Sonos Beam review: The middle child soundbar
- Excellent sound quality
- Dolby Atmos
- ARC HDMI
Not the affordable device it used to be, the Beam isn’t the best value Sonos soundbar, but with a compact design, big sound, smart features and Dolby Atmos balance, they always do the trick. to many buyers.
Price at the time of review
Today’s best deals: Sonos Beam
For years, Sonos soundbars were just a money chaser. However, the firm’s latest speaker is much more affordable, compact and packed with smart features.
Design and construction
When you buy a Sonos product, you know exactly what you’re getting; Basically a sleek, modern design with a style that blends in perfectly with the vast majority of TVs and decors. You can choose a black or white finish.
The Beam, like all the Sonos speakers we’ve reviewed, feels like a premium product — and we’re talking about the packaging and cables, too.
Build quality is excellent, with a combination of hard plastic that doesn’t feel cheap and doesn’t feel like fabric on the sides. All ports are carefully hidden on the back as usual.
The bottom line here is that the Beam is much more compact than the other two Sonos soundbars. Therefore, if you are looking for a room to put in a bedroom, kitchen, or if you don’t have that much space, this is a great choice.
Like the play board, the beam can be mounted on the wall, so it’s very flexible in how you position it.
The top of the speaker has touch controls that are responsive and not as awkward to use as they often are.
Sound quality and features
Installing the beam couldn’t be easier. Simply plug in and follow the in-app instructions that guide you through the various options for connecting to your TV. This includes setting up your TV remote to control the speaker volume, which is very handy.
Although cheaper, the Beam has some features that the older Playbar lacked. You get built-in AirPlay, which makes it easy to stream music to your speaker, and HDMI ARC, a first for a Sonos device.
This means that if it has an Audio Return Channel (ARC), you can connect it to your TV via an HDMI cable. Otherwise, Sonos offers a handy adapter to use the optic.
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 remote microphone array, you can adjust the volume, turn on the TV and, if you have compatible products, control other smart home devices in your home, such as lights and heating. If you prefer privacy, you can turn off the microphones.
Finally, we’re on to sound quality, and while the Beam is significantly smaller than its two older brothers, it still packs an impressive punch in the audio department.
It has five drivers compared to the Playbar’s nine, but that doesn’t matter too much, especially if the Beam is in a smaller room.
Four of them are full-range speakers, and one is a tweeter. Some are positioned to give a solid center channel sound, while two are angled to the sides to provide a wider soundstage.
It’s not surround sound, but you can add satellite speakers if you want, the cheapest version being the $179/£179 One SL. Beam Gen 2 adds Dolby Atmos for the most popular virtual surround sound standard on the market.
There are also three passive bass radiators that help Beam in the bass. It can’t compete with the Playbar or Arc in that respect, but it’s still impressive. The Beam can be paired with a Sonos Sub, but if it’s not too big when you buy the Beam and the $429/£429 Sub Mini really adds up, we’d recommend getting the Playbar.
Although the Beam is half the size of a playback board and designed as a TV, sound and music speaker, it still manages to adapt to anything you throw at it – great sound quality, space and stereo field.
You can use modes such as speech enhancement and night mode for the beam. The latter ensures that loud elements like explosions don’t wake anyone up and you can still hear the quiet stuff.
That’s all there is to it, and we haven’t even mentioned all the usual benefits of a Sonos multi-room system with its nearly endless list of compatible services. Find out more in our complete guide to the best Sonos speakers.
Price and availability
Originally priced at £399/$399 for the original generation, the new Gen 2 Beam has been bumped up to $499/£499, making it more affordable than the $899/£899 Arc.
Those who want something affordable and don’t need HDMI or voice control should opt for the Sonos Ray, which costs just $279 / £279.
You can buy it directly from Sonos or from retailers such as Argos, John Lewis, Currys and Amazon. Also, if you want more inspiration before you jump in, you can check out the best soundbars right now.
There’s very little not to like about the Beam, but it’s no longer the most affordable soundbar in the Sonos line.
HDMI ARC will come in handy for some, and Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant is another bonus, especially if you have smart home products to control. The Gen 2 model adds Dolby Atmos.
What really makes the Beam stand out is that its more compact size means it can fit into more space, but it doesn’t sound nearly as bad. Sonos has worked its sonic magic here. The main disadvantage is the increased price.
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