The Arc is the new soundbar from Sonos, which is an update on the previous high end soundbar from Sonos, the Playbar. The Playbar is the orignal speaker that put Sonos on the map as a speaker maker. As good as the Playbar was, the Arc is definitely a bigger, better, and louder design. It also adds more modern features such as voice control, and the sound quality is even better. At $799 retail price, it is not an inexpensive offering, but it is worth it for those who don’t want to compromise on the quality of their soundbar.
Updates On the Playbar
The Arc is clearly meant to be an improvement on the original soundbar from Sonos, the Playbar. To start with, the Playbar only has nine total speakers, while the Arc has eleven. The Playbar has six mid-range circular woofers, while the Arc has eight elliptical woofers. The elliptical woofers are not always necessarily better than circular, but they do tend to handle the mid-range better and allow a bit more versatility. They have also allowed Sonos to kick up the punch of the Arc vs the Playbar.
While the Playbar handles speech pretty well, the Arc handles it even better. While the number of tweeters are the same, the Arc has improved silk domed tweeters designed with input from award-winning Hollywood sound experts. A feature taken from the Beam which is helpful, night sound mode blunts the loudest noises so you won’t wake up the whole house if you are watching television or a movie on the Arc.
The Arc is significantly bigger than the Playbar. The Playbar was 35 inches long, by about 3.3 inches by about 5.5 inches. The Arc is almost 30% longer. It is about 44 inches long, by 3.4 inches by 4.5 inches. The added length is to handle the increased number of speakers, and the elliptical shapes are longer than round woofers. Luckily, this added length did not add too much weight, with the Arc gaining less than 2 pounds over the Playbar to a total of just under 14 pounds.
The Arc also brings some new, more modern features to the table. You can play sound on there using Apple AirPlay 2. The Arc is also intelligent, and can be voice controlled. Google Assistant and Alexa come already built in and included. A far-field microphone array is very sensitive to your voice so that the assistant does not miss anything when you address it.
The Arc also comes equipped with a modern surround sound technology called Dolby Atmos. This surround sound technology gives the listener a huge depth of sound so that they feel like they are immersed in the action.
The Arc is even more expensive than the Playbar. The Playbar was originally $699, and was reduced to $599 prior to being discontinued. The Arc debuts at a hefty $799 putting it well ahead of other soundbar offerings from competitors like Bose. The quality and technology in the Arc is definitely higher, but consumers will need to decide whether the upgraded sound and tech is worth the higher price.
Arc Vs Beam
The Arc and the Beam have a lot of the same technology inside, but the Arc is bigger and better. The Beam only has 5 speakers vs the Arc’s 11. The Beam is meant for televisions under 50″, while the Arc is meant for larger TVs. The size of the TV is really less important than the size of the room though. The Arc can fill a bigger space, has more depth to the sound, and is louder. Both come with HDMI and optical cable hookups, which allows them to be easily connected to your TV.
If you are looking for cinematic sound, the Arc is definitely your speaker over the Beam. While the Beam is an improvement over built in television speakers, it does not have a whole lot of bass or sound depth, leaving it best paired with other speakers in a surround sound system.