In the world of multiroom speaker systems, Sonos sits at the very top. Not only are they one of the pioneers of the whole multiroom speaker concept, but they also did a fantastic job adapting their products to modern wireless technologies while constantly fine-tuning and improving the user experience. For most users, the overall intuitiveness and ease of use is the main reason for choosing Sonos over other multiroom solutions, but that doesn't mean Sonos doesn't care about the sound quality of their products. On the contrary, that's the other reason the company is revered by many.
In addition to "ordinary" smart, wireless speakers, Sonos offers two soundbars—the Arc and Beam Gen 2. They differ in size, capabilities, and price. The $900 Arc is more than one meter wide and features eight elliptical bass midrange drivers, three tweeters, and 11 integrated amplifiers, and is designed to pair with TVs that are 55-inches or larger.
The $450 Beam Gen 2, which will be the focus of this review, is much more compact. It is 65 centimeters wide, 10 centimeters high and 7 centimeters "deep," and it fits perfectly below TVs smaller than 55 inches, although nothing prevents you from placing it under a TV of any size, both on the dresser or the wall (both mounting methods are supported).
When deciding if the Beam Gen 2 is a good fit for the environment you'd like to use it in, rather than worrying about the size of your TV, consider the square footage of your room. In large living rooms, larger than 40 m², the Beam will get "eaten up" by all the space. If your room is that large or even larger, the Arc soundbar is the obvious choice when looking to stay in the Sonos ecosystem.
Aside from its compact design and excellent multiroom capabilities, one of the key selling points of the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is its Dolby Atmos support. While the Arc is equipped with a pair of upwards-firing speaker drivers, the Beam Gen 2 relies on a smart DSP to recreate the vertical channels virtually. The compact soundbar also has Speech Enhancement, a dialogue-enhancing feature, as well as the so-called Night Sound mode to balance the loud and quiet sounds and hear everything when watching TV while others are sleeping. On top of all that, many additional features are available through the Sonos S2 mobile app, which not only let you stream music from every relevant music service in existence but also tune and configure the Beam Gen 2 in various ways. The Beam Gen 2 offers Ethernet and Wi-Fi (802.11n) connectivity, and it supports AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. One particularly interesting option for Sonos users is to pair the Beam Gen 2 with two Sonos One, Sonos One SL, or IKEA SYMFONISK picture frames—all of them can be used as rear surround channels with the Beam Gen 2 taking over the front left, right, and center channel duties.
Compared to the original Beam, the Beam Gen 2 sports an HDMI eARC input instead of the regular HDMI ARC, which is a prerequisite for Dolby Atmos support. It also has a plastic mesh grille instead of a fabric one. Finally, the Beam Gen 2 has a 40% faster CPU and can process a full five-channel sound array, again a must for Dolby Atmos. In almost every other regard, including the number of speaker drivers and accompanying Class-D amplifiers, the two units are identical.
Full disclosure: After spending an extensive amount of time with all three major multiroom technologies—Sonos, Denon HEOS, and Bluesound BluOS—I've chosen Sonos for my home and am actively using five Sonos or Sonos-capable speakers in different rooms of my house. I've been using the Sonos multiroom system for over two years, know it inside out, and prefer it over other multiroom solutions on the market. With that said, in this review, I'm still, as per usual, striving to bring you my honest, unbiased thoughts and opinions on the Sonos Beam Gen 2 soundbar.
- Type: Compact soundbar & multiroom speaker
- Drivers: 4x elliptical woofer, 1x center tweeter, and 3x passive radiator w/ 5x Class-D amplifiers
- Network connectivity: Ethernet (10/100 Gbps), Wi-Fi (802.11n), AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect
- Inputs: HDMI eARC, and TOSLINK (HDMI-to-TOSLINK adapter supplied)
- Microphones: Far-field microphone array with multichannel echo cancellation
- Format support: Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Multichannel PCM, Dolby Multichannel PCM, Dolby Atmos Music, Amazon Music Ultra HD, and DTS Digital Surround
- Extra features: Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant voice support, Speech Enhancement, Night Sound, EQ, and Sonos multiroom
- Dimensions: 651 x 69 x 100 mm
- Weight: 2.8 kg
- Colors: black and white
- Warranty: 2 years