Sonos has sold home theater products for a long time, but the company has made the living room an even greater priority in recent years. it started with sonos beam, a smaller and more affordable version of the flagship Playbar soundbar. and the new flagship of 2020, Sonos Arc, was the company’s first soundbar capable of Dolby Atmos playback.
Today’s Ray Getting a big upgrade. New, second generation beam goes on sale today for $449 and will be available on October 5. That’s $50 more than before, in line with other price hikes Sonos announced last week. The good news is that the new Beam is more capable than its predecessor in many ways. We’ll have to review it before we can really say whether it’s worth the extra $50, but there are several notable new features here.
The new beam looks almost identical to its predecessor, aside from a new perforated polycarbonate grille instead of the fabric front found on the original. It also has similar speaker components inside: a center tweeter, four woofers, and three passive bass radiators. What’s different is that the new processor inside the Beam is 40 percent faster, which opens up a lot of new audio formats.
Most notably, Zen-Two Beam supports Dolby Atmos for movies, TV, and music (the latter in a limited fashion, for now). Scott Fink, a product manager at Sonos who worked on the new Beam, says that the horsepower from the new CPUs allowed the company to increase speaker arrays—not specific speaker components, but, as Fink explains, “the set of software that coordinates.” Supports simultaneous playback and interaction of all the speakers in the soundbar. The new beams have five arrays, up from three in the older model, and are dedicated to surround sound and height information, Fink said.
All told, the Beam supports similar home theater audio formats as an arc(including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Multichannel PCM and more), which costs twice as much as the Beam. In addition to increased processing power, the new Beam has HDMI eARC to facilitate these new formats. Sonos says the additional audio processing power should have allowed the speaker to improve dialogue clarity, something that the currently available speech enhancement feature should work better than ever.
The hardware also supports additional music formats. Beam (as well as Arc) will soon support Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos formats from Amazon Music. Some Sonos speakers have worked with certain HD music services for some time, but this is the first time that a 3D music format will work with the company’s products. I asked if there were any plans to support Dolby Atmos on Apple Music, and surprisingly the company wasn’t ready to say just yet. But, there shouldn’t be a technical reason, it’s just a matter of Sonos and Apple working together to support more Apple Music formats.
Like other Sonos products, the new Beam connects to the company’s other speakers for multi-room playback; You can also use other Sonos speakers as surrounds. Assuming you have an iOS device, you can use TruePlay to tune the speakers in your room to improve the sound. The Beam also has far-field microphones, so it can receive voice commands via Alexa or Google Assistant, but isn’t required (there’s also a mic mute button right above the Beam). Like some other recent Sonos speakers, the new Beam has NFC to make setup even easier — running your phone running the Sonos app near it will automatically connect to your WiFi network.
Based on what Sonos has said so far, new beam Probably not a significant upgrade for most, unless you’re itching to bring Dolby Atmos into your setup without spending a ton of money. But given that the Beam is already the best-selling compact soundbar (according to NPD data), these upgrades will help it maintain its edge over the competition—even with that $50 price increase. Along with
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Nerdshala.