As a leading brand in the audio industry, Sonos has produced quite a powerful lineup of soundbars, one of which is the Sonos Beam. It’s been making noise for some time now, but is it really worth the hype? In our Sonos Beam review, we had our audio experts find out.
Like most new soundbars we’ve seen in the market, the Sonos Beam has a sleek and compact design that fits in easily under your TV or on the wall. It’s modern and low-key, so it stays inconspicuous whichever placement you choose.
We like that the model is offered in both black and white variants. This means that you can choose between two colors – something that a lot of speakers do not offer because they’re only available in the standard black.
The Beam is lightweight as well. Its design is similar to other Sonos products, like the Sonos One, Sonos Playbar, and the Sonos Play:5. However, the Beam has a fabric covering the opening instead of the usual metal grille.
At the top, you’ll find touch controls with basic functions: pause/play, previous/next, volume up/down, and mic mute. Plus, there’s an LED light that tells you the status of the soundbar and voice feedback. This comes in handy if you want to know what settings you’re using with one glance.
The back of the soundbar houses the different ports and a few buttons as well. It has a pairing button, power, ethernet port, and the HDMI connection. Because it keeps the design simple, it’s not too hard to figure out where every cable goes or what the purpose of each sound bar button is.
Overall, the design is exactly what we expected from Sonos. The Beam is a compact, modern, and low-profile soundbar that fits in with your space and interior while providing powerful sound.
Dimensions & Specs of Sonos Beam
The Sonos Beam measures 650 x 100 x 68.5 mm. It’s much smaller than the Sonos Playbar and the Playbase yet it’s much cheaper too.
You can easily mount the Beam on your wall or let it sit on your entertainment unit, whichever placement works for you. This soundbar doesn’t have the lowest profile though, but it still won’t overlap your TV screen when placed in front of it.
We’ve tested lots of soundbars in our listening room, and indeed, some of them have a taller height that slightly blocks the bottom part of the TV. This is very annoying because you don’t get the full view, but thankfully, the Sonos Beam doesn’t have this issue.
During our Sonos Beam review, our experts agreed that this soundbar has a promising build. The sound bar system offers four full-range drivers, a center tweeter, and three passive radiators that pelt out a rich, thumpy bass.
At the top of the 3-channel soundbar, you’ll find touch sensitive controls like volume up/down, play/pause, and microphone mute buttons. And with all the speakers working together, it’s not surprising that these specs provide great sound quality, but we’ll delve more on the technicalities later.
Another thing worth noting is the wireless capabilities of the Beam. It’s a multi-room speaker that can play content and music via different streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and Amazon. So if you’re a regular user of these services, the wireless features of this soundbar makes things much more convenient for you.
The overall audio quality of the Sonos Beam is great, but it has its drawbacks as a cheaper soundbar compared to others (which we’ll get to in a bit).
For its compact size, the Beam propels excellent digital audio from a wide soundstage. It was better than what we expected when we first used this HDMI-compatible soundbar, as the highs and lows remain well-balanced in music and movies.
Dialogues and voice content are clearly heard through the low notes even if you turn the speaker all the way up. It was deep and booming although it’s not using a separate subwoofer, which is a pretty impressive effort from Sonos.
If you find the bottom end a bit overwhelming, you can turn off the Loudness feature during setup. This function will work by default, so yes, your lows will automatically sound heavier at first.
One unique thing about these Sonos speakers is the TruePlay. It’s a software function that works to calibrate the sound in the room. During setup, you’ll be prompted to use your iPhone’s microphone to customize the audio according to your living room dimensions and usual listening position.
This only works for iPhones though, which is a bummer because many people are using Android.
In the tests we’ve done, the audio quality difference between a ‘TruePlayed’ room and a regular one isn’t that remarkable. Yes, it does sound a bit better, but it’s not necessary.
The bane of this 3-channel Sonos soundbar lies in the lack of surround sound technologies. You won’t get Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X. As such, this speaker may not be up to standard for audiophiles or cinephiles who want truly immersive sound.
A TV show or movie won’t sound as realistic as those produced by higher-end speakers, especially those with separate subwoofers or two rear speakers. Devices with these extra components would have a much more expensive price tag though, and not everyone may need surround sound .
Still, that’s not to say the Sonos Beam isn’t a worthy rig. It provides a far better sound than your TV speakers. The bass and dialogues don’t drown each other out, and there’s very minimal distortion at full volume. Overall, it has the right depth, balance, and power.
Voice Control (Alexa & Google Assistant)
Even without using Atmos, the Beam has its own smart features. It’s actually a smart soundbar that will work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Apply Airplay 2.
If you’re someone who likes voice control and voice assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant support from the Sonos Beam will give you the basic speaker controls you need. That means if you’ve connected the device via HDMI Arc, you can use either of the two (Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa) to turn the soundbar on and off, play and pause content, and adjust the volume up and down.
If you have extra cash available, you can make Alexa’s functionality better by pairing this smart speaker with Amazon Fire TV or the Amazon Fire TV Stick. In a way, Sonos wants users to buy these because all three are Amazon-based.
Nevertheless, if you like convenience, you’ll be able to execute a larger range of voice commands with streaming services. For example, with the Fire TV pairing, you can simply search for movies on a site or say “Alexa, play Hotel Transylvania” and it’ll show up in the system.
Aside from the Trueplay function we’ve mentioned earlier in this Sonos Beam review, another edge that iPhone users have is Siri compatibility. You do have to use your iPhone as your mic because you won’t be able to issue commands like volume up/down directly to the Beam.
Connectivity Options in Sonos Beam
This 3-channel sound bar is a fairly well-connected device compared to other models at this price point. It has multi-room digital audio technology, making it capable of “talking” to other Sonos products in your home theater system.
So, if you have the Sonos Playbar, Playbase, Sonos One, or the Sonos Play:5 speakers, the Beam can communicate with these devices via Wi-Fi. This makes it easier for you when it comes to controls and playing content. If you have other Sonos products outside of your living room, the Beam can serve as a hub connecting them all.
But unlike the Playbar and the Playbase, which both offer just a digital optical connection, the Sonos Beam has HDMI connectivity. This is a good yet surprising edge since these speaker products are more expensive than the Beam. With HDMI, it’s easier to set up and connect with a smart TV.
Then again, if you do have a Playbase sound bar, the optical connection will work well too. It’s just best to use HDMI because it has far better features.
One thing the Beam lacks is e-ARC support, which the new Sonos Arc speaker does have. However, that’s not really a necessary feature for the setup because this product doesn’t have Atmos support anyway, but it’s worth stating for the purpose of our reviews.
Our speaker tests with the Sonos Beam are nothing short of impressive. Compared to others we’ve used at this price point, the Beam provides better power and a drastic upgrade to the normal TV sound.
This 3-channel model rivals larger and more expensive devices. The dialogue is clear and balanced, whether we watched news, movies, or TV shows. The TV sound may be lacking in making human voices pop, but the Beam brings it out far better than others.
Listening to music, the experience was spot-on, too. The Beam offers a better balance whether we played classical music or rock. The details and the lows weren’t subduing each other, giving a well-balanced performance.
The bass provided the right punch too, giving the low frequencies a rumbling depth even without the Sonos sub. So even if the passive radiators may not be comparable to a dedicated sub, the low frequencies it provides is still impressive. You don’t have to add a lot of things to the setup to get the best sound.
The HDMI connectivity adds in another advantage aside from setup as well. Because it’s capable of relaying both digital audio and video signals, you’ll experience no delay between the audio and the visuals.
With all the product tests we’ve done, our multiple Sonos Beam reviews have always had positive results. When put side by side with another soundbar, Sonos delivers a worthy performance every time.
Sure, the Beam has its drawbacks including lack of Dolby Atmos and an external sub, but it still delivers a surprisingly good performance compared to others. Overall, it’s an impressive addition to the front of your living room, even if you don’t buy something way more expensive like the Playbar.
(We also compared other top soundbars like the Playbar and the Bose Soundtouch 300, which you can read about next.)
Setting Up the Sonos Beam
Setting up the Sonos Beam in front of the room is easy, especially for TVs that have HDMI ARC compatibility. You just have to connect your new soundbar system to your TV using the included HDMI cable and you’re done in no time.
However, for TVs that don’t support HDMI ARC, you’ll need to be more patient with the sound bar setup. It’s good that an optical adaptor is included, because you can use that and plug in the Beam through the optical port.
If you’re connecting your new soundbar through this port, you do need to tinker a bit with the Sonos app and your TV settings as well. Sonos Beam doesn’t come with a remote, but you can set it up with your TV remote or just use the Sonos app for changing your settings.
Speaking of the app, there are a few options on there worth mentioning. There’s the Speech Enhancement feature which brings out the dialogue even more, and Night Sound which takes out the bass for a quieter sound.
The Sonos app also offers an EQ control option which you can use to play around with your preferences. If you like tweaking your setup, this is the next best thing to get customized music and movie sound.
The bass and treble sliders in the app make it easy to control the levels according to your liking, so you’re also getting a home theater experience that’s tailored for you. So even without a remote, you can change every setting on this sound bar.
The Sonos Beam can also be a part of a Sonos 5.1 home theater system, which will allow you to have true surround sound.
Is the Sonos Beam worth it?
Yes, the Sonos Beam is worth it. The audio quality is big for such a compact model, giving well-balanced dialogues and bass in a wall-to-wall soundstage. It also has its own fancy functions, including multi-room technology, voice control, and HDMI ARC compatibility.
Is Sonos Beam better than Bose?
Yes, the Sonos Beam is better than Bose models such as the Solo 5 and Soundbar 500. Even without a sub, the Beam has a wider soundstage and provides an immersive surround sound quality whether you play music or movies.
What size room is Sonos Beam good for?
Sonos Beam is good for small to medium size rooms. Equipped with a room correction feature, this soundbar can deliver wall-to-wall sounds regardless of room size, although its performance diminishes in larger living rooms.
Does Sonos Beam need a sub?
No, the Sonos Beam does not need a sub. It has three passive radiators that produce a deep and thumpy bass. However, if you want a full surround sound system, you can add a sub and two rear Sonos speakers.
Is Sonos beam loud enough?
The Sonos Beam is loud enough for a small to medium-sized room, although it doesn’t get extremely loud. When the volume is turned up high, there is very minimal distortion but the audio stays fairly well-balanced.
Does Sonos Beam support Dolby Atmos?
No, the Sonos Beam does not support Dolby Atmos. The sound isn’t as immersive as higher-end soundbars, but it’s great considering the price and the size.
Sonos Beam Review Conclusion
The Sonos Beam is a great choice for those who want convenience and performance packed into one compact soundbar. It provides powerful sound, HDMI compatibility, app control, Google Assistant voice control, and other features that make it one of the best sound bars for your home.
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