Sonos Beam can be a proper upgrade for your living room.
In early May , Sonos sent out invitations to a product announcement . The invitation contained a picture of a number of remote controllers with the text “you’re better than this” over. Speculation went on what the speaker producer was working on, and a month later, Beam’s light shone sound .
We know there are many who are waiting for a Sonos speaker with Dolby Atmos support – Sonos told us that this is around two years away – but they were probably disappointed with this launch. Beam is nevertheless not coined for this group. The company told us during a demonstration of the sound board in Oslo earlier this month.
Sonos markets Beam as a sound plan that is as good for movies and television as with music, and is intended for smaller to medium sized rooms. Typical smaller apartments in big cities, the company told us.
It is reflected by the size, but also the price that is $370 lower than Playbase. And while the latter measures 90 cm wide, 14 cm high and 8.5 cm deep, the Beam measures 65.1 x 10 x 6.85 cm. Beam, in other words, is significantly less than Sonos’ more expensive sound plan.
On the backside there are connectivity options.
Sonos Beam is considerably smaller than Playbar and Playbase.
The size makes Beam take up less space on the TV bench and does not seem as big and dominant on larger solutions. We really like the design – we have tested the white model – and it is stylish and simple, something that is common with all the Sonos products we have tested. The design is sabla good, we mean.
At the top, the indicator light and touch sensitive buttons for play / pause, microphone on / off and volume controls, while all of the connectivity options are located on the backside. Here we find Ethernet connector, HDMI output, Power connector and a pairing button.
The back reveals Beam’s limited connectivity. The most audio file is missing some possibilities, while for most it holds a lot of HDMI to HDMI or optical. The former is by no means in the Beam customer group.
These are the speakers that are in Sonos Beam:
- Four full area woofers.
- One treble.
- Three passive radiators.
- Five digital scientists in class D.
Beam also has five microphones, and that’s what it’s all about when Sonos says in the press quote that “you’re better than this” with a picture of a haunt of remote controllers. Away with the remote controls, in with voice control. And app, of course: all Sonos products can be easily controlled via the app.
As of today, Amazon Alexa is in the Beam and One speakers – a voice assistant who does not understand Norwegian, which in turn means that you can not access it on Sonos’ products in Norway. A good news is that Google Assistant is on its way, and this voting assistant gets support for Norwegian , but it is uncertain when. Sonos has also stated that they can think of Siri , but with Apple’s tradition in mind, I probably do not think it will happen to the first.
Thus, the Norwegian Sonos Beam and One users have to thank the app, something that does not do anything at all. The Sonos app is as solid as we are used to. By the way, you can also connect a remote controller with Beam so that you can use it to control the volume and the like. We connected the Apple TV Controller to Beam and it works as expected.
The app is just as good, but
The setup of Beam is easy via the app. One of the biggest news with the soundplank is that it supports HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel), which means that you can connect Beam directly to the HDMI input of the TV and then automatically play audio from the TV – including that which connects via HDMI – via Beam. The app automatically detects which TV is connected and then makes adjustments.
If you do not have HDMI ARC on your TV, you can use the supplied optical audio adapter to HDMI. Since I only have two HDMI inputs on the TV – I know it’s totally hopeless – I’ve taken advantage of the latter solution.
In the app, you can also set up rooms and connect Beam with other Sonos speakers, such as a bass box and two rear speakers in a surround sound system. We tested Beam with a pair of One Speakers – read our test by Sonos One – and it worked out top without a company’s bass speaker.
Because you should not be fooled by the size, Beam has a surprisingly good and deep bass. It’s probably not as much in the floor as with a dedicated bass speaker, but Beam is more apartment-friendly.
However, everything is not completely rosy with the app and playback. This is especially true when switching between TV audio and music streaming. Often, you want to play music on the speaker while the TV is on background, but as Beam plays all the audio connected to the TV, music flow will stop as soon as it detects new audio from the TV. Then you need to resume streaming through the app.
Another thing is the opposite. If you want to listen to the sound from the television, you may need to select this manually in the app manually by navigating to the “Browse” tab and pressing “TV.”
A solid sound experience – as expected
We are well acquainted with Sonos’ smart solutions and how well it works, so the big question with Beam is how good the sound is. Considering price and size, the sound is actually absolutely brilliant. Despite the relatively short distance between the left and right speakers, it is surprisingly good stereo in Beam.
Of products, we have mainly used Apple TV and Xbox One with Beam, while we have streamed from Spotify and radio directly from the Sonos app.
In the short two weeks we have tested Beam, we have heard and looked at a lot different. We have listened to all sorts of genres from jazz and classical music to heavy and bass hip hip and rock, but also podcasts and ASMR. The conclusion is that Beam generally supplies quite well. From vocal-focused songs such as Walk on Water by Eminem, the audio festival “Ompa till you die” by Kaizer Orchestra and the jazz hit “Lonesome Lover” by Max Roach.
Beam does not take up too much space on the TV bench.
We became somewhat skeptical when we initially sparked the title track of HBO’s “Westworld” and it shattered at the highest tunes at the beginning of the song, and at a relatively low level. Fortunately, Beam, like other speakers, found some recording time and that the soundtrack now plays the beautiful song as it should.
Sonos always picks on a neutral sound image without too much customization, but lets the user control this via the app’s equalizer.
Beam also delivers good movies and TV viewing, but here you notice some of the focus on speech.In an interview with The Verge , Sonos said they actually talked to the “Game of Thrones” producers to deliver the sound as intended.
– You’re dead if you can not hear what people are saying.
In itself an important focus, speech can often be somewhat cloudy in movies and series, but the adaptations of Sonos make the sound image not as powerful as music playback. This is especially noticeable during the World Cup where the commentators become very clear, while the sound from the stand disappears a little. Because it is clear that the speaker manufacturer has two different images for music and TV.
Beam is probably best for music, but it also delivers a good sound experience whether watching television or playing.
Sonos Beam comes in a small and nice wrapping, but do not be fooled by the size. Aside from the desire for a bit fuller and warmer bass, the soundboard is wolf in sheep’s clothes. It tackles everything you throw against it as long as you do not play too loudly and then we speak loudly.
The app is always brilliant and it’s easy to set up Beam and manage it this way. Unfortunately, Norwegian users have to wait for voting, but for the undersigned part it is far from any need. One plus is that you can use your remote controller with Beam.
The company will have the plus to embrace more voters instead of locking in to one. We like companies that are open and provide customers with options, and we hope more companies follow this trend. As an independent, this is nevertheless quite fooled by Sonos.
Of connectivity there is something in the smallest layer and we can in many ways understand those who want more than HDMI and optical fiber cable.
Sonos has a desire to make Beam the ultimate speaker for the living room, and here we feel the company hits blink. It works just as well as in home theater setup with two One Speakers. In other words, Beam is more flexible than Apple HomePod speakers and Google Home Max that cost around the same.
Not to mention it: Sonos Beam is one of the speakers that supports AirPlay 2.