New Sonos Beam brings Dolby Atmos to smaller spaces

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Sonos has announced its second generation Beam soundbar for small to medium-sized TV rooms. The latest version looks almost identical to the original Beam, but under the hood, Sonos has Beam Gen 2 A more powerful processor and the ability to reproduce Dolby Atmos sound. Priced at $449 – $50 more than the first-gen Beam that replaces the second-gen – you can pre-order the Beam Gen 2 in white or black today, with availability scheduled for October 5th .

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Acoustically speaking, the Beam Gen 2 uses the same components as its predecessor: five drivers driven by five discrete Class-D amplifiers. But Sonos has improved the phased speaker array to drive better sound around a room and added the digital smarts needed to create the height and surround sound channels that use those drivers. The level of Dolby Atmos immersion might not be as intense as a soundbar like the Sonos Arc, with its dedicated upward-firing height drivers, but given that the Beam is aimed at smaller rooms, that really works in its favor. could.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 Soundbar.
Sonos

The Beam Gen 2 retains the dimensions and shape of the original soundbar, and they look very similar at a distance, but Sonos has swapped out the cloth grille of the original Beam for a plastic grille that uses hundreds of tiny holes instead. Is. This brings the new Beam in line with the company’s other speakers such as the Sonos Five, Arc and One, all of which use hard plastic or metal grilles.

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The new model also preserves the ports of the first-gen: you get an HDMI ARC/EARC port and an Ethernet port. To use the Beam with a TV that doesn’t support HDMI ARC/EARC, Sonos also includes an optical-to-HDMI adapter. This was a good solution for the earlier Beam as it supported only stereo or Dolby Digital sources, both of which could be transmitted over an optical connection. But Dolby Atmos is a different beast—it requires Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, or Dolby Matte to work, and all three of these formats aren’t compatible with optical connections.

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If your TV only supports optical connections, there’s no way for you to send Dolby Atmos content to the soundbar. However, it is not a total deal-breaker. Sonos has added in some additional digital signal processing that beams Gen 2 “upscale” non-Dolby Atmos sound sources into a more immersive experience, using the same technology that leverages for virtual height and surround channels . It won’t sound as good as a real Atmos could be, but it should still be much better than the first-gen Beam.

Like all Sonos speakers, you control the Beam Gen 2 via the Sonos app on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, but you can also control basic functions like volume, mute, and power with your TV’s remote control. These commands can be passed from the TV to the HDMI CEC if your TV supports it, or you can use the Beam’s built-in infrared receiver to send commands directly.

You also get Apple AirPlay 2, and like the original Beam, you can choose to set up Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa as the built-in smart speaker voice assistant. The second generation version includes new near-field communication (NFC), which lets you set the beam up faster than ever if your smartphone supports NFC-equipped devices.

You can extend the Beam into a full home theater system by adding a Sono Sub for better low-frequency bass, and you can even add multiple matching pairs of Sonos’ other wireless speakers to act as discrete surrounds.

With the new Beam, Sonos announced that it is going to add support for Amazon Music’s Ultra High Definition Audio, which provides tracks in lossless audio at up to 24-bit/48kHz, as well as Dolby Atmos Music. Ultra High Definition will work on all S2-compatible products except Play:1, Play:3, Playbase, and Playbar, while Dolby Atmos Music will work on Arc and Beam (Gen 2). Sonos also announced plans to add support for decoding DTS Digital Surround through the S2 platform on both generations of the Playbar, Playbase, Amp and Beam and Arc later this year.

When Nerdshala asked whether similar support would be added for services like Tidal, Apple Music, and Cubase, we were told it would be up to each music service to decide whether they wanted to take advantage of the new capabilities. We’ll take that as a “yes,” but clearly the rollout for these services won’t happen immediately.




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