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Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: Same Body, Greater Sound

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

We’ve met the Sonos Beam before, but here comes its successor – Sonos Beam (Gen 2). And I must say, this is the speaker that gets better with every generation, across Sonos’ products. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a Wi-Fi soundbar that is made for the living room, or practically any room in the house, really. But the living room is where it really shines, especially during movie nights. Let’s start with the most fundamental of all reviews, the design.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: Same Body, Greater Sound 9

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

  • Connections 1*eARC
  • ARC/eARC eARC
  • Sound format support Dolby Atmos DP / Dolby Atmos True HD / Dolby Digital / Multichannel PCM/ Dolby Multichannel PCM / stereo PCM 
  • Bluetooth No
  • WiFi Yes
  • AirPlay 2 Yes
  • Chromecast No
  • Finishes Black matte, white matte 
  • Voice control Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • Dimensions (hwd) 7 x 65 x 10cm
  • Weight 2.8 kg

Design

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: Same Body, Greater Sound 10

Back in our review of the Sonos Beam 1st Gen, we got the black colour variant. And this time around, Sonos was kind enough to send us the white version of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Honestly, we love the white over the black, just because of how clean and crisp it looks. I didn’t even mind that it contrasted so much from all the other black coloured appliances in the living room.

Aesthetically, the new Beam is actually looking very similar to the original. Having the same exact dimensions, the only thing different this time is the perforated polycarbonate grille, which is similar to the Sonos Arc’s. The reasoning behind this is that this would be easier to clean than the original’s woven fabric finish, which is true.

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Underneath the polycarbonate grille, there are four front-facing elliptical mid-woofers and an upgraded center tweeter. According to Sonos, this upgrade will offer crisper and clearer dialogue that the original Beam couldn’t (really pull off). To top it all off, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) also has five Class D amplifiers, along with three passive radiators that provide low-end frequency reinforcement.

Round the back in the “cable cove”, you still get the power port, Wi-Fi connect, Ethernet port, as well as a HDMI eARC port. On the top, there’s the touch controls for volume, play/pause, and microphone mute.

Setup

Setting up the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) was as easy as the first. All you need to do is make sure everything’s plugged in – power, Ethernet, and HDMI. Once that is done, power it on, fire up the Sonos App, and follow the instructions to pair them up. The process is relatively smooth and easy too, so no complaints here.

User Experience

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On top of loving the speaker coming in white and the installation being a breeze, I loved how easy it is to use the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Once everything is setup, everything else can be controlled from the Sonos app itself. The app gives the user full control of everything there is to tweak with the Sonos Beam (Gen 2).

Being a speaker capable of networking, it is also able to be integrated into Sonos’ wireless multiroom system. With the Sonos app, you can not only control volume, you also get access to Sonos’ Trueplay, a 2-band EQ, and also the ability to pair it up with other Sonos speakers you have at home.

Apple Airplay 2 is onboard, so you also get to stream content wirelessly from your iOS device to the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) via Wi-Fi. Do note that this requires these devices to be on the same Wi-Fi/Internet network.

Audio Quality

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Here are the audio formats that the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) supports:

  • Stereo PCM
  • Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Digital Plus
  • Dolby TrueHD
  • Dolby Atmos (Digital+ and TrueHD Version)
  • Multichannel PCM
  • Dolby Multichannel PCM

Dolby Atmos is the headline feature for the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) here. The front-facing drivers are now configured to five separate arrays instead of three, and two out of five of those arrays are solely in charge of reproducing overhead and surround sounds. The processor has also been bumped up to allow the Beam 2 to use psychoacoustic HRTF (head-related transfer function), which gives the impression of height without needing upward-facing speakers.

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) handles Dolby Atmos content really well, allowing every bit of sound to be decoded and brought front and center for its audience. This single soundbar unit was capable of providing enough bass power, vocal prowess, as well as surround sound realism. You could get wall shaking bass, voice-focused dialogues, and even surround sound that really makes you question if there’s really only one unit of Sonos Beam 2 in the room.

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Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: Same Body, Greater Sound 14
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review: Same Body, Greater Sound 15

It really gives movies the depth, motion, and space it needs. Every single footstep, every whisper, every little movement, you could hear them as if they were happening around you. Audio comes off directional and you could pinpoint them in your mind around you. Soundstage is truly impressive on the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), compared to the original.

You can even notice what the upgraded tweeter does, especially when there’s voice or dialogues involved. With the original Sonos Beam, the bass seems to overpower the mids at times, and other times the vocals aren’t as powerful when there’s background noise going on. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) changes all that and brings dialogue to the forefront and makes sure every line is heard clearly. You can turn off those subs now, eh?

This is also an improvement to music listening, where the artist’s voice is more accentuated. You can hear them clearer, and the overall sharpness sounds more crisp and clean. As for the lows, bass still sounds as powerful as ever, and I didn’t even dare turn the bass to maximum or volume past 50%. This time, I’m really scared I’ll get complaints from neighbours.

Conclusion

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The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is one that keeps on giving, and everytime I turn it on, it still manages to amaze with every new piece of content I stream. Despite not physically having much difference from the original Beam, the 2nd Gen did show up for it in terms of sound performance. It’s bigger, bolder, and clearer, no matter the content you’re watching.

Sonos’ speakers are more premium, therefore having a premium price too. But, if you have the budget, or have saved up enough for it, I’d say the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is, and can be the only Sonos speaker you’ll ever need for your home. Then again, I’d be lying, because you’d fall in love with the idea of wireless multiroom speaker system, and end up purchasing more for other rooms. It’d get addictive, really.

Written By

Chief Content Developer at The AXO

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