Sonos BEAM Review: High-Quality Soundbar with Built-In Amazon Alexa
The Sonos BEAM is a smart soundbar for home televisions that builds on the success of the Sonos Playbar, delivering high-quality audio for movie, sports, gaming, and TV fans alike. Designed to be used with almost any modern TV, the BEAM will be an essential addition to home cinema setups, and for anyone with limited space who needs to beef up their TV's sonic performance. But it's not for everybody.
This hotukdeals buyer's guide will help you decide whether or not to take advantage of Sonos BEAM deals, and if so, we'll point you in the direction of the best offers. So read on to discover what this potentially revolutionary home audio accessory has to offer.
The History of the Sonos Home Audio Brand
Before getting into the features of the BEAM, it's useful to get up to speed with Sonos. Founded in 2002 by Trung Mai, Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen and John MacFarlane and based in Santa Barbara, California, Sonos has come a long way since then. It started out with a now familiar concept. By integrating home audio speakers with the internet, it could be possible to stream music or movie audio digitally, while offering all kinds of features for users to customise.
The team put this idea into action, starting out with the CONNECT:AMP in 2005 and the PLAY:5 in 2009. Soon, customers had the ability to create Sonos networks across their home or workplace, connecting speakers wirelessly to pipe audio wherever they went. And new features arrived with every additional product, from Amazon Cloud integration, to the Trueplay system, which automatically adjusts Sonos settings to ambient conditions.
The first PLAYBAR arrived in 2013, and was an instant success, enabling many users to complete their home TV and cinema systems. But it wasn't the finished article, with relatively low power and compatibility with other smart home tech such as Google Home. Never content to stand still, the technicians at Sonos responded, unveiling the BEAM in 2018. So let's find out what the PLAYBAR's successor brings to the party.
How Do Sonos Systems Work?
For those who don't know, Sonos offers a “smart” audio platform and a range of smart speakers that users can connect however they wish. There's a limit of 32 devices for every AES network, but in practice very few households will get anywhere close to this threshold.
With one of these networks in place, owners can use the Sonos App to sync up services like Spotify, the BBC iPlayer, or YouTube, and beam content to their speakers as required. Everything can be handled by standard wifi connections, so there's rarely any need to fiddle around with settings. Everything should just work on a plug and play basis – at least after the initial network has been set up.
This ease of use marks Sonos apart from competitors (and we'll discuss a couple later on). Most people will have no difficulties exchanging their old wired speakers for slick PLAY speakers or soundbars like the BEAM. But you will need a smartphone or laptop to run the Controller App, which holds everything together. Otherwise, it's tough to realise the full capabilities of Sonos networks.
Sonos BEAM: Key Features
The Sonos BEAM is a soundbar, which means that it is intended to work with a TV, or computer, to supply additional audio power. Typically, soundbars will be positioned underneath TV screens, functioning just like the TV's own speakers, just with extra heft.
The BEAM is no different in this regard, but there are plenty of ways it departs from the conventional soundbar format. Here are a few of the core features that buyers can look forward to exploring:
Speech Enhancement – Normally speakers simply relay audio verbatim, with all of the distortions and imperfections delivered via cable or satellite systems. But with the BEAM, things are different. Thanks to Speech Enhancement, this Sonos soundbar is able to enhance the speech in TV shows or films, allowing users to catch every single syllable. Whether you're watching whispered Scandi-noir dramas or the evening news, that's bound to be a great help.
Premium Sound Quality – Sonos is well-known for coupling smart tech with finely engineered conventional components, and it continues this tradition with the BEAM. It features a versatile and powerful set of tweeters and woofers, pumping out enough sound to fill medium-sized rooms in a way that's much more satisfying than the TV alone could ever be.
Flexible Audio Streaming – Although it's a TV soundbar, the BEAM isn't restricted to TV audio. Because it's connected to a wider Sonos network, you can use it to stream audio from almost any online service, so it's a handy way to play audiobooks, catch up with podcasts, or provide the tunes your party demands.
Voice Control – Most smart tech nowadays incorporates some form of voice control, and buttons are rapidly becoming an endangered species. Sonos has included full compatibility with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, so users can issue commands to play music, change the volume, pause, or modulate the bass – whatever they need to get the most from their soundbar.
Airplay Casting – If you have an iPhone or a MacBook, Sonos has another surprise up its sleeve. This time around, the BEAM is fully compatible with Apple AirPlay, which lets you cast directly onto the soundbar from all Apple devices. That should make YouTube casting a breeze.
Attractive Casing with a Slimline Fit – Sonos are not strangers to aesthetic style. Although their speciality lies inside the casing, the BEAM looks the part, with a slender white or black casing that won't disrupt the appearance of meticulously arranged living rooms, and will slip neatly underneath most TVs.
Programmable Settings – The BEAM is a seriously clever speaker. In fact, it could be the smartest we've seen. For instance, users can use its IFTTT compatibility to program commands like “wake me up at 6:00 am with Bohemian Rhapsody”. It's a great way to enhance the capabilities of any smart home system.
Versatile Remotes – In the past, adding a smart speaker to your home entertainment setup has generally meant adding yet another remote control to the coffee table. But with the BEAM, things are different. Sonos has ensured that the soundbar is compatible with virtually all home remotes, and that syncing remotes up with the speaker is normally hassle-free.
Enhanced Potential With Additional Sonos Speakers – Perhaps the most seductive feature of the BEAM is the way it fits into the Sonos range. As audio fans will discover, it's straightforward to create surround sound audio setups with a BEAM, a few PLAY speakers, and the Sonos App. You'll be amazed how immersive films become, and how immediate football matches seem with these speakers arranged around your couch.
Sonos BEAM: Specifications
The little details are often what sets premium audio products apart from the also-rans, and that's definitely true with the Sonos BEAM. Here are the core specs to allow audiophiles to compare notes:
Dimensions: 650 x 100 x 68.5mm
Woofers: 4 (full range)
Radiators: 3 (passive)
Amplifiers: 5 (Class-D)
Power: Auto-switching 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz AC universal input
Connection with TV: HDMI or Optical Audio
Wifi required: 802.11 b/g/n (ethernet also available if required)
AirPlay compatibility: iOS 11.4 and higher
Controller buttons on casing: volume, choose tracks, mute microphone.
What has the Tech Press Said About the Sonos BEAM?
With those specs and the features listed earlier, the BEAM seems to tick a lot of boxes for audio fans, but what has Sonos BEAM review feedback been like? Actually, it's been extremely positive. For instance, the reliable What Hi-Fi Magazine awarded the speaker 5/5, saying that it “could transform your listening experience”. Its reviewer was especially taken with the streaming features and the sound quality, which is a blend not all smart speakers manage to achieve.
Other media outlets echoed the What Hi-FI verdict. For Tech Radar, the BEAM punched well above its weight, given its small size, calling it the “Sonos soundbar we've been waiting for.” Trusted Reviews recommended that a BEAM be added to every living room, and AVForums agreed, praising the open platform design, and the compact form factor.
So the bottom line is pretty clear. Audio experts almost unanimously agree that the BEAM is a Sonos triumph. However, it's worth noting that there have been some critics. FlatPanelsHD suggested that the bass could be richer, and Cnet agreed, taking the soundbar to task for omitting a subwoofer. So if you need the heaviest bass sounds possible, the speaker might sound a little lightweight.
Does Sonos BEAM have Bluetooth?
For good or bad, the answer here is no. Sonos uses home wifi to establish its network, or physical cables to connect with TVs. Sonos made this choice as Bluetooth tends to limit the physical distance between wireless devices, and its technicians wanted users to be able to spread speakers across their home or office. So they did away with Bluetooth entirely.
Does Sonos BEAM work with Alexa?
The answer is yes. Sonos has added Alexa compatibility to the BEAM's core features, so Amazon users can start issuing voice commands to manage their playlists whenever they like.
How does Sonos BEAM Connect to TV?
In this case, the answer is all about HDMI. The BEAM uses an HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) to link with smart TVs physically. This is a convenient design choice, as ARC allows users to easily connect the soundbar to games consoles and Blu-Ray players that are attached to the same television.
Other things to Think Before Buying a Sonos Beam
Size also matters. If you're buying a soundbar, you'll want to ensure that it fits underneath your TV, or into the bays of a TV cabinet. This shouldn't be much of a problem with the BEAM, as the Sonos BEAM Dimensions measure just 68.5 x 651 x 100 mm (2.70 x 25.625 x 3.94-inches). That's extremely small compared to the PLAYBAR and other smart speaker brands.
Then there's the question of how to control the Sonos BEAM. Users should note that the BEAM doesn't ship with a remote of its own. Instead, users are advised to pair their existing remote with the soundbar, which rarely poses any issues. If not, the Sonos App can also be used to control speaker settings, so there are plenty of options.
Sonos BEAM Soundbar Accessories
Users don't have to use the BEAM in its native state. With the right audio accessories, they can position it wherever they like, and it's often sensible to do so to protect the speaker and get the best audio results. Here are some accessories that all owners should think about picking up:
Sonos BEAM Wall Mount – The most important option for many users, Sonos offers a specialist wall mount that fits the BEAM perfectly. Simple to attach to most interior walls, the mount will minimise vibrations and ensure that the soundbar remains securely in place. But it's not that cheap, often retailing for around £60, so hunt for wall mount bargains at hotukdeals if you can.
TV Stands – If you don't want to attach the BEAM to your walls, you could fix it firmly to your TV via a dedicated TV stand. Brands like Flexson have come up with reliable stands with height and swivel adjustments and a balanced composition. They can be the most space efficient option for those with limited space.
Additional Sonos Speakers – Always remember: when buying a BEAM soundbar, it might be wise to add a PLAY speaker on the side. With additional Sonos speakers, you can optimise the sound quality in your living room, and by seeking out bundle deals from UK merchants, the price doesn't have to be prohibitive.
What are the Major Alternatives to the Sonos BEAM?
Before we make some buying recommendations, it's probably useful to run through alternative brands that audio fans may want to explore. Sonos is an industry leader, but it's not the only company manufacturing cutting edge smart speakers, and other companies may offer features Sonos doesn't.
Samsung is probably the number one competitor for Sonos' crown. Soundbars like the Harman Kardon are intended to offer the audio equivalent of the company's Samsung QLED TVs, with crystal clarity and intensity. They also feature “dynamic gaming modes” that are optimised for PlayStations and Xbox systems, something which Sonos hasn't thought to add. But they do come with hefty price tags, so bargain hunting is essential.
Also inhabiting the upper reaches of the home soundbar price range, the Sony soundbar HT-ST5000 offers a great package for Dolby fans, with better surround sound capabilities than Sonos. More powerful all round when it comes to woofers and tweeters, the Sony HT-ST5000 is also extremely expensive – but serious audiophiles may be happy to spend extra for the performance it delivers.
If you want a more affordable soundbar, Q Acoustics could be the brand to explore. Products like the M4 retail for £300-400, about the same as a BEAM, and combine value with premium engineering. They aren't as “smart” as the BEAM, but if you need a high-performance soundbar they will do the job just fine.
How to Set-Up Sonos Beam from Sonos
How and When to Find the Best Sonos BEAM Deals and Prices
Soundbars may be thin and unobtrusive, but these little wonders can transform the way you watch TV. And the BEAM goes further than most, offering smart features like voice control and auto-adjustment to ambient conditions, while delivering the sonic boost soundbar buyers crave. However, it's not the cheapest speaker on the market, especially when you add in essentials like the Sonos wall mount. So how can you lower the price of enhanced home audio?
The hotukdeals Sonos BEAM listings are the place to start. Our listings aggregate deals from all of the UK's leading audio tech merchants, including big names like Richer Sounds, John Lewis, Argos, and Amazon. Check the listings on a regular basis, as Sonos bundles regularly appear. You may well find a pack with a BEAM, a mount, and extra speakers – all for not much more than a single BEAM.
Timing your soundbar purchase can also make a big difference. When major sporting events roll around, it's common to see merchants drop their TV and audio prices to accommodate increased demand. And Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November is prime bargain hunting territory for Sonos fans. Of course, the New Year sales are full of deals, and Amazon Prime Day in mid-summer can also be a great time to shop. Hanging on for a month or two can often result in huge cost reductions, so don't be impatient.
Whether you wait or not, you're sure to find the Sonos Beam best price at hotukdeals, which hosts the widest possible choice of Sonos BEAM offers.
Audio Fans Will Love the Sound of the Sonos BEAM Deals and Offers at hotukdeals
Mixing high-quality engineering and first-rate aesthetics, with cutting edge smart technology, the Sonos BEAM offers a game-changing set of features for movie, sports, and TV lovers. If your TV sounds flat and uninspiring, adding one of these slender miracles could be the ideal tonic, so pick up a soundbar for less at the hotukdeals Sonos BEAM listings.