The new Sonos Beam is here, and it brings Dolby Atmos to the party!

The last 18 months here in Australia have forced many of us to rethink our entertainment options, for obvious reasons. Live music and the family cinema experience were forced into a state of redundancy across the country. With recreational travel mainly off the table, the opportunity to upgrade the home entertainment system has become not only a viable proposition, but a necessary one.

Sonos have been quick to identify this trend, upgrading their stellar Beam soundbar. Taking the larger, premium-sounding Arc’s audio successes, the Beam (Gen 2), a soundbar better suited to a smaller TV, is now Dolby Atmos-enabled. While it shares similar dimensions with its predecessor, under the hood is an entirely different story

What’s in the box?
Inside the packaging, you’ll find the soundbar – available to buy in either black or white – a power cable, HDMI cable and an optical-to-HDMI cable to cater for older televisions.

What’s new?
The cloth covering has been replaced with a polycarbonate grille, and inside the Beam are one tweeter for high frequencies, four woofers for midrange, and three passive radiators for low-end frequencies. The CPU processor is now 40 per cent faster, too, meaning that the software can create five-speaker arrays, two up from the previous model. The additional two produce the surround and overhead sounds, providing the immersive 3D soundstage. And finally, support for HDMI eARC has been included.

Making connections
Like the Arc, there’s only one HDMI port in the back of the Beam. Now it’s important to remember that unless you’ve bought a new TV over the last couple of years with an ARC/eARC HDMI port, you’re not going to enjoy the whole Dolby Atmos audio experience. Next to the HDMI port in the back of the Beam is an Ethernet port if you opt against connecting through a home Wi-Fi network. On top of the unit, exquisitely discreet, are controls for power, volume, play/pause, and a microphone for voice assistants. The Beam is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

To bring the Beam online, plug it into the mains, connect the HDMI cable to an ARC/eARC output on the television and download the Sonos S2 app before following the prompts to connect the soundbar. We were up and running in under three minutes. Having eARC connectivity on your TV means you can control the volume on the Beam using your remote.

Sonos Beam (Gen2)

Finely Tuned
Through the app, there’s an EQ for bass and treble adjustment, and this is where you tune your new Sonos Beam through the unique Trueplay Tuning feature, providing you’re an iOS user (sorry Android users – you’ve got to go with the out-of-the-box settings which are still very good). The tuning requires the user to walk around the room gently waving an iPhone up and down while the Beam emits a digital squawking sound. Using the mic on the iPhone determines the best tuning configuration for the size and shape of your room.

Lifting the soundbar
To get the most out of the Beam, you’ll want an HDMI eARC connection on the TV, and the content you’re consuming will need to be Dolby Atmos compatible. Some streaming services now offer Dolby Atmos in the highest-priced tiers, and it’s now the prevalent format on 4K movies.

The beach sequence in Saving Private Ryan is always our litmus test for soundbars, and the Beam doesn’t disappoint. Bullets fizz overhead and explosions rock through the grille, while the devasting effect of machine-gun fire hitting the beach will have you checking your pockets for sand. There’s a real feeling of soundstage width here, and the bass is exceptional for its size. It’s an impressive feat for a smaller soundbar.

If you’re a late-night viewer with a house full of family members you don’t want to wake then the ‘Night Sound’ mode is a handy feature. Rather than continually adjusting the volume to counterbalance low dialogue scenes with the sudden emergence of sonorous action sequences, Night Sound will lift dialogue so that you can leave the remote control safely on the end of the couch.

HDMI 2.1 support makes the Beam an ideal companion for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The crowd noise and on-field sound effects such as boot on ball in FIFA 22 are astounding.

Soundbars often play second fiddle to dedicated music hardware, and that would be a mistake here. Music playback through the Beam is excellent across a broad range of artists and genres. The Beam is the perfect audio all-rounder.

Sonos Beam (Gen2)

Chain gang
One of the best parts of being part linked to the Sonos ecosystem is the ease with which a new device settles into an existing chain of speakers. The Beam paired with the Sonos Sub and a pair of Sonos One SLs is a potent combination that will take your viewing and listening experience to a whole new level.

Final thoughts
Sonos has gone with the theory of upgrading and augmenting an already great performing soundbar rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, and that’s a good move. Sonos has an excellent track record with its soundbars, and the previous Beam and Arc are a cut above the competition in this price range. Adding Atmos Dolby to the Beam is an inspired move to bring the most current audio trends right into the lounge room without breaking the bank.

The Beam performs best in a more concise space (for larger, more open living areas, we suggest you seek out the Arc). However, for its size, overall sound performance, and ability to expand within the Sonos ecosystem, it’s a wise investment for a vastly enhanced home entertainment experience.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi