You’ve probably come across the odd Sonos soundbar review as you shop for the ideal audio setup. Many of the reviews focus on high-performing Sonos soundbars that lack smart features. This isn’t one of those. Instead, we explore a smart soundbar with voice support, built-in Alexa, and a bunch of useful functions.
The Sonos Beam is a versatile little soundbar that is, at its core, a building block. It is compatible with a wide selection of speakers and subwoofers, making this entry-level soundbar relevant in the long term. The beam is the kind of device that allows you to upgrade your home theater setup over time. If you’re going to spend money on a soundbar, your best bet is an option with smart features. That way you get to enjoy long-term value for your money.
That’s a great pitch, but how does the Sonos beam perform in practice? Let’s take it out of the box and find out.
Sonos Soundbar Review: Unboxing
This compact soundbar comes in a compact package that contains a few accessories to get you started. Along with the soundbar, your package should contain the following:
- Five-foot HDMI cable
- HDMI-to-optical converter
- Power cable
- CDs that contain drivers
- Paperwork, including a user manual
Sonos doesn’t include mounting gear. You’d need to track down mounting accessories that work with the unique mounting pattern at the bottom of the sound bar.
The Sonos beam is as compact as it is sleek. Its front face measures 24 inches by 2.1 inches. Because the beam has rounded edges and a depth of 3.9 inches deep, it looks a lot like a giant tongue depressor. The larger top surface is home to a set of touch controls.
Like many Sonos soundbars, the volume button on the beam is represented by four dots in a square formation. The play/pause button that sits between the two-volume buttons creates a row of three controls. Right above the playback button is a fourth control that activates and deactivates the soundbar’s microphone.
There’s no display on the Sonos Beam, which leaves you to rely on the Sonos companion app for visuals. The input ports are at the back.
Inputs and connectivity
The Sonos beam only comes with an HDMI-ARC port, an Ethernet jack, and a power port. This dearth of ports seems like a limitation. However, most features on this smart soundbar work best with WiFi connectivity, which the Sonos beam has.
Lastly, you can use the soundbar’s Bluetooth if you want to channel music directly to the soundbar.
Sonos soundbar review: Setup, operation, and ease of use
Connecting your TV via the HDMI-ARC port is the easiest way to get the soundbar up and running. The HDMI-CEC connection will immediately sync the TV and the Sonos beam. This is as close as the Sonos beam gets to acting like a plug-and-play device.
If you choose to use your TV’s optical port, the HDMI-optical adapter will help with that. Then the configuration process begins. First, you’ll have to go into the TV settings and specify that sound output will go through the optical port. Then using the soundbar’s companion app, you’ll need to configure the Sonos beam to power up whenever the TV does.
The app serves as your graphical interface, meaning that you’ll have to keep your mobile device connected via WiFi or Bluetooth. However, an HDMI-ARC connection will allow you to use the TV remote to operate the beam.
A huge selling point of the Sonos beam is voice control. The soundbar comes with Alexa and is compatible with Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. This means that you can use the Sonos beam in your smart home setup.
You can also use your voice to operate the soundbar and to navigate the different streaming apps accessible to your preferred smart assistant. So whether you want to play your favorite playlist or get a traffic update, your trusty voice assistant has you covered.
The Sonos Beam is a 3.0 channel soundbar. The left and right channels each have a pair of full-range drivers that take care of both bass and treble frequencies. A tweeter makes up the center channel while a trio of passive radiators enhances the bass output.
Some of the drivers are side-firing, which enhances the sound stage and helps with the simulation of surround sound.
Sonos soundbar review: Sound quality
The Sonos Beam is a 3.0 channel soundbar, with the option of adding a subwoofer at your convenience. Because the soundbar is working with a full set of drivers, radiators, and a tweeter, expect a pleasant surprise from this small audio device.
1. Sound quality: Frequency range and sound stage
The Sonos beam frequency response is between 15.6 kHz on the treble and 55.8Hz on the low end. While this is not the widest frequency range that a soundbar ever produced, it’s impressive for a 26-inch soundbar. Especially when you consider how low the bass frequency goes without an assist from a subwoofer.
When you connect the Sonos beam to a subwoofer and satellite, the sound ‘palette’ fills out to create an immersive, rumbling bass.
Some of the drivers in the Sonos beam are side-firing, allowing the soundbar to render a wide soundstage. The only downside of the wider soundstage is a lack of definition. The audio sounds diffuse. This is in contrast to a soundstage that produces distinct audio objects that originate from different pin-points on the sound stage.
2. Peak volume and distortion
At a maximum volume of 94 dB, the beam is loud enough to fill a large room. However, you’ll notice some compression, where bass elements flatten and merge into each other. This loss of detail only happens when you push the soundbar past the 85dB mark.
3. Surround sound
Being a standalone soundbar, the Sonos beam can only imitate actual surround sound and will downmix surround audio to stereo. That being said the side-firing speakers do help to simulate surround sound, even if all the sound artifacts still seem to come from the soundbar itself.
Luckily the Sonos beam is compatible with an array of subwoofers, satellites, and other audio devices.
4. Equalizer and sound presets
This is one area where this 3.0 soundbar shines. The Sonos beam has the following features:
- 4.1 Room correction: The soundbar will adjust its output to match the size and layout of a given room
- 4. 2 Night mode: This audio preset tamps down loud bass elements at night
- 4.3 Dialog enhancement: You know those awesome action sequences with the stunning visuals? Well, now you can hear what the actors are saying, even with the thunderous sound effects
The Sonos Beam doesn’t come with an actual equalizer, but you can adjust the bass and treble levels to your liking.
5. Audio format support
The Sonos beam only has native support for Dolby digital. However, you can connect the soundbar to a larger sound system that supports a variety of audio formats.
- Sleek, compact design and a solid build
- Smart features, including Alexa and support for Google Assistant
- Side-firing speakers that create a wide soundstage
- Compatible with a wide array of audio devices
- Comes with Sonos multi-room capability
- Cloth mesh takes away from an otherwise solid build
- On its own, the Sonos beam lacks the immersive bass of n.1-channel soundbars
- Limited inputs, both in terms of number and type
Sonos soundbar review verdict: Everything you’d want in a soundbar
If you’re in the market for a smart soundbar that’s easy on the pocket, look no further than the Sonos beam. This Sonos soundbar review details an audio device with great sound and a full suite of features.
The fact that the soundbar is compatible with a variety of audio devices means that you’ll get full value for your money. For years to come. Click here to learn more about this soundbar.