Sonos Beam SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
7.1
Mixed Usage
8.0
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.3
Music
6.4
Movies
Channels
:
3.0

The Sonos Beam is a decent soundbar when used by itself, without the separate subwoofer and the satellites. It has a pretty good audio reproduction and a neutral, although slightly bright, sound profile. It lacks a bit of sub-bass, which might be improved if you get the wireless subwoofer and can get loud enough for all types of content. Unfortunately, there's some noticeable compression at max volume. On the upside, this soundbar has side-firing speakers, which helps to widen the soundstage quite a bit, giving you an immersive listening experience.

Test Results
Design 8.0
Sound 7.0
Connectivity 3.8
Pros
  • Very well-built design.
  • Well-balanced sound profile.
  • Great center channel performance for dialogue in movies.
  • Easily upgradable setup.
Cons
  • Lacks sub-bass.
  • No DTS support.
  • No Full HDMI In ports.

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Market Context

The Sonos Beam is a high-end and customizable soundbar setup from 2018. It's more compact and convenient than the older Sonos Playbar. The Sonos Beams' main competitors with a full system setup are the Sonos Playbar, the Bose Soundbar 500 full setup, and the Samsung HW-N950. When buying the bar by itself, it's often compared to the Sonos Play 5 speaker.

8.0

Design

Style - Bar

The Sonos Beam soundbar's bar is plain. There's a mesh-like fabric that surrounds the entire bar, which can easily get dirty or damaged. The top is made of solid plastic and has three touch-sensitive buttons.

Style - Subwoofer

There's no subwoofer in this setup.

Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this setup.

Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width : 25.6" (65.0 cm)
Bar Height : 2.6" (6.7 cm)
Bar Depth : 4.0" (10.1 cm)

The Sonos Beam's bar is fairly compact. You shouldn't have issues placing it between the legs of the stand of most 55" TVs. Also, it's not too tall, so unless you have a TV with a very low stand or one that sits flush on your table, like the Sony A9G, you shouldn't have issues with it blocking the screen.

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

There's no subwoofer in this setup.

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

There are no satellites in this setup.

Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
:
Proprietary

The back of the bar has one opening for the power cable and the inputs. If you want to wall-mount it, you have to buy special wall-mounting brackets. The proprietary wall-mounting holes are found at the underside.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
N/A

There's no subwoofer in this setup.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

8.0 Build Quality

The Sonos Beam's overall build quality is great. The bar has a fabric that goes all around it, which can get dirty or damaged. The entire construction is robust and didn't cause us any issues during testing.

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

  • Manuals
  • Bar power cable
  • HDMI cable
  • HDMI to Optical converter
  • Driver CDs

7.0

Sound

7.0 Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
:
0.37
ST Std. Err.
:
2.02 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
55.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
:
15.6 kHz

The Sonos Beam has a decent stereo frequency response. While having a neutral, although slightly bright sound profile, this soundbar lacks a bit of sub-bass when it doesn’t have its separate subwoofer. The Low-Frequency Extension is slightly high, meaning the bar by itself might have some trouble reproducing the deep thump, punch, and rumble of movies and bass-heavy music. On the upside, the frequency response is flat and well-balanced.

Note: This soundbar was tested with the bar only, but we plan to test it with a full setup (sub and satellites) in the future.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
8.0 Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
:
1.81 dB

When listening to the Sonos Beam, the soundstage is great. The soundstage is pretty wide and almost as wide as home theater tower speakers. This soundbar has side-firing speakers that work in conjunction with the center channel speaker, and this can’t be disabled. However, since the soundstage widening effect works well, the sound is slightly diffused, and sounds come from a general area rather than an accurate pinpoint location. Compared to the Bose Soundbar 700, the Sonos Beam’s soundstage is slightly narrower but more focused.

7.3 Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
:
94.1 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
:
2.78 dB

The Sonos Beam can get pretty loud and can be used in large rooms without a problem. However, when pushed to the maximum volume level, this soundbar has thumping and compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

7.7 Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.48
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.17

This soundbar's THD performance is good. The amount of THD at a normal listening volume is within good limits and the soundbar creates a clear and pure sound. There also isn't a big jump in THD at max volume, which is good.

8.9 Center
C Localization
:
Discrete
C Slope
:
0.36
C Std. Err.
:
1.96 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
:
94.3 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.72
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.16

This is a 3.0 setup that has excellent performance in the center channel. Due to its configuration, the Beam has a dedicated center speaker, which results in a clearer and more accurate audio reproduction of the dialogue in movies.

4.5 Surrounds
Sr Localization
:
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
:
N/A
Sr Slope
:
-0.01
Sr Std. Err.
:
5.20 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
:
88.0 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
:
1.08
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.37

This 3.0 setup has poor surrounds performance. Everything is downmixed to a stereo signal and it uses the left and right speakers, which won’t do an accurate and clear representation of surround objects. This means the result isn’t very immersive and the objects are perceived to come from the front instead of the sides or behind you. On the upside, the L/R drivers are situated on the side of the bar, which might make the surround experience a bit better than a traditional bar with stereo speakers at the front. You can also improve the surrounds by adding the separate satellites.

0 Height (Atmos)
H Localization
:
N/A
H Slope
:
N/A
H Std. Err.
:
N/A
H SPL @ Max Volume
:
N/A
H Weighted THD @ 80
:
N/A
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
N/A

The Sonos Beam doesn’t support height channels and Atmos.

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

The Sonos Beam is one of the bars that have the most sound enhancement features. It has a room correction feature to adapt the sound to your room, although this is only available on the iOS app for now. It also has a dialogue enhancement for clearer voices, even at a lower volume, and a night mode to uniformize the volume level of content being played. You can also slightly play around with the amount of bass and treble, but there’s no proper EQ to customize the sound to your liking.

3.8

Connectivity

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

The Sonos Beam has a limited set of inputs. Apart from the ethernet port, it only has an HDMI ARC in port that can also be used with external devices that have Optical Out using the included HDMI to Optical adapter.

6.1 Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
:
No
ARC Dolby Atmos
:
No
ARC DTS:X
:
No
ARC Dolby Digital
:
Yes
ARC Dolby Digital Plus
:
No
ARC DTS
:
No
ARC Dolby TrueHD
:
No
ARC DTS-HD MA
:
No
ARC 5.1 PCM
:
No

The Sonos Beam supports surround sound from its HDMI ARC port. It only supports the very common Dolby Digital format, commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-rays. The unsupported DTS format isn't usually found on its own, as it's the fallback of the higher quality DTS-HD MA, which is common on Blu-rays. Unfortunately, this bar can't play back object-based sound formats.

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

There's no Full HDMI in port, so the Sonos Beam can't relay the video signal of an external device to the TV while playing back the sound.

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

Using the Optical out connection (using the provided HDMI to Optical adapter) of an external device, the bar can playback Dolby Digital surround sound, commonly found in streaming media and Blu-ray discs. The unsupported DTS isn't common on its own. It's usually found as the fallback of the widely used in Blu-rays, higher quality, DTS-HD MA.

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

Surprisingly, the Sonos Beam can't connect to external devices via Bluetooth but can connect to your Wi-Fi. Some apps like Spotify can cast to Sonos as it has direct support built-in. Also, you can cast using Apple AirPlay if you have a compatible device.

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 so it can't do passthrough of any video signal.

Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
N/A

There's no subwoofer.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
No

There are just two lights that serve as the interface. The main one blinks and changes color according to the input source, while the one above the microphone icon turns on when the mic is activated.

Bar Controls

The buttons can control only the basic features of the bar, like play/pause, volume up/down, skip and rewind tracks, and enable/disable the microphone.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
N/A

There's no remote with this bar. However, you can control the bar's volume using your TV's IR remote if you program it using the 'Remote Control Setup' feature of the app.

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

The Sonos Controller app is necessary to get the most out of the Sonos Beam. Not only does it act as a remote, but it also integrates features for other apps like linking music services like Spotify which you can then search all at once. The app can control the entire network of your Sonos speakers and allows you to set up room configurations, alarms, etc.

Note: Currently the Trueplay tuning (room correction) is only available on iOS.

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

The Sonos Beam never goes into standby mode. However, you can set a sleep timer for the content played. As explained here, you can use your TV remote to control the volume of the bar.

Compared to other Soundbars

The Sonos Beam can easily be upgraded thanks to the separate subwoofer and satellites, but we tested the bar by itself. It has a decent performance for stereo content thanks to a good audio reproduction, which is great considering the bar is fairly compact and small. It also has a great soundstage thanks to the speaker configuration on the bar. Sonos believes in better audio quality over Wi-Fi, so you won't be able to stream content via Bluetooth to the Beam like you can do with most soundbars. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best small soundbars, and the best Dolby Atmos soundbars.

Sonos Playbar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a slightly better soundbar than the Sonos Playbar, but they sound fairly similar. The main difference is that the Beam supports ARC via an adapter and is Apple AirPlay compatible. The Beam also has a sleeker and more compact design.

Bose Solo 5
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. The Beam has a 3.0 configuration with a dedicated center channel, which makes voices even clearer. The Beam gets louder and is also noticeably better built. Its soundstage is bigger and it has quite a lot of sound enhancement features, which the Solo 5 completely lacks. On the other hand, the Bose Solo 5 supports Bluetooth, while the Sonos believe in better performance over Wi-Fi.

Bose Soundbar 500
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Bose Soundbar 500. The Beam can get a bit louder, and its stereo frequency response is more accurate. The soundstage of the Beam is also wider, which feels more immersive. The Beam also has a room correction feature for it to perform accurately regardless of your room. On the other hand, the Bose 500 supports eARC and is also Bluetooth compatible. The Sonos Beam only supports wireless streaming via Wi-Fi. The Beam is smaller and more compact, which is nice if you have limited space.

Bose Soundbar 700
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

When comparing the bars by themselves, the Bose Soundbar 700 is slightly better than the Sonos Beam. It performs slightly better at max volume without as much compression as the Beam. It has a better overall design with a nice glass panel and feels better-made. On the other hand, the Sonos is smaller and is easier to fit in your home theater setup. The Bose 700 has more inputs, supports DTS, and can play content wirelessly via Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi.

JBL Link Bar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the JBL Link Bar. It's easily upgradable, and its 3.0 configuration means it has a dedicated center speaker, which makes dialogue and voices even clearer. It also has way more features like room correction and a night mode. On the other hand, the Link Bar supports DTS and can play content via Bluetooth and has Chromecast built-in. It also acts an Android TV box and a Google Home Speaker.

Samsung HW-Q60R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q60R is a better soundbar system than the Sonos Beam with the bar by itself. It's easy to upgrade with a wireless sub and satellites, but we tested the Beam as a stand-alone bar. The soundstage of the Beam is still noticeably better and wider, but the overall performance of the Q60R is ever so slightly better. It has a slightly better performance with surround content thanks to the built-in Acoustic Beam up-firing speakers. On the other hand, the Beam has a room correction feature, which is great.

Sony HT-S350
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a better soundbar than the Sony HT-S350, even without the separate sub and satellites. It has a noticeably better audio quality and wider soundstage. It also has a dedicated center channel, which makes voices and dialog clearer and easier to understand. However, it doesn't have any HDMI ports. If you prefer the simplicity of Bluetooth, the S350 supports it while Sonos believes in better audio quality over Wi-Fi.

Klipsch Bar 48
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Even without a Sonos sub and satellites, the Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Klipsch Bar 48 that has a dedicated subwoofer. The Beam is very well-built, is smaller and performs better. Its soundstage is wide and it also has many sound enhancement features. On the other hand, the Bar 48 can get noticeably louder and supports DTS, which the Beam doesn't do.

Samsung HW-N450
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Even with the bar by itself, the Sonos Beam is a better option than the Samsung N450. Without a sub, the Beam has a similar bass performance to that of the N450, on top of having a more neutral sound overall. It is also a 3.0 bar, meaning you have a dedicated center channel for clear voices and dialog. The Beam also has more features and room correction, which is great. It can also be easily upgraded with a separate sub and satellites. On the other hand, it doesn't have a lot of inputs and you can't stream content via Bluetooth to the Beam; only via Wi-Fi.

Sony HT-CT800
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a much better soundbar than the Sony HT-CT800. It has a better sound profile and its soundstage is noticeably larger thanks to the speakers' disposition. It's also a 3.0 setup, meaning it has a dedicated center channel for clearer voices and dialog. On the other hand, the CT800 has a subwoofer, although you can buy a separate one for the Beam, and it has many Full HDMI In ports, on top of supporting Bluetooth.

Sony HT-S100F
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Sony HT-S100F. It's a 3.0 system with a center channel, which makes dialog clearer and easier to understand. It also has a more accurate overall audio reproduction and has many sound enhancement features, including room correction. It has a great soundstage for an immersive feel as well. On the other hand, if you like the simplicity of Bluetooth, the Beam doesn't support it, while the S100F does. However, the Beam is noticeably smaller and easier to fit in your setup and is noticeably better-built.

+ Show more
7.1 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. The Sonos Beam has a decent audio reproduction that will be suitable for most music genres and dialogue content like podcasts and audiobooks. However, it has a sub-par performance with surround channels and doesn’t support height channels. On the upside, its soundstage is great thanks to side-firing speakers, which helps to give you a more immersive listening experience with movies. The soundbar can also get loud enough for all types of content, but you might get some compression at max volume.

8.0 Dialogue/TV Shows

Great for dialog. You can use this soundbar to listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or other similar content types. The sound profile is very neutral and the overall reproduction of voices will be accurate. It can also get pretty loud and you can also use the dialogue enhancement feature to get an even better listening experience. You’ll be able to stream content from your phone wirelessly over WiFi.

7.3 Music

Decent for music. The Sonos Beam has a decent frequency response that is neutral, but slightly bright due to its lack of sub-bass. Without its separate subwoofer, the bar has trouble producing the deep thump and rumble of bass. On the upside, its stereo soundstage is great and it can get pretty loud, although there's some noticeable compression at max volume.

6.4 Movies

Okay for movies. This soundbar has a decent overall sound but unfortunately doesn’t have height channels and support for Atmos content. On the upside, due to its side-firing speakers, it helps to widen the soundstage and giving you a more immersive listening experience than a normal stereo soundbar. It also has a good maximum volume, although pushing the bar to its maximum capacities isn’t recommended as there are some compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

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