The £399 Sonos Beam is an Alexa-powered smart speaker for audiophiles
The Amazon Echo may be a relatively cheap and easy way to create a network of smart speakers throughout your home, but it still lacks the audio quality of more expensive brands.
Thankfully, if you want the best of both worlds Sonos has just unveiled its Sonos Beam speaker with support for Alexa, apps including Spotify, Audible, Pandora and Tidal, and will add Siri later this year. In total, Sonos is bringing support for more than 80 music services, apps and AI tools to the Sonos Beam when it goes on sale on 17 July. You can preorder the Sonos Beam in either black or white from today at the Sonos website.
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Like all Sonos speakers, the £399 Sonos Beam fits into the wider Sonos ecosystem meaning you can add extra Sonos Ones, or a Sonos SUB, to create a surround sound system. It can also be controlled using existing TV remotes, and smart home gadgets connected to the same network.
At launch, the Sonos Beam will come with Amazon Alexa in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Alexa will launch on the Sonos Beam in France later this year, and will support additional voice assistants “as they become available on Sonos around the world.” This will include Siri when AirPlay 2 comes to Sonos in July as a free software update. AirPlay 2 will let customers play music and podcasts from their iOS devices on all Sonos speakers.
Following the event, Sonos took a slight dig at its rivals by adding the Beam will never “lock owners into specific streaming boxes or services.”
“In a smart speaker category, increasingly filled with tech clutter, poor audio quality and ulterior motives, Beam is the best example yet of what makes Sonos different,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence at the launch event. “Our open approach, obsession with design, meticulate focus on quality and commitment to building a system that’s easy to use and gets better over time, are the heart of everything we do. We believe we’ve created the best, most versatile, smart speaker in the world.”
Yet, it’s not the first speaker of its kind to add this functionality. Polk Audio unveiled its own voice-controlled, Alexa-powered Command Bar in May. It comes with similar Alexa-supported music services, and a HDMI port designed for the likes of the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It goes on sale in July for a slight cheaper price of £349. By comparison, the Apple HomePod is £319.
Sonos added that the Beam “produces a surprisingly wide soundstage for a speaker of this size,” and is fitted with four elliptical full-range woofers and three passive radiators, plus a single tweeter. On the rear of the Beam are three ports – power, Ethernet and HDMI. The latter can be used to add an Amazon Fire TV Stick to the mix and inside are is a far-field microphone array. It measures 25.6 inches.
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