The Sonos Arc, Sub Gen 3 and Five speaker point to a new direction but Sonos hastens to add that it will always support older devices to the extent of their hardware capabilities.
For Sonos to remain competitive it needed to change its app and operating system for future generation products. That means to support things like Dolby Atmos, Hi-res music FLAC and MQA and more to come. Arc, Sub Gen 3 and Five speakers are all ‘S2’.
S2 will launch from 8 June and if you have legacy kit that can use it the update will be seamless. In fact, most of its legacy products will be S2 compatible – see the chart below.
It’s the early products that don’t have the processing power – Zone Players (80/90/100/120), CR2000, Bridge, Connect/Amp Gen 1 and Play 5 (Gen 1) that will continue to work on the older S1 app and OS.
Sonos Arc – Enter Dolby Atmos 5.0 out of the box
Website here Price: $1399 or $2398 with the Sub inc free Australian delivery
Availability: 10 June
From: Sonos and major retailers
“Bigger TVs need bigger sound,” says Sonos. The Arc is 114cm long x 11.6cm wide and 8.7cm tall x 6.25kg. The 11 speakers powered by 11 D-Class Amps direct sound upwards, forwards and sideways out of 72000 ‘acoustic holes’. Truplay (requires an iOS device to measure the test tones) tuns the sound to the room.
As you can see from the image below it has eight elliptical full-range speakers, one centre tweeter and two-directional tweeters (beamforming to bounce off walls) as well as the body acting as a passive radiator.
Most interesting is the allocation of two speakers to the centre channel. Sonos says ‘Speech Enhancement’ is to ensure clear and clean dialogue even when the world is exploding around you.
You can add the Sub (Gen 2 or 3) to make it 5.1 but you can’t convert it to 5.1.2 by adding two rear/upwards speakers. You can add Play 1/3/5 as rears, but all they do is reinforce the existing L/R surround stage.
Sonos says that while Dolby Atmos is the main feature Arc is for every genre of movie or music – it does not alter the sound artificially to create a synthetic sound signature.
The Arc can be wall-mounted (brackets extra $99). It has HDMI ARC/eARC/CEC, Wi-FI Google and Alexa voice assistance (far-field mics), Apple AirPlay 2 and can join with other S2 compatible speaker
Offers all S2 functions. Can pair for stereo 2.0 (or add a Sub for 2.1) and works in horizontal and vertical format. The 5 has 3.5mm AUX input as well as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, three mid-woofers, three tweeters and six class D amps