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Sonos's 3 Soundbars Compared: Arc vs Beam vs Ray

Sonos now offers three different soundbars. So, how are they different? And which is right for you?

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Sonos now offers three different soundbars. There's the Arc, its flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar that costs $899. The Beam (Gen 2) is a more compact Dolby Atmos soundbar that costs $449, making it half as expensive as the Arc. And finally, there's the Ray, which costs just $279, making it the company's most affordable soundbar yet.

So, which one should you buy?

The two Dolby Atmos soundbars, the Arc and the Beam (Gen 2), are more similar than they are different. Both are smart soundbars that can be set up to support voice commands from either Alexa or Google Assistant — and they will also work with Sonos Voice Control, the company's new voice assistant that rolls out in early June. Both hook up to your TV via a single eARC connection, which is a newer version of ARC. The main difference, other than size and price, is that the Beam (Gen 2) lacks dedicated upward-firing drivers that really get the most out of Dolby Atmos content.

The Ray is similar to Sonos's other soundbars as well, even if it doesn't support Dolby Atmos. All three soundbars support music streaming over Wi-Fi (including AirPlay 2) and can be integrated in a larger multi-room or home theater system with other Sonos speakers. Because the Ray lacks built-in microphones, it's the only soundbar that doesn't support any voice assistants, including the upcoming Sonos Voice Control.

The main differences are size, cost, voice control and the levels of immersive sound each is able to deliver.

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Sonos Arc
Sonos

  • Dedicated upward-firing drivers deliver the best possible Dolby Atmos sound as Sonos soundbar can deliver.
  • Works with Alexa or Google Assistant voice assistants.
  • Can be integrated into a larger home theater system with other Sonos speakers and subwoofer.
  • Supports Sonos Voice Control

  • Twice as expensive as the Beam (Gen 2)
  • Often backordered and difficult to buy

The Arc is a 5.0.2-channel soundbar with five horizontal channels for the left, right, center, left surround and right surround, as well as two upward-firing drivers that shoot up to your ceiling. It's Sonos's flagship soundbar that's best for medium to large rooms. Simply put, it's one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars you can buy.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos

  • Half as expensive as the Arc, with most of the same capabilities.
  • Works with Alexa or Google Assistant voice assistants.
  • Can be integrated into a larger home theater system with other Sonos speakers and subwoofer.
  • Supports Sonos Voice Control

  • Lacks upward-firing drivers so it won't sound quite as good playing Dolby Atmos content.
  • Smaller size means smaller sound.

The Beam (Gen 2) is a new and improved version of the 2018-released Beam. It has the same exact 3.0-channel speaker array, but Sonos gave it a 40-percent faster CPU and a newer eARC connection, both of which allow it to play Dolby Atmos and other high-resolution content. It's still the best option for small-to-medium sized rooms.

Sonos Ray
Sonos

  • Sounds great for its size and supports TruePlay
  • Costs less than $300
  • Can be integrated into a larger home theater system with other Sonos speakers and subwoofer.

  • No support for Dolby Atmos
  • No support for any voice assistants
  • Doesn't support Sonos Voice Control

The Sonos Ray is the company's smallest and most affordable soundbar — and the only one that doesn't support Dolby Atmos. Unlike the Arc and Beam (Gen 2), the Ray doesn't have built-in mics and can't be integrated with a voice assistant. It also connects to your TV via optical rather than HDMI. The good news is it still sounds great for its size and it can be integrated into a larger Sonos multi-room or home theater. It's really the best option for people with older TVs that don't have an HDMI eARC connection.

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