While it might not be a perfect replacement for a Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Sonos Arc does a good enough job at replicating it. Its chunky size, quality noise reproduction and excellent sound placement make for a soundbar that really captures the attention and would make a great addition to any home entertainment system that doesn't want to take out a small loan.
The Dolby Atmos soundbar isn’t exactly an original idea. Sonos has a habit of presenting its products like they’re revolutionary, ground-breaking pieces of tech. The Sonos Arc is no different as the company is pushing this as a massive step forward in soundbar technology. The brand is so ubiquitous with this realm of tech that most of the time they can afford to describe their products like their the next major innovation and while Sonos might not have been the folks that invented Dolby Atmos soundbars, it certainly wants you to believe that it perfected the system with the Sonos Arc.
Yet how true is that? Sitting down with the Arc, it’s clear that Sonos has spent a great deal of time tweaking and twisting the infrastructure of their tech to accomodate that gorgeous Dolby Atmos sound. Maybe it doesn’t perfect it but one thing’s for sure, it gets pretty damn close.
Design and Build
You’ve seen one soundbar and you’ve largely seen them all. There’s not really a lot of room for innovating in this particular field and Sonos is clearly not looking to blow people away with an outlandish design. The Arc is that standard design you’ve come to expect, with the matte-black and matte-white finishes reminding you that this is, in fact, a Sonos product. It’s built solidly, meaning that it feels like it could withstand being knocked off a cabinet (but we still didn’t want to put that theory to the test).
In terms of actual size specs, the Arc may look a little awkward under your TV given how long it actually is. It measures in at 114cm with a height of 9CM and a 11.5cm depth, meaning that this isn’t a toy. This is a monstrous speaker. It’s a great size, even if it is slightly ungainly under your standard 55″ TV.
Features: If Only We Knew Everything
Sonos is rather notorious for not sharing the nitty-gritty details of it’s products but we have been able to wrangle down some solid facts. The Sonos Arc houses eleven drivers, eight of which are “racetrack”-shaped mid/bass drivers while the other three are tweeters. We have no idea how big any of these drivers are but given the length they should be pretty decently sized.
The drivers are powered by discrete Class D amplification and they’re all positioned to replicate that surround sound we all crave. Two face up, two on either end face outward and the remaining four are positioned across the front of the bar, separated by the tweeters. This is all well and good but how does this thing perform? Pretty damn well, it turns out.
The sound it creates is spacious and wide, really going to great lengths to fill up the room. The detail it perforates every track too is impressive, with every effect appearing where you’d expect to hear it. The dynamic range is also impressive as the bar doesn’t just smack you over the head with loud booms as it brings weight to quieter tracks too. Bass sounds feel layered and textured rather than one-note booms that drown out everything else in the soundscape. There’s enough attention paid to the midrange sound as well, as dialogue in films isn’t drowned out by the score that doesn’t know its place.
The only places we heard anything worth complaining about is the treble, which often sounds rather… spiky. Strange description, sure, but hearing those high notes come out just a little too pitchy means that “spiky” is pretty apt. Having said that, the Sonos Arc really does deliver a great listening experience for the home cinema system.
Sonos Arc Verdict
While it might not be a perfect replacement for a Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Sonos Arc does a good enough job at replicating it. Its chunky size, quality noise reproduction and excellent sound placement make for a soundbar that really captures the attention and would make a great addition to any home entertainment system that doesn’t want to take out a small loan.