Dolby Atmos? How does that work? After all, the entire loudspeaker is just 65 centimeters wide, compact enough to sit inconspicuously between the feet of a television. But one after anonther. In the summer of 2018, Sonos, the American specialist for wirelessly networked loudspeakers, presented a soundbar called Beam. We liked the sounding toddler at the time, because although it was easy to stow away, it grew acoustically impressively beyond a niche existence - especially when it played music from streaming sources. Now Sonos has given the Beam a complete makeover, which is why it is called Beam Generation 2 and has increased its price moderately. 499 euros is now on the price tag.

Externally, the beam has hardly changed. What has remained is its delicate design with the slightly concave, matt shimmering cover surface, which is intended to prevent the television image from being reflected. There was a cosmetic intervention on the facade, Sonos replaced the textile covering of the loudspeaker chassis with a plastic cover with countless small air holes. The generation change has had a stronger impact on the inside. Two new loudspeaker chassis were added, so now the Beam plays five-part: a tweeter and four broadband chassis denote the program, three passive membranes support the reproduction of low frequencies.

And the digital audio connection to the television, a connection socket for an HDMI cable, has been drilled out by Sonos. This interface is now called eARC, and that means: The "Audio Return Channel", ie the return channel with which the HDMI connection outputs the digital television sound, can transport very high data rates according to this extended specification. This also allows home theater sound to be output in Dolby Atmos, for example. As a result, according to the manufacturer, the Beam can now also master this 3D key, especially since a faster audio processor helps it with the more complex signal processing.

That brings us to the initial question. An opulent installation for this sound format easily consists of ten loudspeakers, four of which hang on the ceiling in order to convey the impression of acoustic height from there. Many sound bars try to recreate this configuration by more modest means. You have two built-in loudspeaker chassis fire up against the ceiling to achieve the desired 3D effect. The small beam, however, still only radiates the sound to the front and to the side. So what does it do with Dolby Atmos signals?

We wanted to know that and integrated the new soundbar into the network - a short process if there is already an installation in the house with other loudspeakers from the manufacturer. The good news: The Beam's balanced sound character, which is also predestined for music playback, has remained, and it is still convincing in surround mode, especially of course when two small Sonos One are also used as wireless surround speakers. But Dolby Atmos? The Beam can only generate the 3D sound with purely virtual means, based on relevant algorithms. But that doesn't make it bad at all: In fact, the Atmos soundtrack conveys a little more sense of space - no precisely localizable sound events at lofty heights, but a sensible impression of the dimensions of what is happening.