The Sonos Arc is the company's biggest and most powerful soundbar, a few years after its launch. Although we don't know if the device gets its name from the HDMI interface it uses, the curved sound it puts out, or the fact that it is perhaps, metaphorically, a boat that delivers impressive surround sound in the modern minimalist home, but whatever the case. , this bar is designed to deliver powerful sound without overpowering the room.

The Sonos Arc can deliver the highest lossless Dolby audio quality found on next-generation Blu-ray discs, and can deliver the 3D soundscape of Dolby Atmos object tracks from streaming discs and movies. This means that it can bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so that they appear to be coming at you from all angles.

(Image credit: future)

While all of this may sound complicated, setting up the Sonos Arc couldn't be easier, requiring just a few steps on the smartphone app. Minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to that simple feel and clean aesthetic. If you have a media room with four walls and a ceiling, this is absolutely one of the best soundbars out there.

  • Sonos Arc (black) at Amazon for €884.84 (opens in a new tab)

There are a few caveats for those with large TV rooms, or for smaller ones who might get away with using the smaller, more affordable Sonos Beam (Gen 2). It's also important to note that it only has one HDMI port - it doesn't have a "pass-through" port, like most soundbars these days, so you lose the use of the port it's connected to.

But overall, the Arc is a pretty amazing piece of equipment that can mimic incredible 3D sound from a sleek, standalone unit, making it the best Dolby Atmos soundbar if you want one without a subwoofer or separate speakers. Although being Sonos, you could add them later, of course...

a close up of the Sonos Arc soundbar

The Sonos Arc soundbar has received a price increase. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Arc: price and availability

  • Released June 2020
  • Official price: €899 / €899 / AU$1499

The Sonos Arc soundbar launched globally on June 10, 2020 and cost $799 / £799 / AU$1399 as a standalone unit. However, after Sonos announced a price hike on almost the entire product, it's now $899 / £899 / AU$1,499.

While this Atmos-enabled speaker is perfectly capable on its own, you can also add the Sonos Sub (Gen 3) for £749 / £749 / AU$1099 for a big bass boost, or a Sonos Sub Mini (£429 / €429 / AU €699) for a smaller bass boost. You can also add a pair of Sonos One SL units for rear left and right surround sound, which will set you back £199 / £179 / AU$289 each. These speakers have also increased in price since their release.

The Arc was designed to sit on the table below your TV, but you can also mount it below a screen with the compatible Sonos Arc wall mount ($79 / £79 / AU$99).

A lot has happened in the world of soundbars since the Sonos Arc launched, and its price seems a bit steep if you just want great home theater sound. You can get something like the Samsung HW-Q930B, with secondary and rear speakers included, for about the same price as the Sonos Arc alone. Not everyone wants all of these boxes, though, even when they're wireless, and as far as all-in-one soundbars go, the Arc is good value for money compared to competitors like the Sony HT-A7000.

a close up of the Sonos Arc soundbar

The sound bar is the same width as a 55-inch TV. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Arc: design and features

  • Width of a 55-inch TV
  • Simple setup
  • Louder than most sound bars

There was a time when you considered nothing more than a multi-speaker array for the highest quality surround sound, but Dolby Atmos is at the forefront of delivering 3D audio effects from a more optimized system, and the Sonos Arc is a great example of that. .

The single standalone unit has just two essential inputs: a power cord and an HDMI input, and while an Ethernet jack and digital optical to HDMI adapter are available out of the box, they're only recommended to be used if absolutely necessary. a. Sonos doesn't even include a remote, suggesting you connect the soundbar to your TV via Audio Return Channel (ARC) and just use your TV's remote (or control via the new Sonos app). Sonos S2 smartphone).

Key specs

Speakers: 5.0.2, 11 Class-D amplifiers, 8 woofers, 3 tweeters Dimensions: 45 x 3,4 x 4,5 inches (1141,7 x 87 x 115,7 mm), 13,78 lbs (6,25 kg)
Finish: matte black or white
Connections: HDMI input (ARC), optical digital-to-HDMI audio converter, Bluetooth, Ethernet port, Wi-Fi 802.11b, g, Apple AirPlay 2, IR receiver
Application: Android (without Trueplay), iOS
Subwoofer included: No

Even the color choices are simple with Arc, available on the back only or in white. And while you can of course pair the Sonos Arc soundbar with the Sonos Sub or a pair of One SL speakers for deeper bass and true surround sound, it's built to be a great audio solution on its own, making it It reduces general clutter.

Since the Arc is designed to bounce audio off the ceiling and walls of your room to create a 3D soundscape, it's enveloped on the top, front, and each end by tall perforated metal speaker grills that cover the different orientations of the Atmos controller. . deploy.

a close up of the sonos arc sound bar

The Arc is designed to bounce audio off the ceiling and walls of your room. (Image credit: Future)

The soundbar is a bit taller than most at 3,4 inches (8,7 cm), which can be a problem with TVs that sit very low on their stands. But the built-in IR repeater means it won't block your remote connection, and that extra headroom gives upward-firing Atmos controllers a bit more headroom. At 45 inches (114,17 cm) wide, it will roughly align with the edges of your average 55-inch TV, and its scale makes it suitable for any TV up to 85 inches.

There's a simple LED status light that automatically adjusts brightness based on ambient light, and subtle capacitive play/pause, volume, and mute buttons help it blend into the background.

There are two reinforced holes on the back for wall-mounting the 6,25kg (13,78lb) unit for a front-mount setup, but naturally the bass response is a bit more focused when it can be mirrored. on the surface of a table.

Although a digital optical converter box with Arc is included, Atmos can only be transported via HDMI, so connecting it will sacrifice premium sound. Dolby Atmos isn't ubiquitous yet in terms of availability, so making sure you have everything right can be a process. To see if your other current components are Atmos-ready, check out our Dolby Atmos explainer.

a close up of the Sonos Arc

The setup process is designed to be as simple as possible, all through the Sonos S2 smartphone app. (Image credit: Future)

Like everything else with Arc, the setup process is designed to be as simple as possible, all through the new Sonos S2 smartphone app. After the initial plugin, you will be prompted to download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store (if you don't already have it).

You'll then need to follow a few instructions to connect the TV to Wi-Fi, any streaming audio or internet radio services you're already signed up to, and your choice of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Other than that, there's not much else to set up, it's a relatively straightforward process (especially if you already have a Sonos account).

However, there's one last task you'll want to complete before launching your favorite movies: Trueplay Tuning. Trueplay is Sonos' tool that analyzes the shape of a room to better balance sound output. It can detect how sound is being reflected and adjust your sound so that everything sounds its best.

This makes a marked difference to detail overall, as well as the clarity and precision of Dolby Atmos positional effects.

the sonos arc in a tv cabinet

Trueplay is Sonos' proprietary adaptive soundscape tool that analyzes the shape of a room to better balance sound output for everyone in it. (Image credit: Future)

However, there is a rather considerable problem: Trueplay is only compatible with iOS devices. That's a big drawback for non-Apple users, and Sonos says the diversity of Android hardware means it has no plans to develop it anytime soon.

Fortunately, you can borrow an iOS device to run the calibration at the soundbar's final location and that will be true as long as you keep loose things in one place. It's a downside, but overall it's probably easier than having to store a dedicated tuning mic somewhere memorable after setup.

the side speakers of the sonos arc soundbar

The Sonos Arc contains eight elliptical woofers combined to provide a solid overall bass response. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Arc: audio performance

  • Ideal for music and movies.
  • Great surround sound for a single bar
  • Better with a straight piece

The audio capabilities of the Sonos Arc are truly excellent. Eight elliptical woofers combine to deliver a solid overall bass response, and the tuning balances a good amount of midrange warmth with an impressive level of clarity.

This precision is combined with the three silk dome tweeters that deliver particularly clear highs with an impressive level of control. We were particularly impressed with the unit's ability to deliver soundscapes that distinguish the sound of individual instruments in particular arrangements without feeling disjointed.

This kind of spatial precision makes sense when you consider that Sonos Arc was designed to take full advantage of Dolby Atmos, an audio codec that separates sounds into object-based audio tracks so that specific sources can be moved quickly between speakers and bounce. the room. more easily. As expected, the Arc is very capable once you place it in the room and can bounce effects around you.

a close up of the sonos arc sound bar

The Sonos Arc offers an impressive level of clarity. (Image credit: Future)

It's worth noting that because the system uses your room to get the sound around you, there will be some variation in the Arc's ability to deliver surround sound…

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