Sonos is one of those builders who aren’t the type to want to “fix what ain’t broke” at a frenetic pace. Not only does he not renew his products all the time, but these renewals are never more in-depth than necessary. So it is with the Beam: initially launched in the summer of 2018, the manufacturer’s compact soundbar will have lived for more than 3 years before being replaced on October 5 by a Beam Gen 2, whose novelties are not obvious.
The little news therefore takes almost identically the appearance and equipment of its predecessor, and in reality concentrates the bulk of its developments on the electronics side. Indeed, it embeds a new internal processor, “40% more powerful” we are told, which allows it in particular to increase its capacities in terms of virtual surround processing. And although the Beam Gen 2 is equipped with the same acoustic configuration as the original (namely three front speakers, two side speakers and two passive bass radiators), it is capable of producing two virtual surround channels. additional horizontals, generated by acoustic phase adaptation.
Dolby Atmos… and DTS 5.1 compatibility
More importantly, it also gains compatibility with 3D audio tracks in Dolby Atmos format. It certainly does not have dedicated height speakers – this luxury is reserved at Sonos for the top-of-the-range Arc model -, but it still claims to be able to simulate the vertical effects by the use of psychoacoustic filters (à la way of what the Sony HT-ZF9 does, for example).
In addition to all this, the Beam Gen 2 will also be entitled, some time after its release, to a firmware update that will bring support for DTS 5.1 signals, in addition to Dolby and LPCM signals. Trivia as it may seem, we are delighted with this addition which corrects one of the biggest shortcomings of previous Sonos soundbars. That the owners of a Beam Gen 1 or an Arc do not feel aggrieved: they too will soon be entitled to an update providing this compatibility.
On the material side, the only change to note compared to the first Beam of the name is the disappearance of the acoustic fabric which dressed the perimeter of the bar, in favor of a “simple” plastic grille. We are asked to believe that this is not a simple cosmetic change, but a real improvement, inasmuch as the grille is of greater acoustic transparency than that of the fabric. Nothing to report on the other hand on the side of the connection, always so minimalist: apart from the compatibility HDMI (e) ARC, no salvation.
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 will be available from October 5, 2021 for an indicative price of € 499. This represents an increase of 50 € compared to the launch price of the first Beam of the name – in perfect agreement with the current pricing policy of the manufacturer …
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