I forgot to review this… – Sonos Arc Soundbar Review

by birtanpublished on October 2, 2020

– Sometimes I can tell I'm dealing with a great product because I can't wait to make a video about it. Other times, it's because I find making the video darn near impossible 'cause every time I sit down to use it, I end up playing with it instead of working. And that's not really what I expected from a soundbar. Like, who even cares about soundbars? If you wanted a clean set up, you'd just use your built-in audio. And if you wanted decent sound quality, you'd buy real speakers. And yet, here we are. Many attempts to write this video that turned into movie watching sessions later,

And I'm finally ready to tell you about my time with the Sonos Arc. A soundbar, that doesn't suck. Today's video is brought to you by Ruggable. Protect your floors from your computer chair with Ruggable, they're machine washable and stay in place with their non-slip pads. Use offer code LINUS10 is 10 to get 10% off your order at the link below. (upbeat music) The last time I formally reviewed a Sonos product, back in 2014, I loved both the style and the seamless software experience. But I was let down by the price,

And the sound quality, which is sort of a bummer for a speaker. Fast forward to today, and immediately upon opening the box, the style was as good or better than last time. The Arc features a clean and modern industrial design that's outstanding for its ability to not stand out and blend in perfectly with its environment, leaving my full attention for my TV. And then things quickly fell apart when I got to the software. As a user of some of Sonos's older home speakers and amplifiers, I was immediately prompted, during my Arc setup, to update to the new S2 version of their app.

And then I was warned that I actually might have to split my older devices and newer ones, according to compatibility. That's not great for a whole home unified ecosystem experience. Making me even more hesitant was the atrocious rating of the S2 app on the Google Play Store. So I actually ended up not even listening to the Arc for the first couple of days while I researched what the impact was gonna be. The thing is, updates on devices like this have a nasty habit of being irreversible. And it didn't work at all

Without going through the setup process. Making matters worse, my enthusiasm for it took another hit when I realized that the Arc has no built in HDMI switch. That's right, it doesn't even have a single HTMI input to replace the eARC one that it occupies in your TV. That takes me down from five total inputs, with my previous LG soundbar, to just three. Fortunately on the software side, my legacy Sonos Bridge was the only problematic device and it's no longer required anyway. So I was able to just take it out and migrate everything to the S2 app,

Which lets you fine tune tonality and audio sync along with allowing you to turn off the light for better immersion, disable the touch controls if you have a curious toddler, and toggle the IR repeater function, depending on whether the Arc blocks your TV remote's receiver or not. I felt like the app could use some knobs for DSP adjustments, like, you know, how big the room should sound and stuff like that. But overall I appreciated the less is more simplicity of it. As for the lack of HTMI ports, well, that's just less is less and I'm still pretty unhappy about it. My Logitech Harmony universal remote

Did sync up with the Arc flawlessly. So, I guess it's just a matter of adding an HTMI switch to my setup or something. But I do still think that that's a big deficiency in a product at this price, when I can buy a well-rated one on Amazon for literally half the price that allows me to connect more devices, includes surround speakers, and also includes a subwoofer. Yes, my friends, at a $1,000 US, with the only real extras being Dolby Atmos support with upward firing speakers, and of course Sonos's whole home audio synchronization

Through their app or Apple AirPlay 2, the Arc had a lot to live up for me when I turned it on for the first time. Shockingly, despite my "Press X to doubt" initial reaction to the marketing materials that include the usual nonsense about Oscar-winning sound engineers, blessing it with their plus five, one of acoustic brilliance or whatever. I mean it's still a soundbar, right? No, actually. It made a really good first impression. Right out of the gate, the Arc impressed me with its outstanding dialogue clarity. Men, women, children,

Groups of men, women, and children talking over each other. All of them were noticeably better than my previous soundbar to the point where, I can't even find any complaints compared to my old 3.1 setup with a dedicated A/V receiver. That's a really big deal. Remember guys, a lot of people start shopping for a soundbar in the first place because they're having trouble understanding what people are saying on their moving picture box. And, it only got better from there. The LG setup that I replaced was more expensive and came with a subwoofer. But, frankly speaking,

Outside of scenes with very low engine rumbles or large explosions, I couldn't see the benefit of my old two-piece set up against the Arc all by its lonesome. But then again, my previous soundbar also felt good enough, until I sat down and watched one of the more musical episodes of "My Little Pony" with my kids, only to realize that the background music, anytime there was lyrics, was an absolute mess. I mean, it was so bad that I was at the point where I was considering tearing out the new media console to make room to put my speakers back in.

Until I hooked up the Arc. It was an absolute breath of fresh air. I mean, don't kid yourself. It's not a full fledged DIY-grade home theater setup with a receiver. And I'm sure there's better bang for the buck out there. But in such a compact and attractive package, I have no complaints with respect to performance, none. Everything from clarity to soundstage to rumble, vastly exceeded my expectations. And if you're the kind of person who wants good enough performance without a mess of wires, you can stop watching now, and buy it at the link in the video description.

Seal of approval, at least, for news and TV. If you intend to make the Arc the center of your movie watching experience, and you want even better performance, Sonos also allows you to add a subwoofer. So I asked if they could send one over. They dug out a loaner unit of their Generation 2 sub, and I went through the five minute process of adding it to my home setup and assigning it to the same room as the Arc. The only thing here that I found a little unintuitive was the calibration process, where the sub plays a loud low note and then asks you to dial it back if it's overwhelming.

I found it very overwhelming and I sent it to minus three, but then I found that when I actually loaded up any content I needed to crank it way back up to default. Though, thankfully, that was easy enough to do from within the app. As for how much the sub helps, well, if you like the channel, then we really do appreciate if you do it. Aye, get it (laughs) no? Anyway, sorry. As for how much the subwoofer helps. If I was spending this kind of money, I would go for it. It even manages to look good in my living room. But the difference in experience

Wasn't nearly as night and day as I was expecting, based on my experiences with other sub-less soundbar setups. And I don't mean that as a criticism of the Gen 2 sub you know, should've got the Gen 3, it's reasonably punchy, it's not over done. I just mean that the Arc does a pretty good job of handling the low end on its own. And anyone who's living in a townhouse or a condo should just save their money and buy a stealth hoodie on lttstore.com instead. The biggest difference for me was that allowing the sub to take some of that low end burden off of the Arc, really lets the Arc put forward its best clarity.

Dialogue, background effects, and music were all well separated and a little easier to enjoy without any of them distracting from each other, with the Arc plus sub combo. So in conclusion, Sonos, it might not save your company from your other big problems. Like simply not being able to build enough products to meet customer demand, as of the time of writing there's a three week wait for the Arc, but you guys have clearly come a long way in terms of bringing your performance up to the same level as your software. And, I'm getting a call right now. But I'm like three words away from the end.

I'm pleasantly surprised. Who is this? Hi. Oh, he just wanted me to tell you about our sponsor. Drop.com, featuring the PC38X gaming headset. They built it in collaboration with Sennheiser and it features an open back design based on the respected PC37X, but with some added enhancements. They've returned the drivers to deliver higher fidelity and better frequency response. The driver impedance is now just 28 Ohms for use with gaming controllers or other lower power devices. And, the new knit mesh headband

Features less heat retention and better comfort. It includes two sets of cables, for either your PC or console, and two sets of earpads, both nit mesh and velour. Buy yours today at the link down below. If you guys enjoyed this video, maybe check out the one where I took my living room from zero to what you're looking at right now, courtesy of LG. Ooh, or maybe the one where I built that sick VR gaming rig down there. It's water-cooled.

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