7 ways the Sonos Arc 2 can beat the new wave of Dolby Atmos soundbars

7 ways the Sonos Arc 2 can beat the new wave of Dolby Atmos soundbars

The inevitable follow-up can improve on the original in lots of ways. Even though several new competitors have entered the market since the Sonos Arc’s launch in 2020, it still ranks among the top soundbars available today. Many of the newest models do outperform the Arc in certain respects, like as better connectivity, lower price, or richer Dolby Atmos effect, but none have actually outperformed it in terms of overall value.

Still, you have to anticipate that someone will eventually succeed in delivering a product that is an even better Dolby Atmos soundbar than the current Arc. This may be the Sonos Arc 2.

Although there haven’t been any credible reports regarding a successor to the Sonos Arc (and Sonos has been notoriously leaky lately), one is undoubtedly on Sonos’ mind and most likely sitting on its engineers’ desks.

It took three years from the first Sonos Beam soundbar to the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), so we believe 2023 is a possible year for a new Sonos Arc. The present Sonos Arc is still extremely modern in terms of its features, so we don’t expect a Sonos Arc 2 release date in 2022.

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So what should change in the Sonos Arc 2? If the current model is still selling so well and gets a strong recommendation from us, is there anything that really needs to change?

Well, yes – nothing’s perfect, after all. So here are seven things we’d like to see in the Sonos Arc 2, if it’s to stay ahead of the rapidly improving competition.

Auto Trueplay room tuning

The Sonos app can use the microphone on your iPhone to listen to how your particular room arrangement reflects sounds so that its speakers can adjust their output to compensate. Sonos has long offered Trueplay room tuning for its speakers. Theoretically, this should result in more precise and dynamic audio, and we have found it to be successful, as seen in our reviews of the Sonos Five and Sonos Ray.

However, the drawback is that it only functions on iPhones, thus Android users are left out. Additionally, it is annoying that if you significantly reorganize your room, you must repeat the process in order to get the adjusted sound right.

However, in the Sonos Move, the company introduced Automatic Trueplay, where mics built into the speaker itself are used to listen to the reflections in the room live, and adapt the sound to compensate. The same system is used in the Sonos Roam.

We therefore hope that will be available for the Sonos Arc 2. Similar automatic room correction is already used by several manufacturers, including Samsung’s newest soundbars like the HW-Q990B. Since not everyone has an iPhone, Sonos’ technology should be made standard.

Smaller size

The first Sonos Arc is quite tall. Its spherical form makes it a beast by any soundbar standard, and it’s also quite deep. Its breadth, which is roughly equal to a 55-inch TV, is excellent, but if you use it with a TV with low feet, it may obscure the bottom of the screen. It can also be a tight fit if your TV stand isn’t very deep.

Of course, Sonos fits a lot of speakers in there, but other soundbars achieve the same thing without taking up as much room. There are speakers that have even more pronounced Dolby Atmos effects without taking up as much space, so we’re not saying it needs to be as ridiculously small as the Samsung HW-S800B (which is about a quarter of the volume for the soundbar). However, it’d be nice if the Arc 2 could maintain a slightly lower profile.

Crisper height and side sound

The Sonos Arc is no longer a market leader for overhead and side sound effects, as was already mentioned. While the Sonos Arc’s overall sound balance is still excellent, it’s a shame that the height element hasn’t remained at the top of the pack in the same way as other models have in the years since their launches. Other models have launched with greater precision in the sound field for height and width.

We therefore hope that the Sonos Arc 2 will astound us with Dolby Atmos placement, whether it’s a new signal processor for virtual surround or a change in the angle or design of the drivers themselves (or, perhaps, both).

It’d be very interesting if Sonos went the route of including a third central upfiring channel, just like the LG S80QY does, for better detail and positioning – but we think that’s unlikely.

It’s also important to note that, while technically not a feature of the Sonos Arc 2, we expect that Sonos will also release a wireless rear speaker option with upfiring drivers, allowing us to have a Sonos 5.1.4 system. That would be more like a Sonos One… 2? Sonos 2? Sonos 1.1? Perhaps a brainstorm is necessary for that name.

More bass

The Sonos Arc’s status as an all-in-one soundbar is one of the factors contributing to its popularity. It doesn’t come with a subwoofer, but the bar’s bass performance is sufficient for the majority of purchasers. However, in our opinion, the bass isn’t quite adequate.

There is a distinct and audible improvement in the depth of the sound when a soundbar is used in conjunction with even a mediocre subwoofer. The more realistic the scream of a motor engine, the resonance of a piano, or the crash of a wave sound when there is actual bass underneath it, not if you want the room to tremble.

The long-running rumors of a Sonos Sub Mini will offer one option for correcting this alongside the Sonos Arc 2, but we hope that Sonos will also be able to add deeper bass into the main unit, so that it can remain an excellent all-in-one.

The best bass we’ve heard from a soundbar is the Devialet Dione, but that’s a big, big soundbar and is twice the price of the Sonos Arc, so we don’t want to go too far in that direction… but there’s a balance to be found here, with more bass in roughly the same kind of size.

HDMI 2.1 passthrough

Since Sonos consistently asserts that it is devoted to keeping things simple for customers by just providing one audio connector on its products, we believe this is improbable.

To avoid having to give up one of their valuable three or four HDMI ports to the soundbar, a high-end soundbar like the Sonos Arc 2 truly needs to include at least one HDMI passthrough port. A family that enjoys movies and video games could wish to hook up a PS5, an Apple TV 4K, a Nintendo Switch OLED, and a 4K Blu-ray player to one TV. Something must be sacrificed if the soundbar takes up one slot. You’re good to go if the soundbar has a passthrough.

This is typical for the majority of soundbars, and the far less expensive Philips B8905 soundbar even offers two HDMI connections in addition to one for the TV, so you wind up having more ports than you did at the beginning.

We’ll make do with just one HDMI passthrough. However, in order to properly set the Sonos apart from the competition, we’d like it to enable HDMI 2.1. In addition to 4K HDR video, this includes support for Variable Refresh Rate and 4K 120Hz. Let’s go, Sonos! The Sony HT-A7000 includes an HDMI 2.1 connection.

Totally wireless connectivity

If we’re not going to get an HDMI passthrough port, then let’s go to the next big thing. Why sport a cable connection at all? Sonos is already the master of seamless wireless sound, so it makes sense.

There are two big options here: offer an HDMI-connected transmitter as an optional extra (it’d be nice if it were in the box by default, but let’s be realistic); or work with TV makers on connecting wirelessly directly to the TVs themselves.

The wireless accessory certainly seems within Sonos’ wheel house – it’s made the Sonos Port before, to do a similar thing for hi-fi equipment. And LG is offering this for its latest soundbars, so it’s not like it’s an unprecedented concept.

Working with TV makers would be more complicated, but we think Sonos has something like this in motion – Sonos is claimed to be working on its own smart TV platform, and we think the main reason it would do this is to integrate wireless connectivity for its hardware. We suspect that Sonos won’t end up launching its own platform, but is more likely to partner with someone like Roku, so that if you’re using a Roku Streaming Stick or Roku TV, you can just beam your sound out to Sonos products.

Full DTS support

Let’s end with a nerdy one. DTS sound is the big rival to Dolby sound, and Sonos doesn’t support it totally – the Arc doesn’t include support for the higher-quality DTS:X or DTS-HD MA formats that are equivalent to the latest Dolby formats. 

It doesn’t matter too much to most of us – Dolby has a stranglehold on the streaming services, so as long as there’s Dolby support, most of what we watch is covered.

But high-quality DTS sound has been used on Blu-ray for a long time, and for those with disc collections, having real support for the best sound they can offer is important. We hope the Sonos Arc 2 will throw those people a bone, because they’re exactly the kind of people who’ll spend on premium products like Sonos’.

We don’t expect all of these things to be part of the Sonos Arc 2, but they’re what we’re hoping for – and they’d certainly make the next version an ideal soundbar to pair with the best TVs to come next year, and in the future.

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