On the 2nd half of 2018, Sonos released the very first Smart Soundbar in the market. Like any other “first” products, it’s far from perfect. Nonetheless, the Sonos Beam is so rich in features that it might just be the best soundbar you can get right now. In this article I will answer the question “Are Soundbars Worth It ?” and perform an in-debt audio sound and surround sound test.
Are Soundbars Worth It?
Through the years, speakers built-in on TVs are not getting any better. The reason is that consumers never really think about the audio sound quality when they’re buying a TV. All that people really care about is the screen size and price. With companies increasing screen sizes and driving the prices down, it’s only logical that they look to speakers as the corner to cut.
Also, the design language of modern TVs is getting thinner and thinner. There’s just isn’t enough space for a proper speaker driver. And, the speakers can no longer face the audience because of thin bezel designs. Because of this, the sound either has to face downwards or facing a wall which will bounce the sound and diminish quality.
Hence, the rise of the Soundbar industry. As people look to improve their TVs audio sound quality, not many are willing to do the tedious process of installing Home Theater Speakers. The wiring’s, the placements, not to mention the space it could take up in your house.
The beauty of Soundbars are their space-saving design. As the name suggests, everything is compacted inside a bar that serves as the speaker. No hassle on the installation, as it works as plug-and-play. They have multiple speakers firing directly at you just that can be placed underneath your TV. If you don’t own one just yet or you’re looking to replace, now is the perfect time to purchase.
Are soundbars worth it? Absolutely. Soundbars are definitely worth the purchase when it comes to home entertainment. Whatever soundbar you buy is going to be an upgrade from your TVs audio sound quality.
Sonos Beam Soundbar
The Sonos Beam is the first ever Smart Soundbar in the market. Like the speakers who eventually became smart speakers and TVs who became smart TVs, it was only a matter of time before a smart soundbar came out.
If you are into Home Automation, then this is a great product to have. Smart Soundbar basically means, you can just shout at it, and it will do what u ask. It has built-in Alexa integrated into its system and will function just like an Echo would.
The Sonos is actually a compact soundbar. It’s relatively smaller than standard Soundbars out there. It has a product dimension of 650 x 100 x 68.5mm. Definitely much smaller than its super-sized sibling, the Sonos Playbar. Wall mounting it shouldn’t be a problem, as it only weighs 6.2 lbs.
There are 2 colors available: an all matte black and an all matte white finish. The face of the Sonos Beam is made with a fabric grille that is not removable. Underneath that grille, you will find the dome twitter in the middle. Also, there are 4 full-range woofers and 3 passive radiators for great audio sound quality.
On top of the Sonos Beam are touch sensitive buttons. There’s left, right, pause/play and the microphone mute button. Furthermore, you can swipe left and right to switch through tracks.
At the back, you will find a power socket, a connection button, an Ethernet port and lastly, an HDMI port. Sadly, there’s only one HDMI port on this Soundbar, unlike the others. You will need to plug everything in your TV, and then channel your TV’s audio on the Sonos Beam.
The Sonos Beam can connect to your TVs HDMI (ARC). ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, which simply means, the TV can receive and send audio sound signals. In addition, the Sonos Beam communicates to your TV through something called CEC (Consumer Electronics Control). Basically, it allows the Soundbar to control your TV, and vice versa.
This is how the voice assistant can control your TV like turning it on and off or even toggle the volume. However, if you have a Fire TV, you will have full control of your TV through the Soundbar. You can now order the voice assistant to play your desired movies on whatever streaming service you have.
Unfortunately, the software of this Soundbar is far from perfect. Since it’s the first of its kind, there are a few hiccups. Wi-Fi connection, for instance, is not as good as a smart speaker. Reconnecting on an existing connection can be complicated and slow. Nothing serious though, as all of this can be fixed by a simple software update.
Right out of the box, the Sonos Beam is equipped with Amazon’s voice assistant. You can trigger it by saying “Alexa”, just like the echo and echo dot.
However, in the future, Sonos promises that it will support Google’s Voice Assistant and Apple’s Siri. If this comes to reality, Sonos will be the first ever to integrate all voice assistant in one product.
Audio Sound Quality and Surround Sound Test
For something this small, I expected the sound to be at least half the sound of the big ones. However, the Sonos Beam exceeded my expectations. The voice is very clear and crisp, and the bass is far-reaching. Also, it has a very good grasp on the sound effects of movies.
Watching in a medium sized room, you’ll be able to tell where bullets are coming from with impressive audio sound quality. The Sonos Beam, unlike many other sounds bars we have tested in the past, passes our surround sound test with flying colors.
If you are an iPhone user, then you’re in luck. There’s an app that’s called TRUEPLAY which is not available on Android. It analyzes room size, layout, decor and even placement which can all affect sound quality. The Sonos Beam will now adjust its settings to suit room design and improve sound quality.
If you have a relatively large room, the Sonos Beam will not be enough for you. You might be better off buying a full-sized soundbar like the Sonos Playbar.
Sonos Beam Soundbar Review
Rating 8.5 out of 10
If you are into Home Automation, then this product is perfect for you. I used to own a Samsung J250 soundbar, and I disliked the fact that I have a separate remote controller for my TV and the Soundbar.
The only gripe I have with this product is its lack of ports. Extra HDMI ports would have been great, and also a USB port so it can play external music.
Also, the software needs improvement. Wi-Fi Connection should be simple and instantaneous. Although I’m pretty sure, Sonos will fix this fast as they are integrating other voice assistants to the Soundbar.
Nonetheless, a clear sounding speaker with impressive audio sound quality at a very low price is always great in my book. Not to mention it passes our critical surround sound test. I would definitely recommend the Sonos Beam as it probably is, the best “value for your money” soundbar. I asked the question “Are Soundbars Worth It ?” Yes, they definitely are! You can purchase the Sonos Beam Soundbar at Amazon.com.
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