Sonos Beam Compact Smart Soundbar with Voice Control

This Beam is a soundbar that does a bit of everything and does it well, excelling at both music and movie soundtracks, and fits seamlessly into Sonos’ existing network of multi-room speakers. The feature-packed Sonos Beam delivers very good sound for a small soundbar and comes with Alexa voice controls.

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam’s soundbar has a fairly plain design, mostly made of solid plastic. A mesh-like fabric cover surrounds the whole bar, which can get dirty or tear. On top of the bar, there are three touch-sensitive buttons.

Sonos Beam Overview

The Sonos Beam is an impressive soundbar, and easily one of the smartest on the market, supporting everything from Alexa to Apple’s Airplay 2  – even if the Sonos Arc is likely to eclipse it thanks to Dolby Atmos support. 

It’s smart in the new sense of the word (see: smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home) but, thanks to its inclusion of Sonos’ multi-room audio tech, it’s even easier to use and more well-connected than the competition, too.

If anything’s wrong with the Beam it’s that this is only Sonos’ third attempt at a TV-connected speaker and, therefore, isn’t as streamlined as other soundbars on the market. It’s also not packed with the latest and greatest in-home theater tech, like Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X, that creates a more immersive experience.

Sonos Beam Design

Let’s first look at where the Sonos Beam fits within Sonos’ product family: there are currently five Sonos speakers (the Sonos Move, Sonos One, Sonos Play:1, Sonos Play:3, and Sonos Play:5) and four home theater audio setups (Sonos Arc, Sonos PlayBar, Sonos PlayBase, and the Sonos Beam) you can buy right now. And that’s not including add-ons like the Sonos Sub.

The Sonos Beam is widely considered the entry-level soundbar of the product line-up. The size of the Sonos Beam is key. It’s a soundbar that will happily sit in front of a 32-inch setup or a 40-inch plus TV. (We should know, as we tested it on both variants.)

It’s a slick-looking device, taking its design cues from both the Sonos One and the Sonos Play:5. The controls on the top are touch sensitive and look identical to the Sonos One. 

Sonos Beam Setup

Setup of the Sonos Beam is two-fold. If your TV has HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel, there will be a symbol near the HDMI slot), then it’s a cinch. HDMI ARC allows the Beam to sync up audio and picture and have everything working through your TV’s remote in a matter of minutes. 

That last part is pretty important for the Sonos Beam as the device doesn’t come with a remote.

As with all Sonos products, the idea is that you use the Sonos app to control volume, link up speakers and the like.

This is fine but in a home theater scenario, you want this as an addition rather than the sole way to control your speaker. And that’s why Sonos chose HDMI ARC.

Sonos Beam Voice Control

There is, of course, another way to control the Device and that is with your voice. One of the big features of the Beam is its Alexa integration.

This is something that was first seen on the Sonos One (where it works extremely well), but using Ito control a part of a television is a whole other matter.

Sonos Beam

 It’s something that’s happening more and more – Alexa voice control is now available with the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick and it is also available in the Amazon Fire TV Cube.

There’s a thread here: all of these products are Amazon-based, and you will need an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to get the most out of the Sonos Beam’s voice functionality.

If one of these are plugged into your TV, then the Beam offers up the power to search Netflix and Amazon Prime – something which is fun, if still a little awkward, to do. 

Beamed Sound, TV Control

Sonos touts the 3.0-channel Beam as its “most advanced sound bar.” Its speakers are designed to bounce (or “beam”) sound off your walls, and include a center channel with two woofers, two more woofers for left and right channels and a single tweeter. At the front of the unit are two passive bass radiators with another one at the rear. 

Sonos Beam

The system comes without a wireless subwoofer, though you can add the $700 Sonos Sub if you like.

Sonos does sell the two together for $1,000 ($100 off the price of both separately), or a “three-room set” that includes a Beam and two Sonos Ones for $650 ($50 off).

Two Ones can also be wirelessly paired with the Beam for rear-channel surround effects while a full “5.1” system (Beam, Sub and two Ones) would cost $1,350


Sonos Beam Performance

The Beam produces a wider sound than you’d guess from looking at it, and it delivers balanced treble, midrange and bass.

But if you’re used to the sound quality of a Let’s first look at where the Sonos Beam fits within Sonos’ product family: there are currently five Sonos speakers (the Sonos Move, Sonos One, Sonos Play:1, Sonos Play:3 and Sonos Play:5) and four home theater audio setups (Sonos Arc, Sonos PlayBar, Sonos PlayBase, and the Sonos Beam) you can buy right now.

Sonos Beam

And that’s not including add-ons like the Sonos Sub., you’re unlikely to be wowed by the audio. While it has enough bass, it won’t rattle the floor without adding a subwoofer. If you need more low end, you can get the Beam bundled with a subwoofer for $999.

Sonos prides itself on music playback, and overall the Beam meets the high expectations. Florence Welch’s vocals on Florence + The Machine’s “June” were full and warm.

On Guns N’ Roses’s “Shadow of Your Love,” the Beam nicely balanced the distorted guitars and crashing cymbals; the cymbals on the same song through the SB450 sounded harsh and too bright.

However, the SB450 produced much stronger bass, as did the Sonos Playbar.

As a small soundbar, the Beam doesn’t get extremely loud, but it’s loud enough to fill a medium-size room.

Frequently Asked Question

Is the Sonos beam worth it?

But if you have a reasonably new smart TV with HDMI ARC and you’re still using the built-in speakers, the Sonos Beam is an excellent upgrade for its $399 price. … You’ll get a huge upgrade in TV sound quality, solid Alexa performance, and music quality that you, listener of built-in TV speakers, will thoroughly enjoy

Is Sonos beam loud enough?

However, the SB450 produced much stronger bass, as did the Sonos Playbar. As a small soundbar, the Beam doesn’t get extremely loud, but it’s loud enough to fill a medium-size room.

Which is better Sonos beam or Bose 500?

The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Bose Soundbar 500. The Sonos is a more compact soundbar that can get a bit louder, and its stereo frequency response is more accurate. The soundstage of the Sonos is wider, which feels more immersive. … The Sonos only supports wireless streaming via Wi-Fi.

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