- The Sonos Beam is the newest home theatre soundbar to come on the smart speaker scene, and it’s powered by Amazon’s Alexa and, later, Apple’s Siri.
- Sonos says that Google Assistant will also be come to the device later.
- The Sonos Beam is available for preorder starting today, and will cost $US399.
I’m no audiophile, but after getting some time with Sonos’ newest home theatre soundbar, I can say that the device – called the Sonos Beam – is really impressive.
The Sonos Beam boasts powerful specs and some of the most advanced audio technology on the market, all wrapped up in a smaller and more affordable package than the existing $US700 Sonos PlayBar.
The smart speaker will also be the first of its kind to be powered by both the Amazon Alexa voice agent and Apple’s Siri, with the Google Assistant being added at some point in the future. It makes a great-sounding speaker much smarter.
After getting the first look at the new Sonos Beam, here are my thoughts:
Sonos has built its brand on great and balanced sound, no matter what you’re listening to. The Sonos Beam is no different.
The Beam fits in perfectly with the rest of the Sonos ecosystem, sharing many of the best qualities of the previous soundbar devices – excellent clarity for vocals, adjustable bass and treble controls, and four woofers packing an impressive amount of bass.
Unlike previous Sonos speakers, though, the Beam also has five separate microphones, ready to listen for your voice commands over your music, TV, or video games.
The Beam is made with the home theatre in mind, and it shows.
I had never seriously considered investing in a home theatre sound system until this morning, when Sonos played Netflix’s “Stranger Things” for me with sound from the Beam.
This 26-inch sound bar is able to bounce sound around the room in a way that I haven’t heard outside of a real movie theatre in a long time.
And while I did get to experience the Beam in a studio-like room with specially made walls, Sonos employees tell me the speaker can be “tuned” according to the dimensions of the whatever room it is sitting in, so you should be able to get the same quality of surround-sound in your home as I experienced in the demonstration.
The Sonos Beam also offers a handful of very intuitive features aimed at TV and movie watchers.
For example, turning on “Night Mode” will enhance your TVs audio to brighten and clarify the dialogue and quiet sounds, while turning down the loud.
So if you’re watching “Westworld” late at night, the intense (and quiet) conversations will be loud enough to hear, but the action sound effects will be turned way down, so you don’t have to turn the volume up or down between scenes.
While the introduction of multiple virtual assistants to a single device is exciting, it’s unclear if it will be much more than a novelty.
The Sonos Beam will support Amazon’s Alexa right out of the box: Just say “Alexa” and you can use the Beam to speak with Amazon’s famed virtual assistant, doing everything from playing music to setting timers to getting the weather.
In July, though, the Beam will get a little more crowded, as Apple’s Siri will be added, too.
As a reluctant iPhone and MacBook user, I can tell you that Apple’s Siri is rarely the ideal virtual assistant for any device. It makes sense for Sonos to bring Siri to the Beam, given the popularity of the iPhone, but Siri still isn’t my favourite assistant.
Additionally, as an enthusiastic Google Home Mini owner, I’m super disappointed that I’d have to wait a while for the introduction of the Google Assistant, my preferred virtual assistant.
Having used multiple virtual assistants, I’m concerned that Siri’s inability to understand and execute my voice commands could potentially be a real setback for this device, and honestly, I’m a little perplexed as to the benefits of having multiple virtual assistants rather than a single universal one.
The product itself is simply beautiful. I can see the Beam blending in with any home theatre set up, without the addition of any ugly wires or distracting lights.
The Beam comes in white and black, is lined with seamless fabric all the way around, and the touch-sensitive buttons lie flush with the slightly concave top panel.
Although, the $US400 price point is a lot to ask of the average consumer.
The Sonos Beam almost got me, with its brilliant sound and clever design.
I immediately reminded myself, however, that I’ve been perfectly content with my cheap TV’s cheap built-in speakers for years now,and happy to listen to music on $US15 computer speakers, and the Sonos Beam doesn’t change that.
Besides, if I am looking for an intense, high-quality audio experience, I’ve always been happy to pay to see a movie in theatres, or watch a band play live.
So for casual listeners like myself, this smart speaker might be impressive, but it still feels unreasonably expensive and unnecessary.
And, I’d imagine that those actual audiophiles who are looking to get the best quality product out there would splurge on the higher-end Sonos PlayBar or PlayBase, which are pricier, but also offer more bass and slightly higher overall quality of sound than the Beam.
The Beam is designed for the person right in the middle of these two extremes.
If you’re the person who is looking for a high-quality smart speaker for your TV setup that doesn’t entirely break the bank, and who just so happens to love Siri, the Sonos Beam is likely the perfect choice to bring into your home theatre.
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