Review: Sonos Arc Wireless Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos
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The Arc Dolby Atmos sound bar is the long-awaited sound bar update from Sonos. It's sleeker and sexier with curved edges and less overall depth than it's best-selling predecessor, the PLAYBAR. This 3D sound-enabled sound bar features 11 high-performance drivers for bass, clear dialogue, and a realistic 5.0.2 sound experience.
Is there anything this next-generation "smart" sound bar doesn't do? Aside from leveraging the latest surround sound Dolby Atmos technology, this multipurpose piece let's you play your music, check the news, set alarms, and more with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control built right in. Stream music, radio, and podcasts from your favorite services with the Sonos app or Apple AirPlay 2 when the TV is off. But, let's be real, this is a sound bar first and foremost... and, we're impressed.The most obvious difference between the Sonos Arc and the Playbar (aside from cosmetic), is the addition of Dolby Atmos. Arc's 3D Dolby Atmos sound comes from its upward-firing drivers that create a multi-dimensional soundstage that moves around you. Sonos describes the experience as "rendering every whisper and explosion with dramatic clarity, detail, and depth". Arc's crystal clear dialogue can also be attributed to the fact that Sonos called on Oscar-winning sound engineers for careful human voice tuning. Arc's advanced processing creates five channels that deliver sound to your ears from all directions at the exact right moment. And, Sonos' Trueplay tuning technology optimizes the sound for the unique acoustics of your room, calibrating the height channels for precise localization.
What is the Sonos Arc? A premium smart, Dolby Atmos sound bar for TV, movies, music, gaming, and more.
Control it with your remote, the app, Apple AirPlay 2, or your voice (via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control built-in)
Mount it with the optional mount, place it under or directly in front of the TV on a shelf or console.
Built for TVs larger than 49"
Requires a TV that supports Dolby Atmos and Atmos-encoded content.
Turn on Speech Enhancement in the app to clarify dialogue when characters talk quietly or action intensifies.
Expand your system by wirelessly connecting a Sub for deeper bass and a pair of matching rear surrounds for an even more immersive listening experience.
Award Winning Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos sound bar is on our Best Soundbars of 2021 award list.
Sonos Arc Specs:
- Size: 45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches
- Wireless: 2.4/5 GHz, Bluetooth
- Smart assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant
- Speakers: 11 drivers, 3 tweeters, 8 custom woofers
- Ports: Ethernet, HDMI ARC/eARC
- Weight: 13.78 pounds
"Hey, everybody. It's Adam with World Wide Stereo. Today's video, we're going to show you a soundbar from Sonos called the Arc. ♪ [music] ♪ Before we get into the video, I just want to remind everybody to please subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you have any questions or comments, you can always put those in the comment section below and we'll be happy to reach out to you.
This is the Sonos Arc Soundbar. It is meant to deliver a 3D object-driven surround sound experience, which the most popular version of that is now called Dolby Atmos. This by itself is a 5.0.2 system. The company Sonos has been around for a long time, but they really do a great job of empowering their listeners to be able to listen to whatever they want, whenever they want, and quite frankly, how they want.
They have 100 plus services built right into their software, and some of which are also commercial. So, they have residential and commercial streaming services available in their software. The Arc is now the third soundbar offering from Sonos. They have the Playbar, the Beam, and now, the Arc. The Arc was designed because now we're seeing a trend of bigger TVs being sold. So, you'll see that the Arc is actually larger than the other two.
This one comes in at about 45 inches wide. The Playbar, the first one, was about 35 inches wide and the Beam is even smaller than that. I got to say that sentence is getting very Apple-esque with their packaging. They're doing a really good job of that. You'll notice that when you receive the box, I love on the side, the locking tabs. So, you take those and you unclick them from each side and it really locks the top down.
And then you can pull it out when they're unhinged, and then you have a beautiful presentation on the inside. So, just impressed with their packaging. It's coming a long way and it looks very nice. Inside the box, you know, you'll find the Arc and then you have, they do supply you with the power cord and they give you an HDMI cord and the HDMI to optical adapter if you have an older TV and you're going to use optical. So, all included, but if you need longer cables or potentially in-wall rated cables, you'll want to come in contact with us with that and we can help you get the right cable.
As far as setup is concerned for placement, you can simply place it on your furniture or mantel. They do recommend that it's about 4 inches away from the bottom of the TV. And that's to kind of allow these Atmos speakers to really elevate and get up in the room. If you do want to wall-mount it, you can, I highly suggest that you use the Sonos wall mount because in the Sonos wall mount, when you mount it together, there's a magnet somewhere back here that tells the Arc that I'm wall-mounted, and then it'll kind of change its sound characteristics to know that it's so close to the wall, as opposed to, you know, maybe being on a piece of furniture where it's maybe a foot away or so from the wall.
So, always use the Sonos wall mount if you are going to wall-mount this thing. Something really cool about this that they had to do that I thought was really interesting was the Trueplay Tuning that they have. Now, the Trueplay Tuning is a software that you use your iPhone with to actually tune the speaker to your environment, okay? Because mostly, all the sound that we hear is reflected off of something. So, being able to tune the speaker so it sounds perfect for your room is really important.
And they had to actually scrap the old Trueplay system that they had and re-engineer it and redesign the whole thing because of this Atmos-enabled speaker that they have right here. So, new Trueplay Tuning, that tuning is also available on a lot of their other products, but it was nice to learn that they had to completely redesign it for this. So, nice improvement from Sonos. Something that remained the same with this soundbar is that you can pair other speakers to it.
So, you can add rears in the back, you can add a subwoofer, but that still makes this a 5.1 for the subwoofer and then 2 for the rear. It doesn't go in addition to it. Remember, by itself, this is a 5.0 because I don't have a woofer. I just have the Arc in front of me, .2 system here, okay? So, there's five speakers, these are your surround speakers, when I add surround speakers to the back of the room, they work together.
It's not, instead of, it's not, in lieu of, or anything like that, the side surround speakers work with the rear surround speakers. This speaker will kind of play that middle kind of sound or mid-bass sound and then back there you get more of the upper mids and highs to come out of the back speakers. So, they work together as your surrounds. You will need to download the latest version of the Sonos app called the Sonos S2 app.
The Sonos Arc will not work on the Sonos S1 app. So, make sure you download that S2 app. Another feature that stayed the same as some of their other products is the controls on the top of the unit. You have your play and pause, volume up/volume down, and then you can swipe left and swipe right to track forward or track back if you have a playlist going for music. The Sonos Arc has all your voice assistance built into it, whether it's Google, Alexa, or Siri via Airplay 2.
So, you can use your voice to control this as well. When you look at the back of this unit, you'll find your power connection. You'll find your HDMI connection. And then you have a hardwired internet connection on the back too, which I would always recommend connecting it that way for the best overall performance and experience. But there is also Wi-Fi in this, if you want to connect it to your Wi-Fi network, you can simply do that.
Again, my recommendation would be to hardwire it. In hooking up the soundbar to your TV, the best thing you could do is use the HDMI connection. The HDMI connection will allow for the best surround sound experience to come through this machine, Dolby Atmos. That's the best way to get the most uncompressed version of that surround sound format. But if you have an older TV that doesn't have the E-Arc or the enhanced Arc connection, it will still connect with Arc, speakers will play fine, you'll also get the control as well.
But if you have an even older TV, inside the box, they're going to include an optical to HDMI adapter. So, you can use that to connect it to an older TV as well. In terms of control, if you use the E-Arc or Arc connection, that's really great because the remote that you're already using now will also control this. When you turn it on, it'll turn on, it'll go to the right input, it'll start playing the sound from the TV and the volume up and down on your TV or cable box remote or Apple TV, or Roku, whatever you're currently using will also control this as well with minimal setup.
I say minimal setup because in order to make this work with a TV with E-Arc or Arc, most of the time you have to go into the TV and turn that technology on. For instance, in Samsung, they call that Anynet, Sony calls it Bravia Link, and LG calls it SimpLink. This is a technology that you turn on in order to establish the handshake between the two devices so that they'll work together.
One other point for control, if you're not using the ER connection and you're using the optical, you can still use your TV's remote control, your cable box remote control, there is an IR learning mode that's capable, and there's also an IR passthrough. So, there's an IR sensor on the front, if you're putting this in front of your TV, then it comes out of the back to still be able to control your TV. Or if your cable box is back here or something like that, don't worry about if this blocks what's behind it, the IR signal can pass right through.
So, they kept that as well. So, now, let's dive into a little bit of the technology that's behind this Arc Soundbar. The Arc soundbar has 11 powered drivers built into them. It has a total of eight woofers and three tweeters. As you'll see here, you have speakers on the side, surround speakers on the side, and the object-driven speakers or the Atmos speakers we'll call them, they're in the top angled at about 70 degrees to come up and out into the room.
The technology that Sonos uses in other speakers too is called Phase Delay. Phase Delay allows you to focus the sound where you want it to be heard. So, for instance, kind of like noise-canceling headphones, when you want to focus an object's sound over here, they use what we'll call anti-music over here to help pull that sound back so you're more focused on what's happening over here.
And that's how they're able to move things around in the room. They use that in this speaker and some of their others in the lineup. The name of the speaker, the Arc, was comprised because you're getting an arcing of sound. And I could speak to this a lot because when I was demoing this product in my house and listening to some Atmos tracks, I had my little notes in front of me and I drew a little picture of a soundbar.
And then I drew this arc over top of me not putting the two together beforehand, but I was like, "Wow, I really hear sound like it's arched above this." Okay? The Atmos information was arched up top here as sound was coming out at me, I really felt this, you know, height channel or arching of sound above the soundbar. So, it really does work. Some of the technologies and features that they kept in this soundbar from their other soundbars is the speech enhancement.
So, when you're in the app and you're having maybe trouble hearing the dialogue, or you want to focus the dialogue more, that's a technology you can turn on. And that really kind of, I noticed kind of takes back some of the bass out of the speaker so that mid range or vocal can really come through the mix. So, that helps out a lot. And also, the night mode. So, if you want to not disturb your friends or family at night with the amount of bass and dynamic range that you could be listening to, that mode will calm that down so that way, you can listen at night and not disrupt the neighborhood.
Another thing that they did is they had a professional sound engineer really listen to this thing. His name is Chris Jenkins. Chris Jenkins is an Academy Award-winning sound engineer. And they brought him in to listen to this over and over and over again, to make sure that everything was right. So, he sat and he listened to this to make sure that what he produced in the studio was represented here.
And he was very happy with the results. In my testing, I did a lot of movie listening and I did a lot of music listening to it as well. I started out with movies like <i>The Lion King</i> and <i>Coco</i> because they're all in Dolby Atmos in 4K. And as I mentioned before, you really got a nice representation of those Atmos channels in that elevated sound. It sounds a lot bigger than it really is.
I would absolutely recommend getting a subwoofer and adding the rears to it for that full immersive surround sound experience. You know, everybody wants a little bit more bass out of it, and although it does have eight woofers in it, you see that it is kind of a smaller package here. So, don't expect, you know, ground-shaking bass out of this unit, but it's very full sounding by itself. It was a very pleasing sound to listen to.
One other thing about my personal experience, some things that I hope to see from Sonos in the future, I'd love to see you be able to control the Atmos speakers, the overall level of those. If you've had Sonos surround sound systems before, you'll notice that in the software in the settings, you can go in and adjust the level of the surrounds. You can adjust how loud the subwoofer is. And I really think if they added the ability to control how loud these Atmos speakers are, I think that'd be a good idea.
So, I hope they do that. The other thing I'd like to see is maybe being able to add an Arc in the back of the room. That would be really cool because then you could have 5.1.4 system. So, not only front Atmos speakers but rear Atmos speakers. So, just some suggestions. Sonos, if you're watching, see if you can do that, I think that would be great. Overall, I'm very happy with the Sonos Arc.
I think it's a great soundbar and it's going to be a nice addition to their lineup. Again, adding the rears to it for surround sound and a subwoofer I think is the way to go here. And if you wall-mount it, make sure you get that wall mount, and please, please do the Trueplay tuning. It's going to make a huge difference. This is the Sonos Arc, it'll be available online at worldwidestereo.com. Or if you happen to be in the area, you can stop by our Ardmore or Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania showrooms.
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This is Adam with World Wide Stereo, reminding you to listen to music every
day. So long."
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