June 21, 2018

Clever new sound bar is compact, powerful and very smart

09 June 2018, 08:44 | Marlene Myers

Juan Garzon CNET

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam will feature HDMI ARC, a first for Sonos, as well as Siri voice control and AirPlay 2.

-Tune with Trueplay. Trueplay analyzes all the acoustic factors in your room-size, layout, décor and speaker placement-and tunes Beam to sound its absolute best. A little over two-feet long, the speaker comes in black or white and has always-listening speakers.

Sound system maker Sonos is today taking the wraps off its new Beam sound bar. Most surprisingly, it's not really a smart speaker in the sense we've come to expect.

And that's something Sonos is going to change, with the release of a new soundbar that can, adding to its entertainment system line-up with a third sound option, made for big sound for movies, TV shows, and music, but developed in a smaller system that also has the microphone you can talk to.

Beam hits store shelves around the world July 17 and will retail for $399. You'll be connecting the Beam to your TV's HDMI-Arc port, which will allow your smart TV's apps to shoot sound to the Beam.

While the Beam may not be as powerful as the PlayBase or PlayBar its just as smart and connected and might be a great starter for those that are interested in the Sonos lineup without breaking the bank too much on its more expensive soundbars which are $700.

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AirPlay 2 will be available on Sonos Beam, Sonos One, Playbase and second-gen Play:5 through a software update.

One other small wrinkle is the fact that the physical controls have been moved from the side to the top on Beam, which could be an issue for people planning to put the speaker on a shelf under their TV. Siri support happens via AirPlay 2 direct from your iOS devices, and that support will officially be rolled out this July to Beam and other compatible devices. Also, since this is a Sonos speaker after all, you can pair the Beam with Sonos' other speakers to create a true surround-sound setup.

AirPlay 2 is a technology that lets users push audio to one or more speakers via multi-room streaming. While the device itself offers customizable bass and treble controls, there are five class-D digital amplifiers that already tuned by the manufacturer to compliment the speaker. Allows Sonos Beam to support DOLBY DIGITAL and stereo.

Power supply: Auto-switching 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz AC universal input.

While Beam may not be able to compete with Playbar on sound, one area where it blows it out the water is features. Connects directly via rear surrounds or Sonos Sub to 5 GHz broadcast.

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