We’ve known that Sonos has been working on a new smart home theater speaker ever since the company’s FCC filings back in March, and today the company did just that: meet the Sonos Beam ($399). It’s a smaller and cheaper soundbar than the Sonos Playbar. It’s also smarter, coming with a five-microphone array that supports Alexa voice commands (like the Sonos One) and will eventually work with Siri when AirPlay 2 support comes this July.
The Sonos Beam is really designed for smaller homes or younger families who are shopping for a starter speaker, that’ll play music in their TV or living room and also audio from their home’s TV. It’s 60-percent smaller and $300 cheaper than a Playbar, and like other Sonos speakers, you’ll be able to group the Sonos Beam with other Sonos speakers in a multi-room system. As for the actual speaker specs, the Sonos Beam has three channels — left, right and center — and can very simply be upgraded to a 5.1 surround sound system with the addition two Sonos Ones (or two Play:1s) and a Sonos Sub.
Maybe biggest difference with the Sonos Beam compared to the Playbar and Playbase, other than voice control, is that it has an HDMI port rather than an optical port, which allows the Sonos Beam to better control your TV. By asking Alexa (and eventually Siri and Google Assistant), you’ll be able to turn the TV on and off, as well as adjust the TV’s volume. You’ll be able to adjust the volume using your TV’s remote and the Sonos Beam won’t get confused, either. For older TVs that may not have an HDMI port, or for people who don’t want to use one of their TV’s precious HDMI ports on a soundbar, Sonos will also ship with an optical to HDMI adapter with the speaker.
Meet Sonos Beam: The smart compact soundbar for your favorite TV shows, movies, music, podcasts, and pretty much everything else you want to listen to. Beam ships July 17 for $399. You can pre-order it today. Learn more: https://t.co/LmfN0uM5I3 pic.twitter.com/zICm6fDnRX
— Sonos (@Sonos) June 6, 2018
The Sonos Beam was the star attraction of today’s event, but Sonos also reiterated its committed to working with all voice control assistants. All “new” Sonos speakers — meaning the Sonos One, the second-gen Play:5, the Playbase and the Sonos Beam — already have Alexa support, and they’ll get AirPlay 2 support this July. Google Assistant support is also coming, although Sonos still hasn’t announced a release date. And to demonstrate how they’ll all work together, Sonos’s VP of software, Antoine Leblond, gave a pretty cool demo by asking Siri to play a song and then asking Alexa what song was playing…and it worked. This cross-platform voice control promises to pertain to the Sonos Beam, as well, so anybody will be able to come into your home and control your music or TV using the voice assistant of their choice, either Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, which sounds pretty neat.
The thing to remember is that the Sonos Beam’s voice controls are still contingent on your smart devices and what services you subscribe to. For example, if you have an Amazon Fire TV (or Fire TV streaming stick) and a Prime Video subscription, you’ll be able to summon a specific show right to your TV by asking Alexa. While Apple TV users might not be able to directly summon specific shows with their voice, especially at launch; things tend to get complicated when you get voice assistants controlling things they aren’t used to controlling. These are the types of things we’re looking to test out when we get our hands on a Sonos Beam.
The Sonos Beam is available for pre-order today and ships July 17.
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