Audio

Sleek soundbar is easy to set up

The Sonos Beam is capable of rich, full and powerful sound.
The Sonos Beam is capable of rich, full and powerful sound.

Modern-day flat-screen televisions typically lack good sound quality because there is no space for powerful speakers to be built in them, making it necessary to invest in a soundbar to further amp up the sound and make watching shows that much more enjoyable.

The latest soundbar in audio brand Sonos' line-up, the Sonos Beam, fits the bill, providing excellent sound quality; clean, sleek looks; and easy set-up.

The Beam is Sonos' most affordable soundbar, providing a good bang for the buck. The next alternatives up on Sonos' soundbar range are the Playbase and Playbar, which are both priced at $1,299 - almost double the Beam's price.

The Beam works great as an all-in-one system that does away with the complicated process of setting up a full home theatre system with messy wires and cables.

All you have to do is connect it to your television via HDMI and set it up.

It is not entirely fuss-free, as you still have to set the Beam up using the Sonos smartphone app - this takes a while - but the overall convenience Sonos provides with the Beam is a huge intangible benefit for consumers who want to just plug and play.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $699

    SPEAKERS: Six mid-range, three tweeters, one woofer

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Beam also doubles as a smart assistant to turn your television off, so it requires an HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) port or an optical port on the television to send information to. Make sure your TV has those ports before committing to the Beam.

The Beam is capable of rich, full and powerful sound, which will complement any television set. The bass is strong and sonorous, making action movies and music sound all the more exciting, while trebles and highs, including speech, are crystal-clear.

For its price, however, Sonos has to cut some corners and the Beam unfortunately does not come with Dolby Atmos support. Thus, surround sound is lacking.

Since Sonos has perfected the multi-speaker formula with its existing range of wireless speakers, the Beam also gives users who have other Sonos speakers the flexibility of adding on multiple speakers in a modular manner.

The main differentiating point of the Beam is its integrated voice assistant support, which comes with Amazon Alexa right out of the box.

This functionality is useless here, however, as there is no official way of downloading the Amazon app in Singapore to set up Alexa, which cuts off a key function of the Beam for consumers here.

Sonos has promised since the start of the year that the Beam and its other products will provide support for Google Assistant, but that has yet to happen.

I appreciate the flexible options the Beam has that can be accessed through the Sonos App. Night Mode, for instance, dampens loud noises like sudden explosions, which lets me watch an action movie like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) past midnight without fretting that those sudden spikes in audio level would disturb the neighbours.

There is also Speech Enhancement, which boosts the volume of dialogue. This is a feature I left turned on from the start and never switched off because it is so useful.

• Verdict: The Sonos Beam impresses right out of the box with its combination of affordability, clean looks, easy set-up and all-round good sound.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2018, with the headline 'Sleek soundbar is easy to set up'. Print Edition | Subscribe