Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Soundbar: Say Hello To Dolby Atmos!

Video Transcript >>

It’s the update you’ve all been waiting for, Sonos have just announced their brand new compact soundbar WITH (drum roll) Dolby Atmos, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) - let’s cover everything we know so far.

First Look at the New Sonos Beam Gen 2

Hi guys, it’s Jonathan from Smart Home Sounds, a Sonos specialist based here in the UK and we’ve been selling Sonos products for the past 10 years. Like you, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the addition of Dolby Atmos in a more affordable and compact soundbar from Sonos so we’re very excited about this new announcement.

There are also quite a few other upgrades on this new generation including a new grille design, upgraded processor, quicker setup process and more which we will cover too. Before we get into it, we will of course be doing a full in-depth review of the Beam (Gen 2) when we get our hands on one soon so make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss that. We’ll be covering whether it’s worth the upgrade from the Beam gen 1 model, how it compares with the Arc and of course a full test of Dolby Atmos and sound performance along with much more. We will also be sharing some Q&As as we get a chance to speak to Vice President of Product Programs at Sonos, Jeff Derderian, so it should be well worth a watch. But for now, let’s share everything we know.

Beam Gen 2 Overview

So Sonos have just announced their latest product release, an updated, second generation of their multi award-winning, industry leading Sonos Beam soundbar. Which does sadly mean that the original Sonos Beam will no longer be available to buy going forwards. However, this new Beam has been designed to “set the standard for compact soundbars with a richer, more immersive listening experience”. If we get into the key facts and figures, the Beam (Gen 2) will be available to pre-order from Smart Home Sounds either very soon or right now depending on when you’re watching (of course with our extended 6 year warranty) and will be available for general release on the 5th of October 2021. It comes with a slightly higher price tag of £449 so £50 more expensive than its predecessor. Our in-depth review will cover whether we think it’s worth that extra money. 

Dolby Atmos on the Sonos Beam

So let’s cover the new features. Obviously the main new addition is Dolby Atmos. If you’re not familiar, Dolby Atmos is an audio codec which offers immersive sound technology with 3D sound and height and surround channels to put you in the centre of the action with maximum immersion. So I always like to use the example of if a helicopter was to fly across the screen in a movie, you’d feel that replicated in the way you hear the audio in your room. Sonos’ more premium soundbar, the Sonos Arc (released back in 2020), was Sonos’ first Dolby Atmos enabled soundbar and since then there has been huge demand for a more compact and affordable option with Atmos support. The Beam (Gen 2) retains the same acoustic architecture as its predecessor with the same 5 internal speakers. Therefore as there are no upwards firing drivers like with the Arc so you’ll be getting a virtual surround sound experience. How does it do this? Well Sonos have made a few other upgrades.

Internals and new technology

Firstly, they’ve upgraded the processor to be 40% faster so it can deliver advanced audio processing. They’ve also improved the speaker arrays which is the software that coordinates the playback and interaction across all of the Beam’s transducers. There are now 5 speaker arrays on this Beam compared with 3 on the previous generation. The 2 new arrays are dedicated to surround and height information and apply time and frequency-based psychoacoustic techniques to provide separation between ear level and overhead audio. It’s all a bit technical but we can’t wait to test it all out and see how well it performs with Dolby Atmos content and how the virtual 3D surround sound works. Of course, the connections have been altered to offer support for Dolby atmos with a new HDMI eARC connection to support higher resolution formats.

Alongside these updates, Sonos have also worked with oscar-winning sound mixers and engineers and fine-tuned the Beam for better dialogue and clarity. Again, we need to put this to the test to see how much of a difference this makes. Of course, you’ll also be able to use Sonos’ Trueplay tuning technology to acoustically optimise the Beam to suit the space you’re in and have the options to add rears and a sub for a more immersive setup.

Beam Gen 2 Upgrades for Music

So we’ve mainly focussed on the improvements for movies and TV but there have also been some updates that will improve Beam when you’re using it to listen to music and for gaming. So when you’re not watching the TV, the Beam (Gen 2) will offer stereo sound for your music, radio, podcasts etc.

Alongside announcing the Beam (Gen 2) Sonos have also just announced that they have plans to offer both Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos music later this year via Amazon music. This means you’ll be able to access the highest quality streaming audio and hear tracks in lossless audio up to 24-bit/48 kHz on your Sonos speakers. You’ll also have access to Dolby Atmos Music for a more immersive listening experience. Sonos have stated that Amazon Music Ultra HD will be available on S2 on a huge list of their products which I’ll flash up on the screen here. While Dolby Atmos Music will only be supported by Arc and Beam (Gen 2), we’ll keep you guys posted with any new updates on this! We’re hoping that this update paves the way for support of Spatial audio or Dolby Atmos music from Apple Music, fingers crossed! 

Beam Gen 2 Upgrades for Gaming

For those into gaming, the HDMI eARC connection also offers improvements in this area. This new generation of Beam will now be able to receive and decode even more surround sound formats from your games console. Dolby Atmos obviously but also Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and uncompressed LPCM and I know a lot of you will benefit from DTS which they’ve said that support for DTS Digital Surround is on its way. Yes, DTS support is finally on the way. The 40% faster chip also means that you’ll be further immersed in your game with an enhanced sound performance and as the Beam is nice and compact, you should have space for the soundbar and your console by your TV. Finally, the Beam will use a dedicated 5GHz WiFi radio to connect to any surrounds or a subwoofer for a more reliable and low latency connection to reduce lag when gaming or watching movies.

Design Updates

Ok let’s move onto the changes in design. On the whole, the Beam (Gen 2) retains the same design and dimensions as the original Beam but there is one big change and that is the grille. Sonos have moved away from the cloth grille found on the first generation and gone for a wraparound, polycarbonate grille much like the one found on the Arc. They’ve stated that this will be easier to keep clean and be less susceptible to wear over time. If you look closely, you’ll see little perforations which ensures the grille won’t prevent the speaker from delivering a good sound performance. Other than that, it’s the same compact size, same top panel touch controls and is still available in a choice of matte black and matte white. Its also worth noting Sonos will now ship a white power cable with the White Beam Gen2 sonthing I know a lot of people have asked for.

Set Up Improvements

The final key update Sonos have made to the Beam Gen 2 is the addition of NFC for a faster setup process. You should be able to get up and running even quicker with this technology which will require you to tap your phone to the Beam when you’re setting it up in the app. NFC will pass WiFi credentials from your smart phone to the beam to speed up the process. You’ve also only got 2 cables to plug in so it should all be pretty simple and hassle-free.

Beam Gen 2 and Sonos Arc Comparison

So at first look, how does this compare with the first generation Sonos Beam and the more premium Sonos arc? Well I definitely need to wait until I get one here for some in-depth testing but there are some clear upgrades from its predecessor. I know a lot of you will be excited to see the addition of Dolby Atmos and they’ve also added some other nice tweaks to optimise performance and aesthetics. Compared with the Arc, it’s clear that this is supposed to be a good alternative for those on a tighter budget but I am interested in seeing how the virtual surround sound compares with the Arc which has dedicated upwards firing drivers.

As you guys know, we’re always really keen to hear your feedback and we really want to get you guys involved in our in-depth review. Comment down below your thoughts on this new product announcement and any burning questions you have for us to ask Sonos so that we can put them forward. I hope you guys enjoyed this video, we’re excited to see what you think of this new product launch. Make sure you’ve subscribed so you don’t miss that upcoming in-depth review and if you found this video helpful then give it a like, it really helps me out and means I can continue making these videos for you guys. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next video.