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Sonos Beam 2 reveals not all Atmos bars are equal

OPINION: Sonos has introduced a sequel to its standard compact Beam soundbar, and the headline assertion is that it helps Dolby Atmos. Contemplating the place the market is travelling in the direction of, it’s the one wise path for the Beam Gen 2 to go down.

But when there’s one factor about Dolby Atmos within the residence, it’s that it was not fairly what it was billed when it first appeared on the scene. I keep in mind being on the launch of Atmos at Dolby’s UK HQ in Soho and listening to the way it was going to advance cinema sound additional, which it genuinely has.

However in transferring that to the house, there have been a couple of false begins. The preliminary messaging and strategy of getting to knock holes within the ceiling for downward-firing audio system didn’t take off except it was for customized installations; and conventional encompass speaker packages with upfiring modules take up extra space and are costlier. What Atmos wanted was comfort.

And so it has been discovered within the soundbar realm. Soundbars have develop into an more and more standard methodology of smuggling Atmos into the house, requiring no cables and occupying a smaller footprint than a conventional speaker bundle would. Because the years have passed by, we’ve seen extra producers bounce into this sector of the market – Bose one of many newest – however does it provide a real efficiency or only a handy funnel for Atmos?

The Sonos Beam Gen 2 has the same speaker array to the unique and doesn’t have any upfiring audio system as a part of its set-up, so there are not any bodily technique of firing sound in the direction of the ceiling and bouncing it all the way down to create the Atmos impact like Sonos’ personal Arc soundbar.

As a substitute, it makes use of psycho-acoustic methods, which is extra about how the human ear perceives sound. The Beam 2, due to this fact, provides Atmos in a digital sense, creating the notion of a taller, wider soundstage higher processing.

Digital Dolby Atmos is one such strategy to delivering immersive sound, however is it higher than a soundbar that has upfiring audio system? From my perspective, out of the soundbars we’ve examined, it’s not been essentially clear if both possibility is definitively higher.

The LG SN7CY from 2020 was a disappointment from an object-based audio perspective, producing a lean and muffled tone.

The JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam goes with out upfiring audio system however delivers higher efficiency with Atmos content material, whereas an even bigger soundbar system just like the Philips Fidelio B97 (upfiring), takes a extra refined and never fairly as enthusiastic strategy to ship on the promise of peak in a soundtrack.

Then there’s the difficulty that Atmos is a encompass sound format, however compact bars are solely able to producing the entrance hemisphere of that ‘encompass sound’.

There’s an inconsistency that could possibly be perceived as maddening, but when there’s one factor that’s clear about Atmos within the residence it’s that on the finish of the day, the most effective outcomes happen from having an outlined strategy and tuning. Atmos stays a extra premium proposition within the residence market.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 grille shot

However Sonos has often proven its talent on the subject of tuning and its strategy to sound, and we shouldn’t low cost the presence of the Trueplay calibration system, which like JBL’s MultiBeam system, might maintain the important thing to presenting Atmos that’s absolutely meshed with the acoustics of your room.

So, right here’s hoping that the Sonos Beam Gen 2 can fulfil the potential of Atmos and, regardless of the worth hike over the unique, nonetheless at a reasonably reasonably priced worth. If it does, it might prepared the ground for single-bar Atmos soundbars going ahead in a lot the identical approach as the unique Beam did for compact bars.

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