Consumer Electronics, Gadgets & Accessories

Sonos Arc review – the ultimate soundbar?

As in almost every technical field, there is simply far too much choice and far too many options. Lots of technical features, different sizes and of course different prices. There are also many different options for soundbars or surround sound systems, and we’ll take a look at a device from the upper class today: The Sonos Arc soundbar.

Unpacking and first impression

A lot of sound wants to have space. At least that’s how it looks when you get the Sonos Arc as a package. Since the dimensions get the first time a real equivalent. But as for the package itself, the Sonos Arc is very well protected in it and protected by two locks on the sides from accidentally falling out. The Arc itself is wrapped in a fabric and can be placed directly in front of the TV without any major problems. There it is, the Sonos soundbar. Even though a 58-inch TV is already relatively large, it almost seems too small for the Sonos Arc. The TV is barely wider than the soundbar, so it’s safe to say that you’ll be much better off with the Beam if the TV is 40 inches or smaller. But enough of the first impression, now first set up.

€ 38.90
lagernd, begrenzte Stückzahl
Buy now* reichelt.de
€ 39.90
Versandlager: lagernd, Lieferzeit 1-2 Werktage, 24h Express möglichDornbirn, Graz Nord, Graz Süd, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg, St. Pölten, Villach, Wels, Wien 15, Wien 20, Wr. Neustadt, Wörgl, Zentrale Timelkam: lagernd
Buy now* e-tec.at

Setup and App

Plug in power plug. Plug in HDMI cable. Plug HDMI cable into the HDMI eARC output of the TV. Done. That’s all that’s needed to get the Sonos Arc up and running. However, it should also be said that there are no other wired connections besides the power port, a LAN jack if you don’t want to use Wi-Fi, and the HDMI port. This can be a disadvantage for one or the other, but no lack of ports was noticed in our test.

The actual setup of all Sonos products then runs through the Sonos app. There are theoretically two versions here (Sonos S2 and Sonos S1), but almost all devices are compatible with the new Sonos S2 app. The process is also not really difficult. First open the Sonos S2 app, add the product and everything runs virtually by itself. The steps are explained little by little in the app and everything is very simple.

But before we test the sound, now some theory.

Sonos Arc technical specs

The most expensive Sonos soundbar is, as already mentioned, quite large. With a width of almost 115 cm and a height of just under 9 cm, the TV behind it must already have a certain size, otherwise it looks very huge. A total of 11 drivers provide the sound. They are positioned and angled differently so that they can fire into almost all areas. Two speakers are even mounted in such a way that they throw the sound waves upwards. These are then reflected from the ceiling, making it seem to the listener as if there are sounds to be heard from above. This becomes especially important when we talk about Dolby Atmos compatibility. However, we will come back to that later when we deal with the actual sound. First, however, the technical data once again at a glance:

Speaker 11
Components 3 tweeters, 8 midrange
Total power (W) 60 watts
Signal transmission WLAN, Ethernet, Infrared (IR) Receiver,
Bluetooth No
Remote control No, but configurable
Connections HDMI, Ethernet
Special features TruePlay, voice enhancement, night mode, AirPlay 2, Dolby Atmos
Wide center speaker 1142 mm
Height center speaker 87 mm
Depth center speaker 116 mm
Price Price: € 788.98 *

Dolby Atmos

Here’s a little insert if you haven’t yet dealt with a surround set and aren’t at all familiar with the term Dolby Atmos. If you already know more about it, you can just skip this part and go straight to the sound test. The Sonos Arc offers Dolby Atmos support. What does that mean? Simple. In real life, your ear can pretty accurately assign a source to a sound. When you hear a speaker in a room, you can tell where it is. In a movie, however, you don’t necessarily want to recognize that the speakers are in front, but rather you want to get closer to what’s happening in the movie itself. For example, an airplane can fly by from right to left in the picture and you should be able to hear that as sound. To make this possible, several loudspeakers are needed that make different reproductions and output them at different times.

Maybe you know the term 5.1 surround sound. Here, individual audio channels were recorded for 5 speakers and a subwoofer, which were then played back simultaneously accordingly. Thus, you can already perceive the soundscape very well. Dolby Atmos, however, goes one step further. Here, audio signals that are no longer fixed are now recorded. When you sit in front of the TV, a virtual hemisphere is stretched around you. A location is assigned to a sound in it. In this way, the processor in the Sonos Arc can calculate which speaker has to be activated and how, in order to give you the feeling that someone is breaking a plate halfway to the right behind you on the next floor. In other words, Dolby Atmos makes it possible to locate the sound sources in the movie around you even more precisely and to immerse yourself even deeper in the action.

For this to work, however, several things are needed. First, a movie that uses this audio standard is needed. Second, the TV must be able to relay this signal, and third, the sound system must be able to process the signal. Well, the Sonos Arc already has Dolby Atmos support, so only the interface between the soundbar and the TV remains to be checked. For transmission in uncompressed form, i.e. really without losses, you need the HDMI enhanced audio return channel, or HDMI eARC for short. This an audio return channel that passes the sound from the TV or home theater receiver to the soundbar. In addition, eARC is the further development of the older audio return channel (HDMI ARC) which was specified via HDMI 2.1 and offers a higher transmission rate. Dolby Atmos can still be transmitted via ARC, but only with losses due to compression. So, if you want to fully utilize your home theater or the Sonos Arc, you should pay attention to the compatibility. Otherwise, the sound will not arrive as well as the speakers can reproduce it.

Sonos Arc Sound

Now let’s move on to the actual Sonos Arc review. First, we still have to make a few restrictions. The features and functions depend on the system used and the calibration. For this test, we will only use the Sonos Arc without the Sonos Sub or other speakers like the Sonos One or Sonos Five. In addition, we start without having adjusted the sound to the room via TruePlay beforehand. Therefore, only the Sonos Arc will be tested now.

The Sonos Arc without Trueplay

First of all, the sound when playing music. The Arc actually has enough pressure due to the many speakers, however, it must be said that the sound here is not really balanced. The focus is clearly on the mids and highs, so that the vocals and, for example, the electric guitar come across great. However, the disadvantage is that the whole thing simply lacks a bit of bass. Although the Sonos app can be used to adjust the settings here and there, there are no configurations, so you would have to change the settings again for another application. The Sonos Arc does not offer a bad sound experience, which is quite sufficient for a soundbar, but I would have hoped for a bit more for 1000 Euros. For more bass, the Arc would probably have needed a larger case or something similar, and that’s definitely not the best thing in the world. So, if you buy the Sonos Arc to listen to music with it, we recommend expanding the system with a sub, for example.

However, the real strength is of course in the area of movies. As explained before, the Sonos Arc offers the possibility to play back content with Dolby Atmos. Theoretically, this sounds pretty good, but how does it look in practice? In most movies, what happens is displayed in the foreground and therefore you have to listen very closely when it comes to locating it in the room. Therefore, I was a bit disappointed by the implementation. You can hear what is happening next to you quite well, but there was little to nothing of a height component. But after all, the full potential is only achieved through calibration, so on to calibration.

Calibration with TruePlay

All Sonos devices can be configured with an iPhone or iPad using TruePlay. This means the room is measured to get the perfect sound experience. Here, the seating position is determined where the sound should be best. Unfortunately, the whole thing only works with some Apple devices so far. Older models are excluded from it and the latest generation has to be added first. However, non-Apple users can invite a friend to perform the calibration, for example. This remains in place until the system is changed.

The calibration runs as follows: First, you are supposed to move to the seating position that is to be optimized and hold the microphone at head height. Then, some relatively loud sounds are played. The next step is to measure the room. There you have to walk around the room for a few seconds and move the iPhone or iPad up and down. Again, relatively loud noises are played by the Sonos Arc and any other devices, so you probably shouldn’t do the calibration at night when you like your neighbors. With this, everything is then already done and the optimal sound should now be achieved.

The Sonos Arc Sound with Trueplay

Let’s start with the music again. Here we have to say that the Sonos Arc simply offers no real difference. But that is also understandable, since this form of playback is just not looking for the sound to be output as surround. There is probably no change for pure music playback, but the difference is clearer for movies.

The Sonos Arc can really show its strength here. The sounds are better distributed in the room. Nevertheless, it was unfortunately not really clear in our tests that something is above us. Somehow it doesn’t seem that authentic, and there seem to be only two possibilities. First, you have to go to the cinema or expand your own system. The Sonos Arc alone is not convincing when it comes to the true strength of Dolby Atmos. Nevertheless, the Arc is more than sufficient in movies and series and transports you into the action. It just lacks the final touch.

Expansion options

Unlike an individual home theater set of speakers, you can’t expand the Sonos system at will. In the Sonos app, there is only the option to add subwoofers and rearspeakers to use true 5.1. However, this already restricts the user quite a bit. However, it is interesting that you can add up to two subs and not only use the small Sonos One as a rear speaker, but also the already quite large Sonos Five. Not all of the expansion options were available, but we were able to test the variant with one subwoofer and two Sonos One. You can find the test report shortly here. In short, we can say that with each speaker added, the Arc can continue to play to its strengths. It will use the freed up capacity in the sound to complete the sound. An expansion is not only worthwhile, it is even recommended.

Features

Voice assistants

Let’s come back to the features of the Sonos Arc soundbar in general. Especially in terms of operation, in this day and age, the smart home is becoming increasingly important, darum unterstützz the soundbar also voice assistants. You can choose between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but a combination of both is not possible. However, that should not be the biggest problem, since most people limit themselves to just one assistant anyway due to the compatibility. So either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant is used. The integration of the voice assistants is again controlled from the Sonos app and works flawlessly. Afterwards, one then has the option to communicate with the AI via the set code word. The voice recording of the Arc works quite well. However, it sometimes happens that terms are falsely perceived as “Alexa” and the voice assistant answers. This is not so bad, but of course the music gets quieter every time the assistant waits for a command. Therefore, you should think carefully about whether you really link the soundbar with a voice assistant. However, it is also possible to deactivate the microphone on the Arc itself. According to Sonos, the microphone is then deactivated on the hardware side, so that nothing can be recorded anymore.

Playback Sources

If you want to use the Sonos Arc Soundbar not only to watch movies or series, but also to listen to music, the corresponding flexibility is of course important. Within the Sonos app, hundreds of playback options are already integrated, such as Spotify or various Internet radios. That should be enough for most people. However, the problem is that the S3 does not necessarily offer the best search algorithms and thus searching for new songs is a bit cumbersome. Therefore, the option is also given to play music from the network or from Apple Airplay 2. The latter was the most pleasant option, as it gives you all the freedom without the S2 app. Without the negative points that Bluetooth so brings with it. So everything is possible here, even if one or the other may miss the Bluetooth interface.

Multiroom

In our test, we had other Sonos boxes at our disposal. As mentioned, it lets the Sonos Arc namely expand by the Sonos Sub and two rearspeakers. But the real advantage is that you can distribute these speakers in several rooms and thus listen to music in many different rooms. This works very well here with the Sonos Arc in the test, but the sound changes quite a bit. As already mentioned above, music simply lacks a bit of bass. The other Sonos speakers have more to offer. If that doesn’t bother you or you use other devices in the same room besides the Sonos Arc, it’s an incomparable feeling. If you want to learn more about it, then you here soon get a detailed article on the Sonos multi-room system.

Summary of the Sonos Arc review

The Sonos Arc review shows what a soundbar has to bring to the table in order to keep up in the high price segment. Dolby Atmos support is becoming a must and hence the eARC standard. The sound has to come from everywhere and that even without a correspondingly large number of speakers set up. Compatibility has to be possible in different ways and Sonos really offers enough possibilities to control the soundbar. Whether from the TV, over the network or via Apple AirPlay 2 – virtually everything is possible, except the direct Bluetooth connection.

As for the sound, there are highs and lows. Without calibration through Apple TruePlay, you should probably rather keep your hands off the Sonos Arc. Especially if you do not want to have more than the soundbar. If you or a friend owns an Apple device, the Sonos Arc is definitely worth it. Especially in movies and series, it takes you into the action. Unfortunately, it does not yet work optimally to really perceive sound sources from above.

Now the conclusion is not so simple, because you simply have to note the following. The Sonos Arc as a standalone soundbar is probably not the best choice when it comes to value for money. If you already use Sonos speakers anyway, then there is almost no way around the Arc. It fills the gap upstairs when the Sonos Beam is just too small.

Sonos Arc

Design and workmanship
Sound quality
Features
Value for money

93/100

The Sonos Arc offers very good sound quality especially for movies and series. Dolby Atmos support is present, but it does not come across well enough. The Arc lacks some bass for listening to music.

€ 38.90
lagernd, begrenzte Stückzahl
Buy now* reichelt.de
€ 39.90
Versandlager: lagernd, Lieferzeit 1-2 Werktage, 24h Express möglichDornbirn, Graz Nord, Graz Süd, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg, St. Pölten, Villach, Wels, Wien 15, Wien 20, Wr. Neustadt, Wörgl, Zentrale Timelkam: lagernd
Buy now* e-tec.at

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

Related Articles

Neue Antworten laden...

Avatar of Basic Tutorials
Basic Tutorials

Gehört zum Inventar

12,230 Beiträge 2,792 Likes

As in almost every technical field, there is simply far too much choice and far too many options. Lots of technical features, different sizes and of course different prices. There are also many different options for soundbars or surround sound systems, and we’ll take a look at a device from the upper class today: The … (Weiterlesen...)

Antworten Like

Back to top button