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Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: An Enhanced Audio Experience

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) represents a substantial improvement over its predecessor, boasting Dolby Atmos support, HDMI eARC compatibility, and a revamped design. Despite reservations about the virtual Atmos, the sound quality is impressive, making it an ideal fit for smaller spaces. Moreover, its reasonable mid-range price ensures a gentle impact on your budget.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: An Enhanced Audio Experience

Pros:

Cons:

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: Overview:

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) emerges as a compact yet potent soundbar, a marked improvement over its predecessor. Boasting virtual Dolby Atmos, HDMI eARC compatibility, and a sleek redesign, it’s a top choice in our soundbar recommendations.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Specs:

Size25.6 x 2.3 x 3.9 inches
Weight6.2 lbs
ColorsBlack and White
Speakers4 drivers, 1 tweeter
PortsHDMI eARC, Ethernet
Audio formatsDolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus
Connectivity802.11b/g/n/ac, 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2

Performance and Value:

While slightly pricier than its predecessor, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) delivers exceptional value. Its seamless integration with the Sonos ecosystem allows for an expanded setup, enhancing audio with additional speakers like the Sonos Sub or One SL.

Setup and TruePlay:

Setting up the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is effortless with the Sonos S2 app. TruePlay technology optimizes audio based on room dimensions, exclusive to iOS devices. While limiting, borrowing an iPhone for setup is worthwhile.

Enhancements and Compatibility:

The Beam (Gen 2) addresses user requests with eARC compatibility, supporting advanced audio formats. The standout feature is Dolby Atmos support, employing psychoacoustic techniques for a heightened cinematic experience.

Atmos Experience and Verdict:

Despite lacking up-firing drivers, the Beam (Gen 2) offers an immersive audio experience. While not as convincing as premium Atmos bars, it surpasses non-Atmos alternatives. Ideal for mid-range seekers desiring room for future upgrades.

For a mid-range soundbar blending performance and versatility, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) excels. While Dolby Atmos falls short of perfection, its overall package makes it a commendable choice. Explore our detailed Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review for a comprehensive analysis.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Price and Availability

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Price and Availability

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) hit the market in October 2021, with a price tag of $449 / £449 / AU$699, marking a notable increase from its predecessor. The original Sonos Beam, launched at $399 / £339 / AU$599, often sees discounts. Refer to our Sonos Beam review for more on its predecessor.

Affordable Alternatives:

For a budget-friendly option, explore our Sonos Ray review, priced at $279 / £279 / AU$399. While performance differs, it offers a more economical choice.

Comparative Analysis:

Considering a slightly pricier yet performance-driven alternative? Delve into our Sony HT-G700 review, priced at $600 / £450 / AU$900, for a detailed comparison.

Value Proposition:

Though not the most budget-friendly, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) stands significantly cheaper, a substantial $400 / £400 / AU$800 less than the esteemed Sonos Arc, renowned for its ‘true’ Atmos with upfiring tweeters. Explore our Sonos Arc review for in-depth insights.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Design Overview: Compact and Stylish

Compact and Stylish Build:

Maintaining its predecessor’s compact profile, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) sports a sleek design with a new plastic grille. Its dimensions (2.72 x 25.63 x 3.94 inches) make it an ideal fit for various spaces, and suitable for wall mounting or placement on a TV cabinet.

Aesthetic Appeal:

Embodying Sonos’ signature design philosophy, the Beam (Gen 2) features clean lines and minimal branding. Despite its lack of flashy elements, the soundbar exudes style, available in black and white finishes to seamlessly blend with your decor.

Grille Evolution:

A notable shift from its predecessor is the plastic grille, reminiscent of the Sonos Arc. While aesthetically pleasing and easier to clean than fabric, Sonos clarifies that the change doesn’t bring acoustic advantages but is purely visual.

Intuitive Controls:

The touch-sensitive control panel atop the soundbar offers responsive capacitive touch sensors. While convenient for music playback and volume adjustments, the TV remote remains the go-to for most tasks. A small LED light strip enhances interaction feedback.

Privacy and Indicators:

The soundbar incorporates a mic-disabling feature for privacy, controlled via touch. LED indicators on the top and beneath the microphone icon provide visual cues during interaction and microphone status.

Connectivity Hub:

The rear of the soundbar houses ports for power, HDMI, optical, and Ethernet connections, ensuring a versatile and streamlined setup.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Setup and Connectivity: Seamless Integration

Effortless Setup:

Setting up the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a breeze with the user-friendly Sonos S2 app. Follow the instructions to connect to Wi-Fi and preferred music streaming services.

Voice Assistant Integration:

Choose between Alexa or Google Assistant with built-in microphones for hands-free control and smart home device management.

Room Calibration with TruePlay:

Utilize TruePlay for room calibration. The app guides you through audio analysis, adjusting the soundbar to your room’s dimensions.

iOS Compatibility for TruePlay:

While TruePlay is limited to iOS devices, borrowing an iPhone enhances the calibration process for optimal results.

Expandable Sound Setup:

Integrate with the Sonos network, enabling pairing with other Sonos speakers like the Sub or One SL for an upgraded home cinema experience.

Wireless Connectivity Options:

Supports Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, and Ethernet for stable connections. The Sound Swap feature allows seamless audio transfer between the Beam and Sonos Roam.

Enhanced Audio with HDMI eARC:

New HDMI eARC compatibility provides a richer and superior sound experience compared to HDMI ARC. Handles advanced audio formats and supports hi-res audio files.

Limitations and Connectivity Options:

Lacks HDMI 2.1 support for advanced resolutions, but the Beam accommodates 32 channels of audio and 24-bit/192kHz uncompressed streams. Optical port is available for TVs without HDMI.

Streamlined Music Experience:

The S2 app simplifies music streaming, supporting various platforms and allowing navigation without exiting the app.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Audio Performance: A Compact Powerhouse

Robust Sound Output:
Despite its compact size, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) impresses with powerful audio, filling your living room effortlessly.

Cinematic Experience:
Watching “Mitchell vs The Machines,” the Beam (Gen 2) navigates rumbling lows and intricate bass with finesse, maintaining clear dialogue during intense scenes.

Virtual Atmos Evaluation:
While delivering an immersive soundstage, the virtual Dolby Atmos falls short of the full experience, lacking the overhead sensation provided by up-firing drivers in the Sonos Arc.

Soundstage Width:
The Beam (Gen 2) excels in soundstage width, creating a surround feel without additional rear speakers, akin to the Sonos One SL.

Music Playback Excellence:
Playing Little Simz’ “Woman” showcases the Beam (Gen 2)’s prowess—deep bass, warm synth strings, and clear vocals. The addition of the Sonos Sub enhances the overall musical experience.

Final Verdict:
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) stands out for its impressive audio, particularly in music playback. While virtual Dolby Atmos falls slightly short, the soundstage width compensates for a captivating home audio experience.

Conclusion: Enhancing Your Audio Experience

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) soundbar elevates TV audio, seamlessly integrating with the Sonos ecosystem for an immersive experience. Ideal companionship with Sonos subwoofers and rear speakers enhances the overall setup.

While lacking true Dolby Atmos without upfiring speakers, it offers compelling sound quality. Not the cheapest option, but not the priciest either. For impactful, room-filling sound, the compact Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a stellar choice, excelling in small spaces and wall-mounting scenarios.

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