Polk’s new Sonos Arc rivals pack 11 speakers of room-filling Dolby Atmos sound

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I Got a Sonos Arc and So Didn’t Leave My Home for Weeks. Hither’s What Happened.

Steven Saftig

Global Head of Editorial

Our Global Head of Editorial, Steven Saftig, managed to go his hands on the new Sonos Arc correct before nosotros closed our offices. He couldn’t finish talking about our newest soundbar, so we finally told him to just write a web log post about information technology. From setup to Dolby Atmos, he shares what it’s like to accept an Arc in your dwelling when you’re spending the unabridged twenty-four hour period in that location. He as well talked with sound engineer Chris Jenkins about his Oscar-winning sound mixing for Mad Max: Fury Road and what it’south like to hear it in Dolby Atmos, the gilt standard for home theater audio.

I was on a train, coming dorsum to Santa Barbara later visiting my family when I got the email from our head of Hr: “All employees, please work from habitation.” We were a piffling under 2 months away from announcing Sonos Arc to the world and I hadn’t fifty-fifty heard what it sounded like yet. Whenever I write nigh our products for the weblog, I immerse myself in the feel because I desire to be able to share what information technology’due south like to actually alive with them. How was I going to write about our new home theater speaker without ever having heard it? And, to be honest, I notwithstanding didn’t fully empathize what Dolby Atmos was—one of Arc’south most exciting features. So when I received that email, asking us to get everything we needed out of the office by the end of the day, I panicked. So I started texting. Badly.

Hey, does anyone have one of our new, top secret speakers lying around? Just, you know, waiting to be picked upward? Like, correct now?

Fast-forward through a cinematic montage of secret closets, product handoffs, and I finally had an Arc in my hands—an hr earlier our offices close downward.

Unboxing Arc: A shape-defying design. And 76,000 individually-drilled holes.

Back at habitation, I began one of my favorite parts of setting up a new Sonos product—the unboxing. The feel with Arc is as exciting and dramatic as I had hoped. More importantly though, nosotros’ve connected to expect for ways to minimize the environmental bear upon of our products. As Michelle Enright, Senior Design Manager, Packaging Experience describes, “For Arc, we had a clean slate opportunity to design packaging from the ground up. Nosotros created a 96.1% paper-based construction—moving away from foam-based cushions, which would accept been the easier and more cost effective path.”

I peeled dorsum the final layer of protective packaging and there it was. Now, by that point I’d seen a ton of photos of Arc, but because of the subtlety of its design, I wasn’t quite sure what to await when I finally saw it in person. I advisedly carried information technology over to my media console, placed it in front of my TV, and stood back. (Y’all can besides mount Arc to the wall.) Here’s the thing about the design of Arc: Information technology’s actually quite difficult to describe its shape. Information technology’s not a box. It’s non a rectangle. Information technology’s non even a cylinder. It almost appears similar it’due south in motion, as if undulating. The overall issue is that Arc doesn’t feel like it’s trying to compete or stand out from the remainder of your habitation theater setup. As Kitty Suidman, Director, Color Textile and Stop says, “[Arc’s] design is purposeful, delivering a seamless, soft familiar profile. Information technology feels like a piece of furniture in your dwelling house.”

I started to circle effectually Arc. And with each bending from which I observed, a new dimension of the design was revealed. There are no harsh edges, clunky protrusions, or jarring cavities. In brusk, it’s stunning. Turns out, this is all very intentional. “We take a 360-degree arroyo,” says Philippe Vossel, Industrial Designer at Sonos. “It doesn’t affair where y’all commencement expect at the production—information technology all matters. If yous look at it from the side first, that’s where it matters. If y’all mount it to the wall and look at it from the bottom starting time, that’s where information technology matters.” Vossel and the Industrial Design team were besides thoughtful about how your centre travels along the production. “We want to make sure you don’t get hung upwardly or distracted past unrefined details,” he said. “And in the cease, it’s how these details all tie together that allows us to create a visual story nearly sound.”

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Sonos Arc

There’due south one more thing you should know about the blueprint of Arc. Every Sonos production is the result of a creative, collaborative balance between what the hardware and software teams want to put inside the speaker and how the industrial design team wants information technology to look. There is a lot of technology packed into Arc. (More than on that in a moment.) And the grille is the bridge that brings these two interests together—the piece that encases all of this incredible engineering, while allowing the product to wait as seamless and cute as you expect from all Sonos products. Building on the success of technological advances nosotros made with the grilles on Play:v and Playbase, Arc’southward grille is a single seamless canvass, carefully molded and drilled with more than 76,000 holes to ensure exceptional audio and wireless performance. “Information technology’s the latest version of something we’ve been working on for years,” says Dana Krieger, Senior Manager of Design, Product.

Music with Arc: More than infinite for colour

I set upwards Arc in the middle of a work mean solar day, so I couldn’t immediately sit downwardly to watch a full movie. But I was so broken-hearted to hear what it sounded similar that I decided I had to at least listen to a song. And, every bit broken-hearted as I was, I still used Trueplay™ to melody Arc to my living room, which is non a uniform shape. (Trueplay is, by far, my favorite Sonos feature. Not using Trueplay is like riding around in a new car without adjusting the seat and setting your favorite radio stations. Yous’ll still relish the ride, but you’re missing out on an experience that’southward customized just for you.)

I queued up my test song. (Yous have a examination vocal, right? I play the same song whenever I test out a new speaker: “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. I’ve been listening to that song since I was a baby, and then I know every corner of it. If you lot don’t have a examination song, check out this playlist of tracks we created to show off your system at its best.) I then sat down on my couch and listened the way that Greg McAllister, Sound Experience Manager at Sonos taught me how to heed.

Dramatic interruption.

Two things were immediately obvious to me—spaciousness and clarity. What do I mean by “spaciousness”? I don’t simply mean that the sound fills the room, which it does. Just imagine that you were given a one inch by ane inch piece of paper, 6 colors of paint, and then told to paint a picture show of your house using all of the colors. With a steady manus, you lot might be able to create a crude depiction. But there wouldn’t be much definition to the front door. Yous wouldn’t be able to describe the flowers in the window boxes. And some of the colors would blend into a pool of dirty brown. Now, imagine that you were asked to do the same matter, but with a 5 foot past five foot piece of paper. This is the type of spaciousness that Arc gives to music. For me, information technology meant hearing additional layers to “Rhiannon” that I’d never heard earlier. And alongside that spaciousness is remarkable clarity. The vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums all sound crisp, clean, and pure. In short, the song sounded glorious.

TV shows with Arc: Audio from a milky way far, far away

For my starting time Boob tube show with Arc, I chose The Mandalorian, streaming on Disney+. Audio is integral to the Star Wars universe, so I decided that this would be a expert place to start. I wasn’t disappointed.

To hear the roar of the Razor Crest’s engines and the coos of The Kid with the same spaciousness and clarity that I’d heard with “Rhiannon,” was electrifying. Fifty-fifty without rear surroundings speakers, the immediate feeling of listening to Arc is one of full immersion. And that’s because, equally Chris Davies, Senior Director, Audio Engineering, explains, “Arc creates an ultra wide soundstage by using highly optimized beam-forming rays. These rays bounciness sound off the wall in your room to create a truly immersive sound experience.” In other words, Arc doesn’t merely send sound towards you. It uses sophisticated applied science (and the information you provide virtually the size and acoustics of your room with Trueplay) to bounce sound off the walls in order to truly envelope you in the prove’s soundscape. The magic, of course, being that the sound reaches your ears at the exact same time, completely in sync.

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Afterward, when I turned downwardly the lights, something subtle merely astonishing happened. The status calorie-free on Arc dimmed automatically. Arc has an ambience lite sensor that adjusts the condition low-cal based on how vivid the room is—another small example of how Arc is made to seamlessly blend into your home.

One last note on Star Wars. Y’all can stream everything in the galaxy on Disney+, including a just-released eight-episode documentary called Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, which delves into the making of the series, including the iconic score.

What is Dolby Atmos?

As you can tell, I was beyond thrilled with my experience of Arc, completely on its own. Without Sub. Without rear surrounds. Without Dolby Atmos. Just Arc was designed to evolve along with the rapid advances in domicile theater technology. And that means playing Dolby Atmos, the new gold standard of home theater sound. I had to run across what Arc could do with a full Atmos setup.

But first, what is Atmos? While there are lots of videos and explanations on the net describing this technology, I’ll draw it in my ain words hither. Prior to Atmos, elements of sound from a pic or show had to be assigned to a particular channel (left, center, right, rear left, rear correct, etc.) With Atmos though, sounds are treated every bit objects—and all of the channels work together to project those sounds into unlike parts of the room. Here’s where it gets cool—Atmos also adds height to the equation. (Arc achieves this by utilizing up-firing drivers that bounciness sound off the ceiling.) This allows those projected sounds to be heard—non just along a horizontal plane—but anywhere in the entire three-dimensional infinite of your room. What does that mean for your listening feel? I was hoping y’all’d enquire.

Movies with Arc: The Dolby Atmos Feel

I paired Sub and two Sonos One SL rears to Arc. I used Trueplay to tune my system once more (to business relationship for the addition of the rear speakers). I popped popcorn. And then I sat downwardly to sentry Mad Max: Fury Road. From the very offset scene, it was immediately obvious to me why Atmos is the new standard in dwelling house theater sound. In the opening sequence, a flood of voices and ambient sounds swirled effectually me. It’due south surprising and thrilling and has made me completely rethink the way I’ve used the word “immersive” in the past. Over the next two hours, I felt completely a part of what was happening in the flick. The sound design of the picture is bold and vibrant—and watching information technology in Atmos adds so many layers to the experience. At the same fourth dimension, I could hear every discussion of dialogue perfectly—even amidst a thunderous score and barrage of epic audio effects. As Chris Jenkins, Oscar-winning sound engineer and Sonos Soundboard fellow member would afterward tell me, dialogue is the backbone of every movie. Even without Spoken communication Enhancement turned on, Arc delivered the dialogue with detailed clarity. And and so there are the quiet moments in the moving picture—serenely cute scenes that offer delicate sounds and whispers. With the sonic precision of Arc, I found these scenes just as engaging as the action sequences.

But maybe the nearly interesting and respectable attribute of the Atmos feel is that nothing comes across as gimmicky. While sounds do occur around you, naught feels out of identify or similar a play a trick on. You’re non suddenly pulled abroad from what’s happening on screen because of a random noise backside you. It all feels seamless and, ultimately, allows yous to become all the more than immersed in the world on your TV screen.

A Conversation with Chris Jenkins

Afterward watching Mad Max: Fury Road, I wanted to go deeper. Specifically, I wanted to see nether the hood, merely from a creator’s perspective. I too knew that the re-recording mixer for the picture show, Chris Jenkins, who won an Oscar for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road, is on the Sonos Soundboard. He helped melody Arc—which ways that the way I experienced the picture show with Arc was equally he intended it to sound. I wanted to acquire more.

So we met for a conversation over Zoom. The first affair I learned is that while working on the film, he would meet with the manager, George Miller, and the residue of the squad for half dozen-hour sessions, during which they would discuss xv minute chunks of the film. Fifteen minutes of motion picture. Six 60 minutes sessions. That’s how integral sound is to the movie. Needless to say, Jenkins remembered every infinitesimal aspect of the film I threw at him.

Early on in our conversation, Jenkins helped explain why listening to Dolby Atmos on Arc doesn’t feel contemporary. “There are certain rules that you make—and sometimes break—with audio in movies,” he said. “If you motion a human being voice too far outside of the screen, it breaks the concentration of the listener. There are sure sounds you tin place anywhere—music and nature sounds, for case. Only the more specific a sound gets, the more than we expect information technology to be heard from where it’s coming from visually.”

With Mad Max: Fury Route, he chose to break that rule in the very first scene of the film. “At the first of the moving picture, y’all hear all those little sounds swirling around you,” he said. “For instance, the little girl’s voice whispering ‘Max,’ which then echoes over and over. On a lot of the release prints [earlier Dolby Atmos], you never got that attention to particular. And and then all of a sudden you lot hear the Atmos version on Arc, and you’re like, ‘Oh, absurd,’ because those sounds are not trying to compete for the aforementioned three speaker drivers. If you have all this space to put all the sounds into, your ear tin can say, ‘Yeah, that voice is hither. And I hear that sound over there.’” He then went on to explicate why he bankrupt the rules of where voices should come from. “You can direct the listener’s ear to where you desire to prioritize information for them. In the case of Mad Max, the girl’south voice is extremely of import because she’s a pivotal grapheme in Max’south life. Ultimately, you want the purest playback system to hear all those details that the filmmakers have put into it. And the opening of Mad Max is a great example to me of really beingness conscious of space, and of sounds not cluttering each other.”

Eventually, we got onto the subject area of what it’due south like for him, as a sound engineer, to exist able to mix a pic’south sound for Atmos. “There’s simply so much infinite,” he said. “You lot can create separation between the audio design and music, while still keeping the dialogue protected. So yous could have a very quiet whispering functioning from an histrion, but instead of lowering all of the music to brand sure it’s heard, you lot tin just create more than infinite effectually the whisper. With Atmos, you tin sculpt the soundtrack around different elements in a way that you couldn’t with just a left, center, correct mix. It’south like racking focus, sonically.”

Every bit our conversation wound downward, Jenkins pulled back from all of the technical talk to focus on what really matters in the habitation theater feel. “It’due south all nearly storytelling,” he said, “We want the shortest distance between the creator or the writer or the performer and the listener’s ear. So we cutting out whatever we tin can from the centre, the clutter. And then, whether it’due south dialogue from a 1939 movie, or the most current piece of content today, it’s still a affair of finding the well-nigh transparent form of getting that storytelling across.”

As this post goes to publish, nosotros’re still working from home. And over the by several weeks, I’ve been listening to a lot more than vinyl and rewatching movies I love—which feels really comforting. Only hearing them with Arc has made revisiting favorites feel fresh and inspiring. Make sure you lot visit this page to learn about all of the incredible technology that powered the experience I shared above. If you already have Arc and desire to make certain you’re getting Dolby Atmos sound, bank check out this article on our Community.

*Sonos may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our affiliate partnerships.

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Source: https://blog.sonos.com/en-us/sonos-arc-with-dolby-atmos