Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Aug 06, 2020 at 08:31 am
Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers Picture
6.0
Mixed Usage
4.8
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.4
Music
6.6
Movies
Channels
5.1.2

The Sonos Arc full 5.1.2 setup is a great overall soundbar. It sounds well-balanced right out of the box and features a lot of customization tools to make it sound the way you want. It’s a premium-feeling soundbar setup that has amazing surround and good Atmos performance. However, some may be disappointed by the lack of Bluetooth compatibility and DTS support. Nevertheless, this is one of the best soundbars we’ve reviewed so far.

Unfortunately, our current test methodology doesn’t capture the energy in the low-bass coming from this setup, which results in much lower scores that don’t match a typical user experience. To learn more about our testing procedure for this soundbar and our thought process for this review, check out this discussion thread.

Our Verdict

6.0 Mixed Usage

The Sonos Arc full setup is a versatile system, but our current test bench scoring doesn't reflect this. Overall, it sounds well-balanced out of the box and features a lot of sound enhancement features to make it sound like you want. Unfortunately, there's no full EQ, and movie watchers might be disappointed by the lack of DTS support. On the upside, this full setup is very well-built, feels premium, and even has a room correction feature to optimize the audio reproduction to your room.

Pros
  • Sleek and very well-built design.
  • Room correction feature.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • Noticeable bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
4.8 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sonos Arc full setup is very good for dialogue and TV shows. It has a well-balanced sound profile and a dedicated center channel on the bar that reproduces accurate dialogue. It also has a dialogue enhancement feature to make your experience better. Unfortunately, you can't stream your content like audiobooks or podcasts to the bar via Bluetooth but can do so via Wi-Fi.

Pros
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • Noticeable bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
6.4 Music

The Sonos Arc full setup is great for music. It has a well-balanced sound profile and a very wide stereo soundstage. While it can get very loud, its bass range struggles at max volume and some people might hear compression. Also, if you want to stream content wirelessly, you'll need to use the Wi-Fi connection as it doesn't have Bluetooth compatibility. On the upside, you can also link up your favorite streaming apps to the Sonos app and easily play music.

Pros
  • Very wide soundstage.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • Noticeable bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
6.6 Movies

The Sonos Arc 5.1.2 setup is very good for movies. It uses up-firing speakers to simulate height with Atmos content, and thanks to its eARC port, you can play high-end lossless surround formats as well. The rear speakers also give an immersive surround listening experience. Some might be disappointed by the lack of DTS support, and its bass struggles at max volume. On the upside, iOS users have access to a nice room correction feature for better audio reproduction optimized for their room.

Pros
  • Decent Atmos performance.
  • Excellent surround performance.
  • Very wide soundstage.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • Noticeable bass compression at max volume.
  • No full EQ.
  • No DTS support.
  • 6.0 Mixed Usage
  • 4.8 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.4 Music
  • 6.6 Movies
  1. Update 9/21/2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.
  2. Update 8/13/2020: We've updated the review to say that the Arc full setup is 5.1.2.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Sonos Arc is a high-end soundbar from 2020. It’s technically sold as a standalone soundbar, but you can easily buy the Sonos subwoofer and the One SL speakers to make it a full 5.1.2 setup. It comes after the releases of the Sonos Playbar and the Sonos Beam, but its main competitors are the Samsung HW-Q90R and the LG SN11RG.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sonos Arc looks sleek. It’s entirely made of plastic but is a lot longer than the Sonos Beam. It feels high-end and sturdy.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The Sonos Arc's subwoofer has a unique design with a glossy finish and two subs facing each other in the center hole.

Design
Style - Satellites

The Sonos Arc satellites are two Sonos One SL speakers. They have a metal grill protecting the speakers and feature touch-sensitive controls on their top side. They seem very well-built and are quite heavy, which gives them a premium feel.

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 a rather large bar and doesn’t fit between the legs of most 55” TVs. On the upside, it’s not too tall and won’t block the bottom of your screen.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width 6.2" (15.7 cm)
Sub Height 15.4" (39.2 cm)
Sub Depth 16.1" (41.0 cm)

The subwoofer isn’t much larger than a typical desktop, so you shouldn’t have any issues placing it anywhere in your room since it connects wirelessly to the bar.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width 4.7" (12.0 cm)
Sat Height 6.3" (16.1 cm)
Sat Depth 4.7" (12.0 cm)

The Sonos One SL speakers aren’t too big. They can only be placed in a vertical position and need to be plugged into a power outlet, but don’t require any wired connection to the rest of the setup.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Proprietary

The Sonos Arc has a single hole in the back for its power cord and access to its inputs. You can also find the wall-mounting holes on the backside, but you need to purchase proprietary brackets as they aren’t included in the box.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

The back of the subwoofer is very plain. You only have access to the pairing button and the status light. The ports are in the middle of the sub.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
Proprietary

You can find the pairing button and an ethernet port on the back of each satellite speaker. You also need proprietary mounting brackets for them.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality of the full Sonos Arc setup is great. While the bar is entirely made of solid plastic, the subwoofer and satellites add even more to its premium feeling thanks to their metal construction. It feels as sturdy as the Bose Soundbar 700.

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

  • 4x power cables
  • HDMI cable
  • HDMI to Optical adapter
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Manuals

Sound
5.1
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
1.45
ST Std. Err.
3.40 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
60.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.3 kHz

The Sonos Arc full setup has a great overall stereo frequency response. Its sound profile is well-balanced and suitable for most audio content right out-of-the-box. It has a room correction feature on iOS devices that adjusts its audio reproduction based on the room it’s in. It also has some customization options that let you control the bass and treble ranges, on top of the subwoofer level, for you to find the best sound for your needs.

Unfortunately, our current test bench doesn’t accurately reflect this and seems to penalize this specific setup too harshly. While we know our measurements are accurate for this soundbar, the way our website analyses the data might not be optimal. For example, our test bench gives substantial weight to the Low-Frequency Extension (LFE) measurements but doesn't take into consideration the low-bass energy that it has. This results in a poor score, as it's only looking at one data point rather than acknowledging the soundbar's ability to reproduce lower frequencies, even if it's under our target curve by over 3dB. Note that we’re aware of this issue and will try to fix it in an upcoming methodology update.

There’s also the fact that our scoring system is based on a set target curve. To investigate this issue, we optimized the subwoofer level - not the Bass EQ - to +9 to make it better suit our target, which results in a much better score. Comparably, we decreased the subwoofer level of the often-compared Samsung HW-Q90R to -3 to see the impact on its score, which turned out to be a lot less significant. To learn more about our testing procedure for this soundbar and our thought process for this review, check out this discussion thread.

Overall, according to our own subjective opinion, the Sonos Arc sounds well-balanced and has many tools for you to make it sound the way you want, even if our scoring doesn’t reflect it. It’s one of the most neutral soundbars we’ve heard in our testing room.

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

This soundbar setup's stereo soundstage is great. It sounds wider than the standalone Sonos Arc by itself, although the focus isn’t as good. Nevertheless, it’s still fairly good and objects come from an accurate location rather than a diffused location.

7.7
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
97.8 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
2.91 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.

The Sonos Arc has good stereo dynamics performance. While it can get quite loud for large rooms or parties, it struggles to perform well at max volume, especially in the bass range. There are noticeable thumping and compression artifacts .

8.0
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.25
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.59

THD performance is very good. There isn’t much harmonic distortion at a typical listening volume level. There’s a small jump in THD when pushed to its max volume, but you shouldn’t hear any noticeable distortion, especially not with real-life content.

7.4
Sound
Center
C Localization
Discrete
C Slope
1.31
C Std. Err.
3.16 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
97.0 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.33
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.34

The Sonos Arc's center performance is very good. This setup has a dedicated center channel that reproduces accurate dialogue and vocals. However, just like the stereo frequency response, our test results show a lack of bass, but sounds much better than it scores. However, since there aren't many bass frequencies played by this speaker, it shouldn’t be too noticeable with real-life content.

8.9
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Discrete
Rears
Yes
Sr Slope
0.38
Sr Std. Err.
1.89 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
92.5 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
0.53
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.48

Update 08/13/2020: We've updated the review to say that this is a 5.1.2 setup, and not a 7.1.2. When using the rear satellites, the soundbar repurposes its side-firing speakers to help the left and right speakers.

This 5.1.2 full setup has an excellent surround performance. With dedicated rear speakers, sounds seem to be coming around you rather than from just in front. The sounds on surround tracks are only played by the satellites, and nothing comes from the bar itself, giving you a very good surround experience.

6.6
Sound
Height (Atmos)
H Localization
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar & Satellites)
H Slope
0.79
H Std. Err.
3.52 dB
H SPL @ Max Volume
85.3 dB SPL
H Weighted THD @ 80
0.99
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
0.31

The Atmos performance of the full setup is okay. The full setup’s up-firing speakers on both the bar and the rear satellites bounce the sound on the ceiling, and back to the listener, giving the impression of height. While this is well-done with the Sonos Arc, it isn’t as immersive as dedicated down-firing speakers with typical home theater setups.

8.6
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Yes
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Yes
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
No
Surround Level Adjustment
Yes
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
No

The Sonos Arc full setup has plenty of sound enhancement features. It has a room correction feature that adjusts the setup’s audio reproduction based on the room it’s set in, but it’s only available on iOS. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a proper EQ for you to customize the sound, but you can still play around with the bass and treble adjustment settings. Every customization option can be found in the compatible Sonos app, but you won’t be able to use the room correction feature on Android.

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 doesn’t have a lot of ports. It only features a single HDMI ARC port, so you won’t be able to use this soundbar as a hub for your different devices. It also features an Ethernet port to connect it to your home network. It also comes with an HDMI to Optical adapter.

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 full soundbar setup features an HDMI port that allows for most audio formats. Its HDMI ARC port also supports eARC, so you’ll be able to enjoy lossless surround formats as well. Unfortunately, it only supports Dolby formats and not DTS.

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

The Sonos Arc doesn’t have a Full HDMI In port.

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

When using the HDMI to Optical adapter, the soundbar can only play Dolby Digital. It doesn’t support DTS like most other soundbars such as the JBL Bar 9.1 do.

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

Like all Sonos soundbars, this one has fairly limited wireless capabilities. You can cast via Bluetooth and only Wi-Fi is supported. On the upside, there are a few apps like Spotify that have built-in support so that you can 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
Yes

The sub connects wirelessly to the soundbar. You can also connect the setup via the Ethernet port to your home network.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
Yes

The satellites connect wirelessly to the rest of the setup but need to be connected to a power outlet. They also have an Ethernet port on their back.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The interface is quite minimal. There’s one light that blinks or changes color depending on the command you input. There’s also another one that lights up whenever the soundbar’s microphone is activated.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

The control scheme is straightforward. You can play/pause, raise or lower the volume, and mute the microphone with the touch-sensitive buttons.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Sonos Arc doesn’t come with a remote.

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 the main way to control the Sonos Arc as there’s no remote. 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.

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. This review is also only valid for the full setup, and not for the standalone bar.

Compared to other soundbars

The Sonos Arc full 5.1.2 setup is a great overall sounding soundbar. It gets harshly punished in our current test bench, but subjectively, it sounds very well-balanced and is in the same ballpark of the often-compared Samsung HW-Q90R when it comes to audio reproduction. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best soundbars for movies.

JBL Bar 9.1

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a slightly better soundbar than the JBL Bar 9.1. The Sonos is better built, its height performance is better, and it has more sound enhancement features. However, the JBL has a significantly better center channel performance. It also has more physical inputs as well as wireless playback options.

Samsung HW-Q90R

The Samsung HW-Q90R is slightly better than the full Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers setup. The Samsung has a better ability to reproduce very deep bass, and it's Bluetooth compatible and supports DTS content, which the Sonos doesn't do. On the other hand, if you already have Sonos products, you can control the whole ecosystem in the app, which is nice. The Sonos also has a much better surround experience and sounds a bit more immersive than the Samsung.

LG SN11RG

The LG SN11RG and the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers are two great full surround setups. The LG features full HDMI ports and allows for Bluetooth streaming while the Sonos feels more premium and has a more neutral sound. Both support Atmos content, but the two extra up-firing speakers on the rear satellites of the LG could help a bit to create height illusion behind the users. However, the Sonos has a bit better stereo dynamics. 

Sonos Arc

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.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch

The Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch is a better soundbar for movies than the full Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers setup. The Nakamichi features four rear and surround speakers for a more immersive experience and you can position them differently based on your preference. It also has two subwoofers for a more uniform bass reproduction throughout the room. On the other hand, the Sonos full setup requires a bit less room and still delivers a great overall performance.

Samsung HW-Q900T

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better overall soundbar setup than the Samsung HW-Q900T. The Sonos is better-built, and it comes with satellite speakers, unlike the Samsung. It has a wider soundstage and more sound customization features, including a room correction feature. Also, it has a better-balanced sound when playing Atmos and surround content. However, the Samsung supports DTS content and has a Full HDMI In port that supports 4k passthrough. Also, the Samsung has fewer compression artifacts at max volume.

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