Sonos Beam - My first ever soundbar.

Soundbar’s have a reputation for being predominantly bass heavy with hardly any projection and/or clarity on the dialogue. A lot of the time this is true, but it does depend both on the soundbar in question & what you’re listening to/watching.

In a previous blog I mentioned purchasing a 2018 Samsung Q7 55 inch QLED, which is proving to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made & by far the best TV I’ve ever owned. Therefore, on that basis, I simply had to buy a great soundbar to compliment it. In my (Samsung laden) head, I instantly had one of their soundbars in mind, so I did a bit of research & off I went to John Lewis. When I had one of the staff turn it on and play some music, I was completely underwhelmed. This was a brand new product with reviews saying it was ‘great’, so I left the store genuinely confused.

A week passed & during that week I did more research. I started to think that maybe it was the song I played? Was the song loud enough?? The following Saturday arrived & I went back to the store. I headed straight to the exact same soundbar & (eventually) got the staff member to play my music as loud as it could go. Lo and behold, it did exactly the same thing. It was quiet, non-existent & forgettable.

Whilst I was testing out the soundbar, there was a guy with his friend sampling a similar product. The only difference between what I was doing & what he was doing, was that the volume he had it at was unnecessarily loud & it made it difficult for anybody else to hear anything. Eventually, the guy left & the sales adviser started showing me what else was on offer. Unfortunately, the other soundbars on display didn’t have the kind of quality I was looking for. Both in design & sound. At this point, I genuinely felt like I was going to leave the store (again) ‘soundbar-less’, but out of nowhere, a light-bulb moment struck & I knew that it would all work out. I turned to the adviser and said ‘‘what about the soundbar that guy was playing really loudly?’’. We shuffled a few steps to the left & I was presented with the Sonos Beam. I liked the design straight away & already knew how loud it could get (thank you ‘guy’!). I played a variety of songs to ensure it could provide deep bass with clear, projected dialogue & it delivered, especially in comparison with it’s competitors for a similar price. Before you could blink, I was at the till handing over my Visa. The collection point awaited me, so I moved with haste!

The Sonos Beam sits tidily in front of my 55 inch Samsung QLED, as if it was a match made in heaven. The soundbar has rounded edges, giving it a sleek finish with a mesh material all the way around along the front & the top is a hardened, yet, has a soft to the touch material that your fingers effortlessly slides across. There are hardly any buttons, which could only be described as minimalism. There is also an Ethernet port that sits around the back, along with a HDMI, ARC & a button you can press so it can be identified/found when installing it. One thing you will not find is an on/off switch. Yes, you read correctly & it’s very strange indeed.

When I initially set up the Sonos Beam, it said that the only way to get it going was via it’s app & you had to be connected to WiFi, otherwise, there was no other way (the future is both unknown & moderately inconvenient). Typically, I had no internet at the time, as I had just moved into my new apartment, so I tethered my 4G from my mobile to get it up & running. The app was easy to use & there are some great features. You can adjust the volume, switch to ‘night-mode’, which reduces the loud noises & you can even enhance the sound of peoples voices. After a little bit of playing around, it was time for the ultimate test.

In a matter of minutes upon playing a Bluray movie on my PS4, I came to the conclusion that the Sonos Beam was a 1st class product. I loved the way the sounds moved from right to left or vice versa, giving you a cinematic feel/presence. Even with no additional setting turned on, the ratio between the bass and the volume of someone talking/singing is well proportioned. The bass is heavy, yet refined & the speaking is crystal clear. However, as good as the/a soundbar may be, the projection/volume of dialogue (without the voice enhancement turned on, in Sonos Beam’s case & perhaps others that have this feature) certainly depends on the sound quality produced by what you’re watching/listening to & that is a key factor, because some movies or songs may have had great sound recorded, whereas others may not, so the soundbar is not always the one to blame.

The Sonos Beam goes very loud. The additional features on the app are a bonus & it’s a good looking product that could easily be placed in front of any TV, especially a brand new one (no bragging intended). Most importantly, the sound quality is respectable & that’s a rather large checkbox ticked when shopping for a new Soundbar.

This is a company that means business & I’m excited to see what they bring out next.

Photography: Wired

Photography: Wired