The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) adds Dolby Atmos to one of my favourite soundbars. It's not a huge upgrade by any means, so current 1st-gen Beam owners (like me), can probably give it a miss. But if you're considering a compact soundbar, you can't go wrong with the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), despite the S$100 price hike over its predecessor.
- Four full-range drivers and one centre tweeter
- HDMI (eARC), Ethernet and Wi-Fi
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, Apple AirPlay 2 support
- Dimensions: 69 (H) x 651 (W) x 100mm (D)
The new Beam is able to produce a Dolby Atmos surround effect without using any upward-firing speakers. In fact, the Gen 2 Beam has the exact same speaker configuration as the older version. There are four full-range midwoofers, a centre tweeter for higher frequencies and three passive radiators for low frequencies. But the Beam 2 has a faster processor that lets it create two new audio paths to simulate the Dolby Atmos experience. A far-field microphone array ensures that your voice will be heard from across the room, should you wish to give the Beam's built-in voice assistant (pick either Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant) a voice command.
The Beam 2 has a perforated plastic grille, which I feel is easier to clean and maintain than the original's fabric cover. This tweak also gives the new Beam the same aesthetics as the larger and more expensive Sonos Arc. Physically, the Gen 2 is the same size as the original and has the same connectors (HDMI eARC and Ethernet). Some may be disappointed by the lack of a HDMI passthrough, but that was never happening. Even the Arc doesn't have one. The Beam comes in either black or white, and you can attach it to the wall with the optional S$99 mount.
Is the Dolby Atmos on the Beam 2 worth the extra S$100? Definitely. Movies with Dolby Atmos felt more alive and there was a greater sense of envelopment. There isn't much of a height dimension to the sound, though. For music, the Beam 2 continues to impress. The soundstage is wider than expected for its size. And despite using the original Beam for a couple of years now, I'm still constantly surprised by its balanced yet punchy sound. But frankly, for non-Dolby Atmos content, I cannot really tell the difference between the new and old Beam.
Besides its excellent audio chops, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is easy to set up using its iOS or Android app. But only the iOS app has the Trueplay tuning feature that calibrates the soundbar to your room. If you have the budget, you can add the Sonos Sub to give the Beam more help with the bass. Or add more Sonos speakers to create a wireless multi-room system. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is available now at S$799 from Amazon, Lazada and Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by Sonos.
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