Sonos has long sold home theater products, but the company has made the living room an even higher priority in recent years. It started with Sonos Beam, a smaller, more affordable version of the flagship Playbar soundbar. And the new flagship of 2020, the sonos bow, was the company’s first soundbar capable of playing Dolby Atmos.
Today the make you are receiving a major update. The new second-generation Beam goes on sale today for $ 449 and will be available on October 5. That’s $ 50 more than before, in line with the other Sonos price increases. announced last week. The good news is that the new Beam is more capable than its predecessor in several respects. We’ll have to review it before we can really say if it’s worth the extra $ 50, but there are a number of notable new features here.
The new Beam looks almost identical to its predecessor, aside from a new perforated polycarbonate grille in place of the cloth front found on the original. It also has the same speaker components inside: a center tweeter, four woofers, and three passive bass radiators. What’s different is that the new processor inside the Beam is 40 percent faster, which opens up many new audio formats.
In particular, the second-generation Beam supports Dolby Atmos, for movies, TV, and music (the latter on a limited basis, for now). Scott Fink, Sonos product manager who worked on the new Beam, says that the horsepower from the new CPU allows the company to increase the speaker arrays, not the specific components of the speakers, but, as Fink explains, “the set of software that coordinates the playback and interaction of all the speakers together in the soundbar.” The new Beam has five arrangements, compared to three on the previous model, and Fink said the extras are dedicated to surround sound and height information.
In total, Beam supports the same home theater audio formats like the bow(including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, multi-channel PCM, and more), which costs twice as much as the Beam. In addition to the increased processing power, the new Beam features HDMI eARC to facilitate these new formats. Sonos says the speaker should have improved dialogue clarity thanks to additional audio processing power, something that should make the currently available speech enhancement feature work better than before.
The hardware also supports additional music formats. The Beam (as well as the Arc) will soon support Amazon Music’s Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos formats. Some Sonos speakers have worked with a handful of HD music services for a while, but this is the first time that a 3D music format will work with the company’s products. I asked if there were any plans to support Dolby Atmos on Apple Music, and unsurprisingly, the company wasn’t about to say so just yet. But, there shouldn’t be any technical reason, it’s just a matter of Sonos and Apple working together to get more compatible Apple Music formats.
As with other Sonos products, the new Beam connects to the company’s other speakers for multi-room playback; you can also use other Sonos speakers as surround sound. You can tune the speaker in your room to improve the sound using Trueplay, assuming you have an iOS device. The Beam also has far-field microphones so you can receive voice commands via Alexa or the Google Assistant, but that’s not necessary (there’s also a mic mute button on top of the Beam). Like some other recent Sonos speakers, the new Beam has NFC to make setup even easier – playing your phone with the Sonos app nearby will automatically connect it to your WiFi network.
Based on what Sonos has said so far, the new beam It’s probably not a crucial upgrade for most, unless you’ve been itching to install Dolby Atmos on your setup without spending a ton of money. But since Beam is already the best-selling compact soundbar (based on NPD data), these updates should help it maintain its lead over the competition, even with that $ 50 price increase.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.