Sonos Arc Soundbar
Larger Size Soundbar for Bigger TV’s & Rooms
11 Speakers Inc Two Facing Upwards for Dolby Atmos
HDMI eARC & Optical Compatibility, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Alexa & Google Voice Control, Apple Airplay 2
About The Sonos Arc Soundbar
The Sonos Arc could very well be the perfect soundbar. It’s a big claim but it seems to have every base covered and then some. With 11 speakers, Dolby Atmos, HDMI eARC, Alexa & Google Voice Control & Apple Airplay 2, Sonos are once again right at the forefront of soundbar technology.
The Arc replaces the Playbar and Playbase, and joins the entry level Beam as the high end soundbar option from Sonos. The Sonos Arc is specifically designed to partner the bigger TVs that are becoming more and more popular, with a width of 114cm making it just a bit wider than a typical modern 49in TV and significantly wider than the outgoing Playbar (90cm).
The Playbar was designed to work in two orientations depending on whether it was wall-mounted or placed on a piece of furniture. The Arc is oriented the same way regardless of positioning (the bespoke Sonos wall-mount is a $99 optional extra) and even automatically adjusts its frequency response accordingly. Once in position, most of what you can see of the Arc is a 273-degree grille that hides the array of front-mounted and up-firing speakers. Each end also features a grille-covered driver. The curvy design of the Arc makes it look rather svelte in pictures, but it is actually 8.5cm tall. That's unlikely to be so high as to encroach on your TV's picture, but it could conceivably block the signals being sent to it by your remote control - at least it could were it not for the integrated IR repeater built in to the Arc
The Arc's status light consists of LEDs that shine through four of the drilled holes above the Sonos logo (there are 76,000 of these holes in total). These LEDs respond to the ambient light in the room so as not to be too bright when the lights are off for movie night. On top of the Arc there is usual touch-sensitive play/pause 'button', which is integrated into the frame and flanked by two context-sensitive touch panels that you'll most often be used to control volume. On the top right there is a microphone button and a single LED that indicates whether the Arc is or isn't listening for Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
Sonos Arc Features
Around the back of the Arc you'll find the power socket, an ethernet connection for wired networking, and a single HDMI port. An optical adapter is included in the box for those with older TVs, but the intention is very much that you use the HDMI and utilise the ARC (Audio Return Chanel) functionality to get the sound from your TV to the Sonos Arc. In fact, unlike the Beam, the Arc supports eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), so that it can handle full Dolby Atmos signals from those TVs that can output it. Sonos points out that there are now more than 25 streaming apps that carry content in Dolby Atmos (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV, to name just four of them), so it's becoming increasingly widespread.
The Arc's Dolby Atmos soundfield is generated by 11 Class D digital amplifiers that power 11 custom drivers. Eight of those drivers are elliptical woofers evolved from those in the Beam (four along the front, two on top and one in each end), while the other three are silk-domed tweeters that are all built into the front but with two firing diagonally into the room. Sonos refers to the Arc's arrangement as 5.0.2, which might initially seem a little confusing but makes more sense when you think of the soundbar as attempting to replicate the soundfield of a five-channel surround sound system with no subwoofer and two height speakers. Of course you can turn that '0' into a '1' with the addition of a Sonos Sub, and other Sonos speakers such as the One SL can be utilised as dedicated surrounds just as they can be with the Beam, Playbar and Playbase.
The Arc uses its array of speakers to bounce sound off your walls and ceiling to create a 3D audio effect, and the sound is once again tailored to your room using Sonos' Trueplay technology. Despite the extra audio plane, the process is identical to that of the Beam: the soundbar outputs a series of test sounds that are measured by your iOS device (unfortunately Android devices still aren't supported), first from the listening position and then as you wander around the room, iDevice in hand.
Bass and treble can also be adjusted in the Sonos app, and the Loudness function can be enabled & disabled too. There's also a Night Sound feature that flattens dynamics and reduces bass, ideal for late-night viewing when you don't want to wake the rest of the household, while Speech Enhancement aims to project dialogue more clearly. On the subject of the app, the Arc will run exclusively on the new Sonos S2 platform. For more information on Sonos S2 please click here. All of your other devices will need to be updated to S2 in order to work with the Arc, and it's worth remembering that some older Sonos devices are entirely incompatible with the new software. While the S2 platform is apparently necessary for the introduction of new features, including the Arc's Dolby Atmos, the actual user experience shouldn’t be very different.
It's easy to play music through the Arc without touching the Sonos app, though. Just like its siblings, it will appear as a playback device in the Spotify and Tidal phone apps, and AirPlay 2 allows for almost any audio to be sent to it from an iOS device. It can also be controlled via Alexa and Google Assistant, with the four far-field microphones that are spaced along the chassis using 'smart signal enhancement and multi-channel echo cancellation for easy voice control, even when the music or TV is blasting'.
Like the Beam, the Arc can also talk to your TV using HDMI-CEC. That means the Arc will turn on and switch to TV audio when you turn on your television, you can increase or decrease the Arc's volume using your TV's remote, and you can turn your TV on using voice commands aimed at the Arc. Add an Amazon Fire TV device or Google Chromecast to your system (plugged into another one of your TV's HDMI sockets) and you can even use the Arc to access specific content using only your voice.
In typical Sonos fashion, the company has taken the same approach here as with previous products, which is to prototype and measure using some of the most advanced audio facilities in the world, and to combine that with real listening by actual human beings.
"It's so much more than just pointing a couple of speakers upward," says Sonos product manager Scott Fink. "Honestly, anyone can do that. For Arc, we really focused on the playback precision of all the channels, including the height channels. We spent months iterating on the curvature of the internal wave guides, revamping Trueplay to account for ceiling distance, angles and acoustics, and spending hundreds of hours tuning Arc with some really talented music, movie and TV creators who all actively produce content in Atmos."
Those creators Scott Fink is referring to form what Sonos calls its Soundboard, which is led by Grammy-winning record producer Giles Martin, and includes creative luminaries such as Chris Jenkins, who has on his mantelpiece Best Sound Oscars for Out Of Africa, Last of the Mohicans, and Mad Max: Fury Road. It's the task of the Soundboard to listen to Sonos products, including the Arc, and ensure that they reproduce their work as they intended it to be heard. In order to deliver on that creative intent, Sonos has always aimed for a fairly neutral tonal balance in its speakers, and the Arc is no different. As Martin puts it, "You don’t want to listen to the speaker, you want to enjoy whatever you’re enjoying, and not think about it - it should be completely natural."
While the Dolby Atmos capabilities of the Arc will be what draw most of the attention, the Arc will still sound terrific with everything you play through it, including music. To aid this, the Arc always utilises all of its drivers, even if the signal it's being fed is standard stereo.
Chris Davies, Sonos' senior director of audio engineering explains that, “Arc creates an ultra-wide soundstage by using highly optimised beam-forming arrays. These arrays bounce sound off of the walls in your room to create a truly immersive sound experience. When the Arc is handling surround sound signals, a five-channel phased array optimises the phase and magnitude of each transducer for better control output at every angle, effectively steering the audio to match what happens on screen. When playing back music through Arc, we’ve used the arrays that we’ve created for home theatre to maximise the music listening experience. The centre array creates a nice centre image, while the left and right arrays create an incredible wide soundstage."
Main Features & Specifications
- Eleven Class-D digital amplifiers perfectly tuned to Arc's acoustic architecture.
- Eight elliptical woofers ensure faithful playback of mid-range and vocal frequencies in addition to rich bass.
- Three precisely-angled silk-dome tweeters create crisp high frequencies and crystal-clear dialogue.
- Far-field microphone array uses advanced beamforming and multi-channel echo cancellation so your voice assistant can be readily activated.
- Trueplay™ software dynamically tunes the speaker to the unique acoustics of the room. iOS device required.
- Adjustable EQ settings in the app, including bass, treble, and loudness.
- Speech Enhancement emphasises the frequencies of the human voice to clarify dialogue.
- Night Sound reduces the intensity of loud sound effects.
- Ethernet Port: 1 10/100 Mbps ethernet port. Wire directly to your router if Wi-Fi is unreliable.
- Wi-Fi: Connects to your home Wi-Fi network with any 802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz broadcast-capable router.
- Sonos S2: Download the latest generation of the app to set up and control. For more information on Sonos S2 please click here.
- Apple AirPlay 2: Works with AirPlay 2 on Apple devices iOS 11.4 and higher.
- Infrared (IR) receiver: Syncs with your TV remote for streamlined control
- Connections: eARC HDMI (also compatible with ARC HDMI), optical (using the supplied adaptor), Ethernet
- Surround format support: Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital+, Dolby Digital
- Voice control: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
- AirPlay 2: Yes
- Bluetooth: No
- Optional Sonos Arc Wall Mount Bracket available. Click here for details.
- Available Finishes: Matte Black & Matte White
- Status LED: Indicates the speaker and microphone status and adjusts based on the ambient light of the room to be visible but not distracting.
- Capacitive Touch Controls: Tap to play, pause, adjust the volume, and mute the microphones. Swipe right to skip ahead or left to revisit a track.
- Wall Bracket: Optional Sonos Arc Wall Bracket available separately
- In The Box: Arc, Power Cable, HDMI Cable, Optical Audio Adapter, QuickStart Guide, Legal & Warranty Information
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 1,141.7 x 87 x 115.7mm
- Weight: 6.25kg
- Manufacturer’s Warranty: 1 Year
Note: Features & Specifications Subject To Change Without Notice. E&OE.