When a mid-range soundbar packs in Dolby Atmos, it automatically has us excited. The USD 800 price tag of the Sonos Arc is by no means cheap, but if it rings the right bells, the same may well be worth it. A lot is riding on the soundbar, as it is the first time the company has added Atmos compatibility to its soundbar lineup.
The Sonos Arc soundbar doesn’t come with subwoofer or satellite speakers as part of the package. But the company has made it upgradeable, allowing users to add options separately. The overall package looks tempting, but the lack of a subwoofer makes us question the availability of sub-bass and the thump preferred by most users.
Is Sonos Arc worth the price? Let us find out. This is the Sonos Arc soundbar review.
List of specifications
|Product Dimensions||45 x 3.4 x 4.5 inches|
|Wireless Audio Protocol||Apple AirPlay|
|Audio Decoding Codecs||Dolby Atmos |
Dolby Digital Plus
|Connectivity||1 x HDMI eARC |
1 x Optical Audio In
1 x Ethernet
- Beautiful, uncluttered design
- Room correction and Atmos support
- Lacks bass
- Doesn’t handle higher volume well
What’s in the box?
- Sonos Arc Soundbar
- 6.5′ AC Power Cord
- 4.5″ HDMI-to-Optical Adapter
- 5′ HDMI Cable
- Product Guide
- Quick Start Guide
Design and build
The Sonos Arc is a long slab of excellent quality plastic. It is longer than usual bars but feels sturdy and well built. It stretches 45 x 3.4 x 4.5 inches and weighs 6.25 kg. It is almost as wide as a 55-inch TV and it can be difficult to accommodate both together. Thankfully, it can also be wall-mounted, and the soundbar automatically adjusts its frequencies to avoid awkward noises.
Sonos has paid attention to minute details. It drilled 76,000 holes to the bar’s body to enhance its aesthetics and make it sound cleaner. The shell is perforated and matte, and the company sells it in two classic colors – black and white.
The front and the sides are left clean with the top of the bar housing capacitive controls. There are some LED lights too, but you can switch them off altogether if you find them obtrusive. You will find a small opening that houses the power cable and other input ports at its back. There are no subwoofers or satellite speakers in the package.
The bar’s build quality is sturdy, and the plastic grille seems capable enough to protect the speakers.
Sonos has opted for minimalism with the Arc soundbar. The interface is barebones with a central light that switches colors depending on your commands. Also present is a secondary LED that lights up when you activate the microphone.
Talking of physical controls, the Sonos Arc has three toggles on the top of the bar. You can Play/Pause, Raise/Lower Volume, and Mute Microphone via them.
Sonos has made a weird choice by getting rid of the physical remote altogether. The Arc soundbar instead ships with a compatible app called “Sonos S2”. It is available on the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store and offers terrific controlling abilities. The app is a full-fledged one and lets users set up room correction, direct casting of music apps to the bar, and managing its essential functionalities.
Another weird choice in the list of questionable decisions is the missing Power Saving Mode. Thankfully, it has HDMI CEC on board, allowing you to manage its essential functions using a universal remote.
Here is the weirdest choice in the list of questionable decisions – a USD 800 bar shipping with an HDMI ARC and Optical Audio In (which requires an adapter to connect to the HDMI port) puts the bar in an awkward position. We have seen soundbars in its price range shipping with multiple HDMI ports, but it doesn’t even have an HDMI Out. The company is shipping the bar with an Ethernet port, if that helps somehow.
As for wireless connectivity, unlike most soundbars where we see Bluetooth, the Sonos Arc gets Wi-Fi only. You can cast some music apps such as Spotify directly to the bar. Sonos bars are known not to have Bluetooth, and the Arc keeps the tradition going. If you are an iOS user, you would be glad to know that the company has packed in support for AirPlay 2. Users can also use virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant to manage the bar conveniently.
The HDMI ARC port ensures that the Sonos Arc gets decent audio codec support here. It can play all the Dolby variants, and the presence of eARC means it can play TrueHD content too. A higher midrange bar not supporting DTS content can raise some eyebrows as we have seen many cheaper offerings supporting the full range of it with ease.
There is no Full HDMI In port in the Sonos Arc soundbar, which means it doesn’t support 4K Passthrough. Overall, the soundbar is a mixed bag in terms of connectivity. It supports Atmos on one end and has limited input ports on the other.
The Sonos ARC soundbar hasn’t impressed us yet with its choices. But can it make us go gaga over it because of its performance? Let us delve deeper to find the results.
The Sonos Arc is a 5.0.2Ch configuration with everything fitted in a long bar. You can also add a subwoofer and satellite speakers, but they aren’t a part of the package. We found the sound to be treble-heavy out-of-the-box, but the absence of a dedicated subwoofer resulted in underwhelming bass performance.
The bright signature is not ideal for most music scenarios, and you will have to fiddle with its settings to get the right output from it.
Because of the below-average performance in the bass department, the Sonos soundbar has a mediocre frequency response. The high treble can sound piercing to most, and even adjusting the room correction didn’t seem to change anything significantly.
The soundstage of the soundbar is wider than the bar itself owing to the side-firing speakers. The sound reflecting from the wall makes for an immersive experience for the users. The focus is mostly on point, and we could pinpoint the source of the sound instead of playing the guessing game.
There is a dedicated center channel in the Sonos Arc soundbar. It is one of the best in reproducing dialogues and other vocal-based content. Although piercing treble can affect the overall performance, it is enjoyable in most scenarios.
The bar also has excellent loudness, but the way it handles higher volume levels is a shame. It struggles after 75 percent volume, and there is a lot of compression creeping in, impacting the overall experience. The bass area is the one that suffers the most in this case. The surround sound is okayish, given the side speakers bouncing the sound off the wall before reaching you.
As for sound enhancements, the Arc is average at best. It has room correction, letting you adjust the bar’s output based on its ambience. Unfortunately, Android users cannot access the feature as it is exclusive to iOS. We told you, Sonos has made weird choices! Also present is a dialogue enhancement feature to improve vocal output. There are no EQ presets here, but you can manually adjust the bass and treble range.
The Sonos Arc is different from a conventional soundbar. It is upgradable, makes odd choices, and has a vital software feature exclusive for iOS users. The price tag also means that it has substantial competition. Here is how it stacks up against them –
Bose Soundbar 700
The Bose Soundbar 700 is a better option than the Sonos Arc in most aspects. It has Bluetooth, opts for a neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, and gets a better build. Like the Arc, it is also upgradable, and you can make nifty additions to it as well.
The Sonos Arc hits back by offering Atmos, better surround, and has better center channel performance.
Sonos Beam is a compact bar and often gets the top position for the same reason. It handles higher volume levels much better and fits in easily everywhere. The Arc tries to claw back by offering eARC and Atmos. But the lack of bass means that the Beam is slightly better for mixed usage.
Impressive in pieces
The Sonos Arc is the jack of all trades, master of none. The lack of dedicated subwoofer results in incomplete happiness. The lack of usual input ports means that users will have to be wary while buying it.
The Arc can also act as a wireless speaker because of its ability to cast music apps directly. Even otherwise, it is a very versatile option. It is well-built, and can cater to most content types. Even though there is no remote in the package, the Google Assistant and Alexa-built in ensure hassle-free management.
Are you convinced about the Sonos Arc? Reach out to the product page of Bestbuy.com now!