Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs Sonos Beam Gen 1: which is better?

Our love of the Sonos Beam is a ways from a secret. It’s been a worthy winner in its What Hi-Fi Awards class 3 years in a row, impressing with the standard of its sound, diminutive design and aggressive ticket.

Given its attempted and tested prowess, it’s no surprise that the reliable announcement of its successor and direct replacement, the Sonos Beam Gen 2, has brought about fairly the stir. Despite returning in a reputedly an identical bundle, the Gen 2 has an outstanding number of new tricks up its sleeve, maximum notably enhance for Dolby Atmos, as well as eARC connectivity and enhanced processing energy.

We've had the pleasure of going ears-on with the new Sonos Beam Gen 2 (pre-orders started on 14th September with availability from fifth October), and have when put next its sound, design and features with the unique Beam, to see how issues stack up.

With all that during mind, let’s see how the OG stacks up against its fresh-faced, however rather familiar taking a look, usurper.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs Sonos Beam Gen 1: price 

At its launch in 2018, the Sonos Beam was once £399 / $399 / AU$599. Today you'll be able to snap it up a bit less expensive — John Lewis in the United Kingdom, for example, is lately offering it for £379, making it an much more compelling selection for those searching for the most productive budget soundbar round.

In contrast, the brand new Sonos Beam Gen 2 has a noticeably costlier release worth of £449 / $449 / AU$699. Obviously, we all know which one of the crucial two models your pockets is going to choose, however given the extra features that the Gen 2 has, it could be greater than somewhat good to fork out the additional money for some all-important future-proofing. Especially as the associated fee distinction is in step with Sonos' fresh price hikes across its range.

If you do fancy saving some money and want the still-excellent original Beam, you would best act rapid because it is officially been discontinued. Who is aware of how lengthy the inventory will last?

**Winner: Sonos Beam Gen 1**

Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs Sonos Beam Gen 1: design 

At first glance, the Beam Gen 2 and original Beam appear to be an identical. Featuring the same 6.Nine x 65 x 10cm dimensions, 2.8kg weight, and capacitive controls constructed into the top, you’d be hard-pressed to identify a difference.

Peer slightly nearer, however, and you’ll understand that there is one significant cosmetic alternate: while the Beam features a fabric speaker grille, the Beam Gen 2 apes the more top rate Arc with a polycarbonate grille with precise perforations.

Which one you prefer shall be down to personal preference; the fabric grille has a comfortable, fashionable look that feels somewhat extra top class out of the field. In distinction, the more recent polycarbonate grille is swish, easier to clean, and less prone to wear over time. 

As with the unique Beam, the Beam Gen 2 is also available in black and white, but you additionally get correctly coloured energy and HDMI cables to check this time.

**Winner: Sonos Beam Gen 2**

Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs Sonos Beam Gen 1: features

This is where the diversities between the two Beam fashions transform extra vital. Let’s kick off with Dolby Atmos beef up — the Beam Gen 2 has it (thank you, in part, to a CPU that’s 40% extra powerful), while the original Beam doesn’t — opening up the door for a extra immersive audio enjoy. 

In addition, the brand new Beam Gen 2 also lands with eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) connectivity. The primary advantage of eARC is its considerable spice up in bandwidth and speed compared to that found in common ARC connections – it implies that Dolby Atmos indicators can also be delivered in the complex Dolby TrueHD layout, relatively than the Dolby Digital+ layout to which usual ARC is limited.

Truth learn, that’s most probably now not an enormous get advantages here, as all streaming services lately ship Atmos in Dolby Digital+ anyway. Still, if you also use a 4K Blu-ray player, you might admire knowing that your soundbar is in a position to handling its full-fat Atmos sign. Whether you’ll be able to inform the variation by way of an inexpensive software equivalent to this is some other subject entirely.

Upgrading to eARC connectivity also means that the Beam Gen 2 has a larger bandwidth and pace permitting it to deliver up to 32 channels of audio, including eight-channel, 24bit/192kHz uncompressed knowledge streams at speeds of up to 38Mbps.

Lovers of HD tune can be pleased to know that both models will obtain a retroactive upgrade so as to add support for Amazon Music’s Ultra HD audio, while the Gen 2, in addition to its giant sibling the Sonos Arc, will even gain Dolby Atmos Music support.

Elsewhere, different options stay the similar, including strengthen for Sonos’ TruePlay room calibration by means of the Sonos S2 app, which additionally permits you to adjust treble and bass, and get entry to the Loudness, Night Sound and Speech Enhancement features. Apple AirPlay 2 enhance stays, too, in addition to integrated sensible assistants in the form of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

While some folks might be disenchanted to note that there’s nonetheless no HDMI passthrough within the Gen 2, Sonos insists that resisting having more than one HDMI inputs and sticking to a unmarried ARC/eARC connection assists in keeping things as simple as conceivable, despite the fact that we suspect that retaining costs down is also most likely an element.

On the subject of simplicity, the Beam Gen 2 additionally positive factors NFC so that you can faucet your phone to initialise the wireless setup.

**Winner: Sonos Beam Gen 2**

Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs Sonos Beam Gen 1: sound 

Key to the original Beams luck has been simplicity of design and streamlined capability that, remarkably for its size, has overcome two of the usual obstacles of compact speakers: sonic scale and weight.

Given that the original still blows us away with its sound high quality, can the new fashion, with the added complexity of Dolby Atmos toughen, achieve additional spaciousness and immersion without having to sacrifice any of the original style’s directness, detail or basic musicality?

The new Beam’s inner structure is a lot the same as its predecessor’s, but the quintet of front-facing drivers are configured into five separate arrays rather than 3. When gazing Atmos content, two of those arrays are devoted to reproducing overhead and encompass sounds. With its enhanced processor power, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 uses psychoacoustic HRTF (head-related transfer serve as) generation to give the impression of peak without the desire for vertical drivers. 

So does the new Beam produce compelling peak results and precisely place sounds in three-dimensional area with out the usage of upward-firing drivers?

Well, genuine overhead sounds are perhaps a stretch too a long way, but there’s more to Dolby Atmos than aeroplanes and helicopters, and we’re happy to document that the Beam Gen 2 handles the layout better than any similarly priced soundbar.

The Beam Gen 2 supplies a more enveloping, spatial soundscape with richer, extra detailed audio as well as tangible motion and intensity. Atmos apart, it sounds improbable, attaining deeper than the Beam Gen 1 with better refinement, a hotter treble, and wider dynamic vary. Where the Beam Gen 1 may skim over positive complicated sounds, the Gen 2 has a better capacity to take them on, consistently resulting in a richer, more nuanced and sundry listening experience.

**Winner: Sonos Beam Gen 2**

Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs Sonos Beam Gen 1: the verdict 

The Award-winning Sonos Beam has constantly fended off all of the competition in its worth bracket annually since its release. Now, simply over 3 years later, its successor appears to have crammed more tech and contours into the similar graceful shell that we’ve come to know and love.

However, the Beam Gen 2 not best lives as much as the top bar set through its predecessor however exceeds it through a margin that greater than justifies its new function set or even its higher price. The resolution by Sonos to use processing power and forward-facing drivers to recreate Dolby Atmos has paid off with capable and effective handling of the layout and knowledgeable handling of motion, depth and house all from within a classic compact design.

**Overall Winner: Sonos Beam Gen 2**

MORE:

Read our Sonos Beam Gen 2 review

Read our Sonos Beam review

Proud owner of a brand new Sonos? Read our 9 Sonos Beam tips, tricks and features

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