Sonos Arc review: The all-in-one Atmos soundbar to beat

The original Sonos Playbar was a standout product or service when it appeared on the market in 2013: It was a significant soundbar that available each multiroom new music and a very simple one-cable relationship to your Television set. Its age has started out to clearly show in the seven yrs considering that, however, and I’ve grown to like quite a few other Television set speakers better, which include Sonos’ own Playbase and Beam. Following a few of weeks listening to the all-new Sonos Arc, I can report Sonos has at the time once more elevated the bar. The Arc is merely one of the finest soundbars you can buy.


  • Fantastic seem for every thing from Dolby Atmos videos to jazz piano
  • All-in-one unit won’t will need a subwoofer
  • Function-packed which include voice assistant and multiroom new music

Never Like

  • Solitary HMDI eARC port restrictions Atmos
  • More expensive than other solitary-bar competition
  • No Bluetooth streaming

As terrific as the new $799 (£799, AU$one,399) Arc appears, it is not with out its caveats. If you happen to be hungering for a soundbar that can do Dolby Atmos, the Sonos’ reliance on a solitary HDMI port implies you could will need a brand-spanking new Television set and even a new established-best box these kinds of as the Apple Television set 4K. Luckily, the Arc appears terrific with non-Atmos sources much too, from stereo new music to Dolby Digital surround. It provides crisp sonics and amazingly deep bass for a unit with out a subwoofer.

It truly is also not the finest benefit in Atmos soundbars nowadays. The superb Vizio SB36512-F6 and the new Sony HT-G700 both price tag considerably less and give a second HDMI input as very well as a subwoofer. Meanwhile the Sennheiser Ambeo could be the finest all-in-one Atmos ‘bar I’ve heard, period, but it prices three instances as substantially as the Arc. 

As opposed to the three contenders I just described, however, the Arc is effective with Sonos’ exceptional multiroom new music system and it has crafted-in Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (your simply call) for inconvenience-cost-free voice regulate. It also delivers a lovely style and design, exceptional seem quality and a terrific consumer knowledge. If you happen to be seeking for a attribute-packed soundbar and do not have to have the punch of a subwoofer, the Arc is my new most loved in its price selection.

Sonos Arc

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Slender solitary speaker packed with attributes

The Arc is long and smooth at forty five inches broad, three.four inches tall and four.five inches deep. The curvaceous cabinet will come in black or white, and it surely seems to be and feels like a quality product or service, exemplified by a mesh grill and touch-centered controls. The speaker has a whole of 8 elliptical woofers, which include upfiring motorists for Dolby Atmos outcomes, and three “exactly angled” silk-dome tweeters.

The Arc has a 4 much-area microphone array to better select up voice instructions when your new music is blaring. As I analyzed the Sonos with a beta edition of the Sonos computer software, I was not ready to get Google Assistant doing work, but Amazon Alexa labored just fantastic. The speaker was not ready to listen to over highest quantity dialog — even when I shouted — but with new music at a usual quantity I was ready to use my speaking voice. In contrast to other intelligent speakers it prices as about ordinary in phrases of “listening” efficiency, with the Apple HomePod getting the finest I’ve analyzed.

Sonos Arc

Touch controls insert to the superior-conclude really feel

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

As a Wi-Fi centered system the Arc contains onboard wi-fi as very well as an Ethernet port. Like other Sonos speakers the Arc contains compatibility with Apple Airplay and Spotify Join, and regrettably just like the some others it lacks Bluetooth streaming.

The Sonos ecosystem is in the process of shifting to edition S2, which seems to be the identical as the preceding application, but involves a ton of background alterations. 1 big adjust is that people will never be ready to update their legacy Sonos gadgets including the unique ZonePlayers and the very first Play:five, but it also implies the Arc to is ready use hi-res audio these kinds of as Dolby Atmos.

Observe that the soundbar won’t incorporate a bodily remote regulate. Customers can either decide for their unique Television set remote (using HDMI-CEC regulate) or the Sonos application alone.

1 HDMI, many text of explanation

1 of the principal “attributes” of this soundbar, according to Sonos, is simplicity. It has just one audio relationship: a solitary HDMI port. Buckle in, due to the fact the causes why that’s a likely challenge usually are not very simple at all.

Initially off, the Arc uses HDMI ARC and its successor eARC to get audio from your tv, which include the Dolby Atmos format. ARC, or Audio Return Channel, is a technological know-how that permits the TV’s crafted-in streaming applications, and gadgets you join to the Television set, to deliver audio to a related speaker over a solitary HDMI cable. Basically, you plug the Arc soundbar into your TV’s HDMI ARC port and your other equipment into the TV’s other HDMI ports. Then seem from every thing plays while the bar. If your Television set won’t have HDMI at all, the speaker also contains an optical input for usual Dolby Digital decoding.

Sonos Arc

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Because it will get audio only by means of that HDMI port related to your Television set, the Arc’s Atmos capacity is in the long run limited by your Television set. If you have a newer 4K Television set then this likely will never be a challenge. Streamers like the Roku Streaming Stick Moreover, Apple Television set 4K, Amazon Hearth Television set Stick 4K or Nvidia Shield can output Dolby Atmos streams by means of Dolby Digital Moreover using a normal HDMI ARC relationship. Join one to a newer Television set and it will pass the Atmos stream to your Arc soundbar, if one is readily available. 

That is a significant “if,” however, in aspect due to the fact not all streaming gadgets guidance Atmos on all providers. In addition if you have an more mature 1080p Television set then you will never get Dolby Atmos at all — your Television set requirements to be produced from 2016 onwards to be ready to passthrough Dolby Digital Moreover.

Meanwhile 4K Blu-ray requires an even newer Television set, one that supports eARC, to supply Atmos to the Arc. That is due to the fact 4K Blu-ray takes advantage of a bigger-bandwidth edition of Atmos than streaming providers, one that only is effective over eARC. If Dolby Atmos is of utmost significance to you, primarily if you have a library of 4K Blu-ray discs, then you will will need a 2019 or later on Television set with an eARC port to get the Arc to participate in Atmos with every resource.

Sonos Arc

The application tells you when you happen to be obtaining Atmos.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

And there’s a different Atmos wrinkle: setup. A 2019 Sony X950G Television set I utilized for testing didn’t guidance eARC by default — I nevertheless had to futz all-around with the Television set menu for it to pass Dolby Atmos. You could will need to check your own guide on how to get this to function.

I did value that the Now Taking part in page of the Sonos application displays a Dolby Atmos emblem when it detects either a Dolby Digital Moreover or Dolby TrueHD-centered immersive stream, so at minimum there’s an effortless way to convey to when you happen to be obtaining Atmos.

Entertaining seem and surprising bass

I utilized the Sonos Arc with a range of diverse TVs — the Sony X950G Liquid crystal display, the Samsung D8000 plasma, the Samsung 6 collection Liquid crystal display — in two diverse rooms. I identified that the seem of the area, extra so than the HDMI capabilities of the Television set, dictates how fantastic the speaker appears. If you want highest surround and peak outcomes you will will need a sq. or rectangular area with the soundbar situated at one conclude. 1 of the spaces in which I listened to the Arc was the corner of an irregularly shaped area and there were pretty much no width outcomes. Your mileage could change.

You could will need a newer Television set to listen to Atmos outcomes and see that Dolby emblem in the Sonos application, but if you do not have a newer Television set, you might not even miss out on Atmos. I listened to a host of diverse materials over a few of weeks — from Television set demonstrates to videos to Dolby Atmos Audio to online video online games. In all instances, the Arc sounded exceptional and balanced if perhaps a minor reticent in the treble — almost nothing that tweaking the onboard EQ could not take care of. As opposed to with the bass-shy Sonos Beam, I never felt like I essential a subwoofer with the Arc. This is a solitary speaker that can thump.

I as opposed the Sonos Arc head-to-head versus the Sony G700 and it should have been no contest — the Sony has a wi-fi sub and a separate HDMI input, ensuring complete Atmos compatibility. The winner was not so crystal clear-reduce, however. The Arc sounded a ton extra open up than the boxy Sony, and primarily fantastic with tunes like Adele’s Truly feel My Really like. Other soundbars can are inclined towards brassiness on this observe, but the Arc’s seem was instant and infectious — it sounded sensible from even the next area.

Similarly when I switched to Sonos’ new Brittany Howard-curated radio station. Charles Mingus’ piano on Myself When I Am Authentic sounded extra normal than on any other soundbar that I can remember, enable on your own one with out a subwoofer.


Ty Pendlebury

Gotye’s Hearts A Mess had the Arc throwing its voice all-around straight away, with the strings coming from the corner of the area and snare drums from the curtains. Who requirements a observe with 360 Actuality Audio when you can listen to this? Sure it is substantially extra chaotic, but it is just as pleasant. The Arc is just not the finest selection for so-identified as deep listening, it is extra of a enjoyable truthful. The track did seem a minor extra alongside one another on the Sony and extra impacting much too — it sounded like singer Wally De Backer was making his pleas specifically to me. 

When listening to videos over my time with the speaker I was continually astonished by the amount of deep-conclude heft the Sonos was capable of. It would seem better with the sub, absolutely sure, but you do not will need it. 

I originally had difficulties monitoring down a Dolby Atmos stream of Max Mad: Fury Highway, but I eventually identified one with the Vudu application on the Apple Television set 4K. In the opening scene, as the credits rolled and disembodied voices danced about the area, each the Sony and the Sonos available crisp dialog and a tremendous-broad soundstage. The Sony had extra authority on the deep notes of the Charger’s motor but seem outcomes were extra localized all-around the speaker with no true peak information. The Sonos shipped a better sense of back-to-entrance movement as the pursuing War Boys lept over the camera on their bikes and cars and trucks.

Sonos Arc

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Must you buy it?

The Sonos Arc is now the company’s most expensive product or service, but it provides seem quality and comfort that none of the other Sonos soundbars can match. Though the Arc could not be really worth the enhance from the Playbase (which also had terrific bass) it is really worth contemplating for each homeowners of the Beam and the Playbar. Even if you do not use the Dolby Atmos attributes, the soundbar provides an exceptional attribute established and terrific seem for every other sort of information — from jazz to rock to motion videos. 

As opposed to the Beam, you do not will need to insert the new Sonos sub (which then makes that collective kit all-around $one,a hundred) and that makes the Arc better benefit general. Sure, you can buy soundbars that give separate subs and a glut of attributes but none ooze the sophistication or the sonic clarity of the Sonos Arc. If your shoplist contains a solitary “intelligent” seem bar that does Dolby Atmos, then the Sonos Arc is the model to beat.