Sonos has a new generation of Beam soundbars. On the one hand, this is the same model — that’s why the name has been preserved. On the other hand, it was thoroughly modified, which is why it received the Gen 2 prefix. Let’s figure out what has become better in it.
Appearance and device
I can assume that the main innovations of Sonos Beam Gen 2 are the result of adapting the model to the modern Dolby Atmos standard (the first generation worked with Dolby Surround). Under this case, I had to tighten the processor performance (in fact, about one and a half times), and also use HDMI eARC instead of the previous HDMI ARC. The difference is primarily in the maximum throughput. If ARC has only 1 Mbps, then eARC has as many as 37. In addition, an NFC module has been added for easier integration with a smartphone.
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Another notable change concerns the case itself. In the first generation, it was covered with fabric, in the new one it was completely plastic. At a minimum, it will be easier to care for — after all, the easily soiled white color requires special attention. By the way, about the color: now the cables are also white (power and for connection). But the device is also available in black with black cables. As before, the kit comes with an adapter for optics for those who do not have HDMI eARC.
All connectors, of course, are grouped in the center on the rear panel. In addition to HDMI and power, wired Internet can also be connected here. But there is no special need for this, because the soundbar works fine over Wi-Fi of any of the bands (2.4 and 5 GHz). The only button next to the connectors is for connecting a smartphone. With us, she remained unused.
On the top panel there are still touch buttons for turning on and stopping playback, as well as adjusting the volume. Plus a status indicator and microphones for the voice assistant.
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Working with the application
It is quite natural to use such a perfect device as a home media center. To do this, you will need to download the Sonos app. Actually, in any case, you will need it for simple setup and connection of the soundbar. First, we start adding a device — the application itself will find Beam and offer to connect. An NFC module is used to connect: with a smartphone, you need to touch the part just to the left of the control panel on the top panel. After that, the application will offer to connect to the TV — here you already need to physically insert the cable into the connector, if you have not already done so.
Please note that the TV must have exactly HDMI eARC (or ARC), that is, regular HDMI is not suitable. If there is no such connector, you can use an adapter for an optical output.
With the application, obviously, you will have to spend more than a couple of minutes. It is quite complex, the menu is not always logical, so the study will take some time. But there are many interesting features here — for example, you can connect different Sonos audio devices in different rooms and control them via your smartphone. Another interesting possibility is to build a media library right in the application.
The piece is actually very practical. In the settings, you can connect the main streaming services that you have a subscription to (for example, Spotify or Deezer). Surprisingly, there is even Yandex.Music. After adding an account, the service appears under the «Music» tab, you can control your music directly from the Sonos app. If you have several services, this is more convenient than switching between different applications.
In principle, any soundbar sounds better than a TV, if only because it is a specialized audio device. Sonos Beam Gen 2 is worth buying if you watch movies not casually, but really know how to enjoy good quality and do not spare money for a subscription. For example, Dolby Atmos is not supported in all online cinemas (for example, Netflix has it).
With the right content, the experience is absolutely amazing. The sound is really voluminous, and this takes the special effects to a new level. Sonos Beam Gen 2 can adjust the sound to suit the acoustics of a particular room using the TruePlay function, but this requires an iPhone or iPad. Apple device and plays a key role in determining the characteristics of the room.
But even without fine tuning, the sound is very impressive. The difference with full-fledged 5.1 systems is felt, but there is also the effect of presence. That is, cars and bullets fly not only in front of you, but also somewhere on the sides. At the same time, the sound is perfectly detailed: you hear every rustle, the special effects do not drown out the voices of the characters. Despite the compact dimensions of the soundbar, the volume is quite sufficient to watch a movie with the neighbors (even if they did not intend to).
On most non-Dolby movie streaming services, you won’t get much of an experience. The sound of Sonos Beam Gen 2 is at a high level, but the difference with Gen 1 and even devices twice as cheap can only be felt in comparison.
Bottom line: our opinion on the Sonos Beam Gen 2
Once again, Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a device for those who appreciate good sound and know where to get it. The difference compared to the first generation is not so great, about . (or almost 15%). For the money, you get AirPlay 2 support, Dolby Atmos, eARC, and a faster processor.
If we abstract from the first generation of Beam, the advantages include the affordable white body color (this is extremely rare among competitors) and compact size. And, of course, a great sound that cannot be described in words.
By the way, if you don’t know what to watch, take a look at our top best movies of 2021. And worthy and at the same time inexpensive UHD TVs can be found in our other article.