$399 Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar with HDMI ARC Introduced

A new product from Sonos does not come along every day, but today is one of those days. The company has unveiled the Sonos Beam, a compact soundbar it says is ideal for both music and for use with a TV. The Beam has a price point of $399 and sports a classic soundbar form factor. And because it’s part of the Sonos product family, it works with Sonos Play speakers and the Sonos Sub, in case you want to build out a wireless surround-sound system.

Previous Sonos products used optical-digital inputs. Between its soundbar life form factor and HDMI ARC support, it’s clearly a soundbar but Sonos also markets is as a standalone sound system, noting its suitability for movies and music.

As its name implies, the Sonos Beam uses beamforming technology to create the illusion of listening to a much larger sound system.

“In a smart speaker category increasingly filled with tech clutter, poor audio quality and ulterior motives, Beam is the best example yet of what makes Sonos different,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence“Our open approach, obsession with design, maniacal focus on quality and commitment to building a system that’s easy to use and gets better over time are at the heart of everything we do. We believe we’ve created the best, most versatile, smart speaker in the world.”

The driver array on the beam consists of “four custom-built elliptical full-range woofers and three passive radiators” as well as one single tweeter. Sonos says this novel soundbar/speaker system was “tuned by a team of world-class acoustic engineers collaborating with leading sound experts from the worlds of film, music and television. The result is a product that faithfully represents the artists’ work and delivers an unparalleled listening experience.” Clearly, that’s quite a bold claim for a $399 soundbar.

The Sonos Beam comes out of the box with built-in Amazon Alexa support and has a five-microphone array, so it can hear what you say. In July Sonos is adding Apple AirPlay 2 capability to its system and that will include the Beam.