Tuesday, 14 September 2021 23:17

Sonos beams up Gen 2 Beam soundbar for superlatively smooth sonic escapades


With support for Dolby Atmos, and later this year, Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos Music support via Amazon Music, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) compact soundbar offers your ears a superior aural adventure, complete with support for smart speaker experiences from Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Whether you're a binge-watcher, a gamer, a music aficionado, a sports fan, a movie lover, an atmospheric adventurer, a smart-speaker question asker, a connected home automation expert or just love next-gen compact technology, Sonos wants to beam the idea of its newest soundbar into your consciousness: the Sonos Beam (Gen 2).

Promising to set the standard for compact soundbars with a richer, more immersive listening experience, Beam (Gen 2) is the newest version of its "industry-leading compact smart soundbar for TV, music, gaming and more."

As you'd expect, the new Beam offers "an upgraded, more immersive sound experience with greater depth and clarity, as well as support for Dolby Atmos."

Set to be available globally from October 5 for AUD $699, Beam (Gen 2) is available to pre-order now on Sonos.com.

Naturally, with high definition audio bigger than ever in 2021, Sonos also revealed plans to offer both Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos Music later this year via Amazon Music, giving listeners the ability to "experience the highest quality streaming music and immersive 3D audio."

Here's a video from the Smart Home Sounds YouTube channel:

Patrick Spence, Sonos CEO said: “We often talk about ‘Hollywood at Home’ being a real catalyst for our business, and Beam has played a huge part in this as one of the top-selling soundbars in its category.

“Taking what we've learned over the years about great listening and home theater, we've found a way to bring new features and significantly better sound to Beam, all in the same compact size that has proven extremely popular with customers.”

So, what are the new features and benefits?

Sonos says you will enjoy panoramic sound on the latest generation of Beam, now with support for Dolby Atmos. Just in time for Q4 2021's most anticipated movies and shows, the new Beam is upgrading the home theatre experience.

Compatible with more than 100 streaming services available in the Sonos app, fans can expect exciting improvements across sound, design and packaging, including:

  • 3D Audio with Dolby Atmos: Immersive sound technology that places you in the centre of the action, whether it’s experiencing planes as if they were flying overhead, hearing footsteps moving across the room, or feeling the score all around you.
  • Enhanced Sound, Same Size: With more processing power and a newly developed phased speaker array, Beam steers and localises sound around the room for a lifelike experience. The speaker is also now compatible with HDMI eARC on your TV, so you can experience your favorite movies and games in even higher definition sound with support for new audio formats.
  • Sleeker Design: An updated polycarbonate grille that’s precisely perforated allows the speaker to sound great and blend seamlessly into your home, just like Sonos Arc.
  • Easy, More Secure Set-Up: With just two cables and new NFC capabilities, setup is seamless and will have you listening in minutes. Simply open the Sonos app, follow a few prompts, and tap your phone to Beam.
  • Sustainable Sound: The new Beam features sustainable packaging, including a premium uncoated kraft paper, a gift box made of 97% sustainable paper, and no single use foam.

Sonos also reminds us that, like all its products, the new Beam was "tuned with the input of the Sonos Soundboard - a collection of leaders across music, film, and more - to deliver the best and most authentic sound experience.

There's also the ability to fine tune Beam’s sound with Trueplay, which detects and adapts the speaker’s sound for reflections off of walls and furniture, giving you the best listening experience for your room and setup - with this being an iOS exclusive feature.

You can place Beam in front of a standing TV, or easily mount to the wall with the existing Sonos Wall Mount for Beam.

The company explains Beam can be controlled with the Sonos app, your existing TV remote, multiple voice assistants, Apple AirPlay 2, music service apps, and more. Listeners can use Beam on its own or expand wirelessly with a subwoofer and pair of rear speakers for even more immersive entertainment.

More Ways to Play: Sonos Adds Support for New Services and Audio Formats

Launching later this year in select markets, Sonos will support Amazon Music’s Ultra High Definition audio, which will "allow listeners to hear tracks in lossless audio up to 24-bit / 48kHz on their Sonos speakers, as well as Dolby Atmos Music, an immersive audio format that breaks the boundaries of traditional studio recordings and puts you inside the song, revealing every detail of the music."

The Ultra HD music is a free bonus to Amazon Music Unlimited customers, and will work on all Sonos S2 devices, except Play:1, Play:3, Playbase, and Playbar, while Dolby Atmos Music will be available to listen on Arc and Beam (Gen 2).

Sonos also announced plans to add support for decoding DTS Digital Surround Sound later this year via the S2 platform on Playbar, Playbase, Amp, both generations of Beam and Arc.

Full details of the new Sonos Beam (Gen 2) are here.

Here are a series of FAQs that Sonos has provided answers for, so please read on!

What's the difference between Beam (Gen 1) and Beam (Gen 2)?

The new Beam offers a range of new innovations that improve the sound experience, along with an updated premium design. We’ve added support for Dolby Atmos, a more powerful processor, an improved phased array, and HDMI eARC compatibility for a richer, more immersive, and higher definition sound experience. The improved design includes a new premium polycarbonate grille that’s sleek and looks even more elegant inside your home.

How does the new Beam support Dolby Atmos with the same acoustic architecture as the first generation?

With the new Beam's faster CPU, we've radically improved its speaker arrays – the software that coordinates the playback and interaction across all of Beam's transducers. The new Beam features five speaker arrays, compared to the three arrays in Gen 1. The two new arrays are dedicated to surround and height information, and apply time and frequency-based psychoacoustic techniques to provide separation between ear level and overhead audio.

Why did you update the grille on the new Beam?

Beam’s new polycarbonate grille is precisely perforated and allows the speaker to sound great and blend seamlessly into your home, just like Sonos Arc. This new grille also makes the product easier to clean and less susceptible to wear over time.

What are Amazon Music Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos Music, and which Sonos products will support them?

Launching later this year in select markets, Sonos plans to support Amazon Music’s Ultra High Definition audio, which will allow listeners to hear tracks in lossless audio up to 24-bit / 48kHz on their Sonos speakers, as well as Dolby Atmos Music, an immersive audio format that breaks the boundaries of traditional studio recordings and puts you inside the song, revealing every detail of the music.

Sonos products that will support Amazon Music Ultra HD on S2 include Roam, Arc, Beam, Five, Sub (Gen 3), Move, One, One SL, Port, Amp, SYMFONISK Bookshelf, SYMFONISK Table Lamp, Play:5 (Gen 2), Connect (Gen 2), and Connect:Amp (Gen 2).

Sonos products that will support Dolby Atmos Music are Arc and Beam (Gen 2).


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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