There are plenty of sound bars on the market at the moment, from super-high-end models that cost thousands of dollars from boutique brands, to $99 Black Friday fodder chilling out on the shelves of your local big box store. This week, however Sonos updated its Sound Bar offerings with a new flagship called Arc and it brings the company into the world of Dolby Atmos surround sound audio and waves good bye to the company’s other aging sound bar options.
The $799 Arc draws its named from the 270-degree curved grill that sits over its speaker array, which has 76,000 holes drilled into it. Underneath, you’ll find 11 individual speakers, including a pair of upward firing drivers and one speaker on each end to help create the multi-directional effect.
Even in the age of a simple sound bar, there’s still a lot going on behind-the-scenes to try and get your optimal sound. As per its usual approach, Sonos has tried to sort out as many of the details as possible for you.
For instance, you can attach the Arc to the wall, at which point a magnetic sensor in the device will tell the speaker to tone down the low-end its pumping out to prevent the wall itself from vibrating and causing distracting noise. It’s similar to the process Sonos uses in its Move portable speaker to try and adapt to the environment in which it’s sitting without requiring users to go in and actually tune the settings.
Sonos also helps users navigate the somewhat complicated landscape of surround-sound platforms. The Arc is compatible with Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Atmos. Unless you’re an experienced A/V enthusiast, it’s unlikely you can tell those apart. But, the Arc can and it can adjust accordingly. If Atmos audio signals are unavailable, the Arc can conscript the upward firing speakers to help add more bass since they’re not required to simulate surround sound.
Since Sonos builds wireless audio systems, the Arc can bundle with the Subwoofer, which brings the price all the way up to $1,500 for the setup. But, letting the sub handle the low-end response also frees up the speakers in the sound bar to concentrate on the highs and the mids, which translates into better overall sound.
If you want to go full surround mode, you can add more satellite speakers to the mix, like the One SL, or even the Ikea lamp speakers developed with Sonos. You’ll need a pair of extra speakers to complete the effect and pump out sound from behind the listener.
While this surely looks to be the best Sonos sound bar so far, it has ample competition on the market at the moment, including companies like Vizio, which has been ratcheting up the quality and pushing down its prices in recent years. But, if you’re house is already running a Sonos network, you can finally add Atmos surround sound audio as simply as possible.
The Arc is available for pre-order starting May 12.