Sonos' new soundbar is taking on the HomePod with Alexa

Sonos' new soundbar is taking on the HomePod with Alexa
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    - This is a Sonos Beam.
    It's a brand new soundbar and it's also a
    brand new smart speaker.
    It's gonna cost $399, and it's gonna be available
    on July 17th.
    So we came to Sonos' headquarters
    in Santa Barbara to find out what this thing is
    all about because it does a lot of stuff
    with just one input.
    So the Sonos Beam soundbar exists.
    It's relatively small.
    It's smaller the Playbar or the Playbase.
    It's also an intelligent speaker,
    which means that this isn't just
    up against other random soundbars,
    it's also up against other smart speakers,
    like an Echo, like the HomePod,
    and like the Google Home Max.
    There are four full-range woofers,
    bang, bang, bang, and bang.
    And there's a center tweeter,
    and then there's three passive radiators
    for more sound to come out of there.
    And out of all of those speakers,
    they create a array of three channels,
    a center, a left, and a right.
    But what's really interesting to me is
    that the inputs on this are not what you'd expect.
    There's power of course, there's a sync button,
    for you know, getting everything working together,
    there's an ethernet port because Sonos always puts
    an ethernet port on stuff,
    and then the only singular input on this is HDMI.
    The way that Sonos wants this to work is you
    plug HDMI in here, you plug HDMI into your TV,
    and then this standard called HDMI ARC
    tells the TV, hey you've got a soundbar now,
    and all sound gets routed to it.
    So if you don't want to give up an HDMI port,
    you can also use optical audio out.
    This thing is gonna ship with an adapter
    that allows you to use your optical out on your TV
    to the HDMI input on this thing.
    Obviously we listened to the Sonos Beam
    in this controlled environment in Sonos' office
    where we are right now.
    And so I don't want to give you a full review
    of how I think it sounds, but I do have a few thoughts
    after listening to it today.
    The first is that Sonos isn't like crazy
    opinionated about how your music should sound.
    It's trying to be accurate and it's trying
    to be very clear.
    So there's bass, about as much as you'd expect
    from something this size.
    Maybe even a little bit more,
    but not so much that it's muddy
    and it blows things out.
    They have incredibly good stereo separation,
    so unlike the HomePod, they're not trying
    to do magical things with auto-tuning
    and blah, blah, blah through all the channels.
    They're just trying to get the sound right.
    Left, right, center.
    - We can sculpt the sound and maximize the
    performance of the amplifier of the transducers,
    and basically sculpt the entire sound profile
    with software.
    And in the case of this product,
    we really wanted to have that lean back experience
    in the living room and be able to control your TV,
    your music, with voice.
    - All the standard Amazon Alexa stuff
    works the same way as it does on other
    Alexa products or on other Sonos products.
    But because this is a soundbar,
    and it's connected to my TV, I can do lots
    of interesting things with that too.
    Specifically, if you have an Amazon Fire TV,
    you can do stuff like, Alexa, play Stranger Things.
    - [Alexa] Getting Stranger Things from Fire TV.
    - And what it does is it turns my television on,
    and it's just ready to start Stranger Things.
    Now it didn't actually start playing it
    because the Fire TV-Alexa integration is
    not super great yet.
    But if I wanna change the volume,
    I can go, Alexa, volume up.
    And it's a little bit louder now.
    Alexa, pause Fire TV.
    And it paused the Fire TV.
    Again, it takes another second or two
    than you want it to, but it still works really well.
    It also works with your TV remote control.
    So if I turn the volume up or down here,
    it will turn the volume up or down on the Sonos,
    not on the television.
    And the reason that works is that thing
    I talked about earlier.
    It's HDMI and it's specifically HDMI ARC.
    And the TV recognizes that there's a soundbar attached,
    and that it should be able to adjust
    that soundbar's volume instead of the TV's volume.
    The other last super interesting thing you get
    by connecting over HDMI instead of just a
    standard optical audio cable,
    is that the soundbar is able to turn the TV off,
    which is, it's like the holy grail of smart assistance.
    Nothing seems to work to turn TV off HDMI CEC.
    But this thing does it.
    Alexa, turn off the TV.
    - [Alexa] Okay.
    - And the heavens opened.
    It's amazing.
    For Sonos it's really important
    that they be the Switzerland of sound I guess.
    I don't know if that's my phrase not theirs.
    But they wanna work with everybody.
    At the same time and they don't wanna give
    anybody any preferences.
    That said, this thing works with Alexa now,
    and it probably is gonna work the best with Alexa
    at least for the time being because they've had
    time to customize Alexa's software.
    Why is it so important to Sonos
    to work with Alexa and then maybe later the
    Google Assistant or definitely later in the,
    maybe some other stuff will come along.
    Why do you want to be so agnostic
    across all of these different voice assistants
    that'll just partner with Amazon
    and calling it a day?
    - So home sound system for us means shared.
    We believe many different people would want to use it.
    And we don't want to dominate what the
    right control paradigm for people is,
    nor the right assistant.
    We've already been here before with phones.
    So you know, the sharing home sound system,
    maybe one person has an Android phone,
    the other one has an iOS phone.
    We never said, okay, now we're only going
    to support iOS.
    - [Dieter] Right.
    - And the whole household, please go iOS.
    Or we're only going to support apps on Android.
    The whole house have got Android.
    We just don't believe that it's very consumer friendly.
    - Here's the weird thing about Sonos' position.
    In the past it got to create this beautiful garden
    of perfect music experiences.
    They had their own remote, they had their own router,
    they had all their own stuff.
    But now they can't do that anymore.
    They have to exist in these other
    super complicated ecosystems.
    They're connected up to your TV,
    which has an insane tangle of wires behind it.
    And if something fails there,
    they're gonna be part of that,
    and you might blame Sonos, even if it's not their fault.
    And that especially applies to digital assistants.
    If Alexa or eventually Google Assistant doesn't work,
    it's gonna be your Sonos speaker
    that you feel like doesn't work.
    And that could be a problem for them.
    - Sometimes you don't want it to work.
    Sometimes you want to actually,
    don't want to go through the on-screen display
    and get T-V.
    - Yeah, sure, right.
    - Right, so there's these things
    where you go like, okay, where does it make sense
    to use voice, where do we actually want
    to tone it down a little bit?
    A lot of the early integrations have been focused
    on making the iterances as simple
    and intuitive as possible.
    So rather saying, Alexa, tell Sonos
    to play the Beatles from Spotify,
    in the living room.
    - Yeah, yeah.
    - We wanted it to be, Alexa, play the Beatles.
    - Sonos sees a really huge opportunity
    in the living room.
    They've got the PlayBar but it's super expensive.
    And so this thing at only 400 bucks
    is way more accessible.
    And if you're Sonos, you want lots of people buying
    their very first Sonos speaker.
    Because they know, in fact they told me today,
    that as many as 38% of their customers,
    once they have one Sonos speaker,
    buy another one.
    That is a lot of upsell, and having an accessible
    home speaker in the living room is a
    good way to get those people into the ecosystem.
    If Sonos can convince enough people
    to upgrade to this thing, they could radically
    expand their customer base.
    And that makes this a lot more ambitious
    than it appears at first glance.
    And if you're Sonos expanding your customer base,
    that sounds pretty good.
    - [Crew Member] Do the end card.
    Follow the beat.
    Do it.
    - Thank, you, for, watching, this,
    Sonos, video, if you, liked it,
    hit Subscribe.
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