With movie theatres closed or on limited capacity, there’s been an increase in interest in creating a home theatre. While all the focus is on TVs, you should also consider a sound bar because they can provide a lot of power and room-filling sound, in a much smaller and less complex package. I got to review a Sonos Arc sound bar in my home for a few days; here’s what I found.
What is Sonos Arc?
Sonos Arc is a premium sound bar. It’s much larger than average, measuring 45-inches long and weighing a hefty 14 pounds.
Arc promises cinema-quality sound, support for Dolby Atmos and multiple voice assistants, and it’s designed to mimic an entire surround sound system in one device; using its engineering to push sound all around you.
Sonos sound bar is controlled via the Sonos app on your smartphone, or by asking Google Assistant, or Alexa. You can also listen to music, podcasts and other audio on the Arc.
Sonos Arc set up
I’ve had my struggles setting up Sonos devices before, so nearly a year on from my last attempt I was curious to see if I would be able to connect. Fortunately, I didn’t hit any major snags.
Controlling Sonos Arc
To control Sonos Arc you’ll need the new Sonos S2 app but you can also use your current TV remote, or voice using Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. It also works with Apple AirPlay 2. I was successfully able to use both the app, my TV remote and voice control with Arc.
Sonos Arc Sound specs
Inside Sonos Arc there’s eleven Class-D digital amplifiers, eight elliptical woofers will handle the mid-range and vocal frequencies, three “precisely angled silk-dome” tweeters manage the high end frequencies and give support for clear dialogue. Two upward firing drivers provide support for Dolby Atmos audio which we’ll get to. Plus a far-field microphone array listens so your voice assistant can be called in.
Trueplay Tuning makes the most of your sound bar
Finally Sonos Trueplay software is able to adjust the sound bar to the room it’s in. Trueplay uses your iPhone and for now this is only available using an Apple iOS device, to listen to the room ’s acoustics and it can fine tune the soundbar’s output.
Did I notice a difference? I did a little. I found that the overall sound seemed to fill the room a bit better, and seemed a bit more well-placed for the space.
Sonos Arc with Dolby Atmos overhead audio
One of the major features is that Arc supports Dolby Atmos audio. Simply put, Dolby Atmos sends sounds to specific places in the room rather than to specific speakers. Atmos also offers overhead-sounding audio too.
But enough with the marketing terms; how does it sound?
Sound quality of Sonos Arc
Let’s get this out of the way: Sonos Arc sounds fantastic, as it should. This is a large and powerful soundbar with all the audio toys; it fills the room, it gets very loud and it easily covers the full range of audio: high end sounds are delicate and light, mid-range and vocals slice through, while the bass is surprisingly vibrant. It’s a great sound bar for TV and film watching but it’s just as great when it comes to music, with a wide-sounding soundstage and impressive bass.
Did I feel like Sonos Arc was creating a true surround sound experience? Not really; it’s pretty hard to get the sound to wrap fully around you when it originates from just one location, but the Arc does a decent job. The bar does push sound out well and widely, and playing some sound tests it was easy to notice that the sounds reached to each side a bit better, and seemed to come from a larger and wider circle in front of me. But do you get the same overhead and behind you effects? No, not in my opinion.
You can fine tune your Sonos Arc to your tastes and sound preferences. Adjustable EQ settings are available in the app, including bass, treble, and loudness. Plus Night Sound reduces the intensity of loud sound effects, meaning you can tone down explosions and crashes and not wake the house.
In my testing it did quiet the overall audio level and lighten some of its intensity with just one button, so I think it’s handy.
Wondering how is Arc different from other Sonos products like Playbar, Playbase, and Beam? Simple: Arc supports Dolby Atmos, which other products do not.
Overall review of Sonos Arc premium sound bar
Overall, this is a great sound bar.
The sound quality is definitely great with all the audio bells and whistles including Dolby Atmos. While this sound bar does a good job of creating a wide sound stage, it doesn’t replace surround sound in the same way; you won’t get the same rear channel and overhead effects as you would with dedicated speakers.
What are the downsides to Sonos Arc? Possibly it size and weight. This is a really big sound bar, and it’s designed to fill the area in front of larger TVs, but that said, you will need a big piece of furniture to set it on or to invest in the mounting kit, which would be my first choice.
It’s probably also grating for Android users that using TruePlay tuning is only available on iPhones.
I can definitely recommend Sonos Arc if you’re hunting for a premium sound bar.