Sonos Beam Review [2021]: Is It Right For Your Needs?

Soundbars have the reputation of having better sound than other more complicated setups. Further, instead of having several bulky speakers cluttering up your space.

These devices are beautifully designed with minimalist aesthetics and excellent sound that can rival a two-, three-, or five-channel setup.

One of the more exciting soundbars to be introduced to the market is the Sonos Beam. This 3.0 soundbar is very compact and delivers excellent surround sound and decent bass.

What are its best features? Should the Sonos Beam be your best bet for a movie-like listening experience at home? Discover its many features and everything you should know about this soundbar

Sonos Beam - Smart TV Sound Bar with Amazon Alexa Built-in
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Sonos Beam Design

The Sonos Beam looks like what you’d expect a soundbar to look like. It has a rectangular form with rounded edges, or what people would call an “obround” form.

The Sonos Beam’s plain design serves the purpose. It’s built with plastic with a fabric mesh cover to make it look more elegant.

You can control your speaker by the three touch buttons up top. These buttons are very responsive, too.

For its encompassing sound, the Sonos Beam is relatively compact. It measures 25.6 by 2.6 by 4.0 inches (65 by 6.7 by 10.1 centimeters).

If you have a typical 55-inch (140 centimeters) television, you can put the Sonos Beam between the stands. Plus, if your TV is not flushed to the table, this soundbar will not block any part of the screen.

The inputs and the power cable are hidden away at the back of the soundbar.

What’s in the Box?

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam package comes with the soundbar, the power cable, a 1.5-meter (five feet) HDMI cable, an HDMI to an optical converter, a CD that contains all the drivers, and the user manual.

You don’t get a digital optical cable for this product.

Excellent Sound

The Sonos Beam comes with two woofers for its center channel, while there are two other woofers that serve the right and left channels. You also get a tweeter for mid- and high frequencies.

There is also a pair of passive bass radiators at the front of the speaker and one located at the back.

This soundbar also comes with a night mode, which will dampen the loudness of explosions and other sounds, so you don’t wake up your neighbors when watching an action movie in the wee hours of the day.

Beaming

The thing with Sonos Beam is that you can calibrate it to sound better in the room where you put it. You will need to use the Sonos TruePlay when you’re setting up your speaker.

TruePlay will require you to walk around the room and wave your phone. This will allow the speaker to calibrate the sound beams that it creates so that everything just sounds better.

Connectivity and Compatibility

Sonos Beam

When it comes to physical inputs, the Sonos Beam can be pretty limited.

It has:

  • Optical Audio In to HDMI ARC
  • 1 HDMI ARC
  • 1 Ethernet port.

This one has no HDMI Out, Full HDMI In, Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux), RCA In, and a dedicated USB slot for files.

Google Home and Amazon Alexa

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam can take your Amazon and Google smart speakers. As such, you can ask it to turn off the lights, close the blinds, check what’s in the refrigerator, and even order food deliveries.

As long as you can ask Alexa or Google for it, the Sonos Beam can do it for you.

The Beam has five microphones inside that will listen to your commands even when you have the TV at full blast, or the kids are having a shouting match.

You can set the speaker to listen for the activation phrase as it works only with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, not both simultaneously.

… And AirPlay 2

Apple fans will be giddy to know that the Sonos Beam works seamlessly with Apple Airplay 2. You can use Siri on your HomePod to play any music from your iPhone or iPad and then go back to controlling everything using Alexa or Google Home.

Controls

One of the things that you can do with Amazon Alexa and Google Home on board is to control the playback, volume, and other settings on the Sonos Beam just by saying it out loud.

However, the speaker also allows you to control it via the Sonos app.

Further, you can use your TV remote to control the speakers if you set it up using the app. Some music services such as Spotify Connect can also control your speakers.

So if you’re listening to something on Spotify, you can just use the Spotify app to skip the next track or tone down the volume rather than opening the Sonos app.

Pricing

At $400, the Sonos One isn’t the most affordable soundbars available today. But the Sonos Beam is among the company’s most affordable soundbar, along with the Sonos One that retails for less than $200.

What You Would Like about the Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

There are a lot of things that will make you fall in love with the Sonos Beam. For one, setting up the soundbar is a breeze, and you can get the most out of your device when you set it correctly.

The sound quality is impressive. You may feel like an idiot waving your phone around the living room to calibrate the soundbar’s beams, but it’s worth it. The Sonos Beam is a solid performer, with crisp dialog and a wide sound stage.

Before You Buy the Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam will sit on any surface beautifully. You won’t have problems with it if you place it on your TV rack, a table, or other areas. However, if you want it to be mounted to the wall, you will need to buy special brackets for the setup.

The wall mounts can cost you anywhere from $10 to $30. Choose mounts such as:

Another thing that might turn you off with the Sonos Beam is that it has a plasticky look, and the fabric mesh can quickly get dirty or ripped.

No Toggling Between Amazon Alexa and Google Home

The Sonos Beam lets you choose between Google and Amazon for your smart speaker service. You’d need to update your speaker’s firmware, and you’ll be asked which one of these services you’re going to use.

If you ever have a drastic change of heart later on, like say, preferring to use Alexa rather than Google Home after choosing the latter, you will need to run the setup to change your settings.

What’s more, some reports say it’s better to use a standalone Amazon or Google product than using the Sonos Beam. You will experience fewer mistakes with the Google Home Mini or an Amazon Echo.

The Sonos Beam can easily mishear your commands and even get wonky when playing the radio and other apps.

Fortunately, this rarely ever happens and only affects some apps and features.

Bass is a no Go

If you like booming bass, you might be disappointed with the Sonos Beam as it doesn’t include a subwoofer for its price. You can, however, pair it with the company’s subwoofer, but that may set you back to a couple of hundreds of dollars.

Sonos Beam doesn’t support the latest home theater technologies such as Dolby Atmos.

Beam Sleeps: the Bottom Line

Sonos Beam

There’s a lot to be liked about the Sonos Beam. It has excellent sound quality that gets even better when you optimize it for the room it’s in.

However, the lack of HDMI input and Dolby Atmos might turn off some potential buyers. You will need to pay more to get subwoofers if you want bass.

Nevertheless, the Sonos Beam is a great sounding soundbar considering its relatively low price.

Pros

  • Works well with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home
  • Compact design but big on sound quality
  • HDMI ARC compatibility
  • Varied control options, including third-party app control

Cons

  • No separate physical remote control
  • It doesn’t come with its own subwoofer, so bass might be lacking for some
  • It doesn’t have Dolby Atmos

Alternatives: Other Soundbars You Should Consider

When it comes to soundbars, there is a world of options for you. Which ones are comparable to the Sonos Beam? Check out the:

  • Bose Soundbar 500
  • Sony HT-X8500
  • Polk Command Bar

Bose Soundbar 500

Bose Soundbar 500

If you’re not impressed with the Sonos Beam, you can add a bit more and get the Bose Soundbar 500.

This slim soundbar measures 31.5 by 4.0 by 1.8 inches (80 by 10.2 by 4.6 centimeters). It’s broader and thinner than the Sonos Beam.

The Bose Soundbar 500 will give you crisp and clear dialogue, and even when it doesn’t come with its own subwoofer, the bass is rather impressive.

The Bose Soundbar 500 allows you to choose between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and just like the Sonos Beam, you can’t use both simultaneously.

Aside from the voice assistants, Bose Soundbar 500 comes with the Bose Music app to set everything up.

Configuring your soundbar is easy as the app will guide you through everything from getting your Wi-Fi connected to the device, adding Amazon Music, Spotify, and other music services.

If Sonos Beam has TruePlay, Bose has Adaptiq. But unlike the Beam, you don’t have to walk around your bedroom or living room waving your phone around.

With Adaptiq, the calibration is less silly looking because you only have to wear a headset for the soundbar to optimize its beams.

However, don’t expect to find HDMI inputs or Dolby Atmos on this soundbar either.

For a little bit more money than you’d spend on a Sonos Beam, you’d get a soundbar that delivers excellent sound, clear dialogues, and booming bass.

Sony HT-X8500

Sony HT-X8500

The Sony HT-X8500 is a soundbar with a built-in subwoofer. This device can handle a wide range of frequencies.

It also has an eye-catching design that’s also functional. The front-facing drivers are protected by a rolled grill. You have touch buttons for operating the soundbar up top.

The Sony HT-X8500 has a variety of presets, which allows you to get the best sound profiles with simply a touch of a button.

This soundbar is compatible with both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, which works very well with the company’s own Vertical Sound Engine.

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar handles bass really well, going as low as 50 hertz on the low-frequency end.

However, you should know that the affordable price of this soundbar comes with some sacrifices. There are no visible menus, you can’t connect via Wi-Fi, and the inputs and outputs are limited.

Nevertheless, this soundbar has excellent sound, great bass, and support for Dolby Atmos. You won’t expect to find these in a soundbar that’s as affordable as the Sony HT-X8500.

Polk Command Bar

Polk Command Bar

The Polk Command Bar sounds good, whether you’re listening to your favorite tunes or enjoying the latest movies. That’s quite a feat, considering that others may sound good in one but not the other.

Like the Sonos Beam, this works with Amazon Alexa, so you can use voice commands to control your soundbar. It’s also big, measuring 43 by 4 inches (109 by 10.2 centimeters), plus it has a wireless subwoofer to boot.

This soundbar gives you a lot of what’s missing with the Sonos Beam. for one, you have a wireless subwoofer that offers the low frequencies that added punch. The dialogues remain crisp.

However, the Sonos Beam gives you a wider soundstage when it comes to playing back music. Plus, the Polk Command Bar looks weird.

Generally, however, the Polk Command Bar delivers excellent sound, regardless of what you play with it. When you get heart-thumping bass and crystal clear dialogues, you can forgive the manufacturer for giving the soundbar a really awful exterior.

And oh, it’s cheaper than the Sonos Beam, too.

Your Frequently Asked Questions

You asked. Here are our answers! Keep those questions coming!

Question: What is a Soundbar Anyway? And what Should You Consider Before Buying a Soundbar?

Answer: A soundbar is a loudspeaker that uses several drivers and radiators to create a wide soundstage for your listening pleasure.
It projects sound from within an enclosure, so you get a feeling that you are using a pair of stereo speakers or even a surround sound system.

Most people think that having good speakers on their TV is enough until they hear what a soundbar delivers. Indeed, the soundbar is an easy way to upgrade your movie-watching experience.

Plus, you can avoid having to pay a lot of money for a surround sound setup, not to mention a lot of space too. Aside from helping you save space and money, it’s easier to set one up than say, a 5.1-channel system.

However, there are some nifty things to remember when choosing a soundbar. What are these?

Check to See if it’s Low Enough not to Block Your TV’s Remote Sensor. Most of the time, you’re going to place the soundbar under your TV. If it’s too high, it might cover your TV’s remote sensor.
If you bought one that renders your TV remote useless, you could mount your soundbar, but that will add more expenses.
Connectivity Matters, but not as much as You Think. Some soundbars boast different kinds of ports, HDMI, RCA, optical, and others. But really, if you have a TV that has all the ports you need to connect your game consoles, cable top box, Amazon Fire Sticks, and what you have, you can just use the TV’s audio out and connect that to your soundbar.
Consider if You Need a Soundbar with a Remote. There are soundbars out there that have a physical remote control. Others accept voice commands like the Sonos Beam. However, other soundbars will require you to stand and get close to the device to turn it up, down, on, or off.
Soundbars Can Mimic Stereo Speakers or Surround Sound Systems. Or at least the more expensive ones do. You might want to consider a soundbar that has two to three tweeters, woofers, and also a subwoofer for that earth-shattering bass.

Question: What is a Passive Bass Radiator?

Answer: A passive bass radiator improves the bass response of your soundbar or speaker. Upfront, it looks like an ordinary speaker with its cone, frame, and suspension.

However, looking at it from the back, you will notice that the circuitry and the magnet you’d find on a driver are gone.
This is because the passive radiator is not driven but instead reacts to changes in air pressure caused by the drivers that are placed inside the same enclosure.

Passive radiators can improve the bass of your soundbar without taking up too much space. It’s certainly smaller than having a subwoofer embedded inside the enclosure. As such, you can have a more compact soundbar that still sounds good.

Question: What is Beamforming Technology?

Answer: The Sonos Beam uses beamforming technology to calibrate the sound you hear so that everything you hear is better regardless of the size and shape of your room.

When you optimize your soundbar with beamforming technology, algorithms will know whether to diffuse or focus the audio signals.
The Sonos Beam uses beamforming to focus the sound waves to where you are located.

Should You Buy the Sonos Beam?

Sonos Beam - Smart TV Sound Bar with Amazon Alexa Built-in
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We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

For its price, you’d probably like the Sonos Beam. It does an excellent job of rendering music and helping you enjoy the immersive sound of your movies.

However, it does falter when reproducing bass, and you might want to look elsewhere if you want heart-thumping sounds.

Where the Sonos Beam shines is the various ways for you to control it. It offers seamless voice control with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. It works perfectly with AirPlay 2.

You can even set the Beam up so your TV or other apps can control the volume and playback.

If you’re looking for a better soundbar in terms of sound quality and clear dialog, you can just get the Polk Command Bar with its wireless subwoofer. You can save a bit as well.

If you want Dolby Atmos and more savings, the Sony HT-X8500 is your best bet. Meanwhile, if you have Bose speakers and would like something similar to the Sonos Beam, get the Bose Soundbar 500.

However, at the center of these speakers, you have the Sonos Beam, an excellent middle-of-the-road, combining great features, excellent sound quality, and voice control.

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