Sonos has a new generation of Beam soundbars. On the one hand, this is the same model – that’s why the name has been preserved. On the other hand, it was thoroughly revised, which is why it got the Gen 2 prefix. Let’s figure out what has become better in it.
I can assume that the main innovations of Sonos Beam Gen 2 are a consequence of the adaptation of the model to the modern Dolby Atmos standard (the first generation worked with Dolby Surround). Under this case, it was necessary to tighten the processor’s performance (in fact, about one and a half times), and also use HDMI eARC instead of the previous HDMI ARC. The difference is primarily in the maximum bandwidth. If ARC has only 1 Mbit / s, then eARC – as much as 37. In addition, an NFC module was added for easier integration with a smartphone.
Another notable change concerns the case itself. In the first generation it was covered with fabric, in the new one it was completely plastic. At the very least, it will be easier to take care of – after all, the soiled white color requires special attention. By the way, about the color: now the cables (power and for connection) have also become white. But the device is also available in black with black cables. As before, the kit includes an optical adapter for those who do not have HDMI eARC.
All connectors, of course, are grouped in the center on the rear panel. In addition to HDMI and power, wired Internet can also be connected here. But there is no special need for this, because the soundbar works great over Wi-Fi of any of the bands (2.4 and 5 GHz). The only button next to the connectors is for connecting a smartphone. With us, it has remained unused.
On the top panel, there are still touch-sensitive buttons for starting and stopping playback, as well as adjusting the volume. Plus a status indicator and microphones for the voice assistant.
Working with the application
It is quite natural to use such a perfect device as a home media center. To do this, you will need to download the Sonos app. Actually, you will need it anyway for simple setup and connection of the soundbar. First, we start adding a device – the application will find the Beam itself and offer to connect. To connect, an NFC module is used: with a smartphone, you need to touch the part just to the left of the control panel on the top panel. After that, the application will offer to connect to the TV as well – here it is already necessary to physically insert the cable into the connector, if you have not already done so.
Please note that the TV must have exactly HDMI eARC (or ARC), that is, regular HDMI is not suitable. If there is no such connector, you can use an optical output adapter.
The application will obviously take more than a couple of minutes. It is quite complex, the menu is not always logical, so it will take some time to study. But there are many interesting features here – for example, you can connect different Sonos audio devices in different rooms and control them via your smartphone. Another interesting possibility is to build a media library directly in the application.
The thing is actually very practical. In the settings, you can connect the main streaming services to which you have a subscription (for example, Spotify or Deezer). Surprisingly, there is even Yandex.Music. After adding an account, the service appears under the “Music” tab, you can control music directly from the Sonos application. If you have several services, this is more convenient than switching between different applications.
In principle, any soundbar sounds better than a TV – if only because it is a specialized audio device. The Sonos Beam Gen 2 is worth buying if you don’t watch movies casually, but really know how to enjoy good quality and do not spare money for a subscription. For example, Dolby Atmos is not supported in all online cinemas (there is, for example, Netflix).
With the right content, the experience is absolutely amazing. The sound is really spacious, and this takes special effects to the next level. Sonos Beam Gen 2 can tune the sound to a specific room using TruePlay, but this requires an iPhone or iPad. The Apple device plays a key role in determining the characteristics of a room.
But even without fine tuning, the sound is very impressive. The difference with full-fledged 5.1 systems is felt, but there is also an effect of presence. That is, cars and bullets fly not only in front of you, but also somewhere on the sides. At the same time, the sound is perfectly detailed: you hear every rustle, the special effects do not drown out the voices of the heroes. Despite the compact size of the soundbar, the volume is quite sufficient to watch a movie with neighbors (even if they were not going to do it).
Most streaming services with non-Dolby movies are not to be expected. The sound of the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is at a high level, but the difference with Gen 1 and even devices twice cheaper can only be felt in comparison.
Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a soundbar for those who appreciate good sound and know where to get it. If we abstract from the first generation of Beam, the pluses include the available white color of the case (this is extremely rare in competitors) and compact dimensions. And, of course, great sound that cannot be described in words.