Tech

Sonos Arc Review: Bigger, Bolder, Amazing sound

Is there really any chance that someone reviewing the Sonos Arc is going to have anything bad to say about it? What’s your reason for reading this review?

I don’t think personally it’s to find out how the upward firing speakers compare to those of another brand, or how many watts of power is coming from it.

What I think matters here is – are you a Sonos buyer. Buying a Sonos Arc isn’t just about buying a soundbar, it’s about potentially buying into a much wider ecosystem, or – more importantly, expanding your current Sonos sound system.

If you’ve got a Sonos system, this is the soundbar for you. No ifs, no buts.

For those new to sound systems in the modern age, you’re in for a wild ride.

Sure there are Bluetooth speakers, amazing sound. Sure there are soundbars, epic enhancement on any out of the box TV sound.

But then there’s the WiFi Sound Systems. A system by it’s very nature is a sum of many parts, and Sonos – I’d argue – have been the leader in this space for a very long time. But they are under attack from all sides.

The Sonos Arc out of the box is just something special. In fact – the box itself is special. It’s packaged up so perfectly, and the box is latched shut with these innovative tabs that I’ve simply never seen before. If I’m spending $1,399 this is the kind of buyer experience I want. Tick.

It’s heavy. Like 6.25kg heavy – no, that’s not actually a lot, but for a soundbar I can only think of the Sennheiser Ambeo which would have been heavier – and it’s a beast.

Good sound is heavy. Good speakers are heavy – same for the Sonos Sub, that thing could hold cars back.

Back to the Arc.

There’s no remote control. This is all about being at one with your TV, using the ARC connection (HDMI Audio Return Channel) thus the name, and working with your existing remote. Which it does – a treat.

The only three inputs to this are Ethernet, HDMI ARC and Power.

Plus a microphone built-in means your voice can be an input too – if you wanted to be pedantic.

Paired with Alexa in a snap via the Sonos app (I’m running the Beta of the new S2 app which will come out in time for the Arc’s on sale date), I can now summon all manner of things from controlling my lights to “Play the podcast E-F-T-M” – and she does.

Listening to a Podcast on the Arc is great, but honestly, fire up some music folks.

Link your preferred music service with the Sonos App, and within the Sonos app you can search those services for music. That means you can search Apple Music if that’s your choice, right from the Sonos app.

Personally, I’d prefer to use the Apple Music App, and just use AirPlay to send the sound to the Sonos Arc. It’s a better experience. However, if you’re working together as a family, a couple or a group of mates, perhaps you’re curating a playlist together and can control the playlist better via the Sonos app.

Sit back, pump it up, and wow. Epic.

I was genuinely surprised by the clarity of the sound at some points of my music. In terms of this singular device offering a 5.0 surround experience. Tick, Tick, Tick.

I can hear the sound beside me, in front of me, it really does a great job of the “Surround” experience.

Fire up some serious content and you can get the 5.0.2 “Dolby Atmos” experience also. Sadly I’m ruined by the Ambeo experience which was so impressive I can’t imagine it being replicated – but this does a damn good job.

It’s always a struggle to find the right content to hear the content that’s meant from above, but in some good solid action content there’s a real sense of immersive sound here.

Touch controls allow for pause, play, volume up and down. But that’s it – the rest is done on your smart device.

As a 5.0.2 soundbar, It’s an amazing bit of kit, and I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy with their purchase.

That said, at $1,399 there’s a fair few products out there that will offer you as good or nearly as good sound for a chunk of change in the pocket.

Which is where this becomes a conversation about your plans. Your habits.

If you see this as an extension of, or the start of your Sonos “System” journey. No regrets, this is the Soundbar for you.

I was lucky enough to add two Sonos Ones to the room as well as a Sonos Sub. Now that, that my friends was a home theater experience.

So if you own some Sonos Ones, then this becomes the completion of a fantastic room for you.

If you own other Sonos products this will become your loungeroom music speaker, as well as your TV soundbar.

Think of it this way, if you have a Sonos speaker of any sort that kinda lives in the loungeroom, move it out, make that your kitchen speaker, make the Arc your loungeroom speaker and change your TV viewing experience for the better.

I can’t fault it. Except for the price. It’s costly, but just like our most expensive smartphones, you can feel the quality when you buy it, unpack it, set it up and use it. Plus, this is more than just a Soundbar, it’s made to be part of your home “System”.

Love it.

Sonos Arc Review: Bigger, Bolder, Amazing sound
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