Sonos Upgrades Beam Soundbar with Dolby Atmos

Wireless speaker pioneer Sonos today announced an upgraded version of its popular Beam soundbar, recipient of a Sound & Vision Top Pick in 2018.

The new Beam (Gen 2) will sell for $449 when it ships in early October — $50 more than the original Beam — but offers a faster processor, an improved phased driver array to achieve ”significantly better sound” and supports Dolby Atmos surround sound through a high-bandwidth HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) TV connection.

Like its predecessor, the new Beam features Sonos’ proprietary Trueplay automated calibration system, which adjusts sound based on the soundbar’s position in the room, and has five active drivers: a centrally located tweeter plus four elliptical woofers (two on either side of the tweeter) and three bass boosting passive radiators. The drivers are concealed behind a stylish new wrap-around grille made of what the company calls “perfectly perforated plastic.”

Instead of positioning drivers to fire upward, Sonos uses time- and frequency-based psychoacoustics processing to create a more expansive sound field. Specifically, the number of (psychoacoustically-derived) speaker arrays has been expanded from three to five, with the two new arrays dedicated to the height and surround-sound information contained in Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

In addition to top-mounted capacitive buttons for play/pause, microphone mute, and volume, the soundbar works with the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice platforms. A far-field microphone array that uses advanced beam forming and multichannel echo cancellation is employed to achieve “quick and accurate voice control.” Apple AirPlay 2 is supported (iOS 11.4 and up) and additional controls for bass, treble, loudness, speech enhancement, “night sound” are accessible through the Sonos app.

Setup is a described as a simple matter of opening the Sonos app and following prompts with NFC (near-field communication) capability available to further simplify the process.

Though the new Beam is a self-contained system, it can be mated with a Sonos subwoofer and a pair of discrete surround speakers for a more immersive surround experience. The soundbar can be used freestanding or mounted on a wall using an optional bracket.

Noting that its Wi-Fi-based platform now supports more than 100 streaming services, Sonos also announced that the new Beam soundbar and some Sonos S2 speakers will support playback of Dolby Atmos Music and hi-res audio via Amazon Music’s 24-bit/48kHz Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD) service in select markets later this year, though a specific time-frame was not given.

Ultra HD tracks will be available to subscribers of the Amazon Music Unlimited plan at no extra cost and will be accessible on all Sonos S2 devices, except Play:1, Play:3, Playbase, and Playbar. Dolby Atmos Music will also be available on the Sonos Arc soundbar.

Sonos also announced plans to add DTS Digital Surround Sound decoding to both generations and other S2 products later this year.

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is available for pre-order in matte black or white. For more information, visit