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Sonos Beam (General 2) Review: More intensive sound in the same great design




CNN

Sonos started the year with its most affordable product পো the portable $ 179 ROM এবং and now we have the next generation of entry-level soundbars. The two generations of beams don’t change much, but it still cementes itself as a powerful alternative to rich sounds throughout music, radio, TV shows and movies.

And like other Sonos products, it has a simple setup and intuitive control. It’s a পুন 50 price increase with a minor rebuild, more processing chops, a better HDMI port and Dolby Atoms support. We spent more than a week and tirelessly carried the content – to the frustration of our neighbors – to see how good the new beam was.

To quote President Scrub from “Spaceballs”, let’s get these beaming things out.

A familiar build sounds more immersive

If you’re looking for an attached soundbar that doesn’t bother you with cables, it demands setup or painful interaction, this is a great option. For 449, it will sound a lot better than your TV, act as a connected speaker and deliver a rich, powerful punch.

Who is it for: The Sonos Beam is a great choice for those who want bold, rich sound with lots of smarts in a relatively small build for 449.

What you want to know: The new beam is almost identical to the original beam, with the same speaker hardware inside and a very similar design. That being said, if you have the first beam, there is no need to upgrade immediately. Beam Generation focuses on two more submerged words and features Dolby Atoms. Its clear and rich audio is more appropriately placed around you for 3D sound.

How it compares: The Sonos beam is probably more than enough for those who want to improve on the sound of your TV, which can be created with extra smart boat loads. For 449 it offers a wide soundstage that adds depth to almost any mix. Compared to our overall pick – the $ 179 Roku Streambar Pro – the sound is better with more clarity around the conversation, and a packed audio track doesn’t blend together. The Roku option does not feature Dolby Atoms, but it does double as a 4K streaming player.

Jacob Kroll / CNN

Unlike the flagship arc, the Sonos beam is only 25.6 inches long and pin-sized at a depth of just under 4 inches. And if these dimensions seem familiar, because it is similar to the original beam. It is still a long oval design with rounded edges on the left and right. You’ll find volume up, volume down, play or pause, a microphone sound and an LED indicator at the top.

It has a beautiful sturdy build around which is derived from polycarbonate materials. And it changes the design – it trades fake sides for plastics. This makes the beam feel a little more rough and modern. The sound is still pushed and generated by the side and there are a plethora of drilled holes and circles that let that sound go through. It is now compatible with the build quality of larger and longer arc soundbars.

Like other Sonos products, you can get beams in white or black. We’ve been testing the latter and it’s a beautiful shade that blends in easily anywhere. The Sonos logo is made with the front grille and fades quickly on a black background. The top of the beam is still slightly dipped, which adds a little flavor and makes the capacitive touch buttons easier to use. Rome still stands as the only Sonos product with physical and sensitive controls.

The back of the Sonos Beam General 2 has all the ports and a pairing button. You plug it in for power, connect it to a TV via an HDMI eARC port and an Ethernet port for a hardware connection. The HDMI EARC port is another physical change between one and two generations. This is a new port that will give this soundbar a longer life.

Jacob Kroll / CNN

So how does it look under the TV? Okay, it’s very small and dwarfed by the 65-inch and large TVs বিশেষ especially with a Sony A90J that sits flat on a surface. The beam is housed with 55-inch models and smaller ones.

In this size range of 2.72 inches it is a bit taller than other competing soundbars. This is an important factor if you place it directly in front of the TV, where the home entertainment cabinet, dresser or table has a minimum height. The beams can also be easily wall mounted with a range of third party options.

Similarly, internal hardware strengthens sound. The Sonos Beam leads with a center twitter, four UFOs, three radiators and five Class-D amplifiers. Changes with sound, though, from a new processor and software strategy. Originally the beam now has five speaker arrays as opposed to the three found in the original. And each of these is being processed for audio and how the beam can present it – two new arrays of sound placement, especially focusing on high altitude and ambient sound. The magic of this software is that Dolby Atoms – a proprietary blend for more immersive audio – beams.

Keep in mind, though, that this soundbar doesn’t have a physical speaker pointing upwards, which is usually an important part of a setup for Dolby. A week later though, we’re feeling more immersed, and that’s thanks to Sonos software – a big part of this product and the wider ecosystem.

Jacob Kroll / CNN

Here’s how fast you can set up the Sonos Beam – it’s much faster than calling tech support, and we’ll hedge faster than making sandwiches.

  • You need to download the Sonos S2 app and create an account or log in to your account.
  • Find a spot for the beam, power it up and connect the included HDMI cable to your TV.
  • Open the app and bring your phone closer to the beam when requesting. It will use near-field communication (NFC) for faster pairing; It is new in two generations.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts and you’ll get started quickly.

Our only drawback is that it will not automatically complete the audio tuning for the house. Sonos calls it TruePlay, and while the র্ক 899 arc will do it itself, you’ll need to get your iOS device out to complete Trueplay in Biome. And yes, it’s still only iOS (iPhone or iPad), so Android users need to use an equalizer in the app to customize the experience. For 449, it was a nice touch to do it automatically. In the tuning process, your iPhone is turned upside down and rotated in your space so that the microphones can hear the pings from the beam. It basically does audio mapping for your place and takes a few minutes.

Then, you better go formal and if you have other products, the beam is a part of your wider Sonos ecosystem. It could also be your first Sonos product and the launch of a system. Either way, all of those elements will be in the app, and Sonos makes it easy to integrate your streaming services.

Although the beam is connected to your TV via HDMI, it is also an attached smart soundbar. Thanks to the built-in microphone, it can also work as an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant Smart Speaker আপনি you’ll decide within the Sonos app. And the beam is quite responsive and as fast as any other connected smart speaker.

And as we said before, Sonos is really the ultimate for multi-room audio. Since all speakers are connected, you can easily create groups from within the app and send tracks or playback to specific rooms. Even different songs from the same source across those places. It’s Nifty.

If you don’t want to control it through the Sonos app, Beam supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard for easy casting from iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or Apple Watch. This is a great way to broadcast sound on HomePod, HomePod Mini and Sonos speakers at the same time. In our experiments, it is easy to group and play audio in this fashion, playback will start in about one or two seconds. Just be careful with the volume, as the Sonos at 50% is probably different from other speakers at 50%.

Jacob Kroll / CNN

As we expected, the Sonos beam sounds really good, and it’s roughly the same as the original beam. Audio tracks with TV shows or movies are richer, clearer and a bit more in focus. It all adds a balanced mix that is really enjoyable to listen to. This is the classic Sonos with more precision.

The biggest change is a larger soundstage, which has the effect that you can hear more within a given track. A larger orchestral track has more elements – aka instruments – front and center, but spread throughout the room. A dense track like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” lets you listen to different instruments: guitar, bass, saxophone, piano, drums and vocals all have spotlights. Through Jonas Brothers’ “Hesitite”, you can hear the transitions from the middle to the upper vocals and over a variety of instruments, including a deep lightning line in the back.

The beam can easily fill a house so we are sure that it bothered our neighbors many times during our exams. It doesn’t go that far or get as loud as the arc, which was room-shaking, but in a full blast the beam can lift the hair in your arm.

Another big addition is more processing power for the Dolby Atoms mix, while the content is made for it. Big speed blockbusters like “Star Wars” and “Avengers” get this special mix and the whole thing keeps you in the middle of the activity. With a simple 5.1 system, you have a rear speaker, front speaker and a physical base unit. Sonos uses beam software to keep the sound around you and the techniques that really run your mind (unlike the Jedi mind techniques of “Star Wars”). There are no up-firing speakers, which makes the task more difficult.

Jacob Kroll / CNN

Sonos has at least taken a step towards immersing our audio and honestly it does the job for most people. The result is more immersive when viewing content. In an episode of “The Mandalarian” on Disney +, you’ll hear and see RazorCrest Zoom before you. With “Wandavision”, the positional sound matches the view of the expanded world to create the feeling of being immersed. Similarly in “Avengers: Endgame” the climate ending is felt to a full extent beyond a regular old soundbar or TV speaker.

It’s seriously impressive, but not as good as a traditional thematic system from Sony’s choice or pairing the beams with two Sonos One SL speakers ($ 199 each) and a sub ($ 749). This will give you a system that has physical hardware, but most will not need it. When the time comes, though, it’s a big advantage of Sonos that you can feel free to extend the system if the time is right for you.

So that all the beams have been done, it is fair to say that the Sonos beam punches above its weight. This is not a completely new design or even a radical change; Sonos is still delivering quite significant sound from a pint-sized soundbar that can now place that audio around you in a variety of ways.

If you have the original beam, there is no immediate reason to upgrade. And we recommend not only getting it for the Dolby Atoms feature – you can get more mileage from a cheaper soundbar plus two rear and sub setup choices.

But if you’re looking for an attached soundbar that doesn’t bother you with wiring, setup or demanding painful interactions it works, the beam is a great option. For 449, it will sound a lot better than your TV, act as a connected speaker and deliver a rich, powerful punch. It will be a joy and a next level experience for many. Although it is not going to surpass the Sonos Arc.



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