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Sonos Arc soundbar review – add stunning Dolby Atmos to your home viewing experience

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  • VERDICT

Sonos is on a winner with the new Arc soundbar which packs in the company’s signature sound quality and wireless versatility into one attractive unit.

Arc isn’t the first Sonos soundbar – but it is without a doubt its best by far. It offers stunning quality and versatility as your home entertainment companion when watching TV and listening to music.

The Arc soundbar stays true to its Sonos roots both in terms of connectivity and audio innovation so fans of the brand will feel right at home.

First thing you’ll notice is the slick minimal design – it has a sweeping 270-degree curved front panel (that’s why it’s called Arc) that offers a seamless look.

It’s available in black or white so it can easily blend into your home’s décor.

For our review, we had the black Sonos Arc which we connected to an LG OLED TV with a single supplied HDMI cable into the HDMI eARC port so you can control the Arc’s volume using your TV’s remote control.

OK, it looks good and we’re connected – but now it’s time to get the show on the road.

Set-up is fairly straightforward through the Sonos app and it takes a few steps to either add Arc to your existing Sonos portfolio or configure it as your first Sonos speaker.

And it’s at this point where you get to choose whether you’d prefer Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant – yes you can control Arc with your voice so it’s a smart speaker as well.

Our favourite voice command was adjusting the volume so you don’t have to reach for the remote.

There are also touch controls on top of the Arc to adjust the volume if you’re close enough.

The unit was almost the width of our 65-inch LG OLED TV – it’s about 1.1m long – and it was shallow enough to rest in front of the TV without impeding the screen.

You can also link Arc to a Sonos Sub and Sonos surround speakers to create an even bolder surround sound effect.

But we went solo with the Sonos Arc and we were pleasantly surprised with the results.

On its own the Arc can provide virtual 5.0.2 surround sound and Dolby Atmos through the 11 onboard drivers firing from the front, top and sides of the soundbar.

Users can also optimise the Arc soundbar for their room with TruePlay tuning feature that works for people with the iPhone Sonos app (sorry Android).

We set up the Sonos Arc in a fairly large open plan room and the result was really impressive with the right content.

Naturally watching movies with 5.1 and 7.1 surround is a good start and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack makes things even more interesting.

We gave the Star Wars movies on 4K disc a send around and, thanks to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack (you don’t get that when streaming the Star Wars movies on Disney+) we were enveloped with sound.

When watching a non-Dolby Atmos movie, the sounds were coming from the sides and even behind us in excellent quality although it would have been better if we were in a smaller room.

In our case the Arc was trying to fill a larger space and, while it was still impressive, it did lose a little impact.

Dolby Atmos movies provided a much more enjoyable experience with a whole new layer of sound added and swirling around our heads and even dropping down on top of us.

The Death Star trench run in Star Wars A New Hope was particularly memorable with Dolby Atmos.

And the opening attack on the HMS Surprise in Master and Commander was a great demo of the virtual surround sound. It was incredible for a soundbar to recreate that audio.

It’s not quite as good as our dedicated home theatre which has multiple speakers but still powerful enough to give you goose bumps.

And even without a subwoofer, the Arc still had plenty of bass to offer – a lot more than we expected – and it still put the punch in a lot of action scenes.

Several Netflix titles with Dolby Atmos were also memorable but for added quality from the Sonos Arc you can’t beat watching Blu-ray and 4K discs because of the added bandwidth and higher bit rate which means you’re getting lossless audio and better audio and video synchronisation.

To our ears it just sounded a little more solid.

You can only hear Dolby Atmos with a HDMI connection so if your TV doesn’t support HDMI ARC (audio return channel) you can also connect with an optical cable and you’ll still get decent surround sound.

As a pure audio speaker to stream music through the Sonos app, Arc also punches above its weight with a really pleasing sound.

One minor complaint was not having a numerical value for the volume to see where we were at and have a guide to the limit before we’re told to turn it down.

The Sonos Arc is also expensive at $1,399. Not as expensive as the Sennheiser AMBEO which is $3999 but that’s also a lot better than the Sonos Arc.

And that $1,399 for the Sonos Arc does not include the Sub – that’s an extra $999.

For the money you are getting a great solution and, for a Sonos fan, buying the Arc will probably be a reflex action.

The Sonos Arc is a great way to enhance your home viewing experience and also has the added benefit of being the one of the best smart speakers you can buy as well.

It goes on sale on June 10.

VERDICT

Sonos is on a winner with the new Arc soundbar which packs in the company’s signature sound quality and wireless versatility into one attractive unit.