Dolby Atmos and voice assistant support added to Sonos’ top of the line bar and the Sub and Play:5 get updates as well
Sonos has announced the Sonos Arc, a soundbar that leads an overhaul of the firm’s premium AV offering and ends a lengthy period of stagnation. The Sonos Arc replaces the venerable PlayBar and PlayBase in the range and introduces a number of new features, including support for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants.
The Arc certainly isn’t cheap (costing £799) but it looks to have all the important stuff covered, with support for Dolby Atmos chief among the soundbar’s main new features. With a total of 11 drivers – two upward-firing, two sideways firing, three forwards firing and another pair that fire audio diagonally into the rear corners of the room – the Arc aims to create an enveloping sound from a single speaker.
The Sonos Arc doesn’t just borrow new features from its smaller sibling, the Beam, however. It also uses similar technology to that first seen in the Sonos Move, with an automatic version of its TrueTone tech able to tune the soundbar’s various parameters to your room.
This is especially important in Dolby Atmos setups because the height of your ceilings can have a big impact on how effective the height channels are.
As with the Beam, and in keeping with Sonos’ minimalist ethos, inputs are limited. All you get with the Sonos Arc is a single HDMI eARC input – nothing more, nothing less.
That means you’ll only be able to benefit from the Sonos Arc’s Dolby Atmos support if you have a TV set that specifically supports eARC. It will still work with other audio standards using the older ARC standard, though.
We’re not sure why Sonos wouldn’t simply include an HDMI input and output with 4K passthrough, as this would immediately solve the issue; however, the new soundbar is at least backwards compatible with existing Sonos AV speakers, so if you are already using a pair of Sonos One speakers for your rear channels and a Sonos Sub for the lower registers, it will work with those to create a true 5.1.2 channel setup.
Sonos also took the opportunity to launch mildly updated versions of the Sonos Sub, which is now into its third generation, and the Sonos Play 5, which is renamed the Sonos 5. Both speakers have new hardware internally, including upgraded dual-band Wi-Fi adapters, and the colours have been updated, too. However, the components that matter – the amplification and drivers – remain the same. The Sonos Play 5 and Sub will cost £499 and £699 respectively.