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Sonos announces second-generation Beam soundbar with Dolby Atmos

When Sonos announced price increases for the majority of its product line last week, some people noticed that the entry-level Beam soundbar was missing from the list. And indeed, it is because the company has been working on a follow-up. The new second-gen Beam announced today costs $ 449 (a $ 50 increase over the original) but adds Dolby Atmos audio and an improved external design. It will be available on October 5 in black or white.

But there’s something you need to know up front about the Atmos part: The new Beam doesn’t actually include any up-triggering speakers. In fact, the speakers inside are exactly the same as before – there’s a center tweeter, four woofers, and three passive radiators to give the bass an extra boost. The exterior of the Beam has changed from a fabric cover to Sonos’ signature perforated plastic, but nothing in the internal layout has really changed. Sonos says the second-gen model has a higher performance processor that’s 40% faster. This additional power enables the business to achieve more advanced audio virtualization.

The new Beam has more “arrays,” it’s what Sonos calls the software that coordinates all playback and phase settings that produce immersive sound. The original Beam had three arrays, but the new model has five. The two additional matrices are used to direct surround and height sound into the room.

The new Beam has an enveloping perforated plastic grille.
Image: Sonos

Despite a lack of actual drivers – Sonos told me it can’t fit any into the Beam’s compact form factor – the company insists the second-gen Beam will provide a real sense of verticality when paying. of Atmos content. This seems like one of those cases where you’ll have to hear it to really believe it, and I haven’t had a chance to demonstrate the new soundbar yet. Sonos claims there’s always an enhanced sense of space with the refreshed beam that applies whether you’re watching Atmos, regular 5.1 surround sound, or even stereo content. And the clarity of the dialogue is also clearer than before.

In many other ways, this bundle doesn’t shake up the formula much. It still has the only HDMI port, which this time has been upgraded to eARC and is therefore capable of handling Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD and multi-channel LPCM. If everything else in your TV channel is also HDMI 2.1, eARC should help eliminate any audio sync issues when playing games.

Same ports on the back, same buttons on the top.
Image: Sonos

Here’s more good news: Sonos is announcing that it will roll out DTS surround support later this year for all soundbars installed on its S2 platform. This extends to products like the Playbar and Playbase, so many devices will benefit from the additional features. Sonos is also entering high-resolution audio and streaming Dolby Atmos music. The company says it will support both of these Amazon Music features in the coming months; no word on Apple Music, however.

Aside from its slight design improvements, a faster processor, and the inclusion of Atmos, the second-gen Beam sticks to what made the first model perform well: it’s compact and is a great fit for renters. ‘apartments or to anyone who wants to step up their TV and movie sound quality for much less money than the much larger and more powerful Arc. Of course, you also get a Sonos speaker and all the perks of the multi-room sound system that come with the purchase.

The main question that remains is how well Sonos can run Atmos on a soundbar without height speakers. The new Beam was never going to live up to the company $ 800 The flagship Arc soundbar at $ 900, but I can’t wait to see if Sonos can really trick my brain into thinking the second-gen Beam is more than it looks.

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