The second-gen Sonos Beam soundbar arrives with Dolby Atmos, $50 price hike

Sonos on Tuesday announced a new model of its Beam smart soundbar.

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2), as it’s called, doesn’t change much from its three-year-old predecessor from a conceptual standpoint. Sonos is still positioning the device as a lower-cost and far more compact alternative to its higher-end Arc soundbar, one that’s better suited to smaller rooms or secondary TVs. It‘s virtually the same size as before (25.63 x 3.94 x 2.72 in. and 6.2 lbs.) with a near-identical minimalist design, though the fabric-coated front of the first-gen model has been stripped away in favor of a naked, perforated plastic grille that wraps around the device. Sonos says the latter will be easier to clean over time.

The big addition here is support for Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound. Notably, the Beam (Gen 2) uses the same internal acoustic architecture as before—including five class-D amplifiers, four mid-woofers, three passive radiators, and a center tweeter, but no up-firing speakers to physically create the illusion of audio “height” Atmos promises. But Sonos says the new model is equipped with a faster CPU, allowing it to improve the software that coordinates the soundbar’s audio output and steer it around a room. There are two new virtual “speaker arrays” for height and surround audio information as a result, with the idea being that this will help Atmos content still sound as if it’s coming from above and around your head in addition to the usual left, center, and right channels.

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