Beam + WHAT? Configuration for music

  • 4 October 2021
  • 5 replies

Hi everyone, hope I’m posting in the right place.

I have a Beam in my living room, I use it as a regular playbar for TV, shows, movies and so on, but also for listening to the music.

In this latter task, it’s not bad for its size and features, but it is not satisfactory for me, especially in the bass realm.

I know the simplest thing woud be to add a Sub, but I’m not that enthusiastic. The room is not very big, I care about my relationship with neighbours and… well, it does cost a lot. I can’t but think “Is it worth it?” (please note: for me… personal thoughts and tastes!) 

So I visited the shop where I purchased the Beam, and the owner kindly allowed me to make some tests:

  1. Single Sonos One
  2. Beam
  3. Couple Ones
  4. Beam + Couple Ones
  5. Options #2, #3, #4 with Sub
  6. Play 5

My original idea was to get 2x Ones (SL) and group them with the Beam, hoping they would provide more depth and improve the situation. I think a couple Ones is actually better for music than the Beam, but I wouldn’t call this a game changer. I’m ranking #2-3-4 from “worst” to “best” (actually, 3 and 4 sounded approx the same to me), but they are in the same region. Or, I think I would be spending 400 bucks to just get an improvement, not solving the matter at hand.

A single Play:5 was in a different league.

Actually, I liked a lot the way the 5 plays, even better than #5 (Ones/Beam + Sub)

So, question is: for music, would it be better Beam+Sub, a couple Ones+Sub, or Play:5(s)?

Please note that, if I’m going for a 5 (or a couple 5s) I won’t be considering adding a Sub anymore.

I’m already spending way more than originally planned :sweat_smile:

Sorry for the long post!

Cheers, P.

5 replies

Userlevel 7

Sonos’ flagship music speaker has always been the Play:5 or Five. If you are concerned about disturbing your neighbors by adding a Sub, I would go with the Five or a pair of Fives. The Five will produce enough bass when playing music that a Sub will not be necessary.

Thank you!

Let me rephrase it and add more details: the Sub would probably be a good completion to the Beam, for both TV and music.

My doubt is pairing a heavyweight like the Sub to the Beam (welter?), overall in a relatively small room. Isn’t it overkill? Considering many reviewers defined the Sub to be overkill (and overly priced) by itself.

On the other hand, I’m not sure it would be possible to use a Five, or a couple Fives, to provide more depth/bass to the Beam for movies, e.g. as front speakers. I’m taking using a couple Five’s as rear speakers is out of place. And, when listening to music, I don’t think it would make sense to add the Beam to the Five(s). So, I’d have Beam for TV and Five for music. Is this correct?

All in all, I’d like to understand if, in sheer term of sound quality, Beam+Sub is similar/better/worse than Five for music, and what a reasonable choice wouls be. Cheers!

Userlevel 7

The Beam + Sub would not be overkill. Most users would recommend adding a Sub to the Beam especially for movies and TV. And you can always adjust the Sub level in the Sonos app, or turn it off altogether, when you need to.

You cannot add a pair of Fives (or any pair of speakers) as front speakers to the Beam. The Beam alone already acts as the center, front left, and front right channels in a 5.1 setup. You can only add up to two Subs and two surround speakers to the Beam.

You could add a pair of Fives next to the Beam as a separate zone and group the two zones together in the Sonos app when playing music. But you will experience a slight audio delay from the Fives from TV audio.

Yes, a pair of Fives as surround speakers with the Beam would be overkill. A pair of One SLs as surrounds would be the better option.

If you want the Beam to still be central to your music listening and more bass is your main priority, add the Sub. If bass is not your priority and you want a more immersive audio experience from both sides of the room from music and movies, add two One SLs as surrounds.

If the Beam isn’t central to your music listening, get a pair of Fives and make them your main music speakers. You would have the option to group them with the Beam if you choose.

It is not possible to integrate additional L/R speakers with BEAM. You could Group another Room with BEAM (this ‘Room” could be a Bonded pair of FIVE’s), but you’ll end up jumping through a time align hoop that will injure lip sync somewhat. Further, the L/R speakers will not have the advantage of being included in the surround processing.

Dear All, thanks a lot for your help and suggestion.

I’m guessing my choices are: add a Sub and have a Beam+Sub for TV and music, or get a Five (or a couple Fives) and have Beam for TV and Five for music.

On one hand, I’m more tempted by Beam+Sub: one system for everything, that could grow with a couple Ones SL later. On the other, I liked very much how the Five sounded. Maybe it was also because the Sub was placed in an unfavorable place in the shop.

That’s why I’m wondering if Beam+Sub (or couple Ones+Sub) can offer the same quality/experience of Five, when it comes down to music.

It seems I’m not the only lost in this dilemma...