Sonos Beam (GEN 2)
Compact Smart Soundbar w/ Dolby Atmos, Voice Control, Apple AirPlay 2, HDMI eArc
Incredible Dialog Performance
The ability to understand dialog is critical for the enjoyment of TV and movies. With room-filling special Dolby Atmos effects and the best reproduction of dialog we have heard in this price range, the Beam Gen 2 stands at the top of its class.
Part of the Great Sonos Ecosystem
Sonos has the best app we have seen for discovering streaming music and lets you tie rooms together seamlessly. The Beam Gen 2 not only does great TV sound but gets you into their world of music allowing you to fill your home with different Sonos products for enjoyment anywhere.
Compact and Expandable
The Beam Gen 2 can fit right under most TVs or can be hung on the wall with an optional mount. But we really love how you can later add more Sonos speakers to expand your system, from the Sonos Sub to Sonos One’s for surround speakers, the Beam II will adapt its audio depending on the other speakers you add, just super cool!
Company & Product Overview
When the first Sonos soundbar called the Playbar was released in 2013, it totally shocked the home theater world with its sound quality, access to music, and ease of use. Sonos as a company prides itself on making great-sounding, simple-to-use products, that are built to last. One thing we really appreciate is how they also make them upgradeable via software as technology improves.
When the Playbar first came out, it had a unique feature at that time of being able to learn the remote control codes of your TV, enabling you to simply use the remote supplied with your TV to control its volume and mute, while you would access all of the great streaming music functions and set up options with their app. And we would be remiss if we did not point out the Sonos app is just flat out one of the best ones out there for controlling your music.
Another great feature of the Sonos ecosystem is you can add components and group them together. This enabled that first Playbar to become part of a whole-house music system and be grouped with other zones. It truly was revolutionary for its time.
Sonos later introduced a wireless subwoofer you could pair with some of their products. Then they released their revolutionary room tuning software called TruePlay, which with an iPhone, allowed anyone to simply walk around the room while test tones were playing and the app then made the acoustic corrections to remove room problems. In most cases, this greatly improved the audio. Owners of the first Playbar simply updated it to enable these great features.
As you might imagine, the way Sonos thinks about future-proofing their products makes us big fans at Audio Advice.
After the release of the Playbar, Sonos released the Playbase, and then the Beam. The Beam quickly became the best-selling soundbar in the US in the $350-$500 price range for its wonderful sound, ease of use, and great form factor. The Sonos Arc was the first Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar from Sonos and was an instant hit. If you want to find out more about the benefits of Dolby Atmos, check out our video or article on Dolby Atmos.
Since the Beam was introduced in 2018, we thought Sonos might come out with an updated version soon and we are happy to announce the arrival of the new Beam Gen 2. It has a host of feature enhancements, but most importantly, Dolby Atmos capability!
The Beam Gen 2 is a compact and beautiful soundbar designed to greatly enhance your TV sound. It can be positioned under your TV on the same cabinet or wall-mounted. It is only about 2 ¾” tall, by 4” deep and just over 25 ½” wide, making it able to easily fit into most environments.
Like the original Beam, the Beam Gen 2 has full voice control, Apple Airplay 2, and the great Sonos app. It continues the nice capacitive touch controls on top for basic functions and an easy way to turn off the microphone with one button for privacy. Two other great features you can access through the app also continue. Night Sound softens the dynamics and bass output. Voice Enhance will make dialog easier to understand on some content. Plus, you have tone controls through the app as well.
When Sonos developed the Arc, they came up with a new way to perforate the grill for better sound and appearance. This same type of grill is on the new Beam Gen 2. Like the original Beam, the Beam Gen 2 is available in a matte black or matte white finish.
The connection for your TV is upgraded to eARC. HDMI eARC unlocks a much higher bandwidth to support uncompressed audio formats like Dolby Atmos, DD+, True HD, and more. DTS fans will be happy to know a November 2021 update will add DTS Your TV will also need an eARC connector to get uncompressed Dolby Atmos, however, if it has an older ARC connection, you will still get Dolby Atmos, but it will be compressed. For even older generation TVs that only have an optical out, Sonos includes an optical to HDMI adapter.
Setting up Beam Gen 2 is even easier now as you just need to hold your smartphone near it to transfer your wireless network credentials.
The Beam Gen 2 has the same number of speaker drivers and amplifiers as the original, but Sonos has upgraded the processor to a much more powerful version that enables them to change the way the 5-channel phased array of drivers operate. This new technology is what allowed them to deliver amazing multi-dimensional Dolby Atmos. With Dolby Atmos, you can hear raindrops falling on your head or an insect buzzing all around the room, it is pretty incredible.
We were lucky enough to get a Beam Gen 2 for early testing and put it through its paces to see how it would perform in delivering not only immersive Dolby Atmos but also how it enhanced normal TV viewing.
We decided it would be fun to test the Beam Gen 2 in the same room where we tested the Sonos Arc. The Arc really impressed us with its ability to throw out an immersive Dolby Atmos soundstage. With 11 drivers it should. So we were very curious to see how the Beam Gen 2 would pull off Dolby Atmos with just 5 active drivers.
Setting up the Beam Gen 2 was a snap, as the new method of holding your smartphone close by was very simple. Just remember when the app is asking you to scan the area of the Beam Gen 2 that is to the left of center, that your camera on your phone is typically not centered. This got us the first try, but once we adjusted for the camera being off-center, we were good. When we connected the HDMI cable to the eARC port on the Sony, the Sony TV even recognized we had connected a compatible device and set up everything automatically. We then ran Sonos TruePlay to tune the Beam Gen 2 to the room we tested it in. This room for reference had 9’ ceilings and is about 12’ wide and 16’ deep, a typical family room.
Being the hard-core home theater enthusiasts that we are, for this audition, we had to remember that the Beam Gen 2 is all about someone improving the sound of their built-in TV speakers. It is certainly not made to be the best home theater experience out there. When you look at it in that context, you can see why the original Beam was such a great seller.
To set a reference point, we first played some of our test scenes on just the TV speakers. Which, in this case, was a better than normal TV as we used a Sony OLED where the entire screen is an active audio surface. For fun, we used some of the exact same scenes we had used when testing the Arc.
These were scenes from Night on Earth, Stranger Things, and The Irishman, plus we tried Away, and Midnight Sky.
In all cases, the thing that impressed us the most about the Beam Gen 2 is how well it does dialog. We felt it produced as good — if not better — dialog than the Arc. Voices had a rich, full sound, which surprised us considering the size of the Beam Gen 2. This is the part that by itself makes the Beam Gen 2 worth the price of admission over TV speakers. You will be able to understand the dialog far better and it will sound much more realistic.
Bass effects will also be more impactful and far deeper than your TV speakers, although the Beam Gen 2, like the original Beam and the Arc, is limited on the bass it can produce. Adding the Sonos Sub will make a huge difference in bass performance.
We played the scene from The Irishman which is about 5 minutes into the movie. There are two couples in a car, then the scene flips to an outside clip. The Beam Gen 2 did a great job of producing the dialog inside the car. As good, and maybe better to us, than the Arc. However, when the outside scene came on, you did get some sense of space but it was nothing like the Arc in putting the insects directly above our heads.
Next, we tried the episode "Jungle Nights", from Night on Earth. At about 3:30 in, you should be able to feel like you are surrounded by night sounds in the jungle. Again, the Arc amazed us here, but the Beam Gen 2 gave some sense of space but was far short of the Arc.
Midnight Sky has an intro scene with George Clooney walking into an empty cafeteria. We had not tried this on the Arc, but the Beam Gen 2 did a great job here of letting you hear the echo of his footsteps as he entered the room and sat down. As he ate, you could also sense the sound of his utensils echoing in the room.
Our analysis is that the Beam Gen 2 does just a fantastic job on voices and sounds within the vocal region. It lets you hear very subtle changes in volume in the performer’s voices, which greatly enhances the experience. But the Arc is much better at giving you immersive Dolby Atmos, and it should be at a price point almost twice as expensive as the Beam Gen 2.
The audio quality of the Beam Gen 2 is astounding for what it sells for. For those of you making your first step up from built-in TV speakers to something better, it is a wonderful choice. The Beam Gen 2 also seems really well suited for a bedroom or secondary room system where you want something small that is much better than TV speaker sound.
If you want a soundbar and want immersive Dolby Atmos, we suggest you save up for the Sonos Arc. The Arc with the Sonos Sub is just an incredible soundbar system that is super simple to get great performance from. Or if you want even better, separate audio components will take you to a whole other level. Our team can help you design a great system with our free home theater design tool.
If music is as important or more so than TV/movie sound and you want to stay around the price range of the Beam Gen 2 or even the Arc, consider a Sonos AMP with a great pair of bookshelf speakers. The AMP has an ARC connection for the convenience of the TV remote controlling its volume and you can couple it with a pair of speakers that will sound far better for music. Or some of the better, powered speakers like The Fives from Klipsch are a great option too.
But, if you simply want better sound quality than your TV speakers provide, and you want to stay in the price range of the Beam Gen 2, we have not heard a soundbar that does a better job at getting the all-important dialog right, anywhere near its price.
Smarter on the inside
A 40% faster chip pushes the sonic limits for a soundbar this size, creating two new audio paths for a virtual surround sound experience.
More beautiful on the outside
The new precisely perforated grille elevates the elegant design and blends seamlessly into your home, whether you place Beam on furniture or mount it.
Exceptional sound all around
Dolby Atmos maps sound in space for a 3D effect so you experience planes as if they're flying overhead, hear footsteps moving across the room, and feel the score surround you.
Crystal clear dialogue
Oscar-winning sound engineers helped fine-tune Beam to make sure you hear every word and can always follow the story. For even greater clarity when characters whisper or the action intensifies, turn on Speech Enhancement in the Sonos app.
Made for music
Stream music, radio, audiobooks, and podcasts from all your favorite services with detailed stereo sound that fills the room.
Breeze through setup
Go from unboxing to unbelievable sound in minutes with only two cables and step-by-step guidance from the Sonos app.
Tuned to perfection
Trueplay tuning technology adapts the sound for the unique acoustics of the room so your content always sounds just the way it should.
Ask Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to set timers, check the news, control your smart home devices, and more.
- Channel Configuration - 3.0-Channel
- High-Frequency Drivers - 1 x Tweeter
- Full-Range Drivers - 4
- Amplification - 5 x Class-D
- Inputs - 1 x HDMI - ARC/eARC
- Ethernet - LAN
- Wireless Audio Protocols - AirPlay 2, Sonos, Wi-Fi
- Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
- Audio Decoding - Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD
- HDMI Compliance - ARC, eARC
- Dimensions - 25.6 x 2.7 x 3.9" / 651 x 68.6 x 100 mm
- Weight - 6.2 lb / 2.8 kg
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