Sonos Beam Review: Middle Child Soundbar
Sonos Beam Review: Middle Child Soundbar
- Excellent sound quality
- Dolby Atmos
- ARC HDMI
No longer the affordable device it used to be, the Beam isn’t the best value Sonos soundbar out there, but offers a balance of compact design, big sound, smart features and Dolby Atmos that will always do the trick. to many buyers.
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Best Prices Today: Sonos Beam
For years, Sonos soundbars were just for the money chase. However, the firm’s latest speaker is much more affordable, more compact and includes smart features.
Design and construction
You really know what you’re getting when you buy a Sonos product; Essentially a sleek, modern design with a style that will fit perfectly with the vast majority of TVs and decors. You can choose black or white finishes.
The Beam, like all of the Sonos speakers we’ve reviewed, looks like a premium product – and we’re talking about the packaging and cables, too.
The build quality is excellent with a combination of solid plastic that doesn’t feel cheap and fabric on the sides. All ports are neatly hidden on the back as usual.
The bottom line here is that the Beam is much more compact than the other two Sonos soundbars. So if you’re looking for one to put in a bedroom, kitchen, or just don’t have that much space, this is a great choice.
Like the Playbar, you can wall mount the beam so it’s very flexible in how you can position it.
The speaker has touch controls on the top which are responsive and not awkward to use as is often the case.
Sound quality and features
Beam setup couldn’t be much easier. Simply plug in the power and follow the instructions in the app, which will guide you through the various options for connecting to your TV. This will include setting up your TV remote to control the speaker volume, which is very handy.
Although cheaper, the Beam has some features not found on the old Playbar. You get AirPlay built-in, which makes it easy to stream music to the speaker, and HDMI ARC, which is a first for a Sonos device.
That means you can plug it into your TV with an HDMI cable, as long as it has an audio return channel (ARC). Otherwise, Sonos provides a handy adapter so you can use the optics.
You also get Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, like the Sonos One, so this is a smart soundbar you can control with your voice.
Using your voice and the far-field mic array, you can adjust the volume, turn on the TV, and control other smart home devices around your home like lights and heating if you have compatible products. If you want privacy, the mics can be turned off.
Finally, we’re on sound quality and although the Beam is significantly smaller than its two bigger siblings, it still packs an impressive punch in the audio department.
It only has five drivers compared to the Playbar’s nine, but that doesn’t matter too much, especially if you have the Beam in a smaller sized room.
Four of them are full-range speakers and one is a tweeter. Some are laid out to give a solid center channel sound, while two are angled to the side to provide a wider soundstage.
It’s not surround sound, but if you want you can add satellite speakers, with the cheapest option being the One SL at $179/£179. The Beam Gen 2 adds Dolby Atmos for the most popular virtual surround sound standard on the market.
There are also three passive bass radiators, which help the Beam in the bass. It can’t compete with the Playbar or Arc in this regard, but it’s still impressive. You can pair the Beam with the Sonos Sub, but we’d just recommend getting the Playbar if it’s not too big as buying the Beam and the $429/£429 Sub Mini really does add up.
Although the Beam is half the size of the Playbar and designed to be a TV, sound and music speaker, it still managed to adapt to anything you can throw at it – sort of with excellent sound quality, space and stereo field.
For the beam, you can use modes such as speech enhancement and night mode. The latter ensures that loud elements like explosions don’t wake anyone up and you can still hear quieter things.
There’s all that and we haven’t even mentioned all the usual benefits of the Sonos multi-room system with its nearly endless list of compatible services. Find out more in our comprehensive guide to the best Sonos speakers.
Price and availability
Originally launched at £399/$399 for the original generation, the new Gen 2 Beam has seen a price increase to $499/£499, making it more affordable than the $899/£899 Arc.
Those wanting something more affordable should opt for the Sonos Ray which is just $279 / £279 if you don’t need HDMI or voice control.
You can buy it directly from Sonos or from retailers such as Argos, John Lewis, Currys and Amazon. You can also take a look at the best soundbars right now if you want more inspiration before you jump in.
There’s very little not to like about the Beam, even though it’s no longer the most affordable soundbar in the Sonos lineup.
HDMI ARC will be a boon for some and Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant is another bonus, especially if you have smart home products you can control with. The Gen 2 model adds Dolby Atmos.
What makes the Beam really special is that the more compact size means it will fit in more spaces, but it doesn’t sound that much worse for it. Sonos has worked its audio magic here. It’s the now inflated price that’s the main downside.