I’ve always been a big fan of Sonos. Whilst their products might be priced above the competition, they’re reliable, easy to use and provide a great sound out of the box. As a long-time user of the Sonos Beam, I was very eager to get my hands (and ears) onto the second gen unit.
The first thing that caught my eye when taking it out of the box is that despite it looking almost identical to the Gen 1 unit from afar, Sonos has opted for a polycarbonate grille this time around. This is a huge difference from fabric that was used in the original. Not only does it provide a cleaner design, but it actually captures way less dust and is much easier to clean.
Setting up Sonos devices has never been particularly hard compared to other brands, but it’s made even easier with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 thanks to NFC support. You literally just have to bring your phone next to the Beam, with the Sonos app open, and that’s enough to link it to your Sonos account. Then it’s just about plugging the soundbar into your eArc HDMI port and you’re good to go.
If you’re somebody who hasn’t had Sonos before, I can understand you wondering why people get into the ecosystem and then fall in love. The simplest explanation I have is that it just works. There’s no worrying about Bluetooth connections dropping out, or struggling to connect to play music. The app user experience is second to none in terms of going from playing music (through either the app or AirPlay) to playing what’s on your TV. You can easily change on the fly using the app, or Amazon Alexa/Google Home to tell Sonos to switch inputs.
Whilst the core makeup of the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is the same as the original, it’s the fact that the processor is 40% faster paired with the fact that the Gen 2 now has five speakers arrays (compared to the three in the original) that allows the Beam to process the height information required to deliver that Dolby Atmos experience.
Coming from testing Samsung’s Q950A 11.1.4 channel soundbar, I’d already had a taste of the Dolby Atmos life, and I was excited to see how a much smaller soundbar fared. In short, coming in at much smaller in size, and at $699 the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a great Dolby Atmos soundbar. I was thoroughly impressed with how it was able to throw sounds across the room and high above me considering it has significantly less channels than the aforementioned Q950A. For instance the Beam Gen 2, was able to project the sound of helicopters or fireworks in the sky above my ear level in the room, whilst keeping voices crisp in the centre channel in front of me.
Compared to something like the Samsung Q950A which has 11 channels and is more than double the size, it’s a bit of a milder experience when it comes to Dolby Atmos, but I’m more than confident that booting up the Beam Gen 2 for the first time with a compatible Dolby Atmos movie, you’ll instantly understand right away why Dolby Atmos is a game changing experience for your home entertainment experience.
When it comes to music, the Sonos experience is hard to beat and that’s definitely the case with the Beam Gen 2. Whilst loading up Lil Nas X’s latest album, I was instantly surprised just how clear the audio was whilst delivering a really solid bass. There’s just no denying that this small soundbar can pack a punch whilst delivering super crisp audio.
Gaming is much the same. It’s a great experience regardless of whether you’re playing Call of Duty, or something a lot more chill like Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I’d highly recommend pairing it with a couple of surrounds to get the full experience. There’s also a Sonos Sub, but honestly, you’ll be surprised with how well the Beam is at providing a rich bass experience on its own.
A couple of other features I want to call out are Night Sound which will reduce loud effects and enhance the quieter ones and Speech Enhancement which can amplify voices. I know these sound like features that you won’t use, but when they’re so easily accessible in the app, you’ll find yourself more likely to use them than with other soundbars.
It’s really hard not to recommend Sonos to those looking to upgrade their home audio game at the moment. With the out of box audio experience, the ability to easily further fine tune exactly for your home with True Play and the easy to use app experience, it’s just a no-brainer choice for most. If you’ve got an original Beam, you might not be too inclined to upgrade, but I’d definitely recommending trying to check out a Beam 2 with Dolby Atmos just to see how important that experience is to you.