Looking for a detailed Sonos Arc review? Look no further than this comprehensive guide, covering everything from sound quality to design and features. Discover why this high-end soundbar is a must-have for home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles alike.
After several years on the market, the Sonos Arc still stands as the firm’s largest and most powerful soundbar. It’s unclear if the bar’s name refers to the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) it employs, the curved sound it pitches, or its role as a vessel bringing superb surround sound to the modern minimalist house; in any event, it’s designed to do so without dominating the space.
Dolby lossless audio, as found on modern Blu-ray discs, and the 3D soundscape of Dolby Atmos object tracks from discs and streaming movies can both be played back over the Sonos Arc. It can cause some noises to echo off the walls surrounding you, making it seem as though they are coming from all directions. Intriguingly, this is said to be what the future Sonos Era 100 and 300, which might completely destroy the competition, would do.
Sonos designed the Arc to complement larger screens than the Beam Gen 2, which is better suited to smaller spaces. It measures 114 cm (45 inches) in width “Because of this, a 55-inch TV is a better match than the 49-inch Screens that are currently the norm in most homes.
If you don’t have a sideboard wide enough to fit the Arc, you can mount it on the wall instead, and the Trueplay tuning software will adjust the frequency response to sound good there, too. A legitimate Sonos wall mount will set you back £69/$79/AU$99, but there are plenty of third-party Arc wall mounts available for much less.
After installation, a 273-degree grille will conceal the Arc’s front-mounted and upward-firing speaker array. The front and back grilles shield the driver. The Arc’s curved shape helps it look slim, but its 8.5cm height is not inconsequential. It probably won’t climb that high, but it could potentially mess with your TV’s remote signals. If not for the permanently active IR repeater in the device, it would.
The status of the Arc is shown by four LEDs that shine through perforations in the top panel, above the unobtrusive Sonos logo (fun fact: there are 76,000 holes in all the grilles combined). These LEDs are dimmed automatically in response to the ambient light level and only turn on when a user makes a conscious decision to do so (to change the volume, for example).
A touch-activated “play/pause” button is built into the frame as well “with a choice of two extra touch screens for volume control. On the right side of the Arc is the microphone button and the single LED that indicates whether the gadget is set to Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
The Arc’s sole HDMI port, as well as its power jack and wired LAN connector, are all situated there. In order to transport audio from your TV to the Arc, HDMI with the ARC (Audio Return Channel) functionality is preferred; however, an optical adapter is included in case you need to use it with an older TV.
The Arc, in contrast to the original Beam and the Ray, is eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel)-compatible, meaning it can decode Dolby Atmos signals of superior quality when transmitted on TVs that are capable of doing so. Sonos claims that as many as 25 streaming services (among them Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Apple TV) now have support for Dolby Atmos.
Dolby Atmos transmission is possible even without eARC support. The improved Dolby True HD format, as well as Dolby Digital+, can be utilized to transmit Atmos. In contrast, the former can be sent over a standard ARC link while the latter cannot. Although streaming services all use Dolby Digital+ for their Atmos soundtracks, eARC isn’t really helpful for them. But, it can be used to transport higher bit rate Atmos sound from a 4K Blu-ray player or Xbox through the TV and into the Arc.
Particulars about your TV set are quite important. A TV with eARC compatibility and pass-through capability is required to experience True HD Dolby Atmos. Unfortunately, not all Atmos-compatible streaming apps will work with your TV even if it includes eARC or ARC.
From our experience testing the Arc with numerous high-end TVs, we can say that your results may vary, depending on the make and year of your set. The Currently Playing part of the Sonos app flags Dolby Atmos playback, and the About My System option verifies the format. Dolby Atmos from the LG OLED and Samsung QLED TVs’ built-in apps was easily sent to the Arc, as was True HD Atmos from our Oppo UDP-203 Blu-ray player with very minor adjustments to the TV’s settings.
A newer Samsung Q7F we have laying around here supports Atmos from both internal and external sources, but the one we have been using up to now does not. Your TV’s ability to play Atmos surround sound improves in possibility as it ages. Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if the Arc had more HDMI inputs that allowed it to take audio straight from an external source and not rely on your TV as a go-between; however, doing so would make the set-up process considerably less simple and tidy.
The Arc’s Dolby Atmos sound is produced by eleven Class D digital amplifiers powering eleven custom drivers. Out of the total of ten drivers, eight are produced from the Beam’s elliptical woofers (four along the front, two on top, and one at each end), while the remaining three are silk-domed tweeters incorporated into the front, with two firing diagonally into the room.
If you think of the Arc’s configuration as an attempt to mimic the soundstage of a five-channel surround sound system without a subwoofer and two height speakers using only its eleven drivers, the Sonos number 5.0.2 (which doesn’t add up to 11) makes more sense. Despite rumors of a new, cheaper little Sub arriving soon, that ‘0’ may be turned into a ‘1’ by purchasing a Sub Gen 3 for £699/$699/AU$999. Further Sonos speakers can be used as surrounds if desired, such as the two One SL rear speakers for £358/$358/AU538 or the Symfonisk bookshelf speakers for £99/$99 (approximately AU$176) from Sonos’ IKEA collaboration.
By reflecting sound off of nearby walls and ceilings, the Arc’s speaker network generates a 3D soundstage; the soundfield is again customized for your area with Sonos’ Trueplay technology. The soundbar releases a series of test noises, and your iOS device analyzes how each sound reverberates around the room (Android devices are still not supported).
You can disable the Loudness setting and adjust the bass and treble independently using the Sonos app, though you won’t need to. The Night Sound setting dampens loud sounds so they don’t wake others in the house, while the Speech Enhancement function boosts the volume of spoken words.
In June of 2020, Sonos announced the Arc, and it is exclusively compatible with the Sonos S2 system. Not all older Sonos devices are compatible with the new software, so make sure you upgrade them all to S2 before using the Arc with them.
To enjoy music without using the Sonos app is a breeze with the Arc. Like the Sonos Play:5s, it is recognized as a playing device in the iOS versions of Spotify and Tidal and can receive streaming audio over AirPlay 2. It also contains four far-field microphones spread out throughout the chassis to pick up your speech above the music or movie playing, allowing you to operate it with your voice using Alexa or Google Assistant.
Because it is HDMI-CEC compatible, the Arc will power on and convert to TV audio as soon as the TV is turned on. Your TV’s remote can be used to control the Arc’s volume, and your TV can be turned on using voice commands spoken to the Arc. If you have an Amazon Fire TV or Google Chromecast connected to your TV through an HDMI connector, you can control the Arc entirely with voice commands.
It would be difficult to emphasize the excellence of the Sonos Arc’s audio performance. The eight elliptical woofers deliver a strong overall bass performance thanks to the excellent tuning that creates a perfect balance between midrange warmth and exceptional clarity.
When compared to the precision of the midrange and bass, the highs produced by the three silk dome tweeters are striking. Particularly, we liked how the device could play back musical settings in which the sounds of different instruments could be easily distinguished without interrupting the overall flow of the arrangement.
This kind of spatial accuracy makes a ton of sense, considering that the Sonos Arc was designed to maximize the Dolby Atmos audio codec, which divides sound into “object-based audio tracks” that can be shifted between speakers and reflected off of nearby walls. When the Arc has been adjusted for the space in question, it becomes an extremely potent instrument for scattering effects over the area.
The Sonos Arc delivers exceptional audio quality. Because the Arc uses your area’s acoustics to generate a surround-sound experience, the system’s surround-sound capabilities will differ from room to room.
The Arc’s small, well-controlled bass and slight lack of directness to music are our only real gripes with it. This is without a doubt the most immersive experience we’ve ever had from a soundbar, and it’s all thanks to Dolby Atmos. The Sony HT-A7000 and the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar are its only truly superior alternatives, and they cost too much to be practical.
Other than listening to music, the Arc can be used for a variety of purposes. This wireless speaker can be controlled by voice or an accompanying app, it can stream music from virtually any service, and it can be combined with other Sonos speakers to create a surround sound system or a multi-room setup.
To find a single device that excels at so many different tasks is quite rare. It remains the gold standard in its field more than two years after its initial publication. Don’t worry; the Sonos Arc is top-notch gear.
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