Second-gen Sonos Beam gets Dolby Atmos and eARC


Sonos has been slowly upgrading its soundbars, replacing the aging Playbar with last summer’s high-end, Dolby Atmos-enabled Sonos Arc. Now comes a redo of the four-year old Beam, a smaller, more affordable soundbar that can now deliver immersive audio similar to its bigger sibling, and it adds HDMI eARC connectivity to boot.

Slated to ship October 5 for $449 (you can pre-order it now on, the second-generation Beam arrives at a $50 premium compared to its predecessor.

Measuring 25.63 x 3.94 x 2.72 inches (WxDxH) and weighing in at 6.2 pounds, the second-gen Beam is almost precisely the same size and weight as the original (the new Beam is a hair longer than the first-gen version), but the wraparound mesh fabric on the first Beam has been replaced with a perforated, easy-to-clean polycarbonate grille, similar to the Arc.

Inside the Beam, the driver setup is more or less the same as before. You get four elliptical midwoofers (two front-firing and two angled), a tweeter for the center channel, and three passive radiators for low-frequency effects. Each driver is powered by its own discrete class-D amplifier.

The big internal change in the second-gen Beam is a new processor, which Sonos says is 40 percent faster than the CPU in the original. Thanks to its added processing power, the new Beam can squeeze virtualized Dolby Atmos height cues (using Dolby’s height-virtualization technology, which tricks your ears into thinking they hear sounds from above) using the same five-driver configuration as the original Beam.

Not only will the Beam be able to deliver Dolby Atmos audio for videos, it will soon add the ability to play Dolby Atmos Music tracks from Amazon Music, including up to 24-bit/48kHz lossless audio support. (Other Sonos S2 speakers, including the Arc, will soon be getting support for lossless and Dolby Atmos tunes from Amazon Music as well.)

sonos beam second generation closeup Sonos

The second-gen Sonos Beam replaces the wraparound fabric on the first model with a perforated grille similar to its larger sibling, the Sonos Arc.

Of course, the second-generation Beam isn’t the first Dolby Atmos soundbar to deliver height effects without upfiring drivers that bounce sound off your ceiling (as the Arc does); we’ve recently reviewed soundbars from Vizio and Sony that perform the same trick. The key, of course, is the execution; some soundbars with virtualized Dolby Atmos audio sound surprisingly natural, while others are distractingly hissy. We’re expecting to receive a review unit soon, so we’ll be giving you the scoop on the Beam’s real-world performance.

If you wish, you can turn the Beam into a proper 5.1.2-channel soundbar by adding the Sonos Sub and a pair of Sonos Ones (which would act as surround speakers). But given that the Sub costs $750 and each Sonos One goes for $220 (following a series of recent price increases), you’d be looking at a total of $1,640 for the whole package—ouch.


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