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Sonos Arc review

The Sonos Arc is the best soundbar for audiophiles

Sonos Arc review
(Image: © Sonos)

Our Verdict

The Sonos Arc ($799) is premium in every sense — with its precise tuning software and Dolby Atmos support, it’s the best soundbar for Sonos fans that can afford it.

For

  • Attractive, curved design
  • Clear vocals and focused sound
  • Strong, Sonos-quality bass
  • Alexa and Google Assistant built-in
  • Meshes with existing Sonos systems

Against

  • Expensive
  • Very large
Sonos Arc: Specs

Price: $799
Ports: Ethernet, HDMI ARC/eARC
Speakers: 11 drivers, 3 tweeters, 8 custom woofers
Smart assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant
Wireless: 2.4/5 GHz, Bluetooth
Size: 45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches
Weight: 13.78 pounds

Sonos is looking to make soundbars a style statement with the massive Sonos Arc. As the name suggests, the Arc’s 270-degree, C-shaped grille promises the brand’s signature audio quality for Dolby Atmos formats and premium home entertainment experiences. But the cinema-caliber soundbar comes at a premium $799 price, too.

The Sonos Arc replaces the three-year-old Sonos Playbase (and the seven-year-old Sonos Playbar) as the company’s soundbar flagship and as the luxury choice on our list of best soundbars overall. Although the cost could intimidate shoppers on a budget, it delivers everything Sonos customers have come to expect from the audio savant in the company’s most attractive package yet. 

It also marks the debut of the all-new Sonos S2 app, which is available to download now.

Sonos Arc: Price and availability

The Sonos Arc costs $799 and is available as of this writing. 

The Sonos Playbase and Sonos Playbar are officially discontinued. Sonos offers a trade-up program for replacing older devices, but it has not announced if or when either older soundbars will be eligible.

Sonos Arc: Design

The Sonos Arc wants to be noticed. It measures a mighty 45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches, but weighs a manageable 13.78 pounds. So as large as it looks, it’s light enough for one person to transport and set up. 

Sonos Arc

(Image credit: Sonos Arc)

But you might find it overwhelms any TV screen smaller than 65-inches — we tested with the 2020 Sony A8H OLED and the Arc still teetered on clownishly large by comparison. In terms of placement, your best bet will be to place the soundbar on an entertainment center or mount it beneath your mounted TV. The Sonos Arc won’t fit beneath most sets standing on feet. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The curved, perforated grille and elliptical form of the Arc falls into the company’s newer look, moving away from a rounded rectangular design. 

Sonos Arc review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The soundbar comes in matte black and white finishes, both of which have a subtle Sonos logo in the center, as well as a small LED that indicates the microphone status. Based on the ambient light of the room, the LED adjusts to limit distraction.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Capacitive volume and pause/play controls are on the top side Arc, while on the back there’s a concave port array with options for ethernet and HDMI ARC/eARC connections. 

Sonos Arc: New Sonos app, set up and tuning

To set up the Sonos Arc, you’ll need the new Sonos S2 app. S2 is a redesigned version of the existing Sonos app with support for 2020 Sonos hardware, like the Arc. Users with older systems can stick to the Sonos app they use now or transfer their accounts to the new app for a refreshed interface.

Sonos Arc review

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Arc benefits from two software-based tuning features: Phasing rays and time alignment TruePlay. The phasing rays work like noise-cancelling headphones, but at room scale to focus sound. TruePlay is available for Sonos speakers, as described in our ‘What is Sonos?’ guide, but now it factors in reflection of the ceiling. The Arc tunes to a room by making sure audio waves reach all walls at the same time, even in spaces with higher ceilings or where the entertainment system is off-center. We think audiophiles will appreciate this degree of calibration more than the average user.

You will need to use the S2 to conduct manual tuning tests via the Arc’s four far-field microphones. Though this only took us a few minutes, we wish it supported the Auto TruePlay feature we raved about in our Sonos Move review.

Once you’ve tuned the Arc, you can connect to your TV and remote for streamlined control. For Dolby Atmos and other high-fidelity listening, you’ll want to pair the soundbar to an ARC or eARC-enabled set or streaming device.

Sonos Arc: Performance

Whether you use the Arc to power your at-home cinema or DJ your next get-together, you’ll benefit from eleven high-performance drivers (including two that are upward firing) and three tweeters (two side-firing and 1 front-facing for dialog.) The Arc also offers 8 custom elliptical woofers, with 4 forward-firing, 2 reflecting upwards on the ceilings and 1 shooting sideways out of each end.

Sonos Arc

(Image credit: Sonos Arc)

The Playbase only had six midrange drivers, three tweeters and one woofer. Needless to say, the Arc is a beast by comparison and has the sound to prove it. 

Listening to a Planet Earth on Blu-Ray with Dolby Atmos was an enthralling experience. As I sat in an echoey basement, it felt as though I actually stood in the woods, surrounded by rustling forestry and scurrying critters while soft winds soared past our ears. The whistle of a bird or drip of dew drew my attention back towards the soundbar, showing its skill for intentional, room-filling audio. The Arc also includes a speech enhancement feature that strengthens the clarity of dialogue, which in the case of Planet Earth’s narrator, created an ethereal effect. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sonos is known for exquisitely balanced bass, and I’m happy to report the Arc is no exception. At every volume level — and let us tell you, the Arc gets loud — Kayne West and Jay-Z's "No Church in the Wild" infectiously thumped just like it should, causing my living room to vibrate and complementing the song's cinematic style.

The Sonos Arc works like any of the best smart speakers when the TV is off. Whether you control it via the S2 App or AirPlay 2, you’re able to stream audio from all your preferred services.

Sonos Arc: Smart home features

The Arc’s built-in microphones can be used to summon Alexa and Google Assistant. Like any of the best Alexa speakers or best Google Home speakers, the soundbar is able to offer a weather report and control smart home devices, such as lights and locks. However, calling and Drop In is not supported.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Still, the Arc certainly makes its case to become one of the best smart home devices for home entertainment. It even competes in-brand with our top smart speaker pick, the Sonos One. Similar to the One, when the Arc is in range, you can use your voice to turn on your TV, adjust the volume and launch your favorite tunes — perfect for when you don’t feel like shuffling through blankets or couch cushions for your remote. 

Sonos Arc: Verdict

If you’re a Sonos fan with some money to spend, you won’t find a more satisfying soundbar than the Arc. Its Dolby Atmos support and speech enhancement feature bring the movie theater experience to your living room, plus it looks sleeker than a lot of its competitors.

That is, if you have the entertainment setup to support its massive body. The Arc is designed for larger spaces and larger TV screens. You should consider the Bose Soundbar 500 if you want a premium smart soundbar for a small or mid-size room. It costs less at $499, too. But for serious Sonos fans with whole-home systems, the Arc will prove itself worthwhile.