Blowing Away the Competition : Sonos Beam

Sonos have long been synonymous withIn the world of audio, with a plethora of products under their belt catered to allow consumers to enjoy incredible audio from the comfort of their own home.

Most notably Sonos’ astounding combination speaker and surround sound systems have constantly pushed the boundaries of sonic technology whilst leaving their competitors far behind. So after hearing a wave of incredible reviews surrounding Sonos’ Beam Smart Soundbar with Amazon Alexa Voice Control, we simply couldn’t wait to test the full capabilities of the unit.. which it has to be said, surpassed our greatest expectations.

The Beam has been gathering momentum for a while as a cheaper alternative to Sonos’ other home audio systems such as Playbar, Playbase along with their other tailored speaker alternatives such as ceiling speakers, wall speakers, amps and subs. All of these allow users to enjoy a cinematic audio experience in their own homes. But the Beam offers an impressive amount of functionality without the larger footprint or setup required to prepare a customised audio arrangement.

But Beam is much more than a cheaper alternative, it’s an intelligent piece of audio technology which quickly integrates with your own home setup and is up and running incredibly quickly for the phenomenal audio output it offers.

 

Straight out of the box the Beam is deceivingly sleek and minimalist. Weighing just 6.2lbs and with a footprint of 2. x 25.6inches with a matt finish (black or white) it perfectly integrates into your home setup without causing clutter or unnecessary bulk. The Beam’s design is beautiful and it’s testament to the team behind it just how seamlessly the unit sits into any setting. The Beam also includes several top panel features including capacitive touch controls allowing users to control volume, skip tracks, microphone controls, and up/down controls. On top o which the LED indicator gives clear directions on muting and voice feedback which is especially handy when talking to Alexa.

Connnectability and setup was also remarkably straightforward. Powered via the Sonos app, the user is led through a series of various steps in order to get the Beam connected and running with your own TV. Most TVs connect to the Beam via HDMI ARC but for older models there’s still an optical input which is handy if you don’t have a state of the art television.

 

Within an impressively short amount of time we had the Beam connected and synced with the television. On top of which we were given the option to optimise the Beam’s audio via a sound test on our smartphone. To undertake this ‘Trueplay’ test you have to utilise the phone’s microphone, directing it around your space. It’s a unique experience but we really do think it made all the difference when we first activated Beam.

On first operation it’s clear why Beam has gained such a name for itself on the home audio market. The four full-range woofers really push mid-range frequencies so vocals sound crystal clear  and baselines carry special resonance. This was notable when we watched a program with a character entering a nightclub and the bass blasted out of the diminutive audio unit. We were also told the passive radiators help move air around the Beam which adds to the warm tones of the bass, which most certainly was clear to hear. The low end is sensational and for such a small unit we were blown away.  It most certainly feels remarkably cinematic.

But it’s not all about the low end and the Beam’s tweeter also ensures dialogue is especially clear(even with Speech Enhancement deactivated). This is something quite often overlooked by mid-range TVs and it’s not uncommon to become accustomed to  ‘muddy’ sounding dialogue. The change in activating the Beam really does make character interaction come alive in films and TV.  We loved the fact that both bass and treble were controllable so we could customise the sound of the room as we saw fit.

We also tried out several action scenes including playing the legendary lobby scene from the Matrix. The gunfire audio was breathtaking, with the bullet ricochets directed around us along with the deep reverberation bass of the shots. The height of the sound also carried particularly well and we felt the impact being sat a fair distance away from the Beam itself. A warning that the Beam can go loud (and we mean LOUD) if pushed. There’s no chance you’d ever complain it was too quiet.

Beam’s width of audio is also truly magnificent – and with the depth of it’s delivery you’d be forgiven for being mistaken that you weren’t listening to a full surround sound setup. It should be said that of course this isn’t just a soundbar for your television. Beam is a wireless, multi-room speaker which can play music from a range of sources. Along with which, the unit can speak to your Sonos systems in different rooms of the house – something which we felt was truly phenomenal. To that extent it’s also great that Beam works with Airplay so you can play sound from your Apple devices to Sonos Beam and your entire Sonos system. The options are quite literally endless…

Another phenomenally intelligent aspect to Beam is the fact that audio is monitored via the five far-field microphones used for multi-channel echo cancellation and beam forming. Audio also remains balanced so you’ll never suffer that annoying moment when you’ve turned the audio up after a quiet scene only to have your eardrums battered by a car chase straight after. Beam ensures levels are kept smooth and volumes even.

But truly setting the Beam apart from it’s contenders was the fact that it comes with Alexa built in. This integration means you can command the unit and literally have ‘hands-free’ controls to your television’s functionality. Turning on Netflix via a voice command really is a game changer! It should be mentioned that the microphone remains off until activated, which is reassuring in an age of being security conscious about connected smart homes. It should the functionality is a hugely exciting step forward for home audio, especially when you consider how the Beam can be expanded via wirelessly connecting with other Sonos speaker products.  

We absolutely loved the Beam, it offers remarkably impressive cinematic quality sound at an affordable price and in a sleek, modern housing. At nearly half the price of the Sonos Playbase it’s a must for any fan of home audio looking for an affordable way to boost their TV setup. Or alternatively simply looking to replace their own TV’s audio with something a little more impressive.

We can’t recommend the Beam highly enough. Make sure you get yours here at

https://www.sonos.com/en/shop/beam.html