At a Glance
- Excellent sound quality
- Dolby Atmos
- HDMI ARC
No longer the affordable device it used to be, the Beam isn’t the best value Sonos soundbar but provides a balance of compact design, big sound, smart features and Dolby Atmos that will still suit many buyers.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Sonos Beam
For years, Sonos soundbars have been only for the flush of cash. However, the firm’s latest speaker is far more affordable, more compact and includes smart features.
Design & Build
You really do know what you’re getting when purchasing a Sonos product; Essentially a sleek and modern design with a style that will fit nicely with the vast majority of TVs and decors. You can choose black or white finishes.
The Beam, like every Sonos speaker we’ve reviewed looks and feels like a high-end product – and we’re talking about the packaging and cables as well.
Build quality is excellent with a combination of solid plastic that doesn’t feel cheap and fabric around the sides. All the ports are neatly hidden at the back as usual.
The key things here is that the Beam is much more compact than the other two Sonos soundbars. So if you’re looking for one to put in a bedroom, kitchen or just don’t have as much space then it’s a great choice.
Like the Playbar, you can wall-mount the Beam so it’s very flexible in how you can position it.
The speaker has touch sensitive controls on the top which are responsive and not annoying to use as is often the case.
Sound Quality & Features
Setting up the Beam couldn’t be much easier. Simply plug the power in and follow the instructions on the app, which will take you through the different options for connecting to your TV. This will include setting up your TV remote to control the volume of the speaker, which is very handy.
Despite being cheaper, the Beam has some features not found on the older Playbar. You get AirPlay built-in making it easier to stream music to the speaker and HDMI ARC, which is a first for a Sonos device.
This means you can plug it into your TV with an HDMI cable, as long as it has an audio return channel (ARC). Otherwise, Sonos provides a handy adapter so you can use optical.
You also get Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, like the Sonos One, so this is a smart soundbar which you can control with your voice.
Using your voice and the far-field mic array, you can adjust the volume, switch the TV on and control other smart home devices around your home like lights and heating if you have compatible products. If you want privacy, the mics can be switched off.
Finally, we’re onto sound quality and although the Beam is significantly smaller than its two bigger brothers, it still packs an impressive punch in the audio department.
It only has five drivers compared to the Playbar’s nine but it doesn’t matter too much, especially if you’ve got the Beam in a smaller sized room.
Four of them are full-range drivers and one is a tweeter. Some are arranged to give a solid centre channel sound, while two face out to the side to provide a wider soundstage.
This isn’t surround sound, but if you want you can add satellite speakers, the cheapest option being the $179/£179 One SL. The Beam Gen 2 adds Dolby Atmos for the most popular virtual surround sound standard out there.
There are also three passive bass radiators, which aid the Beam in the low end. It can’t compete with the Playbar or Arc in this respect but it’s still impressive. You can pair the Beam with the Sonos Sub but we’d recommend simply getting the Playbar if it’s not too large as buying the Beam and the $429/£429 Sub Mini really adds up.
Although the Beam is half the size of the Playbar and designed to be a speaker for TV, sound and music it managed to adapt to anything you can throw at it -somehow with excellent sound quality, spaciousness and stereo field.
For the Beam, you can make use of modes like speech enhancement and night mode. The latter of which makes sure loud elements like explosions don’t wake anyone up ad you can still hear quieter things.
There’s all of this and we haven’t even mentioned all the usual benefits of the Sonos multi-room system with its almost endless list of compatible services. Find out more in our complete guide to the best Sonos speakers.
Price & Availability
Originally launched at £399/$399 for the original generation, the newer Gen 2 Beam has been given a price rise to $499/£499 making it more affordable than the $899/£899 Arc.
Those wanting something more affordable should opt for the Sonos Ray which is just $279/£279 if you don’t need HDMI or voice control.
You can buy it directly from Sonos or retailers including Argos, John Lewis, Currys and Amazon. You can also take a look at the best soundbars right now if you want more inspiration before taking the plunge.
There’s very little to dislike about the Beam, even though it’s no longer the most affordable soundbar in the Sonos range.
HDMI ARC will be a boon for some and Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant is another bonus, especially if you have smart home products you can control with it. The Gen 2 model adds Dolby Atmos.
What makes the Beam really special is that the more compact size means it will fit into more spaces, yet the sound isn’t hugely worse off for it. Sonos has worked its audio magic here. It’s the now inflated price that is the main downside.