Meet Sonos Beam



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Hello! I received my Beam yesterday and it’s amazing!
I’m getting one too this coming week. I am hearing lots of good things about it. I have two of the older Sonos Play-1's already and plan to bond those into 5.0 surround sound setup. Can’t wait to try it out.


I received mine on the same day it was launched. It is now paired with 2x Play 1 as LS and RS speakers. When i watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, in the Sonos app it is showing the output audio is Dolby Digital 5.1. I am not an expert, but i am very happy with this set up without SUB, sounds clear, balanced and actually dynamic and it gives you real surround sound feeling. 😃
Hi all,

I feel the launch of the new Beam sparked quite some criticism with a certain group of people. I'm definitely one of the Sonos user's for which the Beam offering is perfect, and I'd like to share why. Hopefully this provides another angle to this thread.

My current setup
2x Play:5 for stereo music listening and a Beam to replace the poor excuse for speakers that they've put in my TV.

What I'm looking for in a sound system (and what not)
* I listen way more music than I watch TV. I also care more about music than movies and home cinema.
* I want outstanding sound quality. It doesn't need to be the best one can buy, but it needs to be high-end.
* I want a system that "just works". I happily give up some audio quality or €'s in favour of WiFi connected speakers, AirPlay 2, Alexa, etc.
* The system needs to look good and not draw too much visual attention. For me that means no tower speakers and simple designs (like the Play 5 or Beam, and unlike the Playbar).
* I'm not necessarily looking for "best value for money".

Why the Sonos Beam is a perfect offering for me:
* It's small in size. I don't want a huge TV screen and massive sound bar on my wall.
* It uses HDMI ARC: This checks the "it just works" checkbox. I also value Alexa. To me it's more than a gimmick.
* I don't care about Dolby Atmos, DTS, or 5.1 surround. I don't care enough about home cinema to litter my room with additional One's that need to be mounted on a certain hight. I also won't place my Play 5's in a surround setup, because that will take away the stereo effect for the rest of the room if I'm just listening to music.

Conclusion
I would've never bought the Playbar, Playbase, or Sub. They're too large, and I'm just less willing to spend money on home cinema than on music listening.


I realise a big group of home cinema fanatics is disappointed by the Beam. However, for people like me, the Beam's offering is near perfect.
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Huge dissapointment. Obviously most of the expectations were built upon rumour, specultion and hopes that obvious gaps in the ecosystem where Sonos is lagging behind would be addressed, but a disappointment nontheless.

Not that this is not an useful product in its own right, but for those of us hoping that Sonos would release something higher end, a ‘noddy’ soundbar with little new innovation (Voice control is already there with the Ones so having it build into a bar for existing 5.1 owners) adds little value, then there’s little choice now but to look elsewhere for options.

The more worrying thing from my personal perspective is that yet another ‘movie’ product entrenching ties to legacy standards further and not delivering a product that provides some of they key features that have been seemingly called for on this forum for years, demonstrates that the wished for soltuion will likely never come and that Sonos are not capable of addressing that challenge.

Time to move on i think (for HT needs anyway).
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What a great release. The previous Playbar and Playbase were too big for my needs but the size and price (plus voice control) are exactly what I need in the new Beam. I suspect I'm Sonos target audience. As for Atmos, unfortunately, I suspect that's it's still too niche for the majority of Sonos users who either don't know what it is or don't really care for it.
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I'm surprised no-one seems to have mentioned the extremely disappointing fact that this soundbar only has one HDMI Port?

Essentially if you want to use HDMI ARC you are going to lose a HDMI port on your TV for nothing but audio. It would surely have made sense to have 2 HDMI Ports so at least video could have been passed from one connected device to the TV and therefore not wasting a HDMI port on the TV.

The lack of any additional codec support from HDMI ARC vs Optical on this soundbar means the only advantage to using HDMI is CEC control, which if you have a harmony remote is useless anyway.

I love Sonos, but this product is extremely disappointing.

It's true that many people here complaining (myself included) are not the target market for the Beam. However, all the 'geeks' and 'trend followers' you are referring to (the 1%), are the folks who are typically at the forefront of what will become mainstream technology


They also tend to embrace a lot of technology that falls by the wayside and never gets mainstream traction. HD-HVD? Laserdisks? DSD players? Microsoft Kinect?

Even full-blown surround systems seem to have lost favour with most people. As I mentioned in my last post, I don't see many proper 5.1 surround systems any more, yet alone 7.1.

Most people don't care!

So, that being said, I don't think it's too crazy for Sonos to listen to these boards and maybe adopt some of their requests. How could it possibly hurt? Where is the downside?


Millions of dollars of wasted investment, support issues, and even increased product complexity for something that (relatively) no-one wants.

Outside of startup mode, implementing features to appease a handful of customers is poor product engineering and galactically dumb as a product development strategy.

and they wouldn't be struggling to stay relevant when the competition is starting to seriously heat up.


I see no evidence of them "struggling to stay relevent" outside the fevered and overactive imaginations of armchair pundits.

As for laying people off, lots of companies do that as part of a growth restructuring plan. Apple, Google and Amazon have all done it recently.

And all of these companies, especially Apple, have been in the audio market for a long time. Apple was in it long before Sonos was formed.

Which leads me back to my point, why alienate (current and future) customers by not incorporating current codecs or allow for a traditional 5.1 (or 7.1) setups? Now THAT would be a differentiator from their competitors!


Because that's not their target market. If anything, adding the sort of complexity that the niche audio geeks want to see will alienate their primary customers. And lots of other people already cater for that market, so it's hardly a differentiator!

providing HDMI in a mini-playbar that can talk to 3 digital assistants in 2018 is their ground-breaking disruptor that's going to propel their revenue model - well FWIW, I think they are in big trouble.


Clearly you don't know much about Sonos's strategy then.

At no point have they expressed a desire to be "a disruptor" or claimed their products are "disruptive", and very sensibly so. Disruption is a tricky and dangerous business. Very often the people doing the disruption end up out of business.

And I'm sorry, but only someone completely clueless about marketing, consumer markets, and product development would suggest that implementing a new codec or putting an extra port or two on a device "disruption" or claim it is somehow "innovative" or different in the market.

Despite the hype from the tech press, there's almost nothing that genuinely new or "innovative" in the market Sonos occupies and there are very few opportunities for disruption in the market. It's generally a relatively slowly moving market with lots of fads and trends which come and go.

Voice assistant technology may well turn out to be a fad, but companies are pumping huge investment into it and people are buying into the technology in droves and are generally using them. Personally I don't see that going away anytime soon. And being the agnostic middle-man is a smart move IMO. It worked nicely for them in the streaming space. And I've already seen loads of reviews of devices like the Apple Homepod where the review has basically said "it's good, but you could get a better Sonos setup for the same price, and have it work with far more streaming services and not be locked into a particular voice assistant". I've seen similar discussions at my local John Lewis where the Sonos stand is next to the counter with the Homepod.

Arguably Sonos is disruptive compared with most modern consumer technology companies for having products which are stable, well supported and upgraded for many years, and which retain compatibility with older products. They are also different in that they are agnostic about services in a world where most vendors are trying tor trap you into their own ecosystem.

That's only possible with sane and careful product planning aimed at the mainstream market. People who want Dolby Atmos (as an example) may be a significant market in the future, but they aren't now. When it looks like they might become significant, Sonos can add that capability.

As I said, it's not a missed opportunity for Sonos if the opportunity is still there.

Cheers,

Keith
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My point is that this clearly wasn't meant as an upgrade to the playbar or to pull in audiophiles.


Bingo. Lower cost playbar alternative, not replacement.

Importantly it's going to be an affordable entry point for new customers.
I find it quite telling that there aren’t many “take my money now” or “pre-ordered” replies on the companies own Grand Release thread.

It's fairly clear you've not been around here that much.

Pretty much every product that Sonos has launched in the last 5 years or so has been met with a certain amount of disdain on these forums. And that's largely because Sonos tend to launch products that aren't particularly exciting or revolutionary. They are not "shiny".

But, over time, the shallow give-me-all-the-latest-trendy-technology-just-for-the-sake-of-it types (you know, the sort who think that Dolby Atmos in a one-piece soundbar is a good thing) drift away, and it turns out that Sonos have been selling bucket loads to normal people who find that the Sonos products fit their needs very well.

Because Sonos are, and always have been, in for the long-haul. More specifically, I mean they have always aimed to release products that have aren't inherently disposable, like so much of today's technology is. They aim to release products that will not only be usable, but, supported, "current" and active use in a decade's time. That's pretty much unheard of in today's market.

I put the word "current" because a small fringe of society will interpret that as having the latest trendy, news-making technical whizz-bangs. That's not what I mean. By "current" I mean stuff that's actually useful and applicable to a significant proportion of consumers (for argument's sake, let's put that at 30% of users or more). Stuff that's actually survived the early adoption curves and has become mainstream. Dolby Atmos, as an example, has not been implemented in 30% or more of homes. I would be surprised if it's in more than 1%.

Some consumer tech companies like to chase the latest and greatest partly because their company strategy is based on backing multiple horses, and partly because it's based on rapidly obsoleting products and replacing them with new ones. Shiny new technology is fun, makes news headlines, and gets geeks excited, but it rarely makes for great products that are supported (e.g. with upgrades) for more than a few years. It's not particularly good for consumers.

So Sonos's latest product doesn't deliver what you wanted. Well, that's a shame but, frankly, noone cares including, I suspect, Sonos. If you don't want what the BEAM has to offer then it's simply that you aren't in their target market. Tweakers and trend-followers have been asking for specific high-end capabilities from Sonos for years. Sonos has gone from strength to strength specifically by not being distracted by these niches and short-term trends, and by waiting to see what actually works.

It's not particularly sexy, but it does result in great products which fulfil what the vast majority of people want and need, and which continue being supported, upgraded and useful many years after you purchased them. That's something you can't say about pretty much any other digital audio vendor around.

Most of the other vendors have a track record of abandoning major product lines after a few years, leaving their customers stranded. Comparably, many of us are actively and seamlessly using Sonos equipment we purchased more than 13 years ago and which is still supported (e.g. with upgrades) today.

Cheers,

Keith


You couldn't have said it better. Yes there are fringe users that "Need" Atmos. SONOS might not be for you. But for an average user who loves quality sound from products that last, SONOS makes sense.

And I believe Beam fills a price point. 700 bucks is a LOT for a Playbar, but 400 bucks for the beam, that includes an Alexa, I think a lot of people can swallow that price point.

Also, for SONOS, if someone buys a Beam, they might later buy Play 1's for the surrounds, or buy a SUB. so Financially it makes great sense.
My main disappointment is that no one from Sonos got on these forums several weeks ago and knocked the DTS, Atmos, etc. rumours on the head. May have saved a lot of angst and dissatisfaction with what the actual announcement was.

Logically, no it wouldn't it would just have happened sooner, and at the expense of leaking details about the product launch.

That would be a really dumb thing for them to do.

Especially as Sonos are not responsible for people's overactive imaginations or belief in internet rumours. If you feel slighted andare angry and want to blame someone, go and look in the mirror and get angry with the person looking back at you, because it's 100% that person's fault.

Maybe this will teach people a few lessons about getting their hopes up based on rumours and speculation, but I doubt it.

Cheers,

Keith
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Welcome back Majik! Good to see your sound thinking back on a Sonos forum. Perhaps other sages such as RO53BEN and Buzz will pipe up too? Got a bit worried about ratty the other day but he's still here. And, of course, Kumar has been here throughout.
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You can potentially create a wider soundstage with a pair, in that you can physically separate out a stereo pair. Beam's soundstage is by no means small. In terms of power, it's closer to a pair of Play:3s than Play:1s, considering it has four full-range woofers and a tweeter, all independently amplified and specifically tuned, along with three passive radiators for room filling bass. Definitely, this is one to test out for yourself to see what you think. I'm looking forward to hearing with the community thinks!


Ryan - I've just blown my CR100 fund on a pair. Are you saying there is a plan to enable them to be paired (L+R, not grouped)?


Beam is designed to work in exactly the same configurations as the Playbar or Playbase: solo, with a pair of surround speakers: 2x Play:1, Play:3, or Play:5 gen2, or with the Connect:Amp running two speakers (wired only). You can't stereo pair a pair of Beams together.


A quick question Ryan: A remote that is confirmed working with the Playbase and Playbare (Samsung One Remote), will that work with the Beam (if in an optical line-in?). As I'm not a part of the Amazon ecosystem I'm holding out for Google Assistant and want to be able to controll volume the old fashion way. Thanks!

Beam also has an IR sensor the same as the Playbar and Playbase, it's just really well hidden under the cover, so it'll respond to the same commands when wired in over optical or HDMI. You just can't send commands over optical to the TV, but the expected volume adjustments from remote will work just fine. For smart remotes that have the "Works with Sonos" badge, they should be able to work great too.

Welcome back Majik! Good to see your sound thinking back on a Sonos forum.
Agreed! Always a treat when some of our long-standing members pop back in to say hi.
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Make the Playbar a 5.1 system with a Sub and 2x Sonos Ones as rears for Alexa and future Airplay 2 compatibility
Though the Playbar sounds great with the Sub and Sonos Ones, with a home theater setup it is your home theater product (Playbar, Playbase or Beam) that will determine AirPlay 2 compatibility. Using Sonos One or the Play:5 gen2 as surround speakers with the Playbar won’t bring Airplay 2 to the setup. You can group a Playbar with an Airplay 2 compatible Sonos player to bring an Airplay 2 stream into that room.
This looks great! Wow, well done Sonos.
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There's two ways to (correctly) look at the new Beam:
1. It's a smaller, cheaper version of the Play Bar that connects to your TV out via optical.
2. For those with a modern TV with HDMI-ARC, it's an improved product which connects to your TV and other peripherals in the way that is likely to be commonplace and standard going forward.

I tend to agree and for me it's a bit of both. I've been eyeing off the soundbar for a while now but it's just too expensive for me to justify. I just want better sound for my TV than the built in speakers and I'm always looking to expand my Sonos setup. For $1000AU? I could get a mid-range "good enough" soundbar from Sony/Samsung/LG and have some left over for a couple of Play 1s or a better new TV when I upgrade.

But the Beam is $600AU so all of a sudden I'm comparing it directly to those mid range soundbars. It's about $100AU more than the sale price of a soundbar I was seriously considering. That's $100AU for adding another zone to my Sonos setup and being able to group another room with the sound from the TV. Not bad especially now it supports HDMI-ARC

I couldn't care less about Atmos, 5.1 or extra IO. If I wanted all of that and was willing to pay for it I'd already have a surround sound setup with a Connect thrown in for good measure. I think people asking for that are kinda missing what this product is about. For me? This is exactly the product I was looking for. A cheaper version of the soundbar.
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Also question... When Sonos release Google Assistant, will I be able to say OK Google to my Beam and it will listen like Google Home and Mini? Ie will the assistant be naively running on the Beam?


Yes and no. I'm sure the Beam won't have the same firmware on it as the Google products do, but it will have it's own firmware that communicates with Google's cloud for Home. So yes, you will be able to give commands to the Beam and it will execute those commands...play music etc. However, I'd be surprised if it does everything a Google Home will do, same as the Beam won't do everything an echo will do. For example, I doubt you'll be able to make voice calls with a Beam. I don't know, I am just speculating on that.

And to be clear, you very likely won't need to get a Beam or Sonos One to control Sonos with Google Home. You should be able to tell you're existing Google Home and it will pass the command on to Sonos.
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First reviews of the Beam are coming out.
It seems an awesome product with "A little bright and sibilant at high volumes" like the playbase.

https://www.whathifi.com/sonos/beam/review
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@Ryan S, what are the chances of Sonos supporting other audio codecs namely DTS for Beam considering it has HDMI?
95% of my movies are all DTS... So more support would mean more compatibility and more people would like this.

I see Bose has Dolby and DTS on their soundbar.


Hi, Sonos Beam was designed to be used with the most popular streaming services, none of which support DTS. This is the same reason we do not support DTS on the Playbar or Playbase. If you want to watch DTS-encoded audio content with Sonos Beam, it's possible to transcode DTS to Dolby Digital using a variety of Blu-ray players or modern game consoles. Beam plays Dolby Digital 5.1, so if you're getting Dolby Atmos or other Dolby Digital compatible signals, your TV should automatically send Dolby Digital 5.1 to Beam as requested via an HDMI-ARC handshake.
Can you guys please stop with this rubbish? Sonos make fantastic products, but just admit the truth, You have left DTS out due to it being a cost issue. No-one would cripple a great product and cop so much backlash from people on this forum, not to mention it being mentioned in almost every review, if there wasn't a cost issue in doing it. There are workarounds sure, but they nearly all fly in the face of the simplicity buying sonos is meant to achieve. Ditto to the massive oversight on having no HDMI in on the Beam, meaning you lose a valuable HDMI Port on the TV to only audio.
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I'm really excited about this. I have lots of questions but for now will just say Congratulations to everyone at Sonos as this looks like a great product ( and the Google assistant integration is great news. )
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Hello! I received my Beam yesterday and it’s amazing!
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Ryan_29 - I couldn’t agree more. I’ve invested a good few thousand on Sonos products which whilst fit for purpose a few years ago are now showing their age.

Sonos have definitely missed an opportunity, and whilst from the other comments I understand some of the technical limitations; I can’t help but be frustrated by the “leading” company not meeting the requirements of a modern theatre setup. I had a 5.1 setup 20 years ago...
Thought you’d be annoucing Dolby Atmos to go along with Apple’s annoucement yesterday. Guess I wont be buying anything new.
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Huge dissapointment. Obviously most of the expectations were built upon rumour, specultion and hopes that obvious gaps in the ecosystem where Sonos is lagging behind would be addressed, but a disappointment nontheless.

Not that this is not an useful product in its own right, but for those of us hoping that Sonos would release something higher end, a ‘noddy’ soundbar with little new innovation (Voice control is already there with the Ones so having it build into a bar for existing 5.1 owners) adds little value, then there’s little choice now but to look elsewhere for options.

The more worrying thing from my personal perspective is that yet another ‘movie’ product entrenching ties to legacy standards further and not delivering a product that provides some of they key features that have been seemingly called for on this forum for years, demonstrates that the wished for soltuion will likely never come and that Sonos are not capable of addressing that challenge.

Time to move on i think (for HT needs anyway).


This is absolutely on point. This new noddy sound bar as you quite rightly put it does have a place for (some) consumers but it most certainly cannot be accurately described as a Home Theatre solution. It still lacks the basic ability to decode a dts signal found on almost every blu ray. I guess Sonos will continue to rely on gaps in consumer knowledge about what a sound bar should be able to do?
I was really hoping for a higher end product to replace my aging playbar. Not this....
It’s times like this I miss my 20 year old THX certified amp which would play anything I threw at it....
Hey thanks for the reply. It only works for music. Its really strange. Im watching breaking bad. All voice and normal sounds are the beam, the two play 1s only come on when loud music is playing. Whats the deal?
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Would love to try one of these in my household!
Dave,

Enjoyed reading your post above and can definitely relate to it, as I have a similar 5.0 working Beam surround setup here too. I love it and continue to recommend it to others, but I truly hope I’m never forced to watch Coronation Street in 5.1 surround sound.:D it’s bad enough being made to watch it, with the wife, in PCM stereo, particularly when the Man U v Chelsea game is showing live on BBC1.

I really need to buy another Beam for the TV and Play:1’s that I have in the bedroom, I think.?

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