One of the biggest reasons to get the Sonos Arc — a $899 premium soundbar — is that it supports Dolby Atmos. This spatial audio technology can produce 360-degree 3D audio using just your soundbar. While a true surround sound home theater setup can still outperform Atmos, the bubble of sound created by Atmos gives your A/V setup a serious upgrade without needing tons of equipment.
But it seems that Atmos isn’t working as promised on the Arc. Tom Warren from The Verge is one of the latest to run into issues with Dolby Atmos on the Sonos Arc, but he’s not alone. For years, Sonos Arc owners have complained about “extremely loud pop sound[s]” on Sonos’ community forum. We didn’t run into any such issues in our testing when we reviewed the Sonos Arc, but clearly, this is not an isolated incident.
And Sonos is aware of the problem. In its response to The Verge, Sonos said “We are aware that a small percentage of customers have experienced an interoperability issue which is causing a popping sound on Arc.” This is similar to comments that it has left in response to the now 1,000+ reply thread on its community forum.
What causes Sonos Arc to ‘pop’ — and how to fix it
Unfortunately, nobody seems to know exactly what causes the loud popping sound on the Sonos Arc. While it is aware of the issue, Sonos still has not figured out a fix for the issue or been able to consistently replicate it in its own testing.
It’s also not just limited to particular devices. While both Tom Warren and the original forum post both claim issues specifically when using an Xbox — in Warren’s case, specifically an Xbox Series X — Sonos has said that “Some users have reported it with in-built TV apps, so it is not limited to X-Box and Apple TV owners.”
And if you thought that this was bad news, it gets worse. The only current solution to fixing the loud pop is to disable Dolby Atmos entirely.
Warning: The video in the embedded tweet below shows the 'pop' in action and it is very loud. Please set your volume to a reasonable level before listening.
Sonos’ $900 Dolby Atmos soundbar has a loud pop issue with the Xbox Series X and Apple TV 4K that’s taking years to fix. This is what it sounds like. More info right here: https://t.co/g5P4S08dCE pic.twitter.com/1kLLJzSTt9August 10, 2023
It doesn’t seem like this is changing soon either despite Sonos being aware of the issue. In the r/Sonos subreddit, Sonos employee KeithFromSonos states that “I hesitate to say a "fix" is in the works. Only because I don't want anyone to get tied to the idea that something is coming "soon".” They stress that “The team has been and is actively working towards a solution” but it seems that Sonos’s difficulty in recreating the popping sound is preventing a permanent solution from being implemented. Well, at least one that would let you still use Dolby Atmos.
So for now, proceed with caution before buying a Sonos Arc soundbar. Again, we had no issues in our testing, and Sonos claims the issue is limited to a small number of customers, but there’s no way to guarantee that your Arc soundbar wouldn’t develop this issue — possibly after it's too late to return the soundbar. Which is a shame, because when the Arc works, it’s a great soundbar.