TechHive Govt Editor Michael Brown was capable to take a look at fairly a great deal each individual element of the new Sonos Arc soundbar help save one particular: its Dolby Atmos performance.
Mike faced a few of vital obstacles on that rating. For starters, the 2017 Samsung Q7-series 4K QLED Tv set he applied in the course of his overview does not aid eARC, a newer HDMI attribute that can deal with (between other items) the transmission of lossless audio from a Tv to a soundbar. Because the Dolby Atmos metadata on a Blu-ray disc resides on the disc’s lossless Dolby TrueHD track, Mike was not capable to examination Atmos on the Arc—which has just a person HDMI port—using his 4K UHD Blu-ray participant. (You can read far more about ARC and eARC below.)
The other way to get pleasure from motion pictures and Tv set displays with Dolby Atmos audio is through streaming video providers, such as Amazon Primary Video, Apple iTunes, or Netflix. This sort of services transmit Dolby Atmos by means of Dolby Digital Furthermore, a lossy format that the original ARC can manage.
Difficulty solved, correct? Not so quickly. Mike life in an area of rural Northern California that lacks high-speed online the speediest DSL services he can get isn’t fairly rapidly ample to stream Netflix at 4K, which is a necessity for Dolby Atmos audio on that service.
So, Mike transported the Sonos Arc to my Brooklyn apartment, exactly where I have a 2019 LG C9 4K OLED Tv set that does assistance eARC, plus a fast net relationship (about 200Mbps downstream). That meant I could examination the Arc’s Dolby Atmos employing both my Sony 4K UHD Blu-ray player and my Apple Television 4K streaming established-top rated box.
Refined, realistic Dolby Atmos overall performance
The benefits: fairly great, if a tad delicate. (To be good, the Arc’s overall performance would possible be extra remarkable when related to optional wireless encompass speakers and a dedicated subwoofer, but that would drive the price tag of the offer way up.) Whilst the Arc’s Atmos efficiency didn’t blow me absent (despite the fact that in-your-experience height cues aren’t excellent, either), I was still amazed with the depth and realism of the Arc’s Atmos-enabled soundstage.
I begun with a person of our go-to Dolby Atmos demo reels: the scene in X-Gentlemen: Apocalypse where by a young Scott Summers wreaks havoc in a lavatory stall as he employs his laser-beam eyes for the very first time. What can make the scene intriguing from an Atmos standpoint is not so significantly the original mayhem, it’s the sound of the particles of plaster slipping from the ceiling, and the Arc delivered the aural working experience convincingly.
Future, I spun up the 4K UHD Blu-ray of Blade Runner: 2048 and queued up the scene where K pilots his spinner to the ruined orphanage in the outskirts of San Diego. I was amazed by the patter of rain in opposition to the windshield and the sudden, frightening “pop” of incoming hearth from attackers much down below. It is a vertiginous sequence that depends on 3D audio cues for considerably of its result, and the Arc the soundtrack of this arresting scene with aplomb.
I also experimented with the opening titles of Superman, a famously thrilling title sequence that bought the Dolby Atmos cure a several a long time back again. Accompanied by John Williams’s Oscar-nominated score, the titles swoosh up, down, and throughout the screen, and there was a palpable feeling of peak as Marlon Brando’s title soared over my head (or at the very least, so it felt).
I rounded out my Atmos tests on the Arc with the Dolby’s Atmos-enabled “Leaf” trailer, with the Arc deftly handling the seem of a seedpod twirling in the air amid crackling branches in a dense forest. The spacious audio in this subtle Dolby trailer needs a gentle touch, and the Arc did not disappoint.
While I was typically pleased with the Sonos Arc’s Dolby Atmos performance, I experienced quibbles (effectively, just one quibble and one outright grievance) about a few of non-Atmos audio issues.
Brilliant seem signature
Initially, I felt that the Arc’s general seem was to some degree bright—that is, more seriously weighted toward the bigger audio frequencies, favoring treble more than bass. I discovered this when seeing and listening to a variety of flicks and Television reveals, as properly as whilst cranking some tunes.
There’s nothing essentially bad about “bright” audio in the end, it is all about flavor, with some listeners preferring a “warmer” sound that tilts additional towards reduced frequencies (which is me), when most audiophiles find a “flat” seem that performs it suitable down the center. Basically be knowledgeable that the Arc’s audio signature is (to my ears, anyway) crisp instead than deep. That is not my cup of tea, but it may be yours.
My next observation is a criticism: specifically, that the Sonos Arc’s crafted-in woofers often sounded like they were straining—or even popping—during times of intensive bass.
What is intriguing about this difficulty is that it can be challenging to reproduce, and frequently talking, the Arc’s woofers handled most small-frequency consequences with no skipping a defeat. For example, the Arc easily cornered the bassy turns all through 2 Speedy 2 Furious’s frantic opening street race.
However for the Arc, the soundbar faltered through one particular of my preferred motion picture sequences of all time: the chase by the asteroid field in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (the new UHD Blu-ray edition). The roar of the Millennium Falcon’s motor as the freighter swerved, banked, and corkscrewed across the monitor produced the Arc’s woofers emit an odd, worrisome shudder. Dialing down the Arc’s bass EQ stage and toggling off the Loudness setting produced the Falcon’s booming motor seem a tad smoother, but the soundbar’s stumble during this vital scene stays a disappointing and distracting fall short.
Other end users on Sonos’s neighborhood board have also described bass hiccups with the Arc, but there’s also some superior information. Replying to a single of the grievances, a Sonos rep explained that corporation engineers have been “able to reproduce” the difficulty and are “working on a take care of for it now,” so fingers crossed. I’ve arrived at out to Sonos individually about the prospective software program fix and will update this report when I listen to back.