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 Arc didn't look like anything else on the market at the time.
The Arc certainly didn't sound like other products either, delivering one of the best at-home Dolby Atmos surround sound performances we've ever heard from a soundbar. It earned a coveted What Hi-Fi? Award two years in a row for its efforts, as well as a place in the Hall of Fame in 2022. 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 more compact Sonos Beam Dolby Atmos soundbar (resulting in the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)) and adding a new member to its soundbar family with the budget (non-Atmos) Sonos Ray, is the flagship Arc next in line for a makeover? It would seem so, if the rumours are to be believed...
Let's see what's leaked, and what we would like to see from the Sonos Arc (Gen 2).
Sonos Arc (Gen 2): release date speculation
Sonos is a bit of an outlier when it comes to its product lifecycle. The original Arc was released on 10th June 2020, making it something of a geriatric compared to the lightly updated products that many other brands churn out annually. But in Sonos years, the Arc is merely in its middle-aged stride and probably considering 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 in 2021. 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 three would have seemed a little premature, and indeed that birthday has now been and gone.
Back in February 2022, CEO Patrick Spence told investors that the company will be “focused on launching new products in our existing product categories" for the remainder of that financial year (which for Sonos ended in September 2022). 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 the Sub Mini in October 2022, Sonos maxed out its dance card for that financial year.
A recent leak speculated on some specifics of the Arc 2, but sadly a release date wasn't among them. We can't see it arriving before the middle of 2024.
Sonos Arc (Gen 2): price leak
In keeping with the trend of increasing costs for consumer goods, many of Sonos's products underwent a price increase in 2021, including its flagship Arc, which rose by around 12.5 per cent to £899 / $899 / AU$1499. But the company's most recent home cinema releases, the Sonos Ray and Sub Mini, indicate that the company is mindful of appealing to consumers who may be feeling the pinch.
However, a recent leak suggests the Arc (Gen 2) will be aimed at the higher end of the market. It touts a launch price of $1200, up from the $899 (£899 / AU$1499) Sonos charges for the first-gen Arc.
If you're on a budget, hope is not lost. Sonos could make an updated version of its cheaper Sonos Arc SL, which launched exclusively to Costco in the US and Canada in 2020. Sonos's 'SL' products are essentially microphone-less versions that don't offer voice control. For the Arc, that shaved $50 off the price and could prove popular if it was widely available.
Sonos Arc (Gen 2): new design?
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 than the current model, which is a not inconsiderable 114cm wide.
Discussing the advancements made in the development of the Sonos Ray, Sonos's 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 added to a revamped model.
Indeed, the Arc (Gen 2) is rumoured to have better bass, according to the leak mentioned earlier in this story. That states that the device – codenamed 'Lasso' – will boast better bass and enhanced sound quality compared to the original. It could also incorporate technology from Mayht, a speaker company that Sonos bought in 2022. This could enable a bigger sound from a smaller device, allowing Sonos to upgrade the Arc's audio without enlarging its footprint.
If you ask us, it seems likely that the Arc will remain a single-bar proposition with such integrated technology, as opposed to a bar-and-sub package like many at its price point, especially considering that Sonos sells its own range of subwoofers.
Sonos Arc (Gen 2): 5 features we'd like to see
1. Full DTS support
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 firmware update gave Sonos soundbars DTS capacity but only in its basic compressed form, not the full lossless DTS:X or DTS HD MA.
2. HDMI passthrough ports
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.
3. Audio inputs
More of a stretch, perhaps, but nonetheless an interesting inclusion would be RCA, optical or coaxial inputs to plug in an audio source, particularly given the increasing presence of Dolby Atmos in music.
4. Weightier, bassier sound
Dynamics, detail and clarity are all outstanding in the current Arc, though there is a lot to be said for how much weight and bass a home cinema product can produce too. A weightier presentation that's capable of a greater volume of bass – perhaps due to those reflex bass port improvements – would be most welcome in a sequel.
5. Improved stereo performance
Another minor criticism we had regarded music playback. As the Arc uses all of its drivers during stereo playback, it can sound as though the upward- and side-firing speakers are doing too much during music replay and therefore the Arc doesn't project music as directly forward as it could in order to be more engaging.
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 Sonos Ray: the battle of the budget bar
Read our original Sonos Arc review