Best Sonos Beam Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020:
More than five years after the Playbar, Sonos is finally launching a new soundbar. More compact and less expensive than its predecessor, the Sonos Beam presents itself as a speaker full of ergonomic innovations in tune with the times, better suited to modern uses, and even carrying the Alexa voice assistant from Amazon.
Best Sonos Beam Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
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More than 5 years – in other words, an eternity in the high-tech world – after the launch of the Playbar, one would have thought that the Beam was going to have the task of taking over from it, and offering its big sister a well-deserved retirement. This is however not the case. Significantly less bulky than the Playbar (65 cm wide against almost a meter), the Beam also offers less power.
The two products therefore remain side by side on the market, the latest being more suitable, to use Sonos’ communication terms, for “small or medium” parts … even if, as we will see below, it in truth has a rather generous reserve of decibels which means that unless you install it in a gigantic living room, there is little chance of
The general ergonomics are perfectly faithful to the spirit of Sonos. It relies on a connection that could not be more minimalist: in addition to its network connectivity, the Beam has an HDMI ARC input … and that’s it. Connect the bar to the network, then to your TV with the supplied HDMI cable, and let it automatically take the place of the speakers of said TV thanks to the HDMI CEC protocol: this is how Sonos has its designed bar, and not otherwise – even Bluetooth is not-available subscribers.
What if your TV does not have an ARC connector? For this case, and for this case only, the manufacturer is good enough to provide an optical S / PDIF to HDMI adapter which allows the audio output of the TV to have its connection to the bar.
This complete lack of latitude left to the user is from Sonos, and it must be recognized that it has a major advantage: during the first installation, it allows the manufacturer to offer, via the Sonos mobile application , a particularly successful step-by-step guidance. Even in the case of a TV that is not ARC compatible, the procedure then includes steps to learn how to operate the television, which ultimately allows the entire installation to be undercontrol only with the latter
This is why Sonos can afford not to provide a remote control with its bar. Physical controls therefore has limitation by a touch panel on the bar itself, a true copy of that of the Sonos One : two volume control buttons, a pause / play button, and a button for closing / opening the microphones for the voice assistant. We can adjust its navigation between tracks by swiping from left to right or from right to left.
As for the stage of connection to the network and integration of the bar in a pre-existing or new multiroom system , this is done again via very detailed and accessible step-by-step guidance. The only criticism we have of him concerns his astonishing and painful reluctance to be satisfied with a wired connection.
The RJ45 socket on the bar is in fact mainly considered by Sonos as a backup solution for the first configuration of Wi-Fi. To make the Beam accept to connect only via Ethernet, it must first be pretend that the Wi-Fi connection has failed; only then is the wired alternative offered. There is always the danger of simplification to the extreme: end up turning into an unnecessary complication …
The multimedia and multiroom interface of Sonos has not changed since our test of the Sonos One . Rightly so, since it is still the most advanced and comprehensive ecosystem there is, as well as one of the simplest to use.
The list of Sonos compatible streaming services is unmatched, including more than. 30 services, including all the main ones (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music, Google Play, SoundCloud, TuneIn Radio, Bandcamp …). In addition, there is the possibility of playing music stored locally on a PC or smartphone, as well as searching for files stored on a UPnP / DLNA server.
Perfectly stable and responsive on all platforms, the Sonos application offers very intuitive access to all the main multiroom features – grouping of speakers, choice of distribution area, unified search by song, album, artist or genre on all sources … Once again, however, this simplicity of use is double-edged. Since it means that some advanced features are hidden under multiple layers of submenus in the application settings. This is particularly the case for audio settings: equalizer, latency compensation, configuration of the TruePlay automatic calibration …
As we said, the major functional novelty brought by the Sonos Beam is the integration of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. Unfortunately, it is not fully satisfactory, in part because of a slightly too capricious voice recognition.
During our tests, we were particularly taken aback by the very random effectiveness of “Alexa” calls. Sometimes a low voice call from 5 meters away would trigger an immediate reaction; other times, the assistant remained impassive as long as we did not decide to approach and raise our voice significantly … And despite all our experiments, we did not manage to understand on what criteria these variations could depend . Only one additional observation was imposed on us: if the presence of external noise does not seem on average to have too much influence on the detection capabilities of the bar, the sound emitted by the bar itself, however, as soon as it is set a little hard, very significantly erodes these capacities.
On the other hand and fortunately, once the initial call received (and therefore the sound of the bar automatically lowered to make room for listening to the request), the vocal comprehension strictly speaking is impeccable, both in the far field and in the near field. This does not signify the end of our annoyances, since the functional limitations of Alexa still have some very bad surprises in store for us … But we will discuss this in the box at the end of the test.
The Sonos Beam delivers extremely solid sound performance, and even frankly surprising given its small footprint.
First of all, we notice the amazing efficiency of the passive bass radiators with which it is equipped, which allow the frequency response to drop without any trouble as low as 60 Hz. Many compact sound bars, even those supplied with a subwoofer, do not do better! Even more impressive, the bar has a generous power reserve, which makes it possible to reach a very high sound volume without degrading the balance of the low frequencies, and without seeing the distortion fly away. Precision is in line, with more than respectable responsiveness, and perfectly controlled highs, which carefully avoid any sibilance or excessive flicker – pitfalls common in compact home cinema products .
And then of course, the above frequency response measurement speaks volumes about the almost flawless spectral balance of the sound – with one condition: take the trouble to go to the audio settings of the application, and lower the bass level of two notches, in order to blur a very slight highlight of the low mids. IPhone owners can also take advantage of the TruePlay automatic calibration system, still as impressive as ever. In particular, we were able to test it in a very reverberant room with a large standing wave at. 80 Hz: using the simple microphone of an iPhone 8 Plus, the. Sonos system was able to detect the resonance arising from it, and compensate for it. almost perfectly!
So would everything be perfect in the best of all worlds? No, not totally. We are first of all entitled to blame the bar for a certain lack of dynamics, nervousness. Very musical, the overall rendering is however not very energetic, which is not entirely suitable for cinematographic use. We would have liked the explosions and other shots to know how to have a slightly more physical impact.
This feeling is probably also due to a surprisingly wide spatialization, but also very imprecise. The Beam combines its virtual spatialization treatments with loudspeakers with very little direction which allow the sound stage to extend very far beyond the dimensions of the bar, and even to create a beautiful feeling of envelopment on the sources. 5.1, but with a very vague localization of the effects.
Unfortunately, this blurring also concerns the front parts of the sound, and even the central channel – in other words, when watching a film, the dialogues. In fact, the sound scene does not naturally overlap the image. This is the only major defect of the bar. But it is unfortunately too important not to cost him his fifth star in audio.
To conclude, note that it is possible to associate two Sonos One as real surround channels with the Beam. This association produces excellent results: also having a very low directivity, the. One manage to blend very naturally into the sound emitted by the bar, and to build a perfectly continuous and enveloping rear scene. We are then simply frustrated that the one and only multichannel format that the Beam decodes is Dolby Digital 5.1. DTS tracks must be converted to stereo PCM upstream of the bar before they can be played. Pity…
- Perfectly balanced restitution.
- Surprisingly deep bass.
- Perfectly contained distortion, admirable precision.
- Ample and enveloping spatialization.
- Compatible with almost all existing streaming services.
- AirPlay 2 compatible.
- A multiroom system with multiple possibilities, and simple to use.
- Well-designed step-by-step guidance during initial configuration.
- Super efficient TruePlay automatic calibration …
- … but only available on iPhone.
- Center track too blurred.
- Minimalist connectivity.
- Compatible PCM stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 only on the HDMI ARC input.
- An ecosystem that is still as closed as ever.
The Sonos Beam comes very close to total success. It manages to achieve astonishing sound quality for such a small footprint, while benefiting from all the attributes traditionally associated with Sonos products: a multiroom among the best there is, intuitive use (at the cost of a closed ecosystem and a ultra-minimalist connectivity, certainly), streaming compatibilities of an unbeatable exhaustiveness … However, that the only major defect of the bar, its inability to reproduce a precisely localized central channel, is a bit in contradiction with its vocation of TV speaker / home cinema .
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