Second generation beam is the latest compact soundbar from the American company Sonos. It is a well-studied update that does not completely overturn the design of the previous model but adds two very important and interconnected features: support for Dolby Atmos and compatibility with the HDMI eArc connection.
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As with other Sonos products, the experience of using the Beam starts with unpacking. The packaging, made of ecological materials, communicates quality and attention to detail. Installation and connection to the Sonos ecosystem via the dedicated app are very quick operations that can be completed in a few minutes (it takes a little more time in case this is the first Sonos product, but the operation is still fluid and very simple). The recognition of the device on the app can be done manually or via Nfc, by bringing the smartphone close to the Beam.
Like all the other speakers in the Sonos ecosystem, this Beam can be controlled from the app after assigning it to a room in the house. The app proposes itself as hub of all music streaming services, a solution that greatly simplifies access to content and control of playback. In any case, you can direct playback to the speaker directly from Spotify, Apple Music or other streaming services.
It should be noted that, like all other Sonos speakers for home use, the Beam 2 uses only the wireless connection via wi-fi and not Bluetooth: it is a typical Sonos choice that has several advantages, such as higher audio quality, integration between the various speakers for multiroom activation and the ability to use the phone to call and send messages without disturbing playback musical. The only disadvantage is obviously the direct dependence on the availability of the home wi-fi network for wireless music playback: if the router does not work or the wi-fi network is off, the speakers will not be reachable.
In the case of Beam 2nd Gen, the type of connection that makes the difference is the Hdmi eArc, which allows you to connect the soundbar to televisions and projectors via hdmi cable. The operation is also very simple in this case, and the only precaution is the activation of the eArc from the application (just a tap) so that the connected device recognizes the audio connection. Once the connection has been made with the Hdmi cable included in the package, it is then possible to control the volume of the Beam directly with the TV or TV remote control.
The real news compared to the first generation Beam is the presence of Dolby Atmos: we did tests in two different rooms (the largest of about 18 square meters) with contents compatible with Atmos technology and the result was excellent. Despite the small size of the Beam, the sound is immersive and well distributed. Unlike the larger (and more expensive) model, called Arc, the Beam 2 does not use physical drivers for the sounds that should arrive (virtually) from above, but some psycho-acoustic effects to achieve the same result.
It works, but you can feel the difference with an Atmos system based on physical speakers. The effect is still excellent, and the immersion is guaranteed. The sound quality of the Beam is excellent overall, with a sound that is always very well balanced, with convincing basses (but also here, obviously not comparable to those of a subwoofer) and clear and clean mid-highs. The audio is calibrated to work best with movies and series, but the second generation Beam also works great as a music speaker for the multi-room.
Who uses the Sonos app on iPhone can also perform soundbar calibration with TruePlay, the function that analyzes through the microphone of the smartphone the way in which the sound is reflected on the walls, furniture and other surfaces of the room. The operation takes about 3 minutes and makes a difference in the overall audio quality, especially when using the Beam with the immersive audio of movies and series and if you keep the soundbar very close to the wall. If you don’t have an iPhone available, it’s worth borrowing one for the sole purpose of optimizing the Beam with TruePlay.
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What we liked
The sound quality, both for watching movies and series and for playing music
The setup and integration with the Sonos ecosystem
The design minimal, which adapts to any decor
Dolby Atmos and eArc connectivity
What can be improved
Sonos Beam 2 is the perfect choice for those looking for a compact soundbar for a small to medium sized room, especially for those who want to add it to an existing Sonos multiroom system. It doesn’t guarantee the same level of immersion as the larger Arc, but the quality is perfectly fine adjusted to the official price of 499 euros. The addition of Dolby Atmos and the eArc connection are sufficient reasons to prefer it to the first generation model: it is already available in Italy and can be found in electronics stores, on Amazon or on the Sonos online store.