Sonos’ first debut in the soundbar segment was in 2013 when they launched the Playbar. They followed this up with the Playbase in 2017 and the Beam in 2018.
However, the last two were not as robust as the Playbar when it came to expandability. You could not expand them, while the Playbar allowed pairing with a subwoofer plus satellite speakers.
Since the Playbar is old, Sonos Arc came at the perfect time and was a much-awaited replacement. The soundbar is completely redesigned and offers all the features I expected, which in recent Sonos products.
Here is an in-depth Sonos Arc detailing all you should expect from this impressive sound bar!
Sonos Arc Specs
- Dimensions: 3.4 x 45 x 4.5 inches (H x W x D)
- Weight: 13.78 lbs.
- Power supply: 100 – 240V, 50 – 60Hz (auto-switching)
- Ports: One ethernet 10/100 Mbps port
- Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n (5GHz not supported)
- Memory: 1GB SDRAM, 4GB NV
- Color: black or white with a matte finish
Build and Design
With a 45-inch width, the soundbar pairs perfectly with large TVs (49 inches or higher). Unlike the previous models, it ditches the grey and black 2-tone colors.
It is either white or black, resulting in a clean and modern industrial design that blends perfectly under the TV. Additionally, it has a cylinder-like shape, which softens its design compared to the previous boxy shapes.
It looks amazing when hung directly from the TV for a really clean look as shown above. The specific sound bar mount that is shown above made by Mounting Dream and can be found here.
Onboard controls are on the top center and are touch buttons for play/pause, volume adjustment, and track skipping/revisiting. On the top right side of the speaker is a touch button for muting/unmuting the speaker used for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Four tiny status LEDs above the Sonos logo give you visual feedback when using the touch buttons. They adjust their brightness automatically based on the ambient lighting, making them visible but not distracting.
Unlike the Playbar, mounting hardware is on the rear. As such, the drivers will always face the same direction whether you mount it on a wall or place it on a TV stand. However, the wall mount is not part of the package.
Oscar-winning sound engineers tuned the soundbar to emphasize dialog clarity. The intention was to hear every word when watching movies.
Inside, it has 11 high-performance drivers split into eight supercharged elliptical woofers and three precisely-angled silk-dome tweeters. These produce immersive sound, vivid detail, and impressive bass, which significantly improves your listening experience when gaming, watching movies, or streaming music.
Furthermore, the drivers create 3D audio because two fire upwards, two to the sides, two diagonally on each side, and five to the front.
These upward firing drivers help to bounce sound off of the ceiling, and simulate surround sound without having independent rear speakers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that these worked fantastically well even in my great room with 14-foot ceilings!
Note: A flat ceiling is needed to get the full benefit of this effect.
The speaker features Dolby Atmos, which helps to improve the surround sound effect. Sonos Arc is the first speaker from the company that supports the latest Dolby Atmos surround sound format.
It uses the upward-firing drivers to reflect sound from the ceiling, which creates a more realistic 3D sound. If a helicopter flies overhead on the screen, you will hear it above your head.
The icing on the cake is the enhanced Trueplay tuning from the Sonos S2 app. It completes the setup process by customizing the sound output to match the unique acoustics of your living room.
Aside from that, when playing TV audio at night, you can turn on the Night Sound option to reduce the intensity of loud sounds. At the same time, this setting raises the level of quiet audio so that dialog becomes clearer.
If the default settings are not good enough, there are adjustable EQ settings (bass, treble, and loudness) on the app.
The primary controls of the speaker are its capacitive touch buttons located on the upper center section. These are very limiting, though, so Sonos included the following inputs:
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built-in to help you operate the speaker hands-free. You can ask questions, check the weather, play music, and do much more by talking to your device.
Sonos put some effort into this feature because they incorporated a far-field microphone with multi-channel echo cancellation and advanced beamforming. With this, you can easily activate voice-assistant even when playing audio.
One of the best features of the whole setup is the Sonos S2 app. It is a platform that lists all your control, voice, and streaming services, such as:
- Sonos radio
- Apple music
With these, you get total control in the palm of your hand, and you can access the soundbar from any room. If you buy additional satellite speakers or a subwoofer, the app lets you group them so that they can play in sync.
Compared to the older S1, this new app features upgraded audio processing, which supports high-resolution audio technologies like Dolby Atmos.
Additionally, it has better security with enhanced protocols to keep your data secure and the system safer. The design is also updated for faster navigation when searching for content and making adjustments.
Apple Airplay 2
The Arc supports Apple Airplay for streaming your favorite podcasts, music, and other audio from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
However, it is only compatible with Airplay 2, but this gives iOS users an advantage because they can use this or the S2 app.
Controlling the soundbar using a TV or streaming device remote control is very convenient. You can set this up quickly using the guide on the S2 app.
It is important to note that you can program just one remote to control the Arc at a time, and this option lets you adjust the volume only.
Connectivity options in the Arc are a bit limited. Like in the Sonos Beam, you get one HDMI, ethernet, and power input port. The single HDMI port is enough to connect to your TV. But if you have gaming consoles and streaming boxes, you must get HDMI switches.
Though this is a big disappointment, it is intentional. Sonos likes to keep things simple. It is kind of like the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack, which disappointed many users, but was in line with Apple’s wireless plan.
In this configuration, everything else plugs into your TV, leaving audio to reach the soundbar via the HDMI port. However, your TV must have HDMI ARC or eARC for you to get the best sound quality.
eARC is better because it allows full-resolution sound channels to pass from the TV to the soundbar.
- Dolby Atmos
- Dolby Digital
- Dolby Digital Plus
If you connect using HDMI ARC, the supported Dolby audio formats depend on the TV model and manufacturer. However, it won’t support TrueHD or MAT.
For TVs that don’t have HDMI ports, the soundbar comes with the Sonos Optical Audio Adapter. If you use this component, the supported Dolby audio formats depend on the TV model and manufacturer. However, the connection won’t support Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, MAT, or TrueHD.
If you want a more immersive audio experience, you can expand the system by adding on the Sonos wireless subwoofer and satellite speakers.
The sub takes the low-end frequency burden from the soundbar, making it perform at its best. It gives you deep bass, while the Arc produces sound with more clarity. Music, movie dialog, and background music are easier to enjoy when the frequencies are separated.
On the other hand, surround speakers improve the surround sound effect. Though expensive, these additions give you the best listening experience that Sonos has to offer. However, they are not necessary because the Arc solely creates an Atmos environment.
I am a big believer in first impressions, and the Sonos Arc packaging does not disappoint! The front of the box has an image of the sound bar, which matches the color of the sound bar inside.
At the top is a conveniently-placed carrying handle, while the sides have locking mechanisms. These sliding locks keep the cover from accidentally opening and dropping the soundbar as you carry the package.
While I’m quick to throw out the packaging that most consumer electronics come in, I decided to hold onto the Arc’s. This came in super helpful when I recently moved to a new home, and wanted to make sure that my Arc was well-protected during the move.
Sonos Arc Verdict
The Sonos Arc lives up to its expectations as the company’s new flagship soundbar model. It delivers outstanding dialog clarity, enabling you to hear individuals and groups as they talk over each other.
What’s more, its built-in woofers give the perfect rumble, which is good enough for a sizeable room. If you want to increase the bass intensity when watching movies, it is easy to expand the system using the brand’s wireless subwoofer.
All in all, you get a compact and attractive package that delivers good enough performance without the mess of wires. Sonos has managed to bring their hardware up to par with their software through the Arc. It is worth the hard-earned cash!
- All-new Sonos Arc - Bring all your entertainment to life with the brilliantly realistic sound of Arc, featuring Dolby Atmos. Enjoy control with your TV remote, voice, the Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2, and more
- 3D sound with Dolby Atmos - Experience shows, movies, and games with the precise and immersive sound of Dolby Atmos
- Tuned to perfection - Enhanced Trueplay tuning technology optimizes the sound for the unique acoustics of the room
While there are certainly good sound bars that can be had for less, I simply wanted something that looked and sounded great. And most importantly of all – just flat out works!
Reading the reviews of other products, it seemed like there were many times where products had glitches or malfunctions, or were difficult to configure. For it’s stellar specs, performance, and ease of use, I’m extremely satisfied with the choice to purchase the Sonos Arc.
Sonos Arc FAQs
Is the Sonos Arc Worth the Money?
Yes, it is! At first glance, it might seem overpriced, especially considering the limited connectivity options. However, the sound quality and clarity are worth the hefty price tag.
Combine the quality of its sound and svelte appearance, and you’ve got a winning combination.
Do You Need a Woofer with the Sonos Arc?
No, you don’t. The Arc has built-in woofers that give you enough rumble. However, a woofer will help improve bass and sound clarity.
If you enjoy deep punch bass or have an extremely large space, then a woofer will provide more value to you.
Is the Sonos Beam or Sonos Arc Better?
The Sonos Arc is better because it supports Dolby Atmos. Its surround sound effect is on a different level.