The Sonos Beam is a good blend of smart speaker and sound bar. The Sonos Beam has the same smart home control, streaming service compatibility and voice assistant features of the flagship smart speaker, the Sonos One, but the Beam has a wider stereo image, better bass response and an HDMI port to connect to your TV. The enclosure is compact and available in either black or white to help integrate with your home décor.
The Sonos Beam has four full-range speakers, one tweeter and three passive bass radiators. The bass response isn’t quite as chest-pounding as some of the sound bars we tested with wireless subs, but it is accurate and proportionate to the midrange and high-frequency content. The Sonos Sub is a bit pricey but is a worthwhile investment if you have a medium or large entertainment room and enjoy watching action movies. The Beam doesn’t have a subwoofer output, so the proprietary wireless sub is the only option for adding more bass.
This sound bar was the best performer in our dialogue clarity tests. The Speech Enhancement feature pushes movie dialogue and vocals to the forefront and makes the midrange content the star of the show. We tested the audio performance of each sound bar by playing a two-minute action movie clip and a two-minute music clip through each product. The Beam was the clear winner when it comes to crisp, clear and centered dialogue, and the high-frequency effects and musical instruments are perfectly placed right behind the dialogue.
The Sonos companion app is the most helpful setup app we tested. It walks you through the process step-by-step and includes helpful tips about how to find the correct HDMI port on your TV and how to get Alexa ready to listen to your commands. The Beam requires an ARC (audio return channel) HDMI port on the TV, or an optical output. It comes with an HDMI cable and the optical adapter. The Beam only has the one HDMI input – it doesn’t have analog audio inputs or Bluetooth connectivity. However, streaming audio through a Wi-Fi network offers better fidelity and longer range than Bluetooth.
The Sonos Beam is an impressive sound bar with a built-in Alexa voice assistant. It received high marks in all our audio performance tests and was the clear winner in our dialogue clarity test. The lack of a subwoofer isn’t an issue for small- and medium-size entertainment rooms, but if you enjoy theater-quality bass consider adding the Sonos Sub.