The second generation of Sonos’ most popular products, the Beam soundbar, has been updated to support Dolby Atmos.
Following the debut in early October, we had the chance to try out the new product, which may not seem like much of an improvement at first glance, but it can really take home theater viewing to a new level in the right circumstances.
In mid-September, Sonos unveiled the second generation of the Beam soundbar, which looks almost identical to its predecessor. It has changed under the hood that makes it Dolby Atmos compatible.
It’s still a step behind the Sonos Arc, but it’s an ideal choice for those who want more than just the sound of a TV and want a system that can be expanded later.
The front grille is now made of polycarbonate (instead of the previous fabric), which helps to provide a better sound experience.
But the rounded edges are still there, the soundbar still has the touch-sensitive control buttons on top (which most people will never use), and the dimensions slightly changed.
There are also no big surprises at the back: a LAN port and an HDMI port, which already supports eARC, and a button that you’ll only need if you want to add more devices to the soundbar later.
Dead Simple Setup
Setup is also easy as pie. First, you connect the sound projector to your TV via HDMI or an optical connection (a converter is included), and then you’re ready to use the Sonos app, available for both iOS and Android.
The phone and the sound projector automatically find each other. Then, the device connects to your wireless network. The whole process is completed by touching your phone to the NFC label on the top of the enclosure.
The device can now be used not just as a speaker for your TV but also as a music player or a smart speaker
No Interruption Only Music
The Sonos app integrates with all music streaming services (Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Youtube, etc.), even more than one at a time, so users can easily access their favorites. In addition, with the WiFi connection, users can use their mobile phones while listening to music.
You can make a phone call, start a video or a game on your mobile, none of which will interrupt your music playback, and no unwanted sounds will come through the soundbar.
The Beam 2 can be connected to any existing Sonos ecosystem device within the app with a few taps, so you can play the same music from multiple locations and expand your system.
Several of the manufacturer’s devices, including the Sonos One speakers, can be paired as side speakers – not just the Sonos One speakers, but also the shelf, lamp, and picture frame launched with IKEA.
The first Sonos Beam is already an excellent soundbar in its class, and it’s no coincidence that it has become one of the best-selling products in its category – even though it’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
The internal components are mostly unchanged, with four full-range speakers, one tweeter, three passive drivers, and five Class D amplifiers, along with five microphones.
The new model, just like the previous version, is available in black and white. What’s changed is that the Beam Gen2’s processor is 40 percent more powerful than its predecessor’s chip, so it can handle two extra channels, height and surround, for the right and left speakers.
The system can “twist” the timing and frequency of sounds as if they were coming from the side and above by tweaking how long it takes to make different frequency signals go through the speakers.
The Beam 2 is not quite as good as the Arc, but these software tricks help create a richer sound experience. The action sequences, explosions, and shootouts really gave a sense of space, which was only heightened when it came to blockbuster titles like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The second-generation Beam is a fine example of what Sonos engineers can do.
Even the regular Beam was fantastic, but it’s a solid step up with the suitable TV and content. You’ll get a sound experience that most more expensive smart TVs with soundbars and most similarly priced competitors can’t match.
And it’s not just Dolby Atmos – the other supported formats (Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Multichannel PCM, Dolby Multichannel PCM) are also great.
You can enable the “Night Sound” mode to keep movies from disturbing your household (or your neighbors). Speech Enhancement will highlight speech sounds also works excellent.
This device is easy to expand without cables. Adding Sonos subwoofers and side speakers improves the basic surround experience with a faster processor and better software; the Beam 2 produces a richer sound. However, if you already have the original Beam, it may not be worth upgrading to the new model.
But if you have a smart TV with Dolby Atmos support, a relatively small living room where you don’t want to install a clunky, 7.1 channel home theatre system, and you have some budget constraints, the Beam Gen2 is a great choice.