Sonos Arc
Sonos Arc
Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc: Powerful smart soundbar with Dolby Atmos

The Sonos Arc is a nice-looking, rounded speaker that measures 115cm wide, 8.6cm high and 11.5cm deep. The speaker comes in black or white, and the Sonos Arc certainly looks and feels like a premium product. A very high-quality grill and touch control buttons add additional chic to the speaker. The speaker features eight oval woofers, including high-altitude Dolby Atmos effects, and three silk dome tweeters positioned at a “precisely calculated angle.”

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Sonos Arc has four sensitive microphones to better pick up voice commands over music. When I tested Sonos with beta software, I couldn’t get Google Assistant to work, but Amazon Alexa worked just fine. The speaker couldn’t hear me at maximum volume – even when I was screaming – but with music at a normal volume, I could give commands in a normal voice. Compared to other smart speakers, I rate the Sonos Arc as average in terms of performance, and my favorite here is the Apple HomePod.

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Since Sonos Arc works on a Wi-Fi network, it is equipped with a corresponding wireless module, but also has an Ethernet connector for connecting to the network via cable. Like other Sonos speakers, the Arc supports Apple Airplay and Spotify Connect, but unfortunately, like the others, it doesn’t have Bluetooth.

The Sonos ecosystem is currently in the process of moving to the S2 version, which looks the same as the previous app, but includes many small changes. One of the main ones is that Arc now has the ability to play High resolution audio, for example, Dolby Atmos.

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Please note that the soundbar does not come with a remote control. You can use your TV’s remote (thanks to the HDMI-CEC connection) or the Sonos mobile app.

According to Sonos, one of the main “features” of this soundbar is its ease of use. It only has one input connector, HDMI. But I see certain problems in this. The Arc soundbar uses HDMI eARC to accept audio from your TV, including Dolby Atmos. ARC, or Audio Return Channel, is a technology that allows the TV’s built-in streaming apps, as well as the sources connected to it, to send audio to the soundbar over an HDMI cable. Essentially, you connect the Arc soundbar to your TV’s HDMI ARC port and other AV sources to the TV’s other HDMI inputs. As a result, all the sound in your system will go through the soundbar. If your TV does not have HDMI inputs, you can connect Sonos Arc via an optical cable (in Dolby Digital format).

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But since the soundbar only has one HDMI port, which will be used to connect to the TV, the latter must have Dolby Atmos support. For newer 4K models, this likely won’t be an issue. Streamers like the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, or Nvidia Shield can output a Dolby Atmos audio stream over Dolby Digital Plus using a regular HDMI ARC connection. Connect one of these devices to your new TV, and Atmos audio will be sent to the Arc soundbar.

However, not all streaming devices support Atmos across all services, and furthermore, if you have an “old” 1080p TV, you won’t get Dolby Atmos at all. Only TV models released after 2016 support Dolby Digital Plus.

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Meanwhile, 4K Blu-ray players require even newer eARC-capable TVs to deliver Atmos to the Arc soundbar. This is because 4K Blu-ray players use a higher-bandwidth version of Atmos than streaming services, which only works via eARC. So if Dolby Atmos is a top priority for you, and especially if you have a library of 4K Blu-ray discs, then you’ll need a 2019 or newer TV with an HDMI ARC port. In this case, the Sonos Arc soundbar will be able to reproduce Atmos audio from any source connected to it.

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I really liked that the Sonos app’s Now Playing page displays the Dolby Atmos logo when the format is detected in a Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby TrueHD stream. It’s really very convenient.

The Sonos Arc is now the most expensive model in the company’s catalog, but it offers sound quality and usability that no other Sonos soundbar offers. While the Arc may not be worth choosing over the Playbase (which also has excellent bass), it’s something for Beam and Playbar owners to consider. Even if you’re not interested in Dolby Atmos playback, this soundbar has a great feature set and very good sound for everything from jazz to rock to action movies.

Unlike the Beam, you don’t need an external Sonos sub, which adds to the overall value of the Arc. Sure, you can buy a soundbar with a separate subwoofer and plenty of features, but none of them have the refinement and clarity of sound of the Sonos Arc. If you’re looking for a smart soundbar speaker with Dolby Atmos, then the Sonos Arc is the best model to consider.

Sonos Arc Features

Finish: Matte black or white
Connections: HDMI (ARC), optical digital, Ethernet
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, IR receiver
Dimensions: 1141.7 x 87 x 115.7 mm
Weight : 6.25 kg

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