CNET First Look
Sonos Beam offers big sound at a more affordable priceThe Sonos Beam sound bar is an excellent entry point into the company's streaming products with voice control being its most winning feature.
Sonos has been making streaming music players for more than 15 years. It has a reputation for high quality sound, but its products are usually more expensive than its rivals. If you wanted to buy a Sonos Soundbar for example, you'd need to spend $700. But now the company is offering a product that not only includes both voice control and HDMI connectivity, but it's only 400 bucks. And the best news? It sounds great. It's 60% smaller than the play bar and it's about two-foot long. It's constructed of plastic and, instead of a metal grill, this time it has a cloth grill. But on the top, it looks very similar to the Sanos One. With the same playback controls and microphone array. But, it's not quite the same microphone array we've seen before. It's been upgraded to work within a home theater. Because you're not only getting sound coming from the TV, but if you set up surround sound, coming from you from behind as well. Based on our testing, the mics work reasonably well, sometimes you need to yell. Alexa! Alexa! [SOUND] But most times you don't. Alexa. [SOUND] As the system uses HDMI-CEC, it lets you turn the system on and off by just using your voice. Alexa, turn on the TV. [BLANK_AUDIO] The speaker is a CMI only though and no other audio inputs are provided. If you have a TV with an optical cable, you are in luck. In the box, you'll find this HDMI to optical connector. Usually this does mean you miss out on power on and off capabilities for most TVs [UNKNOWN]. While the sound bar only supports Amazon Alexa right now sometimes soon the sound bar will also use google assistant. But if you're not using your voice the [UNKNOWN] come with a comprehative [UNKNOWN] which offers a dozens of streaming services. If you have a song you wanna hear, you should have no problem playing it with the Beam. In terms of sound reproduction, the sound bar comes with a left and right channel, center channel with a tweeter and three passive radiators for better base. So the way Sonos Beam works is very similar to the way that the play bar and the play bass work. Essentially what they have is woofers on each end the sound bar Which far out towards your wall, and then bounce back at you. So what you get is a really, really wide soundstage, that you won't get from most other soundbars. Music is where the Beam sounds best, with enough bass to propel rock and dance, and enough detail to sound great with jazz or folk, while the sound is big and vocal clarity is excellent. [UNKNOWN] Action movies are where the system is the weakest. It doesn't generate enough deep bass to make explosions or other sound effects sound convincing. You can add the $700 sub and a pair of Sonus one's as surrounds, but this more than triples the cost of the system. Well the [UNKNOWN] isn't the home theater monster you'd expect for the price. It is an excellent TV upgrade, and better value than the other Sonos sound bars. The Beam is especially recommended if you already own the Sonos 1, for example, and are looking to fill other rooms in your house with music.