The Sonos Arc is good for mixed use. It has a neutral, although slightly bright sound profile that’s suitable for most audio content. It can reproduce clear and accurate dialogue, it can get loud, and it supports Atmos content, which is nice if you want a more immersive audio experience while watching movies. However, it lacks a bit of low-bass, and there are compression artifacts at max volume. Keep reading on for the Sonos Arc speaker review here.
Sonos Arc Speaker Review
Sonos Arc price and availability
The Sonos Arc soundbar launched globally on June 10, 2020 and costs $799 / £799 / AU$1,399 as a standalone unit. While this Atmos-enabled speaker is perfectly capable on its own, you can also add the new Sonos Sub (Gen 3) for $699 / £699 / AU$999 for a bit of extra bass, or a pair of One SLs for rear left and right surround sound which will set you back $199 / £179 / AU$269 each.
The Arc has been designed to sit on the tabletop beneath your TV, but you can also mount it below a screen using the Sonos Arc compatible wall mount ($79 / £79 / AU$99).
The Sonos Arc will take the place of the Playbar and the Playbase as Sonos’ flagship soundbar moving forward. If the Arc is a little outside your budget, Sonos will also continue to offer the Sonos Beam for $399 / £399 / AU$599, which is a great unit to bolster your TV audio and a good all-round living room speaker.
Design and features
- Width of a 55-inch TV
- Simple setup
- Dolby Atmos requires lots of high spec tech
There was a time where you wouldn’t consider anything other than a multi speaker array for the best quality surround sound, but Dolby Atmos is leading the charge to deliver 3D audio effects from a more streamlined system — and there’s no better example of this than the Sonos Arc.
The self contained single unit has only two essential inputs: a power cable and a HDMI in, and while an Ethernet socket and a Digital Optical to HDMI adapter are available out of the box, it’s only recommended you use them if you absolutely have to. Sonos doesn’t even include a remote, suggesting you instead connect the soundbar to your TV via the Audio Return Channel (ARC) and just use your TV remote or control it through the new Sonos S2 smartphone app.
Even the colour choices are simple with the Arc, being available in just Black or White. And while you can of course pair the Sonos Arc soundbar with the Sonos Sub or a pair of One SL speakers for deeper bass and true surround sound, it’s been created to be an excellent audio solution on its own, which cuts down on overall clutter.
Since the Arc is intended to bounce audio off the roof and walls of your room to create a 3D soundscape, it’s wrapped on the top, front, and either end by metal, hole-punch speaker grilles that cover the various orientations of the Atmos driver array.
Sonos Arc speaker review: Performance
The Playbase only had six midrange drivers, three tweeters and one woofer. Needless to say, the Arc is a beast by comparison and has the sound to prove it.
Listening to a Planet Earth on Blu-Ray with Dolby Atmos was an enthralling experience. As I sat in an echoey basement, it felt as though I actually stood in the woods, surrounded by rustling forestry and scurrying critters while soft winds soared past our ears. The whistle of a bird or drip of dew drew my attention back towards the soundbar, showing its skill for intentional, room-filling audio. The Arc also includes a speech enhancement feature that strengthens the clarity of dialogue, which in the case of Planet Earth’s narrator, created an ethereal effect.
Sonos is known for exquisitely balanced bass, and I’m happy to report the Arc is no exception. At every volume level — and let us tell you, the Arc gets loud — Kayne West and Jay-Z’s “No Church in the Wild” infectiously thumped just like it should, causing my living room to vibrate and complementing the song’s cinematic style.
The Sonos Arc works like any of the best smart speakers when the TV is off. Whether you control it via the S2 App or AirPlay 2, you’re able to stream audio from all your preferred services.