If you go by the larger category umbrella, it is easy to think of the Sonos Beam as just that. A soundbar. Something that will connect with your TV, and that’s about it. Yet, it is a lot more. Actually, the Sonos Beam is that one versatile piece of brilliance that is most definitely a top-notch soundbar, but is also your smart speaker, an AirPlay speaker for your Apple iPhone and iPad, a Bluetooth speaker for your phones and PCs and if you have more Sonos speakers at home, adds to the multi-room arsenal too. That’s a lot from one tech gadget. And hang on. You can even make the Sonos Beam into a surround sound setup and add a wireless subwoofer into the mix. Got Rs 43,999? Stop reading this review, order one right now and maybe start saving to add more to this setup later.
First things first, how well does it work with the TV? Whichever way you look at it, this isn’t a very big soundbar. Which makes the resulting performance brilliance even more appreciable. At 2.7-inches height, this will slide under a lot of TVs and even if it doesn’t, like in the case of my OnePlus TV U1, it sits in front of it but there is still enough height differential for the OnePlus logo to peep out from behind it and no impediment in front of the screen. You can connect this to your TV via optical audio or HDMI ARC—the latter is the route I took. The setup, using the Sonos app on the phone, is quite intuitive—good thing it is, otherwise a few good folks may have felt overwhelmed. The Beam connects with your home Wi-Fi network and the app walks you through to the last step which is ensuring the TV remote controls the volume via the Sonos Beam and not the TV itself.
This is where you will be prompted to set up something called the Sonos TruePlay. This is the sound tuning software which makes you walk around your room waving your iPhone or Android phone around while it makes a map of the layout and where you’ll usually sit in the room. The results aren’t tangible in the sense you don’t see numbers on a spreadsheet, but I did toggle this on and off while watching a movie and the promises that TruePlay makes aren’t a joke—it really does make a difference in how much detail you hear where you are sitting and there is a definite improvement in the wideness of sound with this toggled on.
I used this with the TV in a large L-shaped hall which is the living and dining room combination and this compact soundbar (mind you, just the soundbar with no add-ons) filled the room effortlessly while watching movies or football matches. The sound signature is upbeat for sure, but the Sonos Beam does ensure it starts off on an even footing. You have the EQ toggles in the app and for most large rooms with the larger use of this soundbar for movies or TV shows or sports or music, you might want to dial this up or down according to how much bass you want. Even on its own, this packs a pretty punch when it comes to the lower frequencies. You have the option for audio equalization, which to be honest, I didn’t notice making too much of a difference—some jarring volume changes still filtered though. And you also have something called dialogue enhancement, which will be good for TV shows.
Sonos Beam’s party piece doesn’t seem to be the legacy that the Sonos brand has with audio hardware. Neither does it seem to be the ability to deliver such brilliance in a compact size. It is the versatility. Power on your TV and the Sonos Beam is ready. Say “Hey Alexa” and you can call out to play music from Amazon Music and Apple Music, among other services. Say “Okay Google,” and that’s a similar path you are walking down on with YouTube Music and Spotify streaming. Have an Apple iPhone or iPad? Open Apple Music, play any track you want to listen to and select Sonos Beam from the listed AirPlay devices to wirelessly stream. This is the AirPlay 2 standard, by the way.
The Last Word: Saying The Sonos Beam Is Expensive Is A Fallacy
If you are thinking that the Sonos Beam at Rs 43,999 is expensive, it is not. The thing is, it isn’t just a soundbar as you may be imagining it. You have the Sony HT-X8500 that costs almost Rs 31,000 and doesn’t have any of the goodies that the Sonos Beam brings alongside the powerful sound. And then there is the Bose Soundbar 300 which again doesn’t have any of the value-adds that the Sonos Beam has, yet costs around Rs 44,000. Yes, the Sonos Beam is an entry point to the premium audio experience in the Sonos line-up, but it isn’t limited to being just that for the money that you spend. This is perhaps the ideal balance between size and power for most modern day apartments, while also ticking off the checklist for an additional smart speaker or Bluetooth speaker that you may have had to buy in addition. And an Apple HomePod, if you want to use AirPlay extensively. Saving you money. Who’d have thought of that?