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Sonos Arc Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jun 29, 2020 at 08:01 am
Sonos Arc Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
6.4
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.0
Music
6.9
Movies
Channels
5.0.2

The 2020 Sonos Arc is a decent overall soundbar. This standalone soundbar can be easily upgraded in the future with a wireless subwoofer and surround satellites for an even more immersive experience. This soundbar supports Atmos content, which the Sonos Beam doesn't. It's quite a versatile bar, though the bass is slightly lacking and there are compression artifacts at max volume. Overall, the soundbar sounds a bit bright, even after using the room correction feature. On the upside, it's a very well-built bar that has a sleek design and it features built-in Google Assistant and Alexa.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Sonos Arc soundbar is a pretty straightforward bar that doesn't seem to excel at anything but can do an okay job at everything. The speaker configuration from the bar itself allows for a wide soundstage, but it lacks some bass, resulting in an overall bright sound profile which might not be ideal for all music genres. On the upside, it supports Atmos, which is great for an immersive experience when watching movies.

Pros
  • Sleek and very well-built design.
  • Upgradable setup.
  • Room Correction feature.
Cons
  • Lack of bass.
  • Lots of bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
6.4 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sonos Arc soundbar is just okay for dialogue and TV shows. It has a dedicated center channel for accurate reproduction of voices, which is great. It also has an overall bright sound signature which can help dialogue stand out, although some may feel like there's not enough bass. On the upside, it can get quite loud and you can easily stream content via Wi-Fi on your home network. It also features a dialogue enhancement feature to furthermore help your listening experience.

Pros
  • Sleek and very well-built design.
  • Room Correction feature.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • Lots of bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
7.0 Music

The Sonos Arc soundbar is passable for music. It has a fairly well-balanced sound profile, although it seems to lack a bit of bass and has an overall bright sound signature. On the upside, the stereo soundstage is quite wide and the bar can reach a very loud level. You can also link up your favorite streaming apps to the Sonos app and easily play music to the bar wirelessly.

Pros
  • Sleek and very well-built design.
  • Upgradable setup.
  • Room Correction feature.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • Lack of bass.
  • Lots of bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
6.9 Movies

The Sonos Arc soundbar is okay for movies thanks to its Atmos support. It allows for an immersive listening experience, although it doesn't have the best surround experience without the separate satellites. It also lacks a bit of bass, which will negatively impact your favorite action movies. On the upside, it supports a lot of audio formats found on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms, including lossless Dolby TrueHD.

Pros
  • Sleek and very well-built design.
  • Atmos support.
  • Upgradable setup.
  • Room Correction feature.
Cons
  • Lack of bass.
  • Lots of bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
  • No DTS support.
  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.4 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.0 Music
  • 6.9 Movies
  1. Update 9/21/2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.
  2. Update 8/6/2020: Added notes that the room correction feature is only available on iOS.
  3. Update 7/6/2020: We've retested the soundbar with the latest firmware update.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Arc is Sonos' 2020 soundbar and is very high-end. Like the previous Sonos Beam and Sonos Playbar, the setup can be upgraded with a separate subwoofer and satellites, which are the same as the Beam. The main competitors of the Sonos Arc are the Sonos Beam, the 2019 Samsung HW-Q90R, and the Bose Soundbar 700.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

This soundbar is a lot longer than the Sonos Beam. It has a similar plastic finish, though it still feels high-end and sturdy.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

This setup comes without a subwoofer, although you can buy a separate one.

Design
Style - Satellites

This setup comes without satellites, although you can buy separate ones.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 44.9" (114.1 cm)
Bar Height 3.4" (8.7 cm)
Bar Depth 4.7" (12.0 cm)

The Sonos Arc is noticeably longer than the Sonos Beam or the Sonos Playbar. It's too long to fit between the legs of 55" TVs and although it's also a bit taller, it shouldn't cover the bottom part of your screen.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width N/A
Sub Height N/A
Sub Depth N/A

This setup doesn't include a subwoofer.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width N/A
Sat Height N/A
Sat Depth N/A

This setup doesn't include rear satellites.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Proprietary

Like most soundbars, the back is fairly straightforward. There's a small opening for your power and inputs. Note that the mounting holes are proprietary to Sonos and you'll need to buy special wall-mounting brackets that aren't included in the box.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

This setup doesn't have a subwoofer.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

This setup doesn't have satellite speakers.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The build quality of the Sonos Arc is very good. Although it's entirely made of plastic, it has a similarly very sturdy feel as the Sonos Beam. The speakers are also well-protected by plastic grilles.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length
N/A

  • Bar power cable
  • HDMI cable
  • HDMI to Optical adapter
  • Manuals

Sound
6.3
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
0.70
ST Std. Err.
2.39 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
51.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.6 kHz

Update 07/06/2020: After updating the soundbar to its latest software version, we heard a noticeable improvement in the bass range with real-life content, although our graph results didn't change much. The bar still lacks bass, but not as much as before. The bass is much more present and tighter. The overall sound profile is still somewhat bright.

The stereo frequency response of the Sonos Arc soundbar is mediocre. It lacks bass, and because of its overemphasized treble, it sounds bright and a bit piercing. Unfortunately, you can only tweak the volume of the bass and treble ranges as you don't have access to a proper EQ. Also, note that we tested this soundbar after calibrating it using the room correction feature, but this is only available on iOS.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
8.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
1.99 dB

The stereo soundstage of the Sonos Arc soundbar is great. It feels larger than the bar itself thanks to the side-firing speakers that reflect sound from the walls to the listener. The focus is also very good and you can easily pinpoint where the sound is coming from.

7.1
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
96.6 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
3.86 dB

Update 09/21/2020: We've discovered a value input bug that would cause the Dynamics box results to be slightly off. All soundbars reviewed since January 30th, 2020 have been updated.

Update 07/06/2020: Even after updating to the latest firmware version, the bar's bass range still struggles at max volume. The text has been updated.

The stereo dynamics of this soundbar are decent. The bar can get very loud, which is nice, but there's noticeable compression in the bass range.

7.2
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.61
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.36

The stereo THD performance of this soundbar is decent. There isn't much harmonic distortion at a typical volume level, but there's a noticeable jump in THD when raising the volume to its max.

8.6
Sound
Center
C Localization
Discrete
C Slope
0.67
C Std. Err.
2.22 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
96.2 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.46
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.20

The Sonos Arc soundbar has a great dedicated center channel. It reproduces clear and accurate dialogue and vocals, although it can sound a bit bright on some content.

7.0
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Phantom (Side Firing, Bar)
Rears
No
Sr Slope
-0.08
Sr Std. Err.
3.16 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
93.4 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
0.62
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.09

Update 07/06/2020: After the latest firmware update, the surrounds performance got slightly better. The bass is still somewhat lacking, but it isn't as bad as before. The review has been updated.

The surround sound performance of this soundbar is decent. This setup doesn't come with dedicated surround speakers but instead uses the side-firing speakers on the bar itself. Overall, sounds can seem like they're coming from around you since they're reflecting off walls, but it won't be as immersive as if you buy the dedicated satellites. If you watch a lot of surround content, check out the full Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers setup.

7.0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
H Localization
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar)
H Slope
0.19
H Std. Err.
3.17 dB
H SPL @ Max Volume
86.6 dB SPL
H Weighted THD @ 80
1.39
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.02

Update 07/06/2020: After the latest firmware update, the bass dip isn't as noticeable, although our graph results didn't change much.

The Sonos Arc soundbar has a decent Atmos performance. Unfortunately, the overall volume level is greatly reduced when watching Atmos content and the bass is a bit lacking, which can affect your favorite action movie. On the upside, this is a noticeable upgrade from the Sonos Beam, which doesn't support Atmos.

6.5
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Yes
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
No
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
No

The Sonos Arc has just okay sound enhancement features. It has a Room Correction setting which can help adjust the bar's performance based on your room setup. Unfortunately, it's only available on iOS. There's also volume adjustments for bass and treble, but unlike the Sony HT-G700, it lacks a proper EQ to fine-tune its sound profile to your preference. Also note that there's no remote available, so everything has to be done inside the app.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
Adapter into HDMI ARC
HDMI ARC
1
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
USB for Files
No
Ethernet
1

The Sonos Arc has a limited number of inputs. It has an HDMI ARC port and an optical one, though you'll need to use the included HDMI adapter. You can also connect the bar to your home network by using the Ethernet port.

8.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
Yes
Dolby Atmos
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
Yes
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

This soundbar has very good audio format support via its HDMI ARC port. The bar supports pretty much every Dolby signal, and thanks to its eARC support, it can also play lossless Dolby TrueHD. Unfortunately, it doesn't support DTS like some other high-end soundbars such as the LG SN11RG.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No

This soundbar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port.

6.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
No

Via optical, the soundbar can play Dolby Digital which can be found on most streaming services and some Blu-ray discs. Unfortunately, it doesn't support DTS content, which is even more common on Blu-ray.

3.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
Yes

Sonos soundbars all don't support Bluetooth connectivity, and the Sonos Arc isn't an exception as it only supports Wi-Fi connection. There are a few apps like Spotify that have built-in support to cast easily to the bar. For iOS users, the bar also supports Apple AirPlay 2. It also features both Google Assistant and Alexa built-in.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
N/A
HDR10 Passthrough
N/A

There's no Full HDMI In port on this soundbar.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

This setup doesn't come with a subwoofer.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

This setup doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The interface of this soundbar is quite minimal. There's a main light that changes color and blinks depending on the command. There's also a second one that lights up whenever the soundbar's microphone is activated, but that's about it.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

This soundbar has touch-sensitive controls that allow you to play/pause, raise or lower the volume, and mute the microphone.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

This soundbar doesn't have a remote, as everything is done through its app.

Additional Features
App
App Name Sonos S2
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts as the Remote
Yes
Controls Soundbar's Settings
All
Casts Device Files
Audio Files Only

The Sonos S2 app offers tremendous control over all your Sonos products. It's pretty much an upgraded version of the Sonos Controller app, previously found on the Sonos Beam. You can link music services to the app, directly cast to the bar, and have access to different features like setting alarms. It also allows you to set up room configurations for all of your Sonos products. Note that the room correction feature Trueplay is only available on iOS.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
No
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

The Sonos Arc doesn't have a power-saving feature. When connected via its HDMI ARC port, you can also use your TV remote to control basic settings such as the volume of the soundbar.

Differences Between Sizes and Variants

This soundbar is available both in white and black. While we reviewed the black version, we expect this review to be valid for the white variant as well. Note, however, that we've only reviewed the soundbar by itself. This review isn't valid for the full setup with the added wireless subwoofer and rear speakers, which are sold separately.

Compared to other soundbars

The Sonos Arc is a very differently-designed soundbar when compared to the Sonos Playbar or the Sonos Beam. It's much bigger and has new features like Atmos support which isn't available on the other models. It's still an upgradable setup as the wireless subwoofer and satellites are sold separately, just like with the Bose Soundbar 700. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best soundbars for movies.

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Arc is more versatile than the Sonos Beam since it supports eARC and Atmos content. However, the bar by itself lacks a bit of bass and the Beam performs better at max volume too.  The Sonos Beam is also shorter and much easier to fit between the legs of a TV. 

Sonos Playbar

The Sonos Arc is a bit more versatile than the Sonos Playbar. The Arc has HDMI ports and also supports Atmos and eARC, which the Playbar doesn't do. Both sound fairly bright, though, and the Playbar performs better at max volume than the Arc.

Bose Soundbar 700

The Bose Soundbar 700 is a slightly better option than the Sonos Arc. Overall, the Arc isn't as well-built, but it supports Atmos, which is great for a more immersive movie listening experience. On the other hand, the sound profile of the Bose 700 is a bit more balanced for stereo content, and it allows for Bluetooth playback, which is convenient. Both setups can be upgraded easily but can get quite expensive. 

Samsung HW-Q90R

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a better soundbar than the Sonos Arc. This full 7.1.4 setup has a more neutral sound profile and overall better performance at max volume. However, if you already have Sonos speakers, the Sonos app is very useful and allows you to control all of your ecosystem, which is nice. Also, the Arc can also be upgraded with a wireless sub and satellites, although the full setup can be quite expensive. 

LG SN11RG

The LG SN11RG is a better overall soundbar if you're comparing it to the Sonos Arc as solely a standalone bar. The LG has a subwoofer plus satellites to help its sound, but you can purchase these speakers separately for the Sonos Arc. The LG also has a more balanced sound profile, and while it can't get as loud as the Sonos, it can reach its max volume with fewer compression artifacts. It also has more sound enhancement features and more connectivity options such as two Full HDMI In ports. You can even stream to it wirelessly using Bluetooth. That being said, on its own, the Sonos has a better surround performance and its height performance is quite comparable too. Unlike the LG, you can also use it with Apple AirPlay.

Sony HT-G700

The Sony HT-G700 is a slightly better performing soundbar overall than the Sonos Arc. The Sony is a 3.1 channel can produce a more punchy, boomy bass thanks to its wireless subwoofer, it can get a tiny bit louder with less thumping and compression artifacts, and it has EQ presets available. It also has a Full HDMI In port that supports all common formats, and you can use Bluetooth to stream audio content directly to the bar. However, the Sonos is a 5.0.2 channel that feels slightly better built, and it has a room correction feature. It also uses side-firing speakers to reproduce surround content as well as up-firing speakers to reproduce Atmos objects, which is better than the Sony.

Samsung HW-Q800T

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Samsung HW-Q800T or the Sonos Arc. The Samsung has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it has fewer compression artifacts when played at max volume. Unlike the Sonos, the Samsung has an HDMI In port and a graphic EQ. However, unlike the Samsung, the 5.0.2 Sonos doesn't downmix surround content into stereo, so it provides a more immersive movie-watching experience. The Sonos also performs better with Atmos content.

Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers

The full 5.1.2 setup of the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is much better than the Sonos Arc soundbar by itself. Adding the two rear satellites provide a much better surround sound experience, which is very immersive with surround content. It also makes the soundstage wider, although it does lose a bit of focus. The added subwoofer also helps create more bass. On the other hand, the standalone soundbar might be a better option for people with limited space.

Roku Smart Soundbar

The 5.0.2 Sonos Arc is a better soundbar for TV shows and movies than the 2.0 Roku Smart Soundbar. Unlike the Roku, the Sonos has a dedicated center channel, which allows it to reproduce voices and dialogue clearly and more accurately. It doesn't downmix surround content into stereo, either, which provides a more immersive listening experience. The Sonos also supports Atmos content, unlike the Roku, and it has a room correction feature and a wider and more focused soundstage.

LG SK1

The Sonos Arc is a better soundbar than the LG SK1. Unlike the 2.0 SK1, the 5.0.2 Arc supports Atmos content and comes with two surround satellites for a more immersive listening experience. The Arc also comes with more sound enhancement features, including room correction, dialogue enhancement, and auto volume. It also has an eARC port, unlike the LG. That being said, the LG has less compression and less distortion when played at max volume, so you might prefer this bar if you tend to crank up the volume.

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