Let me preface this blog with a hard truth. I don’t know a thing about audio. I’m not technologically advanced like some of my friends. I just know what I think sounds good and what doesn’t. This review is to let you know if the Sonos Beam is a man cave essential.
After years of telling my wife I was going to hang the television, I finally did. Although it looks atheistically pleasing I noticed that the audio was significantly suffering now that it was against the wall. I wanted something that was going to look good and perform even better. There’s not a large gap between my mantle and the television so size was also a big factor.
I did some research on soundbars with the specific size requirements I needed for the mantle and landed between the Bose SoundTouch 300 and the Sonos Beam, both with a $399 price tag. Although I have several Bose products, I decided to try something new and go with Sonos. My parent outfitted their house in Sonos equipment and have raved about the performance and ease of use so I figured straying from what I’m used to won’t be that big of a deal.
Out of The Box
I purchased the white model and out of the box, the Beam looks amazing. The clean, sleek design is perfect. The front is a nice grey fabric mesh that I like but I’m wondering how that’s going to hold up to dirt and dust over time. This is a bit of a nitpick but I ordered white because the mantle and wall the tv on is white, so I’m a little disappointed that the cords are black.
*UPDATE – I contacted Sonos about the white power cord and they offered to send me one for free. I do find it a little odd that they sell the white cord and don’t offer it with the white product, but either way, great customer service to offer to send me one.
Now on to set up, which Sonos prides its self on. When I say it couldn’t be easier, it’s not an exaggeration. I was instructed to download the Sonos App for detailed step by step instructions on setting up. After setting up an account, the first step is plugging the Beam into a power outlet and to the TV. To what some audiophiles consider a determinate to the Beam, it only has a single HDMI port to connect to your TVs HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) port. I can see why this could be a problem for some. For those with an older model TV without ARC, TV with limited HDMI ports, or someone who likes to plug in other devices like an XBOX directly into the soundbar I can see why the Beam may cause frustration. If your TV does not have an ARC port and you’re running out of HDMI ports, the Beam does come with an HDMI to Optical adapter.
After plugging into power and into the TVs ARC port, the Sonos app finds the device and instructs you to add it to your room. Once added the app uses Sonos TruPlay to tune the device to the specific room you are setting up in. I thought this was pretty cool, it took about 3 minutes to walk around the room using my phone to send signals back and forth the Beam.
After a quick setup came the most important factor of the buy, performance. To do a proper test I like to put on an action movie that is going to have loud scenes but also includes a lot of dialogue. I was presently surprised how much of a punch the Beam was packing. Explosions and loud scenes sounded fantastic, this exceeded my expectations.
There was one area I noticed the Beam lacking in. The action scenes sounded great but I wasn’t impressed with the dialogue. It was so poor during louder scenes that I actually paused the movie and researched if I had a defective device. I came across a toggle option I didn’t know about called “Speech Enhancement.” I have no idea why this is an option and not a default setting (if you know the answer leave a note in the comments) but to me, if you’re buying a soundbar you want the audio the best it can be out of the box. After toggling on the Speech Enhancement I did notice a difference, but truthfully, not one that I was overly impressed with.
Now, this last item is definitely me just a silly nitpick but I think Sonos needs to come up with automatic updates. In the month that I’ve had the Beam, I have had to update the soundbar twice. I don’t sit in the Sonos App every day so I don’t want to just stumble upon performance updates. The app either needs to update itself or alert me that an update is available (like every other piece of tech in 2020)
I’m pleasantly surprised by the performance of Sonos Beam. It is a substantial improvement from my television’s internal audio system. It’s small in size but definitely packs a punch. From watching TV, movies, and listening to music I’m really impressed with the sound quality. The added benefit of having Alexa built-in is also a really nice feature.
So the question remains, is the Sonos Beam a Man Cave Essential? Honestly it’s going to depend on your budget, your needs, and where you’re using it but I’m going to say YES. After messing with the settings and configuring everything for my living room, I can say that this meets all of my expectations and I’m very happy with the purchase.
Over time I’m going to piece together the full surround sound set with the Sub and One SLs. I’ll let you know if I think it’s worth it.
If you enjoyed this review on the Sonos Beam, check out our Man Cave Essential Review on the Lovesac, Citysac!