To say that the Sonos Arc was a bit of a game-changer for home cinema sound when it was released in 2020 would be a bit of an understatement. A peculiar-looking cylinder of a speaker, the Sonos Arc didn't look like anything else on the market at the time.
It certainly didn't sound like other products either, delivering one of the best at-home Dolby Atmos performances we've ever heard from a soundbar, and earning it a coveted What Hi-Fi? award two years in a row. Even more impressive is that, despite competitors continually trying to de-throne the Sonos Arc from its class-leading position, few have come close to outshining its detailed, cinematic and fluid performance.
But after overhauling the Sonos Beam last year and adding a new member to its soundbar family with the recent Sonos Ray, is the flagship Sonos Arc next in line for a make-over? Sonos keeps a tight lid on its upcoming products, and currently, there are only rumours of what we can expect when a new Arc comes along, but we've rounded up all the latest hints, tips and predictions in the build-up to the launch of the Sonos Arc (Gen 2)...
Release date rumours
Sonos is a bit of an outlier when it comes to its product lifecycle. The original Arc was released on June 10, 2020, making it a geriatric when compared to the lightly updated products other brands persist on annually churning out. But in Sonos years, the Arc is merely hitting its middle-aged stride and probably just starting to think about taking up cycling.
Looking around at other Sonos products for clues as to when we might expect a Sonos Arc (Gen 2) to appear, there's the original Sonos Beam, which launched in 2018 and only aged out of the company's lineup late last year. Before that, the Sonos Playbar and Playbase both had commendable runs of seven and three years, respectively. Updating the Arc before it hits the big 3 would seem a little premature, and certainly current predictions don't indicate that we should anticipate an announcement in the short term.
Back in February, CEO Patrick Spence told investors that the company will be “focused on launching new products in our existing product categories" for the remainder of this financial year, which for Sonos ends in September.
At the time, he also confirmed that there would be "at least" one new product to look forward to before then, saying that the company has a “commitment to launching at least two new products per year”. With the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) arriving in October 2021, joined by the Sonos Ray in May 2022, and a rumoured Sub Mini forthcoming, it's looking increasingly like Sonos has maxed out its dance card for this financial year. Thus October 2022 would be the earliest we'd expect to see any announcements regarding a new Arc.
In keeping with the trend of increasing costs for consumer goods, many of Sonos' products underwent a price increase in 2021, including its flagship Arc, which rose by around 12.5% to £899 / $899 / AU$1499. But the company's most recent release, the Sonos Ray, and rumoured Sub Mini indicate that the company is mindful of appealing to consumers who may be feeling the pinch. We'd expect to see a revamped Arc priced similarly to the present model if it's superseding it.
However, there's also the possibility that Sonos might make an updated version of its cheaper Sonos Arc SL, which launched exclusively to Costco in the US and Canada in 2020. Sonos' SL products don't include microphones for voice control which for the Arc SL shaved $50 off the price and could prove popular if it were widely available.
With Sonos recently turning its hand to engineering powerful sound from increasingly compact speakers, it wouldn't be unreasonable to speculate that an updated Arc might be more practically sized that the current model, which is a not inconsiderable 114cm wide.
Discussing the advancements made in the development of the Sonos Ray, Sonos' product creation leader Brandon Holley said that the curved bass reflex technology developed for the tiny soundbar would be an innovation they plan to use in other products. The limited bass extension of the Arc is one of its few flaws so it's possible we might see Ray-style reflex ports be added to a revamped model.
Features we'd like to see
With HDMI eARC and full-fat Dolby Atmos on board, the Arc already supports a combination of features that no other Sonos product offers. So what might we expect the company to add to this already class-leading soundbar?
One of the most commonly requested upgrades from users is support for Dolby Atmos rival DTS:X, which, while not as commonly used, is still widely available on soundbars from other manufacturers. A recent firmware update gave Sonos soundbars DTS capacity but only in its basic compressed form, not the full lossless DTS:X or DTS HD MA.
Another much-longed-for addition for the Arc (Gen 2) would be HDMI passthrough ports allowing users to connect source devices direct to the Arc. Sonos has always steered clear of extra inputs, citing a desire to keep its users' home cinema set-up as streamlined as possible. Still, with growing numbers of input devices hogging TV HDMIs, it's a feature often found on equivalently priced products.
What would you like to see from a second-generation Arc soundbar? Is there any area where you think positive changes could be made? Let us know in the comments below.
Sonos Beam Gen 2 vs the Sonos Ray: the battle of the budget bar
Read our review of the original Sonos Arc