Sonos Beam full review
For years, Sonos soundbars have been only for the flush of cash. However, the firm’s latest speaker is far more affordable, more compact and includes smart features. Here’s our Sonos Beam review.
Sonos Beam: Price and availability
When it launched, the Playbar was a pretty expensive £599 and then Sonos went and hiked prices due to the exchange rate between the dollar and pound. It then, and still does, cost £699/$699.
That’s more than a lot of TVs on the market so not for the feint hearted. The Playbase, the model that your television sits on top of, has a matching price.
Sonos has realised, it seems that not everyone has that much to splash on soundbar so the Beam is a much more reasonable £399/$399. That’s almost half the price, although you can still spend less on rivals.
Sonos Beam: Design and build
You really do know what you’re getting when purchasing a Sonos product; Essentially a sleek and modern design with a style that will fit nicely with the vast majority of TVs and decors. You can choose black or white finishes.
The Beam, like every Sonos speaker we’ve reviewed looks and feels like a high-end product – and we’re talking about the packaging and cables as well.
Build quality is excellent with a combination of solid plastic that doesn’t feel cheap and fabric around the sides. All the ports are neatly hidden at the back as usual.
The key things here is that the Beam is much more compact than the other two Sonos soundbars. So if you’re looking for one to put in a bedroom, kitchen or just don’t have as much space then it’s a great choice.
Like the Playbar, you can wall-mount the Beam so it’s very flexible in how you can position it.
The speaker has touch sensitive controls on the top which are responsive and not annoying to use as is often the case.
Sonos Beam: Features and sound quality
Setting up the Beam couldn’t be much easier. Simply plug the power in and follow the instructions on the app, which will take you through the different options for connecting to your TV. This will include setting up your TV remote to control the volume of the speaker, which is very handy.
Despite being cheaper, the Beam has some features not found on the older Playbar. You get AirPlay built-in making it easier to stream music to the speaker and HDMI ARC, which is a first for a Sonos device.
This means you can plug it into your TV with an HDMI cable, as long as it has an audio return channel (ARC). Otherwise, Sonos provides a handy adapter so you can use optical.
You also get Amazon Alexa, like the Sonos One, so this is a smart soundbar which you can control with your voice. We still prefer the Google Assistant but Alexa is very capable.
Using your voice and the five far-field mics, you can adjust the volume, switch the TV on and control other smart home devices around your home like lights and heating if you have compatible products. If you want privacy, the mics can be switched off.
Finally we’re onto sound quality and although the Beam is significantly smaller than its two bigger brothers, it still packs an impressive punch in the audio department.
It only has five drivers compared to the Playbar’s nine but it doesn’t matter too much, especially if you’ve got the Beam in a smaller sized room.
Four of them are full-range drivers and one is a tweeter. Some are arranged to give a solid centre channel sound, while two face out to the side to provide a wider soundstage.
This isn’t surround sound, but if you want you can add a pair of Play:1 speakers if you want the real deal. They’re £298 for a pair. We’d like Dolby Atmos but there aren’t any soundbars around the same price that have it.
There are also three passive bass radiators, which aid the Beam in the low end. It can’t compete with the Playbar in this respect but it’s still impressive. You can pair the Beam with the Sonos Sub but we’d recommend simply getting the Playbar if it’s not too large as buying the Beam and Sub together is £998 as a package.
Although the Beam is half the size of the Playbar and designed to be a speaker for TV, sound and music it managed to adapt to anything you can throw at it -somehow with excellent sound quality, spaciousness and stereo field.
For the Beam, you can make use of modes like speech enhancement and night mode. The latter of which makes sure loud elements like explosions don’t wake anyone up ad you can still hear quieter things.
There's all of this and we haven’t even mentioned all the usual benefits of the Sonos multi-room system with its almost endless list of compatible services.
Sonos Beam: Specs
- 4x full-range woofers
- 1x tweeter
- 3x passive bass radiators
- 5x D-class amplifiers
- HDMI ARC
- Optical S/PDIF input (via HDMI adapter)
- Ethernet port / SonosNet wireless
- 5 far-field mic array
- Optional wall mount