Sonos Beam (Gen 2) adds Dolby Atmos and HDMI eARC support

Chris Davies - Sep 14, 2021, 8:00am CDT
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) adds Dolby Atmos and HDMI eARC support

Sonos has revealed its newest soundbar, with the next-generation Beam (Gen 2) keeping the compact footprint but adding Dolby Atmos support and more. The updated version follows on from the larger Sonos Arc, with HDMI eARC support and 3D audio from a single box, though at a much more attainable price.

In fact, the Beam (Gen 2) will be $449 when it goes on sale from October 5. Preorders open from today.

The original Sonos Beam launched back in 2018, and proved a turning point of sorts for the connected speaker company. Combining smart speaker functionality with Apple AirPlay 2 support, along with the convenience of a single HDMI cable to hook up to your TV, Beam straddled the soundbar and music speaker segments. However, although it could be paired with a set of wireless rear surround Sonos speakers, it didn’t support Dolby Atmos.

That’s something Sonos has amended this time around, with the second-generation Beam. Updating processing power – with a 40-percent boost compared to the first-gen speaker – means support for both Dolby Atmos and HDMI eARC, just like the larger and more expensive Sonos Arc. Despite occupying the same footprint as the original Beam, meanwhile, the Beam (Gen 2) has new phased speaker arrays for room-filling audio.

So, there are five Class-D digital amplifiers inside, driving a center tweeter and four elliptical midwoofers. Three passive radiators build out the low-end. Thanks to the new processor, however, this upgraded Beam can handle two new audio paths – for surround and height channels – for overhead effects.

As you’d expect, there’s Sonos Trueplay to automatically adjust the audio settings according to the acoustic properties of the room. The Sonos S2 app can be used to manually tweak treble, bass, and loudness, too. There’s optional speech enhancement for making dialog clearer, while Night Sound mode lowers the intensity of loud sounds while simultaneously raising the level of quiet sounds, for more balance and clarity at low volumes when the rest of the house is asleep.

A far-field microphone array supports Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, and there’s still AirPlay 2 support. As well as HDMI eARC there’s a 10/100 ethernet port, WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), and an IR receiver to sync the Beam (Gen 2) with the TV’s remote. NFC is included, now, for faster setup.

The whole thing is finished off with a new aesthetic, with a reworked polycarbonate grille with hundreds of perforations. That wraps around the body of the speaker, and is available in matte black or matte white. Capacitive buttons on the top handle play/pause, volume, and microphone mute.

Down the line, meanwhile, Sonos is promising Amazon Music Ultra High Definition audio – at up to 24-bit / 48 kWh lossless – in certain regions. You’ll need an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, with Dolby Atmos Music supported on Arc and Beam (Gen 2). DTS Digital Surround support is also coming later this year, for Sonos S2-based models.


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