Sonos Beam 2: Company updates small sounder to add Dolby Atmos support and new design

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 14 September 2021 14:14
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Sonos has launched the second generation of its “Beam” soundbar, adding Dolby Atmos and a new design.

The first version of the Beam was released in 2018, and aimed to offer the features of Sonos’s home theatre system – streaming music over the internet, alongside being plugged into the TV – in a smaller package and at a relatively smaller price.

Now it has updated the soundbar with better sound, while keeping its small size. It was able to do so with a range of changes to the processor that powers the soundbar, it said.

The inclusion of Dolby Atmos means that the speaker can play sound that is intended to give a sense of real space, by sending sounds over a viewer’s head or around the side, for instance, in a more developed way than with more traditional surround sound.

The new Beam costs £449 – compared with £399 for the old model, which will be discontinued – and will go on sale from 5 October.

From the outside, the new Beam looks largely similar, although it does have an updated grille on the front which the company says is easier to clean. The majority of the changes are however on the inside.

The internal changes – and those to the sound – are the result of a faster processor that is inside the Beam, and allows it to better co-ordinate the playback across the speakers inside the Beam. While it still has a relatively limited number of actual speakers due to its size, Sonos said it was able to overcome that using “psychoacoustic techniques” that allow it to give the sense that sound is coming from overhead, for instance.

At the same time as announcing the new version of the Beam, which it refers to as Gen 2, Sonos said that it would be adding new audio formats to its platform. They will include Dolby Atmos Music and Ultra HD through Amazon Music, as well as support for DTS Digital Surround Sound.

The latter format has long been unavailable on Sonos, much to the frustration of some of its users. While the company argued that it tended to focus on streaming television – and DTS Digital is used primarily with Blu-rays – it has now relented and it will arrive later this year.

Since Sonos released the first version of the Beam, it has also launched the Arc – a much larger soundbar with more speakers, and the first to include Atmos. That is much more expensive as well as being physically bigger, and is intended for larger rooms or more premium setups, Sonos said.

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