One of the best-selling soundbars on the market is finally getting an upgrade, with Sonos today unveiling their long-awaited Sonos Beam Gen 2. Given that interest in building home cinemas has unsurprisingly been on an upswing during lockdown, now seems like the perfect time for the premium hi-fi company to move forward with an affordable, mid-range alternative to their $1,500 Dolby Atmos supporting Sonos Arc – which was released last year, and is now considered one of the best soundbars money can buy.
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 will be less than half the price of the Sonos Arc, finessing the market for compact smart soundbars with the promise of a more immserive sound experience with greater depth and clarity than its predecessor. Along with support for Dolby Atmos, Sonos have also upped the processing power with a CPU that is 40% faster than that of the original Sonos Beam, and re-arranged the 5 speaker array for better complement and build a 3D soundstage. Connectivity has also been improved, with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 now supporting the new HDMI eARC standard, to support higher definition sound and new audio formats.
According to the impressive spec sheet, Sonos are trying something a bit different this time around. Unlike a typical Dolby Atmos soundbar, which uses upward-facing drivers to bounce sound off the ceiling, Sonos are using psycho-acoustic techniques, working with the new, faster software to reproduce overhead and surround sounds from a front-facing position. Basically, because the Sonos Beam Gen 2 has less space than the Sonos Arc, both the new arrangement and software have been built in such a way that the smaller Beam 2 can still give off that wrap-around, immersive audio experience that characterises Dolby Atmos.
Beaneath the speaker grille is 4 front-facing elliptical mid-wooders and 1 centre tweeter, with all drivers powered by 5 Class D amplifiers. 3 passive radiators are used to take care of the low-end frequencies, but you’ll probably still want a Sonos Sub if you’re going to really milk those bass-heavy moments next time you’re getting the most of your streaming services.
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In terms of design, Sonos haven’t really messed with dimensions. The Sonos Beam Gen 2 will still be 6.9 x 65 x 10cm, fitting nicely in front of any standing TV. What the company has done, however, is scrap the shell of the original and use an updated perforated polycarbonate grill, similar to the one used for the Sonos Arc. Available in black and white versions, the new design means the Beam 2 will be more durable and easier to clean than the previous fabric finish.
In addition to its highly capable chops with film and TV audio, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 will also be a bit of a beast when it comes to streaming music. Sonos has now hooked up with Amazon Music’s Ultra HD audio platform to let users stream tracks in a lossless 24bit/48kHz. This will also give all Sonos soundbars to date access to Dolby Atmos Music, a feature which they plan to have locked in place by the end of this year. As it stands, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 will be compatible with over 100 streaming services via the Sonos app.
As with all Sonos speakers, the Beam 2 will use Sono’s proprietary TruePlay room calbiration technology to continually optimise treble, bass, and volume as a function of the room you choose to place the soundbar in. That’ll make it incredibly easy to juice out the best performance possible as soon as you set the sound bar up, which will be an easy process now that they’ve added NFC support for easy Wi-Fi setup, and kept compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Apple Airplay 2, and Google Assistant.
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 will be available in Australia from October 5, 2021, with a retail price of $699.