Sonos Arc soundbar to ship on June 10, along with a third-gen Sub and the Sonos Five tabletop speaker
The curvaceous smart soundbar supports Dolby Atmos with up- and side-firing drivers.
By Michael Brown
TechHiveMay 6, 2020 1:00 pm PDT
Sonos unveiled three all-new higher-end speakers today: The $799 Sonos Arc, a roundish soundbar with support for Dolby Atmos object-based audio; the $699 Sonos Sub (Gen 3), a dual-driver, dual-amplifier subwoofer; and the $499 Play 5, a 14-pound speaker with six drivers and an equal number of Class D amplifiers.
All three new speakers will be available in all-white or all-black (including the Sonos logo) on June 10, preceded by the release of the new Sonos S2 app on June 8. Pre-orders are available now.
The Sonos Arc replaces both the Sonos Playbar, the company’s first soundbar that came to market in 2013, and the Sonos Playbase that shipped in 2018. The less-expensive Sonos Beam ($399) will remain in the company’s lineup. As with several newer Sonos speakers, the Arc supports your choice of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant along with Apple AirPlay 2.
The 45-inch-wide Arc has eight elliptical woofers and three silk-dome tweeters behind a 270-degree plastic grill, each driven by a discrete Class D amplifier. Two of the woofers are mounted on top of the bar to bounce height cues off your room’s ceilings, and two are mounted in the end caps to reflect surround cues off your walls. When you’re not listening to Dolby Atmos-encoded content, a DSP controlling the Arc’s up-firing drivers changes their profile so that they produce more low-end frequencies.
Since the Arc can support Dolby Atmos, it is undoubtedly capable of decoding other high-resolution audio codecs, such as DTS:X; Dolby TrueHD; the Sony 360 Reality Audio format that Amazon has adopted for its premium streaming service; and, perhaps MQA. It also wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the Arc and the new Sonos Five (more on that in a minute) can support sampling rates higher than the current limit (24-bit/48kHz), but Sonos says they have nothing more to announce on that front at this time.
As with similarly designed soundbars, you’ll want to set up the Arc in front of your TV (on a credenza or other piece of furniture), or mounted to the wall beneath your TV. Putting it in a hutch-style entertainment center will interfere with or fully defeat its ability to deliver an immersive audio experience. Sonos tells me it has developed special mounts for the Arc that feature sensors designed to reduce bass resonance when the speaker is mounted to the wall, but this optional accessory will cost an additional $79.
The Arc is outfitted with a single HDMI port that supports both ARC and eARC, plus a Toslink digital optical connector to support older TVs. You can read more about the differences between the two types of Audio Return Channel in this story. Most people will connect the Arc to their home network over Wi-Fi, but it’s great to see the company continue to offer 10/100Mbps ethernet ports for customers who have the wiring infrastructure to take advantage of it.
A new version of Sonos’ Trueplay speaker-tuning software will customize the Arc’s audio output to compensate for imperfectly shaped listening rooms, introducing small delays in its audio output to ensure that surround-sound signals arrive at the listeners’ ears at the right times. You can combine any newer-generation (i.e., S2-compatible) Sonos speakers for surround sound (with the exception of the battery-powered Sonos Move). And if you pair Arc with a Sonos Sub (all three models are compatible), the Arc’s amplifiers will produce more mid- and high-end frequencies.
Sonos probably didn’t need to replace its excellent second-generation Play:5, but the Sonos Five has more memory, a faster processor, and a new wireless radio. It’s not a smart speaker, surprisingly enough, but it can be controlled with voice commands spoken to a compatible Amazon Echo or Google Home device. Like its predecessor, the speaker is designed to operate horizontally or vertically when paired with a second Sonos Five.
The 14-pound speaker contains three tweeters—one angled left, one center, and one angled right—and three midwoofers, each driven by a discrete Class D amplifier. This phased array enables the Five to deliver a stereo sound stage from a single enclosure. Capacitive touch surfaces on top of the speaker control play/pause, track forward/track back, and volume. A 3.5mm analog audio input is provided so you can connect sources such as a turntable. As with all other modern Sonos speakers, the Sonos Five supports AirPlay 2 on iOS devices.
Sonos Sub (Gen 3)
The third generation of the Sonos Sub doesn’t look appreciably different from the first two iterations: It’s a squarish and relatively narrow design with a pair of force-cancelling drivers facing each other in an opening in the middle of the 36.3-pound enclosure. Each driver gets its own Class D amplifier, and the Sub delivers frequency response down to 25Hz. Sonos makes one of the best subwoofers I’ve ever listened to, so I’m looking forward to hearing what this new model’s increased memory, processing power, and wireless radio bring to the party.
As stated earlier, all three speakers will be available on June 10, and Sonos is accepting pre-orders now. We’ll conduct in-depth reviews as soon as we can get our hands on the new products.