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Available for pre-order today, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a compact sound bar on steroids. Although it shares the same shape and basic guts of its three-year old Beam sibling, the new Beam Gen 2 has been re-wired, retuned and pumped up with more powerful processing making it a good choice where compact size and price without acoustic sacrifice will be a good fit with first time Sonos consumers.
The pre-order price in Canada of $559 is half the cost (and size) of the Arc soundbar and available globally on October 5. Out of the box, the Beam Gen 2 will support Dolby Atmos and Ultra HD via Amazon Music. It supports HDMI Re and LPCM for gamers and more. It’s also HDMI eARC compatible for a richer, more immersive, and higher definition sound experience. The new Beam uses the same nine physical speaker elements in the same chassis but has reassigned two of those elements to two additional speaker arrays (five total) dedicated to surround and height information. That required more processing power.
What Are the Key Features?
“The new CPU is 40 per cent faster, which allows us to unlock an incredible amount of software magic,” says Lizzie Manganiello Head of Sonos Americas PR. ”Like applying time and frequency-based psychoacoustic techniques to provide 3D audio separation between ear level and overhead audio.”
There are more improvements on other speakers as well. “We completely re-tuned the centre channel speaker so in comparison between Gen 1 and Gen 2, you should notice a much more enhanced centre channel with crisper dialog, which is incredibly important when adding an external speaker to a TV setup,” she explains. “There is more vocal clarity and even crisper dialog compared to Gen 1.”
Due to the upgraded tuning and new software, users will be getting a more immersive experience, Manganiello claims. For example, with Dolby Atmos, the additional meta data information will be re-allocated to the right drivers in the Beam 2 to deliver a deeper and realistic audio experience.
Will other Sonos Speakers Catch Up?
Launching later this year in select markets, Sonos plans to support Amazon Music’s Ultra High Definition audio, which will allow listeners to hear tracks in lossless audio up to 24-bit / 48kHz on their Sonos speakers, as well as Dolby Atmos Music, an immersive audio format that breaks the boundaries of traditional studio recordings and puts you inside the song, revealing every detail of the music.
Sonos products that will support Amazon Music Ultra HD include Roam, Arc, Beam, Five, Sub (Gen 3), Move, One, One SL, Port, Amp, SYMFONISK Bookshelf, SYMFONISK Table Lamp, Play:5 (Gen 2), Connect (Gen 2), and Connect:Amp (Gen 2). Older Sonos speakers from the above list in the legacy S1 category will not be upgradable. The Beam Gen 1, currently the oldest product in the Sonos portfolio will continue to be sold until inventory runs out but Sonos will continue to support it with software updates.
Sonos products that will support Dolby Atmos Music are Arc and Beam (Gen 2).
A new look
“Sonos is porting design elements from the Arc sound bar launched last year, to the Beam Gen 2 with a new polycarbonate grille, more immune to dust, peanut butter and jelly,” says Manganiello. The grille is precisely perforated, without impeding on the sound quality and blends seamlessly into your home, just like Sonos Arc. This new grille also makes the product easier to clean and less susceptible to wear over time.
Beam Gen 2 will come with NFC capabilities making set up much easier for first-time users by simply following a few prompts on the phone app after turning on the speaker.
Packaging material is from 97% sustainable craft paper and no single use-foam.