As far as upgrades go, Beam (Gen 2) has a faster processor, support for Dolby Atmos (with compatible TVs and streaming apps) for enhanced sound, and an HDMI eARC port for higher definition audio. As with the last version, it has hands-free Alexa as well as Google Assistant, and Airplay 2 works with it as well. You can pair it with a Sonos Sub (sadly, it’s an expensive subwoofer) and two other Sonos speakers for surround.
Sonos tweaked the design too, adding a polycarbonate grille to the front instead of a fabric cover as seen on the Beam (Gen 1). It’s supposed to make it easier to blend in with your interior decor. It’s $50 more than the previous model, which isn’t that much more expensive than the already expensive soundbar, but you can still purchase the first-generation model for $319 at Sonos. For non-Sonos alternatives, read our Best Soundbars guide.
Save Up for the Subwoofer: Sonos hasn’t yet released a more affordable subwoofer for the Beam (Gen 2). The standard Sub will cost you $749 at Sonos or Target. It’s superb, but expensive. Don’t bother buying surround speakers until you own a Sub, though. It will make a profound difference.
Best for Big Home Theaters
A soundbar can make all the difference in a home theater, and they cost a lot less than a full surround sound setup. The Sonos Beam is great for apartments, but if you really want a powerful soundbar, the Sonos Arc (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is the one to get. It comes with full Dolby Atmos support, and in many rooms it can bounce sound off your walls and ceiling well enough that it sounds like you have a surround setup.
With three tweeters and eight mid-woofers, it delivers deep bass and has more balance and depth than the Beam. It’s also a lot longer, stretching 45 inches, or about the width of a 55-inch TV, end to end. Its design is elegant and understated in the usual Sonos way—you won’t always notice the bar, but when you do, it’s not an eyesore at all.
If you plan to spend the extra money to buy the Arc, we highly recommend you get the Sonos Sub for $749 at Sonos or Target. It’s the second-best investment you can make to improve your home theater experience.
Best Sonos Surround Sound Setup
To enable surround sound with one of its soundbars, Sonos requires two rear speakers, one for the left and one for the right. You can use any two Sonos speakers, as long as they’re identical. I’ve used two big Sonos Five speakers in the past, but it’s overkill. Two Sonos One SL speakers are a better match. They sound just as good. You can save another $100 if you buy two Sonos/Ikea Symfonisk speakers, which also sound outstanding.