Jan 28, 2019
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Sonos Beam with Amazon Alexa: the compact and smart soundbar

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That the soundbar is a category whose sales are still growing when seen from the increasing number of quality devices with increasingly smaller dimensions, both the interest of people in having a cinematic experience at home.

The Sonos range already includes two models of soundbar, Playbar and Playbase , but recently the new Sonos Beam has been added , characterized by a more compact size and support for third-party applications, including voice control with Alexa .

Inside the package we find the soundbar, power cables, manuals, an HDMI cable and an adapter to connect the HDMI cable to the TV’s optical output.

The design of the Sonos Beam, as for the other Sonos products, is minimal and elegant. The dimensions are 651 × 68.5x100mm and the weight is 2.8 Kg. On the upper part there are four soft keys (play / pause, volume up / next track, volume down / previous track, microphone on / off) and two status LEDs. At the rear, the HDMI ARC port , an Ethernet port for a network cable, the power socket and a reset button. In the lower part there are two holes to connect the wall mount or to hang the soundbar under the TV. Absent an Aux input.

Inside there are four full-range woofers for the reproduction of intermediate vocal frequencies and bass; a central tweeter for the clarity of the dialogues; three passive loudspeakers and five D-class digital amplifiers. There are also five wide-range microphones to optimize the perception of vocal commands to Alexa.

As far as connectivity is concerned the WiFi 802.11 b / g / n while, like other Sonos products, Bluetooth is missing.

Sonos Beam supports Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 , while support for Google Assistant is expected with a future update, during 2019.Sonos Beam is available in black or white, in the main Italian retail chains, both online and offline, at the suggested retail price of € 449. You can extend the system by adding a Sonos Sub and a pair of Sonos Play: 1, for more complete surround sound.

We tried the Sonos Beam for a few weeks, and we were surprised by the quality and characteristics of this soundbar. The initial set-up was simple and fast, following the step by step instructions of the Sonos application. It must be said that we used an Android smartphone, but if we had used an Apple device (iPhone or iPad) we could calibrate the sound emissions of the Sonos Beam thanks to the TruePlay function , which makes a mapping of the room and optimizes the performance; we hope this feature will sooner or later be extended to Android users too.

During the procedure it is possible to associate the TV remote control with the soundbar so that it can be controlled without the need for an additional device on the table. You can also use the app on your smartphone to change, among other things, the volume level or the audio source (TV, local files or streaming services).

It must be said that Sonos has always been a rather closed environment: you can create groups for multiroom listening with other Sonos speakers but you can not send audio via Bluetooth from an external device that does not have the Sonos app combined. With Beam (and One) it has been added the possibility to use all the services associated with your Amazon account thanks to the integration with Alexa, although it is not possible to create a multiroom listening group including Echo and Sonos devices together.

The sound quality is surprisingly good for the small size of the soundbar. The high number of speakers present is able to calibrate well both the higher and lower frequencies, although if you want to enjoy the full bass it is advisable to add a Sonos Sub, even later.

Although the Sonos Beam is a great device to listen to music, the main purpose of a soundbar is to improve the sound of a TV , and even here we can say that the level is really good.

There are features dedicated to home theater, such as improved speech that accentuates the vocal frequencies and makes the dialogs clearer so you do not miss any words, and the night sound that accentuates the weaker sounds and reduces the stronger ones so you can keep the volume at a moderate level without disturbing family members or sleeping neighbors. Both these modes can be activated or deactivated easily from the smartphone app.

Good choice of Sonos to design a soundbar with small dimensions: with only 65cm in width, the Beam also adapts to TV sizes of 32 “or less; pity that the thickness of 10cm makes it look a bit ‘massive, but on the other hand it is not easy to put all those speakers in a thinner profile without compromising the quality of the sound.

Note that the support to Spotify is reserved only for the premium version and not the free, but it is a limitation that depends on Spotify Connect and not a choice of Sonos, and that should soon fall as announced by Spotify itself.

In conclusion, we can consider ourselves fully satisfied with this Sonos Beam, both in terms of musical sound and television speech. The integration with Alexa makes it even more attractive, although it would have pleased the option to connect via Bluetooth and via 3.5mm Aux jack.

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