SONOS ARC Review: Strong Atmos soundbar with a hook

 With Playbar and Playbase, Sonos has made a big hit when it comes to sound for the home TV. Console gamers are also happy about the improved sound storm. With the € 899 Sonos Arc, the next soundbar is now on the shelves that is of interest to gamers, not least due to the support of Dolby Atmos. Why the Arc is actually pretty awesome, but has a small catch, we explain to you in our test.


The Sonos Arc, the successor to Playbase and Playbar, is not exactly a bargain. You have to shell out around 900 euros for the thunder bar, but at Sonos you know that you get quality. The Arc is conveniently available in black or white, so that you at least have the opportunity to purchase the good piece to match your interior.


The Arc is not a dwarf and is quite long at 87 x 1141.7 x 115.7 mm, so it only really makes sense with larger televisions. As a free-standing device, it is well suited with a secure stand and optically hidden connections, but wall mounting is also possible with the help of an appropriate mounting kit, which can be purchased separately from Sonos. The Sonos Arc is again quite simple and straightforward, but of high quality.


SONOS ARC Review: Strong Atmos soundbar with a hook

The controls are almost invisible. There is only a connection switch on the back, as well as touch buttons for play / stop and volume control. The Sonos Arc is fully designed to be controlled by app or TV remote control via the HDMI ARC channel of your telly. Accordingly, there are only two inputs, namely an ARC-compatible HDMI port and an Ethernet port with 10/100 Mbit / s. We'll explain later why this is a certain weak point.


If your television does not have a suitable output, you can still use the optical output of the telly using the adapter provided. Otherwise, the ARC can still be connected via WLAN and BlueTooth, i.e. you can feed it to listen to music directly via your smartphone or tablet, or use media storage available in the network.


The setup runs entirely via the Sonos app, which you can download for free for iOS and Android. This is quick and easy, provided the Arc and smartphone are in the same WiFi network. It is carried out in such an automated way that it is not necessary to look into the manual. That's a good thing, because the quick start guide is very limited, the more detailed version can be viewed online. In the app you can then set up various streaming services such as Spotify or Amazon Music or add the Arc to any smart home systems. Or just connect additional Sonos speakers. But be warned: the app is a bit confusing and needs some training.


Thanks to the TruePlay function (iOS only) you can also adapt the sound to your spatial conditions in order to get the most out of it. Finally, all you have to do is connect the TV remote control and the Arc to entrust the former with operating the Arc in the future. For the very lazy there is also voice control - Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are supported (although not at the same time) and that works well. A total of four microphones ensure that your commands are recognized and implemented.


SONOS ARC Review

The 114 cm length of the Sonos Arc is no coincidence, because eleven speakers cavort in the housing, each powered by a digital class D amplifier. There are eight full-range woofers and three silk dome tweeters. Two of these woofers are aligned upwards and to the sides, two of the tweeters emit diagonally and laterally to the front. This is used to create a more spatial sound image.


The Sonos Arc supports several surround formats, including Dolby Atmos, TrueHD, Dolby Digital + and Dolby Digital. However, you have to do without DTS support. With regard to Dolby Atmos, we are right at the sticking point mentioned at the beginning. You can only enjoy it if your TV set also supports Dolby Atmos, as the signal is looped through the telly to the soundbar via HDMI-ARC.


Without Dolby Atmos support of the television or via the optical adapter, you will not be able to fully enjoy the possibilities of the Arc. It is worth taking a look at the manual for your television set if you are toying with the Sonos Arc. Unfortunately, due to the lack of additional HDMI ports, there is no other option to enjoy Dolby Atmos.


In terms of sound, the Sonos Arc cannot be criticized for anything. The sound is very balanced and powerful in all areas. The bass also comes into its own, even if of course it cannot keep up with subwoofers. Speech is clearly understandable, music sounds great, films have a nice spatial sound and video games also have a lot of cracks. If you want to improve something, the Sonos app has enough options to pimp the bass or treble a bit.


If you want to pimp the sound even further, you can look forward to the fact that additional Sonos speakers can be integrated into your system without any problems. That will be expensive, however, Sonos Sub and two one-boxes easily double the price of your system. The Arc in a bundle with the Sub alone is 1,700 euros. On the other hand, the Sonos Arc will probably only be picked up by those who have a bulging wallet - for 900 euros you can get plenty of high-quality models from the competition, with a subwoofer and sometimes even rear speakers.


CONCLUSION

Strong soundbar, but not for everyone

You hardly know it any other way. Once again, Sonos relies on a simple design, high-quality workmanship and, above all, great sound. However, at a steep price - there are much cheaper sound solutions for the domestic telly. You can't go wrong with the Sonos Arc, however. The thunder bar produces a remarkably powerful sound that can be expanded with additional speakers if required. It also fits perfectly into existing smart home systems and turns out to be a streaming monster musically.


There is, however, a catch and that lies in Dolby Atmos support. This is available, but only use something if your television supports it due to the connection options reduced to an HDMI-ARC port. This is the case with many newer models, but if you should be flirting with the Sonos Arc, this is a point to consider. In connection with the price, the soundbar is not exactly interesting for everyone.


Pros

  • simple operation via TV remote control or Sonos app
  • many streaming services supported
  • easy setup
  • high quality
  • integrated voice control
  • Atmos, TRueHD, Dolby Digital + and Dolby Digital
  • balanced, powerful sound
  • easy expansion with other Sonos speakers

Cons

  • meager connection options
  • only brings its full potential in connection with Atmos-compatible televisions
  • very expensive
  • no DTS



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