Compact soundbar systems – they look good on the TV table but they don’t always match the same kind of sound output you expect from those slightly bigger soundbar. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Sonos Beam Gen 2, which is now in its second generation avatar. The Beam Gen 2 falls in the premium segment of soundbars and its intention is to deliver great quality sounds without the extra bulk of those conventional sound systems. It has also got the smartness of streaming directly from music streaming services. And after using it for the last two weeks, I am mighty impressed!
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 has been around for a while now and you can get it for much less, starting at Rs. 45,899 on Amazon. That sounds pricey but is not a bad deal, considering you have Dolby Atmos at your disposal and the ability to stream audio directly from the online music streaming services.
I have always liked the minimalist design approach Sonos takes with its products and the same spills over to the Beam Gen 2. In a world where most soundbar systems look almost the same, the rounded rectangular shape of the Beam Gen 2 is simply nice to look at. Plastic caps on the top and bottom, sandwiching a metal mesh for the speaker – even in my unkempt room with old furniture, the Beam Gen 2 looks classy. The touch controls sit on top for playback and sound, with the classic Sonos gestures at help. These work good and this is an important thing for this soundbar since you do not get a remote controller with the Beam Gen 2.
The setup process is easy too. You plug in the power cable and the HDMI cable to the TV, while you prepare the Sonos app on your phone. Log into your Sonos account, follow the instructions and you are good to go in minutes.
Once set up, it is up to you how you want to use it. You can just switch on your TV and soundbar acts as your humble soundbar system, with the same goodness of Dolby Atmos and overall high quality audio experience. If you sync the system to your Apple Music, Spotify or any of the supported streaming services, you can use the app to play those songs directly on the soundbar. The Sonos app lets you browse through the playlists of your choice.
However, smart speakers lovers won’t be disappointed. Even though Alexa and Google Assistant don’t work in India, you can use the Sonos Voice Assistant app to do basic playback controls, and that is a big boon. After all, that Sonos apps isn’t sprightly in nature, and you dob’t get any floating controls for the playback on your phone either. iPhone users will be happy to see support for AirPlay, and that makes it an excellent HomePod-like speaker for these users.
Sadly, the only thing missing here is support for Bluetooth. Sonos continues to skip on Bluetooth on its sound systems, thereby leaving Android users wanting for an easy way to stream music.
The Beam Gen 2 sort of makes up for the loss of Bluetooth with its exceptional audio performance. Out of the box, the default sound signature is well-tuned for a balanced experience – there’s ample low-end grunt but the emphasis remains on the strong and clear mids, as well as clear and precise highs. Even when you add volume, the signature remains constant, the vocals remaining crisp and clear.
Bass lovers don’t worry, since the Beam can deliver powerful bass, albeit controlled. The thump is present ever so slightly and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the frequencies. Hence, those action movies or music concerts are so much enjoyable.
Hence, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 delivers the powerful soundbar experience you expect from premium home theatre systems. There’s also support for Dolby Atmos but sadly, my dated Xiaomi Mi TV 4X Pro doesn’t support the standard. Even then, all of my weekend movie experiences were great, and I never complained.
The audio quality remains as good, if not better, while streaming music from these music apps. I relied mostly on Apple Music and Sonos Radio, and the overall quality was simply enjoyable. However, the Beam Gen 2’s overall sound presence isn’t much different from my Apple HomePod Mini, which sits in the other bedroom. Other than the higher volume, the sense of space and audio signature remains similar to that of a small speaker. Not a bad deal still, considering if this is your only big speaker in the house.
Compact sound bars are a tricky segment to master but Sonos seems to have most of the things right. The Beam Gen 2 sounds great; you will love the precise audio tuning, especially with the strong mids and clear vocals. The bass performance is good too, although party people may still want those bass-focused speakers that blows the rooftop. The design is simple and classy, and the compact dimensions are a boon for modern households. The price is a bit high at almost Rs. 45,000 but given the excellent audio tuning and the conveniences of Wi-Fi based streaming, it earns a recommendation from us.
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