Sonos Beam review: If you’re looking for a brilliant, compact Dolby Atmos soundbar – this is it
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review: The Verdict
The original Sonos Beam remains brilliant, but this second-generation model brings a number of important upgrades. The result? Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is one of the best Sonos speaker deals for those looking to upgrade the terrible sound from their flatscreen television. With Dolby Atmos on track to become the standard for top-tier audio with streaming platforms and telly manufacturers, the addition of the format in the new Sonos Beam promises to future-proof your new soundbar. The new polycarbonate grill is much easier to clean and maintain than the lint-grabbing mesh on the first-generation model, which is a nice tweak.
Aside from those improvements, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is almost identical to its predecessor with the same compact design, which should comfortably fit under any telly. Compared to the much bulkier Sonos Arc, which looks a little ridiculous when paired with a telly that’s 43-inches or under, the Sonos Beam looks great with any setup.
What We Loved
- Superb Sound Quality, And Now With Dolby Atmos Support
- Nice Design Will Fit With Any Home Décor
- Updated Polycarbonate Grill Makes Dusting Easy
- Speech Enhancement and Night Sound Modes Help Fine-Tune Your TV Viewing
- AirPlay 2 Support For iPhone, iPad And Mac Owners
- Can Be Expanded In Future With Extra Speakers
- Great App For iPhone And Android
What We Didn’t Love
- Pricier Than The Original Sonos Beam
- Limited Choice Of Colours
- Touch-Sensitive Buttons Can Be Accidentally Triggered
Features like Speech Enhancement and Night Sounds means you can enjoy the improved sound from your telly …even when if you’re trying not to wake anyone else at home. You can also customise the amount of bass and treble in the Sonos app. As well as boosting the sound from your favourite show, the Sonos Beam is an excellent speaker in its own right.
Using the Sonos app on iOS and Android, you can beam music, podcasts and live radio from dozens of sources with a single tap. It can even pull tracks from a hard-drive on your local Wi-Fi network or iTunes music library – it’s ridiculously flexible. The sound quality is superb, and you’ll be able to pair the Sonos Beam with any other Sonos speakers at home to synchronise playback of your favourite track, album or playlist throughout the house.
Like the Sonos One, the Beam supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you won’t be forced to choose between these popular smart assistants. That’s a big deal, as these chatty AI assistants can dictate your choice of video doorbell, smart speakers, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats and much more.
Whatever you decide, the Sonos Beam will integrate seamlessly with all of your smart home kit. Of course, the hands-free assistants – designed to allow you to request songs, playlists, podcasts, and radio stations with a voice command to save you from reaching for your smartphone – can be disabled if you want.
If it’s not obvious yet, we really don’t have any complaints about the superb Sonos Beam (Gen 2) soundbar. If you want to upgrade the underwhelming audio from your flatscreen TV with full-bodied Dolby Atmos sound and hands-free controls with Alexa and Google Assistant – this is an excellent choice. And if you have other Sonos speakers (or any AirPlay 2-enabled kit) at home, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) will work flawlessly to create a whole home audio system.
In fact, the only snagging point is the price. With the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), the US audio brand has increased the price by £50 compared to the first-generation soundbar. Not only that, but you can pick up the original Sonos Beam for £180 less from Sonos’ own website! If you’re looking to save some cash, the original Sonos Beam – which is very nearly identical to this second-generation refresh – could be a better option for you.
It’s no surprise that the original Sonos Beam became such a resounding hit. The telly boosting speaker, which was first launched back in 2019, not only sounds sublime but is packed into a compact design that’s ideal for smaller rooms, or those who don’t want a gigantic soundbar teetering beneath their telly.
And now, Sonos is hoping to build on the tremendous success of the first-generation Sonos Beam with the launch of an upgraded and more expensive model. So, is it worth that higher price? Scroll down for our in-depth Sonos Beam review to find out…
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) works brilliantly with movies, cinematic boxsets, video games, and music tracks
Sonos Beam review: The Design
The first thing we have to mention is the new packaging as Sonos is clearly trying to boost its eco-credentials. Everything inside the box is fully recyclable, with the firm ditching all of the usual plastic wrap and cable ties that so often end up in the bin. It’s an important change and it has been implemented in a very clever way – making the unboxing experience almost as exciting as the speaker itself.
Once the Beam is plugged in, things are super simple to set-up. All you have to do is hold your phone near the top of the device and, via NFC technology, Sonos does the rest. The whole process takes under five minutes. If you already own a Sonos speaker, the Beam will even connect to the same Wi-Fi network used by your existing Sonos kit, so there’s no need to dig around in the settings menu.
Another thing that makes the Beam so beautifully simple is the easy connection to the TV via the HDMI ARC port. This socket is found on most modern TVs and offers an instant connection with sound then blasting out the minute things are plugged in.
We attached our Beam into a relatively modern telly with the TV remote also instantly working with the speaker without having to change any settings. Of course, the setup is important, but what really matters is how things sound.
Sonos Beam review: The Sound
The original Beam was really good, but things have been taken up a notch thanks to Dolby Atmos technology now packed inside the new model.
This update means the Beam can bring a 3D effect to living rooms, so when a plane takes-off during a movie the audio will follow its trajectory and appear as if the aircraft is whizzing over your head.
To help produce this atmospheric sound, Sonos has also improved the processor inside the Beam and added HDMI eARC compatibility for higher definition sound. The main benefit of eARC tech is that it can cope with bigger files more quickly. This allows much higher-quality audio to be sent straight from a TV to the soundbar.
Sonos Beam can be adjusted with touch-sensitive controls on the top of the speaker
It’s a nice update and the new Beam sounds great, but there was nothing really wrong with the original and we certainly wouldn’t recommend owners of that device rush to upgrade. To get the most out of it’s also worth checking that your television has eARC compatibility as some older modes probably won’t have this upgraded port.
If you’ve been thinking of buying a soundbar then you’ll definitely be impressed by how good this latest compact speaker sounds.
Another bonus of the new Beam is that it is compatible with Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos Music. This gives music fans more immersive ways to enjoy their favourite tracks when listening to songs via services such as Amazon Music. So, that’s what is going on inside the Beam but what about any changes to its design?
At first glance, it looks very similar to its predecessor but there is a subtle change that are aimed at keeping it looking box-fresh for longer.
That’s because it’s ditched the old fabric finish and moved to a polycarbonate grill instead. This not only makes the speaker more robust, but also easier to wipe down and keep clean.
Unlike some Dolby Atmos soundbars, the Sonos Beam remains compact – perfect for smaller rooms
Sonos Beam review: Extras
Sonos also now ships the device with a colour-matched cable. So, if you buy the White model, the power cord will also be white …something that wasn’t the case with the first generation.
Of course, alongside these new features, you’ll also get all of the features that were found inside the original model, including Night Sound – which makes things quieter when it gets late – and Speech enhancement so you never miss a word of the action.
The Beam also features clever Trueplay tech that adapts the sound for the unique acoustics of the room. There’s also built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can add the Sonos Beam to any existing smart home set-up. These chatty AI assistants can order takeaways, control your smart lights, check the weather and set reminders.
Beam also includes support for Apple’s AirPlay 2, which lets you stream lossless audio files from an iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.
Like all of the most recent smart speakers from Sonos things are all controlled by the S2 app, which is available on iOS, Android, macOS and Windows, and will benefit from all of the shiny new tricks devised by the teams at Sonos.
Connecting the Beam to your telly is handled with an HDMI eArc or Optical cable
With the Sonos app, you’ll be able to stream lossless tracks to speakers across your home, or play a different album or radio station in each.
Sonos supports every music service that you can think of …as well as a fair few you’ve never heard of before. An iTunes library, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, TuneIn radio stations, Sonos radio, and many more can all be blended together into a single playlist of tracks.
Now, we can’t finish this review without talking about the elephant in the room and that’s the price. Sadly, Sonos has felt the need to increase things by £50 which means you’ll now have to fork out £449 to own one.