Sonos Arc delivers "theatre-like, multi-directional" sound to your home

Jun 8 2020, 12:03 pm

Sonos has been on a roll this year, unveiling a new streaming radio service along with new hardware – all in the last couple of months.

Their latest invention, the Sonos Arc, takes everything they’ve learned about audio engineering and packs it into a long, sleek soundbar that will definitely make those days at home much better with a killer surround experience.

The problem

Built-in TV speakers are generally terrible. While more and more people today are upgrading to 4K TVs, they often forget to match the sound to the picture quality. There are many options for entry-level soundbars in the $100 to $400 range, but what about a better one?

The basics

At 45-inches long, the Arc is designed with today’s big-screen TVs in mind. It’s aesthetically pleasing and, because of its size, instantly fits in better than the average soundbar nearly half its size – just make sure you have space or can wall-mount it.

Sonos Arc paired with a big screen TV (Image courtesy of Sonos)

It comes in white or black, both matte finish, and has voice control built-in – with the ability to pair either Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant.

You wouldn’t know it by looking but hidden behind the curved grille of over 76,000 holes are nearly a dozen speakers: eight elliptical woofers and three tweeters. To fill the room, two of them fire upwards, one to the right, one to the left, and the other six in front. Once you tune the Arc for your room with Trueplay, it knows exactly how sounds bounce off its surroundings, mapping the space out and bringing you the perfect 11-punch combo.

Eight elliptical woofers and three tweeters in the Sonos Arc (Image courtesy of Sonos)

Designed for use with TV, music, streaming, and more, you really do get that room-filling experience, and the ability to hear every little detail thanks to support from Dolby Atmos, a first for Sonos products, bringing that three-dimensional sound experience into your home.

The Arc connects wirelessly with your Sonos system (through the app), and to your TV via an HDMI eARC (enhanced audio return channel) or ARC port, meaning it can offer both standard HDMI input for video along with audio output for an external speaker. Nearly all modern TVs will have one of these – if yours doesn’t you can still connect with normal HDMI or with the optical adapter, but that loses the ability to get Atmos.

Sonos Arc (Image courtesy of Sonos)

The experience

While the price point ($999) might initially scare you away, it’s pretty amazing what this soundbar is capable of doing. It’ll transform your viewing and listening experience at home as you’ve probably never experienced before.

You’ll feel like you’re on the court with Michael Jordan in his last dance, or hear every raindrop and twig snap surrounded by nature in Our Planet. That’s because Sonos spent months iterating the curvature of the internal waveguides and revamping Trueplay to account for ceiling distances, angles, and acoustics, according to Product Manager Scott Fink. They also worked with music, movie, and TV creators to tune Arc with Atmos to create the best sound quality as it was meant to be experienced. And it really shows.

Throw on Money Heist and you’ll feel a part of the action, hearing a conversation on your left, gunshots going off straight ahead, and hostages screaming on your right. A bomb scene will literally have your home shaking – all without the need for an external subwoofer (though it would definitely enhance the experience) – while still keeping all levels in check. There’s never too much or too little of anything, it just knows what to do in every scenario, and it feels like the sounds are coming at you, literally from the left, right, and centre.

Sonos Arc side profile/Daily Hive

Of course, you can change the EQ (bass, treble, loudness) to your liking, but it’s not really necessary.

There are currently more than 25 video streaming services offering content in Dolby Atmos, Sonos says, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Apple TV. It’s “making theatre-like, multi-directional sound easily accessible from the living room,” Sonos says.

The new app experience

Saved groups in the new Sonos S2 app (Image courtesy of Sonos)

Launching June 8, the new S2 app will become home to all things Sonos (though much older Sonos devices won’t be compatible and will have to stay on the current app). Here you’ll find an updated and easier user interface, support for Apple AirPlay 2, security upgrades, and, finally, multi-room presets – meaning you won’t have to select each speaker individually anymore.

The last note

The Sonos Arc is a big-ticket, premium soundbar, and is totally worth it.

It’s versatile and well-built, adapting to both your room and the range of sounds playing, and brings a full home theatre surround experience in one jam-packed soundbar.

The Sonos Arc is available starting June 10 at $999. You can preorder it now.

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