The Sonos Arc is a new 5.0.2 Dolby Atmos soundbar that can use the new Sub Gen 3 to make it 5.1.2.
This is the first Sonos product to support Dolby Atmos and points to a new direction for this iconic brand.
Sonos tends to make a product and stick with it. Perhaps we should have given it called it Gen 1 postnominal. Sonos try to build a high level of longevity into their products, focusing on software updates to add more features. Most of its older products will update to S2 software, leaving a few legacy products that simply don’t have the processing power on S1.
The Sonos ARC has
So, let’s begin by defining 5.0.2
Dolby Atmos is usually 5.1 format (although you may see it in 7.1.4 that adds two rear forward and upwards firing speakers as well).
Offset speakers allow for what we like to call psychoacoustic trickery – hacking your ears to make you think sounds are coming from places all around you. In part that effectiveness requires a certain degree of bouncing off the sidewalls and the ceiling.
For iOS users, you can use Trueplay software on an iPhone to tune the device to the room acoustics. Users familiar with room calibration, and media area will notice the sound reflective surfaces, so this is a pretty cool setup.
How does Dolby Atmos work?
Users must have Dolby Atmos content to start with – Blu-ray or streaming from Netflix et all.
The Sonos Arc 2020 supports via eARC uncompressed PCM stereo (2.0) and Dolby formats
Sonos is almost puritanical about providing sound as the author intended it – not synthesised sound. So, it does not support ‘simulated’ surround sound like DTS:X, DTS Virtual: X, DTS HD and PCM multichannel audio. When it does not get Dolby content, it reverts to PCM 2.0, and the up-firing speakers produce more low-end frequencies.
When you play Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 or 5.1 content (test rig is a Sony UBP-700 Blu-ray and a Sony Bravia OLED A9G), the TV passes the sound via HDMI eARC to the soundbar. Note that it does not have other HDMI inputs so you must connect all content devices to the TV.
Priced at $1,499, Sonos Arc 2020 has some tough competition that, on paper has higher specs and more features.
The S2 (beta) app controls the setup, and you can then add media servers, music services etc.