Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Updated Feb 11, 2021 at 03:37 pm
Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers Picture
7.9
Mixed Usage
8.2
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.9
Music
7.7
Movies
Channels
5.1.2

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a very good 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 an amazing surround and good Atmos performance. However, some may be disappointed by the lack of Bluetooth compatibility and DTS support.

Our Verdict

7.9 Mixed Usage

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is very good for mixed usage. It offers a neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content, and it has some sound enhancement features so you can customize it to your liking. There's even a room correction feature that optimizes audio reproduction based on the unique acoustic characteristics of your room. However, it lacks a full graphic EQ, and it can't play DTS content.

Pros
  • Sleek and very well-built design.
  • Room correction feature.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
  • Low latency.
Cons
  • No full EQ.
8.2 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is impressive for dialogue-heavy content like TV shows. Its balanced sound profile and its dedicated center channel can reproduce vocals clearly and accurately. You can even use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear and crisp. Unfortunately, you can't stream podcasts or audiobooks to the bar using Bluetooth, but you can do it via a Wi-Fi connection.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
  • Low latency.
Cons
  • No full EQ.
7.9 Music

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is very good for music. Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral sound profile that's suitable for lots of different music genres. You can also use its bass and treble adjustments to customize its sound to your liking. Also, it has a wide soundstage that really immerses you in your music. However, it lacks a full graphic EQ, so it isn't as customizable as some of the other bars we've tested.

Pros
  • Very wide soundstage.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
  • Low latency.
Cons
  • No full EQ.
7.7 Movies

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is good for movies. It has up-firing speakers that can simulate height when you listen to Atmos content. Thanks to its satellite speakers, it has an impressive surrounds performance, too. On the downside, it doesn't support DTS content, and there's some bass compression when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Supports Atmos content.
  • Excellent surround performance.
  • Very wide soundstage.
  • Very well-balanced sound profile.
  • Low latency.
Cons
  • No full EQ.
  • No DTS support.
  • 7.9 Mixed Usage
  • 8.2 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.9 Music
  • 7.7 Movies
  1. Updated Jun 14, 2021: Updated results since this setup now features a height level adjustment feature, following the 13.1.2 firmware update.
  2. Updated Mar 18, 2021: Updated latency measurements with new methodology.
  3. Updated Feb 11, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  4. Updated Feb 09, 2021: Updated 5.1 PCM (eARC only) to 'Yes' after updating the bar's firmware.
  5. Updated Feb 09, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  6. Updated Sep 21, 2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.
  7. Updated Aug 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. You can purchase it in 'Black' or 'White' color variants.

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 grille 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
Width 44.9" (114.1 cm)
Height 3.4" (8.7 cm)
Depth 4.7" (12.0 cm)

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

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width 6.2" (15.7 cm)
Height 15.4" (39.2 cm)
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
Width 4.7" (12.0 cm)
Height 6.3" (16.1 cm)
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
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
Mounting
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 excellent. While the bar is entirely made of solid plastic, the subwoofer and satellites add even more to its premium feel, thanks to their metal construction. It feels as sturdy as the Bose Soundbar 700.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
1.5 m (4.9 ft)
Digital Optical Cable Length
N/A

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

Sound
7.8
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
No Preset
Slope
1.42
Std. Err.
3.80 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
34.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Sonos Arc full setup has a very good stereo frequency response. Out-of-the-box and with its room correction feature on, this soundbar has a balanced mid-range that can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, though higher frequencies may sound a bit bright. While it has an extended bass, it still has some trouble reproducing the deep thump and punch found in bass-heavy music genres or action-packed movies. It also comes with several sound enhancement features, including bass and treble adjustments, to help you customize its sound to your liking. However, their room correction feature is only available on iOS.

8.5
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
No Preset
Suggested Bass Setting
1
Suggested Treble Setting
-1
Slope
-0.12
Std. Err.
2.29 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
28.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.6 kHz

With calibration and its room correction feature turned on, the Sonos Arc full setup has an excellent stereo frequency response. Using the suggested bass and treble adjustments, this soundbar has a very neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content. It can reproduce a warm, thumpy bass without overwhelming vocals and lead instruments.

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. For a 5.1 setup with an even better soundstage performance, check out the Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module.

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

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, so there are noticeable thumping and compression artifacts.

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

This soundbar has a great stereo THD performance. At normal listening volumes, most of the frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in mostly clear and pure audio reproduction. At max volume, there's a jump in THD. However, this may not be noticeable with real-life content.

8.4
Sound
Center
Localization
Discrete
Slope
1.27
Std. Err.
3.19 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
97.0 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.33
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.34

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers has an impressive center channel performance. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, it can reproduce clear and accurate dialogue. While the frequency response lacks a bit of bass, this shouldn't be too noticeable in real-life as there isn't a lot of bass present with content played over the center speaker.

8.2
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Discrete
Slope
0.46
Std. Err.
2.06 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
92.5 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.53
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.48
7.1 Rears
No

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 satellite 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.

6.3
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar)
Slope
0.82
Std. Err.
3.56 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
85.3 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.99
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
0.31

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers has an acceptable Atmos performance. When playing Atmos content, it uses up-firing speakers on the bar to bounce sound off the ceiling and back to the listener to simulate height. However, this doesn't sound as immersive as dedicated down-firing home theater speakers. Its satellite speakers don't have up-firing speakers, either.

9.0
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
Yes
Virtual Surround
No

Update 06/14/2021: We updated the soundbar's firmware to 13.1.2. This bar now offers a height level adjustment feature. We've updated the test results accordingly.

The Sonos Arc full setup has plenty of sound enhancement features. It has a 'Trueplay' 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, unlike the Samsung HW-Q850A, 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
RCA In
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, and it comes with an HDMI to Optical adapter.

8.8
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)
Yes

Update 01/12/2021: We updated the soundbar's firmware to 12.2.1. After connecting to the bar via eARC, we retested its support for 5.1 PCM and found that all channels are recognized, which wasn't the case with the previous firmware. We updated the result for 5.1 PCM from 'No' to 'Yes'.

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

If you're looking for a soundbar with a Full HDMI In port, check out the Samsung HW-Q850T.

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.

9.2
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
17 ms
Optical
39 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A

Update 03/18/2021: There was a mistake in our methodology where we measured the latency using every second frame (eg. 120fps). We now re-evaluated the footage using every frame at 240fps for more accurate results.

This soundbar has an outstanding latency performance. When you connect it to another device like a TV over ARC or Optical In, it has low latency, making it suitable for watching videos and movies. However, some apps and TVs can compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may vary.

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't 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
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
No
HDR10 Passthrough
No

This soundbar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, so it can't support 4k passthrough.

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
Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
Yes (Built-in)
Google Assistant
Yes (Built-in)
Apple Siri
No

This soundbar offers built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. If you don't want the voice assistant to listen to you, you can mute the microphone using the mic mute button on the bar.

Additional Features
App
App Name Sonos S2
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts As A Remote
Yes
Controls Soundbar's Settings
All
Casts Device Files
Yes

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.

Sonos has also released a Costco-exclusive version of this soundbar. It should perform the same, but it doesn't come with a built-in microphone.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Sonos Arc full 5.1.2 setup is a very good overall soundbar. Thanks to its sound enhancement features, it has a very neutral, balanced sound profile and is in the same ballpark as 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.

Samsung HW-Q950A

The Samsung HW-Q950A is a better soundbar than the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. The Samsung has a more balanced, neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer. It also comes with a graphic EQ, EQ presets, a Full HDMI In port, and support for more wireless playback options. However, the Sonos is better built and has a better soundstage performance.

Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers or the Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module. The Sonos is better for movies, as it has a better surround performance and it supports Atmos content. However, the Bose is better-suited for music, as it has a better soundstage performance and a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. Also, the Bose supports Bluetooth, unlike the Sonos.

Samsung HW-Q950T

The Samsung HW-Q950T is a better soundbar than the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. The Samsung is a 9.1.4 setup that offers a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box and gets louder with less compression. It also comes with a graphic EQ and two Full HDMI In ports. However, the 5.1.2 Sonos is better built, with a better soundstage performance and a room correction feature.

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 better center channel performance. It also has more physical inputs as well as wireless playback options.

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.

Vizio Elevate

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers or the Vizio Elevate. The Sonos is better-built, has a more neutral sound profile, and comes with a room correction feature. However, the Vizio comes with EQ presets, unlike the Sonos. The Vizio also supports DTS and DTS:X content, and it has a Full HDMI In port, so it supports 4k passthrough, unlike the Sonos.

Bose Soundbar 700

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better overall soundbar than the Bose Soundbar 700. The Sonos comes with satellites and a dedicated subwoofer, which helps reproduce a more extended low-bass. It offers a better surround performance, and it supports Dolby Atmos content, unlike the Bose. It also comes with more sound enhancement features. That said, the Bose supports more wireless playback options, and it can be upgraded as the Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module for better performance.

Samsung HW-Q900A

The Samsung HW-Q900A is a better soundbar for most uses than the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. The Samsung gets louder with less compression at max volume, and it supports more wireless playback options. It also comes with a graphic EQ for sound customization and a Full HDMI In port, unlike the Sonos. That said, the Sonos is better-built, with better soundstage, surround, and Atmos performances.

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 and offer acceptable performances with their height channels, but the LG has two extra up-firing speakers on the rear satellites. However, the Sonos has a bit better stereo dynamics. 

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.

Samsung HW-Q850A

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850A. The Sonos has a better soundstage performance, and it's better-built. It comes with a room correction feature and gets louder, albeit with more compression at max volume. However, the Samsung offers a graphic EQ with presets for sound customization and a Full HDMI In port.

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.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better soundbar than the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch.  The Sonos is better-built, and it has a more neutral, balanced sound profile. Also, it has a better soundstage performance and more sound enhancement features. However, the Nakamichi is Bluetooth-compatible, unlike the Sonos, and it offers more connectivity options, so it also supports 4k passthrough.

LG SP9YA

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better soundbar than the LG SP9YA. The Sonos comes with discrete surround speakers that offer a better surrounds performance. It's also better-built, with better soundstage and Atmos performances. It gets louder, too, though it has more compression at max volume. However, the LG has a more neutral sound out-of-the-box, and it comes with EQ presets, a Full HDMI In port, and more wireless playback options.

Samsung HW-Q850T

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a slightly better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The Sonos is better-built, and it has a better soundstage performance. It performs better on its surrounds and height channels, and it also comes with a room correction feature. However, the Samsung is more customizable thanks to its graphic EQ and presets. It also supports Bluetooth, and it has a Full HDMI In port.

LG SN10YG

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers and the LG SN10YG are both 5.1.2 setups with different strengths. The Sonos is better-built, and it comes with two satellites to help give your audio a more immersive feel. It can get loud enough for a house party or crowded room, and its surround performance is significantly better. However, the LG has a few EQ presets if you like to tweak its sound profile, and it offers more connectivity options, both physical and wireless.

Monoprice SB-600

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better 5.1.2 soundbar than the Monoprice SB-600. With calibration, the Sonos has a better-balanced sound profile and produces a more extended low-bass. It also gets louder than the Monoprice and provides a more immersive surround sound experience. However, the Monoprice has a more focused soundstage, so sound objects seem to come from a more accurate, pinpoint location.

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