Sonos Beam 2nd-gen lands: Dolby Atmos on board and Ultra HD ready

Sonos' newest soundbar also packs HDMI eARC

Sonos Beam 2nd-gen lands
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Sonos has announced a follow up to its massively popular compact soundbar: the 2nd-generation Sonos Beam will go on sale next month and boasts an array of new features compared to the original.

The highlight reel of the Sonos Beam 2 includes Dolby Atmos sound for you home cinema viewing, support for Amazon's Ultra HD Music, eARC HDMI connectivity and both Alexa and the Google Assistant baked in (you'll have to choose between the two in the Sonos S2 app).

The Sonos Beam 2 looks a heck of a lot like its predecessor, at least in terms of footprint and form factor. Like the original, it is modest in size, measuring just 26 inches long, 4 inches wide and 2.7 inches high.

That's much smaller than the (more powerful, and much more expensive) Sonos Arc - the brand's flagship soundbar - which measures 45 inches long.

Back to the Beam 2 and it's not exactly the same look as the Beam 1. The fabric look has been ditched, instead there's an updated monochromatic aesthetic sporting a perforated polycarbonate grille – like the one you get on the Arc – that Sonos states is not only better for sound but is easier to clean.

Sonos Beam 2nd-gen new grille

Talking hardware and the Beam 2 has five Class-D digital amplifiers, a single tweeter in the middle for a crisp, high frequency response, three passive radiators for the low end and four elliptical midwoofers.

The five speaker array - up from just three on the original Beam - allows the new soundbar to pump out Dolby Atmos using psycho-acoustic techniques, courtesy of new software, powered by a CPU that is 40% faster than the original's.

We're told that a pair of the 2nd-gen Beam's five speaker array is dedicated to reproducing overhead and surround sounds, from a forward-facing position.

To get in on that Dolby Atmos action, you'll have to make full use of the Beam 2's eARC HDMI skills. The original Beam only had a basic ARC option; Sonos added eARC to the mix with the launch of the Arc.

In case you're not aware exactly what that means, eARC stands for enhanced Audio Return Channel. It's an HDMI format that allows for full-resolution sound signals, including high-end ones like Dolby Atmos.

Sonos Beam 2nd-gen back - hdmi ethernet ports

The big difference between eARC and ARC is bandwidth and speed, with the enhanced version having a much much higher bandwidth than its predecessor.

Still confused? Basically if you connect to a TV with eARC, you'll get the full range of Dolby home audio goodies such as Dolby Atmos, TrueHD, MAT, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Digital.

Use a standard ARCthe Dolby audio formats supported are dependent on your TV. Your TV might be capable of sending Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Digital but it's hit and miss.

The full range of Sonos Beam 2 audio formats is... Dolby Plus, Dolby Atmos (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby Atmos*, Dolby TrueHD*, Dolby Atmos (True HD)*, Multichannel PCM*, Dolby Multichannel PCM* (*HDMI eARC connection required.)

The Beam 2 offers AirPlay 2 support, making it a good home for audio from services like YouTube and Netflix in addition to your iPhone-controlled music, but will also come with Sonos' Trueplay sound tuning.

Like the original, there's also speech enhancement to make dialogue sound crystal clear and night mode, which will even out loud and quiet sounds in whatever you're listening to.

Another new addition is simple setup using NFC, so you can get your new Beam added to your Sonos system in quick time.

Of course, the Beam 2 also acts as a standalone speaker in a Sonos multi-room audio system and another way to get more out of the Beam is to pair up other Sonos speakers for surround sound; for example team it up with a Sonos Sub and a pair of Sonos One speakers for a 5.1 system.

The Sonos Beam 2nd-generation soundbar costs $449 and will start shipping on 5 October.

You can pre-order now direct from Sonos now, it comes in either black or white.

TAGGED    sonos    smart speakers

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