SONOS BEAM DOWN A NEW CONNECTED SOUNDBAR
Almost straight out of Startrek, Sonos introduces the Beam, a compact connected soundbar with HDMI-ARC and multiple voice control options.
Five years after the original PlayBar, comes the smaller, sleeker, smarter and less-expensive Beam, with Alexa control, AirPlay 2 and Siri.
Shipping globally on July 17th, the Beam will sell in Australia for $599 and is available for pre-order today.
With Beam, Sonos has combined three products into one – a smart speaker featuring Amazon Alexa, a soundbar that packs more than enough punch for most rooms, and a streaming speaker for music and audio content.
Like all Sonos speakers, Beam is part of the Sonos ecosystem, so owners can add easily two Sonos Ones to get surround sound, a SUB for more bass, or add Beam into their existing whole-house Sonos system. As is standard with the latest Sonos models, the Beam supports more than 80 music services, supports Apple's AirPlay 2 after future software upgrades and incorporates Sonos' Trueplay audio calibration technology.
The existing PlayBar is rather large, so the compact size of the new Beam makes it far easier to use in most real-life situations. The specs show it as 60% smaller and 20% shorter than the current Playbar.
Good news is the addition of an HDMI-ARC input/output which means that the Beam can get fully synchronised audio from any modern TV and will send commands back to the TV without needing line of sight to the IR input.
Users can control Beam in multiple ways, from top-mounted touch controls, and voice control with Alexa. Siri support is coming in July and Google Assistant is said to be available at “some point in the future.”
Additional control comes from the Sonos app, third-party apps such as Spotify, Audible and Tidal, existing TV remotes, various smart home gadgets and remotes made by Sonos-certified partners. Pretty comprehensive we say.
We haven't heard it yet, but initial reports are promising. Sonos claims the Beam has been designed to deliver clear vocals, a full, spacious sound and the best bass performance possible. Inside the soundbar, the Beam uses four, custom-built elliptical full-range woofers, three passive radiators and a single tweeter.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence commented:
In a smart speaker category, increasingly filled with tech clutter, poor audio quality and ulterior motives, Beam is the best example yet of what makes Sonos different,
More on Airplay
At the Beam press event, Sonos also announced that AirPlay 2 would be available on Sonos in July via a free software update. With AirPlay 2, users can play music and podcasts from their iOS devices directly on their Sonos speakers, including the new Sonos Beam, Sonos One, Playbase, and the second generation Play:5. With a single supported speaker, AirPlay content can be streamed to other Sonos speakers in the system. Customers also gain a new voice experience with the addition of Siri to start a track from Apple Music and play in any room on Sonos.
Sonos Beam Features
- Five far-field microphone array for advanced beamforming and multichannel echo cancellation.
- Five Class-D digital amplifiers tuned to match the speaker drivers and acoustic architecture.
- Four full-range mid-woofers for clear mid-range vocal frequencies and deep, rich bass.
- One tweeter for crisp and clear dialogue.
- Three passive radiators deliver surprisingly deep and warm bass in a compact speaker.
- Global Power Supply with auto-switching 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz AC universal
- HDMI ARC port to sync the audio, picture and your remote.
- Wi-fi to connect to a home network
- One 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port to operate your Sonos if Wi-Fi is unstable
- Capacitive touch controls for volume up/down, previous/next track, play/pause, microphone mute and more
- LED indicates status, mute status and voice feedback.
- Comes in black and white fabric with matt finish.
- 651 x 100 x 68.5 mm
Further reading: Smarthomes, Integration and Automation Discussion
Rob Follis has been writing about tech on and off for over 40 years, is a designer, photographer, information omnivore, gadget-head, Hi-Fi afficionado, owner of far far too many things and sadly an unsuccessful app developer. A born & bred Londoner now happily living in Melbourne. Email Rob.