Sonos Beam 2 with Dolby Atmos review

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In the multi-room system of the market leader Sonos, there are TV sound supplements in the form of soundbars in three sizes. The Sonos Beam 2 is an attractive compromise between the very compact Sons Ray and the very bulky and more expensive Sonos Arc. At it’s price level, it appeals not only to listeners who simply want to improve the TV sound. But it is also aimed at music and home cinema fans who want to stream comfortably or really let it rip.

This is because the wireless Sonos architecture allows the Beam 2, which actually functions as a one-box system, to be expanded: other wireless Sonos speakers, such as a pair of Sonos One, can be used as rear speakers and integrated wirelessly. Likewise, the support of a Sonos subwoofer such as the brand-new Sub Mini via LAN or WLAN is possible.

However, the Beam 2 also plays alone, of course. Due to its 65 centimeters width, it should be able to produce enough stereo imaging to be used for listening to music as well. On top of that, the manufacturer surprises with a built-in Dolby Atmos integration. This already earned it the title of “smallest Atmos soundbar”. In all cases, however, the Sonos Beam 2 should stand relatively freely on a lowboard under the TV. If you absolutely want to have wall mounting, you can purchase corresponding mounting systems for TV plus Sonos Beam 2, but the bar, which measures 10 centimeters in depth, then also sticks out neatly to the front.

What’s inside the Beam 2?

However, the Sonos Beam 2 does not reproduce height information via Dolby Atmos with discrete channels. Instead, it relies on five discrete playback channels.

It is interesting that Sonos only uses a 2-way arrangement of woofer and tweeter for the center channel. This certainly helps with speech intelligibility in movies, but raises questions with high-treble, wide-ranging music. The other four channels, which are to form the sound beams, are designed as full range drivers. To emit the signals of surround information directed obliquely to the side, two of them really sit outside in the curves of the beam case. They are supposed to trim the image to width even in stereo mode and are by no means only active with movie sound.

In addition, the manufacturer placed three passive radiators in the compact housing. They are supposed to help in the low end when no subwoofer is connected.

Compared to the predecessor, a lot has changed in terms of components and circuitry, but nothing has changed in terms of dimensions and shape. Only the plastic grille, which looks more stable compared to the former fabric casing, clearly identifies Generation 2 as such. The colors are still matte black or matte white.

Connections and feed options

An HDMI eARC input is available for wired playback and control. This complies with the latest generation of this standard, but also works with older HDMI ARC devices without any problems. If the TV does not have HDMI ARC, an adapter with an optical input can be connected to the Beam 2. This is kindly included in the delivery.

There are no other wired audio inputs. Not even the analog jack sockets found on some other products. Only one network port is available for an Ethernet cable when the WLAN is overloaded or too weak.

It is not possible to connect the Beam 2 directly to a smartphone via Bluetooth, nor does it support Chromecast. Music streaming must therefore be done via Sonos’ own S2 app (available for iOS or Android), or alternatively via Airplay 2. The Sonos soundbar processes stereo data streams up to a resolution of PCM 24/48 without any problems.

App, touch or control from TV?

The Sonos Beam 2 can act as a pure TV soundbar as well as a streaming system. In the former case, most users will control it entirely via HDMI-eARC using the TV’s remote control. In the second case, the Sonos app is the sensible choice. The Sonos Beam 2 has the latest generation internal streaming hardware and therefore only works with the Sonos S2 app. This should also be taken into account if you want to combine it with older Sonos speakers.

The Beam does not have no additional remote control. However, the touch-sensitive surfaces on the lid of the case allow controlling basic functions like volume, play/pause and track skip. This is convenient if the smartphone with the app is currently misplaced or otherwise in use. Small pictograms make the operation pretty easy even without any buttons highlighted.

Behind the icons is a microphone that also enables voice control. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can be controlled with it.

Stereo, virtual or true surround?

The five discrete channels in the Beam 2 are driven by a digital signal processor that uses a Sonos proprietary algorithm to direct sound beams in specific directions by exploiting differences in time and phase between the individual channels. If two-channel material is played, all five speaker channels are active: The “center” reproduces the mono parts completely, two additional speakers each represent the signal parts deflected to the left and right. This is possible by means of differential signals to the averted loudspeakers even with a localization beyond the base width of the Beam 2. Thus, a convincingly wide stereo sound image as well as a virtual surround sound should succeed, even if the Beam 2 itself is only 65 centimeters wide.

The Sonos streaming architecture via the app is limited to stereo from conventional sources like NAS. The exception are the Amazon music streaming services that work with Sonos and have Dolby Atmos material in their program – the Beam 2 also plays these accordingly. You can also use Sonos’ own high-resolution web radio stations with your Beam via a paid subscription for around 10 Euros per month.

The dream of space

Discrete surround only works via HDMI-ARC from the TV, or via the optical adapter connected via HDMI. A TV with HDMI-eARC is required for Dolby Atmos processing. Since all speakers are arranged in one plane, one cannot speak of a channel-discrete Dolby Atmos, but of a virtual one.

A setting for improving dialog intelligibility and a night mode with bass limiter can be activated in the app. It is highly recommended to run through the Trueplay calibration system, especially for the Sonos Beam 2. An iPhone is required once for the acoustic calibration (Android is not possible because of the large variety of microphones used in the different devices). Especially in the bass range, the Sonos then measures itself quite cleverly acoustically to the position. Without calibration, there is a risk of emphasizing the low frequencies to the point of booming, especially when placed on large lowboards or close to the wall.

Incidentally, Sonos does not provide for room sound presets or intervention in what the processor does. The Beam converts the streams delivered to it into sound uniformly and to the best of its knowledge. According to Sonos, this is not necessary at all because of the five discrete speaker channels.

Listening test: This is how the Sonos Beam 2 sounds with stereo, surround and Atmos

Sonos is one of the companies that follow a clear line in sound tuning. This is not least characterized by the active loudness control, which is activated by default and adapts the bass and treble reproduction to the lower hearing sensitivity in this range at low listening levels. As a result, the Beam 2 sounds really rich. This is especially true when compared to similarly compact soundbars like the Bose Solo 5.

As usual with Sonos, the trebles are rather inconspicuously integrated into the warm, homogenous sound. The speech intelligibility in dialogs – very important for a soundbar or sounddeck – is convincing in movies and also in news broadcasts.

Made for music as well

Those who want to listen to music via their Sonos Beam 2 will also get their money’s worth, especially in relation to the size and price. With the soundbar, you can kill two birds with one stone: upgrade the flat screen with rich sound, which also provides the necessary impact for action movies and at the same time replace a much more space-consuming entry-level stereo system. These were the virtues of the Sonos soundbar, which really makes you feel good with Dolby Atmos movies like the block-buster”Top Gun: Maverick“.

What the Beam 2 doesn’t deliver, for all its splendor and punch, is an Atmos spatiality with real height localization or virtual surround effects that make you feel like there are really small effect speakers above or behind you. But, it still delivers a large cloud of sound that detaches well from the petite case. The roar is definitely reminiscent of a much larger box. And the precision in the bass is also fine. It doesn’t just drone on. Most normal users without a die hard home theater background should hardly miss a subwoofer, especially since low tones can quickly lead to deep discord in multi-family homes anyway.

Test conclusion, alternatives and competitors

It is clear that Sonos can play to its strengths when it comes to team play in the network. But the Beam 2 is also a really good compact soundbar with relatively strong bass. It is so compact that it can not only be easily placed in front of a flat screen without covering the screen. It’s also great for gamers, as long as they don’t need precise tracking like in first-person shooters. Silence reigns in the back, unless the Beam 2 is supplemented with a couple of Sonos One rear speakers. And shrewd gamers know: The most dangerous opponent is the one you don’t hear coming…

Specifications Sonos Beam 2

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  • Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: 500 Euro
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 65 x 6.9 x 10 cm
  • Weight: 2.8 kg
  • Features: 2-way, HDMI eARC, Virtual Dolby Atmos, LAN, WLAN, Sonos 2 App compatible
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En İyi Ev Ses Sistemi,
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müzik dinlemek için en iyi hoparlörler,
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