Sonos Beam: New Smart Soundbar with Alexa, AirPlay 2 & Google Assistant
Sonos takes entertainment sound system up a notch with their new sound bar, the Sonos Beam. Quite a lot smaller than the original Sonos Playbar (90cm width), together and Sonos Playbase, the Sonos Beam corners the home entertainment space.
Where Have You Beam
Sonos Playbar, Playbase and now Beam are your options when it comes to TV speakers from the company. Both Playbar and Playbase have proven themselves to be worthy of a place under your big screen TV so how does the Sonos Beam fair?
Never has a sound bar been given so much to do in such a small package. Not only is it a wired sound bar for the entertainment centre, it also works as a wireless music streaming speaker for major music streaming services such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, SoundCloud, TuneIn, Google Play, Spotify and more so you don’t need a separate streamer or amplifier.
What You Need to Know About Sonos Beam
The begin with, it is priced at only 57% the price of Playbar and Playbase. This makes it not only affordable but a very attractive option for those looking for a decent sound bar.
It Has An Affordable Price Tag
Both Playbar and Playbase are on the market with the same high price tags, putting buyers off in the budget segment. The compact Sonos Beam is seen as a response to offer an entry level sound system for the living room. However, it doesn’t stop there.
The Beam is the first smart sound bar in the market bringing voice command to the living room without needing a separate voice assistant speaker. It is certainly better value that compared to the cost of buying a streaming box, amplifier, Alexa or Google devices and speakers separately to enjoy your movies in high quality audio, music streaming service and to control your smart home.
It Has Teeth
Its performance is by no means entry level. As drivers go, it has 4 full-range woofers, 1 tweeter and 3 passive radiators. These speakers are powered by 5 Class-D digital amplifiers with adjustable bass and treble. Together, the compact playbar pushes mid-range vocals and deep rich bass as well as crisp and clear dialogue to cover all types of entertainment or music playback.
The Sonos Beam has 5 digital amplifiers, only half the number of amplifiers compared to the Playbase and 4 amplifiers less compared to the Playbar. With five Class D digital amplifiers, four full range woofers and three passive radiators, it will throw its weight to produce high quality, room filling sound for a small to medium space. It also features Speech Enhancement function to make sure you catch the dialogue clearly so you don’t have to go rewind just to catch what was said on screen.
The Sonos Beam is not only a smart compact sound bar but pushes clear dialogue useful for when responding to your voice commands or listening to the dialogues on TV with its Speech Enhancement tech. This alleviates the need to bounce back and forth your TV viewing for part of the conversations you missed. The four full range woofers and three passive radiators are more than enough to pump out deep sounding bass.
It Takes Voice Commands
To make sure that the Beam does not miss any commands, it has five far-field microphones built-in. This ought to be enough to pick up your voice from anywhere in the room. The microphones are also used for advanced beamforming and multi-channel echo cancellation.
For voice control, it uses Amazon Alexa with the promise of Google Assistant support at some point in the future. There is a microphone LED that comes on when Alexa is ready. Should you decide to turn this off, the LED will also go off.
If you are tired of shouting our commands, you can also use the capacitive touch controls on the top of the speaker to control the volume level, go to the next or previous tracks, pause or play and disable the microphone.
Related: The Problems with Sonos One & How It Compares with Echo Plus
It Sound-Mirrors Your Device
For those lamenting about the absence of Bluetooth and not being able to stream music directly from your mobile devices, Sonos has finally introduced support for AirPlay 2. This is a solace at least for Apple iOS mobile users. Android mobile users will still need to use the Sonos App and cannot stream or mirror the sound of their device. The new generation AirPlay 2 offers simultaneous streaming to multi-room or multiple audio devices, just what Sonos speakers to designed to do.
Related: Bluetooth Support for Sonos – how to connect via Bluetooth
It Has Flexible Inputs
The Sonos Bean through HDMI ARC connection, pairs automatically with your TV and remote, so you don’t need to fiddle with the app on your smartphone or tablet to change the volume. Simply use the same TV remote to control the volume level there. Alternatively, you can control the sound with your voice.
Both Playbar and Playbase uses Optical output from the TV for sound input. Should you choose to use the Beam via Optical sound, an Optical Audio Adapter is included in the box to connect to your TV.
It Is Family Friendly
It also comes with a new Night Sound mode, a feature that lets you turn up the conversations and turn down the background sound in your shows and movies especially useful for night time viewing if you don’t want the loud boom to wake your kids.
As with all Sonos streaming speakers, it comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity as standard.
It Is Easy To Place
It is much smaller than the Playbase or Playbar and sits snugly under or in front of your TV, measuring only 65.1 cm wide. With a height of only 6.85 cm, it is quite thin and should not get in the way of your viewing when placed in front of the TV. You can also mount the Beam to the wall with a custom designed wall mount sold separately. Dimensions of the Beam: H6.85 x W65.1 x D10cm. Given its compact dimensions, the Beam only weighs 2.8 kg.
It is Expandable
You can pair the Sonos Beam with Sonos Sub to turn it into a 3.1 entertainment set giving it the much needed deep bass.
To up the volume, throw in a couple of Sonos One or Sonos Play 1 if you have a medium to big room for an even more immersive experience and stereo imaging.
You can add two affordable Play:1s to your Sound Beam giving it proper stereo channels, a more convincing sound imaging and enhanced immersive experience.
Related: Sonos PLAY:1 Speaker – the compact multi-room wonder
It Takes Voice Commands
Both options, given Sonos Beam’s voice control capabilities meant smartening up your Sub and Play:1s without additional voice assistant gadget.
Like Sonos One, it comes with integrated far field microphones for Amazon Alexa voice service and Google Assistant. It also supports Apple AirPlay 2 so you can stream directly from any iOS devices but NOT BLUETOOTH.
So if you do not have the dough to get everything up front, grow your entertainment system slowly by adding the speakers as and when you can afford to.
Here is a quick comparison table from Sonos
|Which product is right for you?||Beam||Playbar||Playbase|
|Amazon Alexa built-in||/|
If you are looking to upgrade the sound on your TV for a small to medium sized room, the Sonos Beam is a great start. Voice control via Alexa makes it perfect for those looking to add more smart to their home. If you haven’t already got an Echo in your living room, here is an opportunity to have an Alexa-enabled device.
Multi room and speaker streaming meant it plays well with other Sonos speakers you may already have. Besides, the option of extending your entertainment sound system with even more bass, spatial stereo and surround meant it’s future proof. As it already works with Alexa, it will work even better with an Alexa-enabled video streaming device for a completely remote-free experience.
One year on, the multi talented sound bar still has it, rocking the living room as a smart speaker, music stream, voice activated assistant and above all a sound bar for entertainment. Even with a small foot print, it does not compromise on sound quality. Pair it with a Sonos Sub and you have a match made in heaven. But even without, it still manages Sonos quality sound sufficient for a small to medium living room.
As for the price tag, it is cheaper than the Playbar yet comes with Amazon Alexa and AirPlay 2 support with Google Assistant as an option. So, if you haven’t got a smart speaker for the living room, now is the time.