new model.)

That said, Sonos just announced a surprising price hike for many of its speakers, so who knows how long that price will last?

the sonos beam gen 2 soundbar in white under a television

(Image credit: Sonos)

Analysis: what’s new with the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)?

The biggest change coming for the Sonos Beam is support for Dolby Atmos, a cinematic sound technology that places movie soundtrack elements (and compatible music files) in a 3D sphere. When audio is played through speakers or Dolby Atmos soundbars, it feels like the action is unfolding all around you, with sound coming from all angles.

For true Dolby Atmos, you need risers that can bounce sound off the ceiling and back down to your ears (or, better yet, ceiling-mounted speakers). However, the new Sonos Beam shares the same acoustic architecture as its predecessor, which doesn’t include any bottom-up drivers, as you’ll need the more expensive Sonos Arc.

According to Sonos, the new Beam uses “psychoacoustic techniques” to mimic the effect of rising speakers, which you might hear as virtual Dolby Atmos. Sonos says the speaker arrays or the software that coordinates playback and the interaction between soundbar transducers have been “dramatically improved,” with five arrays versus the three found in the original Beam.

The two new matrices are dedicated to ambience and pitch information, applying time and frequency-based techniques to sound to separate what you hear at ear level and what you hear above your head .

Many Atmos virtual soundbars are very efficient, although we wouldn’t expect the height feel to be as compelling as a soundbar with rising pilots, like the Sonos Arc. This is probably why the Beam (2nd gen) costs $ 400 / £ 400 / AU $ 800 less than the company’s flagship soundbar.

the back of the sonos beam gen 2 soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

Another new feature for the Sonos Beam is HDMI eARC compatibility, which the company claims will bring a “richer, more immersive and higher definition sound experience”. Compared to the HDMI ARC connectivity found on the original Beam, eARC can handle more advanced audio formats and deliver higher audio quality.

It’s a shame that there isn’t HDMI 2.1 support, which would allow 4K at 120Hz and even 8K at 60Hz, which would make it ideal for consoles that support 8K like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

Nonetheless, the new Beam will be able to handle 32 channels of audio and even eight-channel 38Mbps 24-bit / 192kHz uncompressed data streams. In other words, besides supporting Atmos, it can play high resolution audio files of your favorite songs.

Incidentally, Sonos also announced that the devices supported by its S2 app will benefit from Amazon Music Ultra HD compatibility, bringing lossless audio and Dolby Atmos Music to the ecosystem. Supported devices include Roam, Arc, Beam, Five, Sub (Gen 3), Move, One, One SL, Port, Amp, SYMFONISK Bookshelf, SYMFONISK Table Lamp, Play: 5 (Gen 2), Connect (Gen 2) ), and Connect: Amp (Gen 2).

Otherwise, the actual inner bits of the Sonos Beam are the same as before. You get five Class-D amplifiers, a center tweeter, four elliptical midwoofers, and three passive radiators working together for powerful, balanced sound.

a close-up of the sonos beam gen 2 soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

The second-gen Sonos Beam looks a lot like its predecessor, with a compact design that will fit most TVs (you can also wall mount it if you want), although it has replaced the old grille in fabric by a plastic grid. .

This design choice is more in keeping with the Sonos Arc, and as the company points out, it’s much easier to clean than the dust-collecting fabric. We asked Sonos if the new grille provides any acoustic benefits, but the company told us it was a purely aesthetic choice.

This certainly aligns the soundbar with the rest of the Sonos ecosystem, as none of the other current-gen Sonos speakers have fabric grilles.

As you might expect, the Sonos Beam once again supports Alexa and Google Assistant, AirPlay 2, Wi-Fi connectivity, and sound modes like Speech Enhancement and Night Sound.

So, with all of the best parts of the original Sonos Beam, plus some of the best features of the Sonos Arc, the new Sonos Beam is definitely worth getting excited about, especially for those who want the immersive sound of Dolby Atmos without the cost. and Sonos arc weight.

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