The Sonos Arc is the flagship soundbar from the audio firm best known for its multiroom wireless speakers. It's a significant step-up from the compact, mid-range Sonos Beam (Gen 2), while offering the same smart features (Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa), and expansion options (for a Sonos-based home theatre system) in a larger, more premium package.
- 11 Class-D amplifiers (three tweeters and eight midwoofers)
- HDMI (eARC), Ethernet and Wi-Fi
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, Apple AirPlay 2 support
- Dimensions: 87 (H) x 1142 (W) x 116mm (D), 6.25kg
This isn't my first rodeo with the Sonos Arc. And I must say it sounds as good as I remembered, probably even better. But that aside, things have also changed quite a bit in the three years since my first experience with the Arc. For one, the amount of Dolby Atmos content has grown significantly. Popular streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ now offer plenty of TV shows and movies in Dolby Atmos. Many televisions, even budget ones like the Hisense E7H, also come with an HDMI eARC port and Dolby Atmos support. What I'm saying is that there's no excuse not to get a Dolby Atmos soundbar nowadays. Especially when they are also found in budget soundbars.
When it comes to premium soundbars, the Sonos Arc is almost certainly one of the top picks from audio reviewers in their yearly roundups. While the Sonos Beam uses psychoacoustic tricks to create the Dolby Atmos effect, the Arc actually has two upward-firing drivers. So you will experience “true” Dolby Atmos. It also has side-firing drivers that make for a wider soundstage. Physically, the Arc is longer than the Beam, and it just looks better when paired with a 55-inch and larger TV. It should fit under most TVs, though it may block the IR signals from the remote for certain models. Alternatively, Sonos also sells a wall mount for the Arc for S$129.
Since my review in 2020, Sonos has added height adjustment for its upward-firing drivers in its S2 app. It's useful if you have a preference for the height of the Dolby Atmos effect. Specifically, I used the forest fire scene in Netflix's Roma to calibrate the height. There's also a Speech Enhancement feature in the app that makes for clearer dialogue. Movies such as Dune and Blade Runner 2049 sound great with the Arc. Action scenes are impactful and immersive. The bass is present, but perhaps not as rumbly as some would like. Adding a subwoofer, even the smaller Sub Mini, helps. Music, especially vocals, sounds less “in your face”, especially at lower volumes, than the Beam. On the other hand, you can now play Dolby Atmos music from Apple Music on the Sonos Arc, though the new Sonos Era 300 is more suited for this.
Sonos has increased the price of the Arc since its debut. It now costs S$1,699, up from S$1,499. That's almost twice the price of the S$899 Beam, but the Arc isn't exactly two times as good. Which only shows the value offered by the Beam, despite its own price hike. However, the Arc is undoubtedly the better Sonos soundbar. It really comes into its own in movies, especially with a good Dolby Atmos mix. Pair it with Sonos' other products — Sub (Gen 3) to shore up its bass, add some surrounds, like the Era 300 or Era 100, and you'll get yourself a mostly wireless home theatre system that's practically Apple-like in its ease of use, and sounds very good to the average, non-audiophile consumer. The Sonos Arc is available from Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon SG.
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