While the upgrades aren’t major, the Beam Gen 2 brings a few features audiophiles would love. The smaller size of the Beam, compared to the beefier Arc, also makes it a good choice for a smaller space. You are paying for the name, though. The Sonos Beam Gen 2 currently retails for R10,000, while the Gen 1 variation’s still retailing for R9,000. A difference of R1k isn’t bad if you look at the upgrades you get.
Sonos rarely disappoints with its hardware. It is synonymous with quality audio tech, and while more expensive than most competitors, it has stayed consistently in that vein. Same goes for the second generation of its Beam soundbar.
It’s Beam a while
The Beam slots in below the brand’s flagship Sonos Arc soundbar but brings with it Dolby Atmos, a feature Arc is well-known for. While it’s not full-fledged Dolby Atmos, Sonos does a great job at replicating it without up-firing drivers.
That’s because the Beam Gen 2 keeps the smaller form factor of its predecessor. In fact, place them alongside each other and you’ll struggle to see many differences from a distance. The Gen 2 features a plastic rather than a woven fabric grille. This makes it easier to clean and brings it in line with the aesthetic of the Arc’s design.
This also means that anyone upgrading from a Beam Gen 1 to a Gen 2 can use the same wall mountings and cable setup. We quickly physically installed the new soundbar and the rest of the setup is just as easy using the Sonos S2 app. While we do give the app some flak for not being super user-friendly, it’s still a seamless process.
Once it’s connected via the app, your Beam Gen 2 will automatically join your Sonos network of speakers (if you have more than one). The ecosystem works rather well alongside a smart-home setup, especially if you’re using Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.
The S2 app also gives you access to the company’s TruePlay tech — this’ll automatically calibrate the soundbar to your room’s dimensions. Unfortunately, however, you’ll have to use an iOS device to enable and set up TruePlay. You only need to borrow an iOS device long enough to complete the setup, at least.
Beam me up
On to the actual upgrades you’re in for this gen. The new soundbar comes with eARC compatibility, a feature that was missing from the previous generation.
eARC (enhanced audio return channel) compatibility is made possible by the company’s new processing tech found in the Beam 2 that reportedly even allows for up to 40% better performance over its predecessor. Of course, this isn’t easy to test. We found that Gen 2 performed reasonably well with normal computing tasks like inputs and connectivity.
eARC allows for increased bandwidth and speed compared to that found in regular ARC connections. This permits Dolby Atmos (the other new feature) signals to be delivered in the advanced Dolby TrueHD format.
This part’s for the audiophiles — as most streaming services deliver Atmos in Dolby Digital+ anyway. If you have a 4K Blue-ray player, though, you’ll have the absolute best time with TrueHD. Trust.
Sonos Beam Gen 2 Verdict
While the upgrades aren’t major, the Beam Gen 2 brings a few features audiophiles would love. The smaller size of the Beam, compared to the beefier Arc, also makes it a good choice for a smaller space.
You are paying for the name, though. The Sonos Beam Gen 2 currently retails for R10,200, while the Gen 1 variation is still retailing for R9,000. When buying new, the difference of R1k isn’t bad if you look at the upgrades you get. But if you’ve already got a Sonos Beam in the home, it’s a slightly more difficult call to make.