Sonos Beam Gen 3 preview: 4 things we want from the next budget Dolby Atmos soundbar

Sonos Beam Gen 3 preview
(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Beam Gen 3 rumour mill is beginning to churn in anticipation of the budget Dolby Atmos soundbar's expected arrival in the next twelve months. The current, second-generation model has been our favourite budget Atmos 'bar since its release in October 2021, but it is, you could say, 'getting on' in the fast-paced world of consumer tech.

What's more, despite the Beam Gen 2 still leading the field at its price point, there is room for improvement, so a successor could certainly fill a few gaps and make headway in the market – which we'll go onto shortly.

The company already has its next-model-up Sonos Arc (with the Sonos Arc Gen 2 reportedly on the way soon) and entry-level Sonos Ray, placing the Beam in the popular middle spot of its soundbar family. So when can we expect a new Beam – will it be one of the Sonos 2024 launches? And what features could it bring to the table? 

This Beam Gen 3 preview contains all we know so far about the next affordable Sonos Atmos soundbar, to help you decide whether to pull the trigger on the current model or wait patiently for a new and improved version.

Sonos Beam Gen 3: release date rumours

White Sonos Beam Gen 2 on a grey background

(Image credit: Future)

Sonos is playing the old cards close to the chest on this one, with no release date officially given for the Sonos Beam Gen 3 and no reliable rumours doing the rounds. That said, there is perhaps reason to expect a new model is due soon. 

The original Sonos Beam was released back in July 2018. This was followed up in October 2021 by the current Gen 2. If Sonos goes for a three-year gap again, the Beam Gen 3 will arrive towards the end of this year.

Of course, this is a big 'if', and Sonos may choose to launch a third-generation Beam at a much later date. It is also possible that it could arrive sooner, but it seems likely that the premium Sonos Arc 2 will be launched before the new Beam, and that doesn't have a release either at this point.

Sonos Beam Gen 3: price predictions

Sonos Beam below a wall-mounted TV in a living room setting

(Image credit: Sonos)

The original Sonos Beam arrived priced at £399 / $399 / AU$599, while the Beam 2 pushed that price up to £449 / $449 / AU$699. Does that mean that the Beam 3 will be £499 / $499 / AU$799? Certainly not necessarily, but tech prices have been creeping up steadily in recent years so there's every reason to think that the new Beam will be pricier than its predecessor.

Of course, we're hopeful that Sonos will buck the higher-price trend with the Beam Gen 3 – or at least justifies any increase with an improved feature set.

In the meantime, today's best deals on the current Sonos Beam Gen 2, Arc and Ray are below:

Sonos Beam Gen 3: new design?

While the physical design of the Beam has remained largely similar between the original and second-generation models, the insides have naturally seen updates. The Gen 3 could see more of a physical change... but only perhaps if one development materialises: upward-firing speakers.

While the Arc features up-firing drivers to help authentically deliver the immersive height channels of Dolby Atmos soundtracks, the second-generation Beam settled for front-firing drivers in partnership with smart software manipulation to help deliver its height effect. Specifically, the Beam Gen 2's processor uses psychoacoustic HRTF (head-related transfer function) technology to give the impression of height without the need for dedicated up-firing speakers.

If Sonos does decide that the Beam should get upward-firers too, considering they aren't all that rare in the mid-market these days, the external look may have to change too. We wouldn't expect this to be a reinvention of the pill shape that is now synonymous with the Beam, mind you.

While a new Beam will likely be marketed alongside the Sub Mini (or perhaps even the new subwoofer Sonos is gearing up to launch), it will serve Sonos well to offer as much sound out of the Beam's standalone performance as possible. With that in mind, the Beam Gen 3 could perhaps incorporate technology from Mayht, a speaker company that Sonos bought back in 2022. This could enable a bigger, better sound from a smaller device, allowing Sonos to upgrade the audio performance without enlarging the footprint.

Sonos Beam Gen 3: 4 features we'd like to see

White Sonos Beam Gen 2 on a white background

(Image credit: Sonos)

While the current Beam already includes premium soundbar features such as an HDMI eARC connection and Dolby Atmos processing, there is still room for improvement. Here is what we'd like to see in a Sonos Beam Gen 3...

1. More HDMI ports
Having a single HDMI eARC is a really neat solution for getting Dolby Atmos sound from TV to soundbar, having additional HDMI inputs in the 'bar itself would be very useful, especially if they were HDMI 2.1-spec. This could allow modern sources such as a games console or Blu-ray player to be connected directly to the soundbar, which would strip out the audio and pass the video up to the TV in all of its 4K/120Hz glory. Alas, we expect Sonos' simplicity-first approach will rule out this extra functionality, but we can hope.

2. Up-firing drivers
Sure, the Gen 2 offers Dolby Atmos processing, but it relies mostly on processing trickery as opposed to physical driver placement to offer the height channels, which is certainly not as effective as 'the real deal'. By adding up-firers in the Gen 3, Sonos could offer even better Atmos immersion without compromising much on that compact form factor.

3. DTS:X support
While DTS:X might sit behind Dolby Atmos in terms of surround sound format popularity these days, it's still a powerful, very welcome and widely adopted alternative that we'd love to see supported on the Beam Gen 3.

4. Bluetooth connectivity
It feels harsh to ask for more music options when the Beam offers more wi-fi features, including access to streaming services, than most at its level, but the addition of an offline wireless method such as Bluetooth would be most welcome. This could allow any device with Bluetooth to directly send music to the speaker – great for parties where guests can easily run the playlist.


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