These Movies, TV Shows, and Songs Sound Amazing on Sonos Beam—We Know, We Tested Them

Setting up your new Sonos Beam? Here are some of the shows, movies, and music we used to fine-tune the sound of the smart, compact soundbar.

 

How, you might ask, does Sonos get its speakers to fill the room with such clear, detailed, and immersive sound? It’s no simple feat. Long story short: We start with world-class talent in acoustics, engineering, and design—and then pressure test their hard work with critical input from sound-focused creatives in the film, music, and TV industries.

“We’re trying to inject the artist’s perspective into the performance of the product,” says Giles Martin, Sound Experience Leader at Sonos. “We want to make sure we’re presenting their work in the most honest and accurate way possible.”

Throughout the product development process, we ask these sound creators—like Chris Jenkins, Academy Award-winning sound mixer for movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, or music producers like Nigel Godrich (Radiohead) and Manny Marroquin (Rhianna, John Mayer)—to listen to our speakers like the brand new Sonos Beam and critique the sound, focusing on albums, movies, and TV shows that they worked on. These creator listening sessions in turn give Sonos engineers the feedback they need to tune the speaker and make it sound just right—whether you’re an engineer, an artist, or anybody else.

“When we sit down with these people we ask them for criticism,” says Martin. “Are they disappointed with what they hear? How can we tweak the sound to make them happy?”

Of course, we couldn’t adequately test and fine-tune the sound of products like Beam without content: the shows, movies, music and other cultural entertainment that increasingly fill our downtime—and our homes. Below you’ll find a list of shows, films, and songs that we used to test Beam. If you want to hear what your new smart soundbar can really do, we suggest starting here.

Movies

Arrival.  This movie has really great sound design throughout, especially in scenes depicting interactions with the aliens. It’s an excellent test of low-end sound–and great sound in general–on Beam, and one we used extensively when tuning and testing the smart soundbar.

Mad Max: Fury Road.  Mixing engineer Chris Jenkins is on our Soundboard, the panel of creative sound professionals we tap to help us fine-tune the sound experience of our products. He actually won the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing for his work on this movie.  It’s a crazy film, with equally crazy sound, and is a good one to put the sound of Beam through its paces.

Wall-E.  This movie has relatively little dialogue, but great sound design throughout, with some interesting spatial movement as well, showing off Beam’s ability to create a clear stereo image.

Baby Driver.  Another creator who helped us tune Beam was Julian Slater, who did all the sound design and mixing for this movie.  It’s a great test to hear how the sound design interplays with the music throughout, and Julian was very happy with how the movie sounds on Beam.

War For The Planet of the Apes.  Both the composer and sound mixer for this movie offered their input on the sound quality of Beam.  One particular scene by a waterfall was a great test of music reproduction in film.

Rogue One.  The action scenes in this installment of the Star Wars series show how well Beam handles music, dialogue, and sound effects at the same time—and without compromising anything.  The iconic themes from the score are still very clear amidst explosions and lots of dialogue.

TV

Westworld.  We worked with the sound team on Westworld when tuning Beam.  It’s a very effective test for a product like Beam, since the show has a large range of dynamic content, from whispered conversations to full-blown shoot-outs.

Stranger Things.  Your experience watching Stranger Things goes to a whole new level if you have Sonos Ones or Play:1s and Sub paired with your Beam for surround sound. The use of the left and right channels, particularly during scenes in the Upside Down, puts you right in the center of the action.

Mr Robot.  The sound mixers on this show helped us optimize dialogue on Beam. The protagonist is introverted and often mumbles, so we used this as a baseline to make dialogue as clear and audible as possible. Turn on Speech Enhancement in the app when you’re watching to hear the difference.

Music

Leon Bridges, “You Don’t Know”
“Alexa, play ‘You Don’t Know’ by Leon Bridges.”
Listen for overall musicality.

A Sonos favorite, this Leon Bridges track delivers a punchy drumline and clear bassline. As the other instruments join in, everything comes together cleanly, without the sound feeling congested.

Janelle Monae, “Make Me Feel”
“Alexa, play Make Me Feel by Janelle Monae.”
Listen for vocal clarity.

Clear and focused vocals, simple instrumentation in the verses, full choruses—this song really delivers it all. Pay attention to the clarity in Janelle’s vocals amongst the various other elements of the track.

Jordan Rakei, “Alright”
“Alexa, play Alright by Jordan Rakei.”
Listen for vocal clarity.

One of the key areas we focus on when designing our speakers is vocal clarity. Just as dialogue is very important for video content, the vocals are key for music. Listening to this track by Jordan Rakei, the vocals feel natural and focused, almost as if he is in the room with you.

Kendrick Lamar and SZA, “All The Stars”
“Alexa, play ‘All the Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar and SZA.”
Listen for stereo separation.

This track delivers a stereo sound wider than the speaker itself. Listen for the low bass synth lines come through, sitting underneath the kick drum. If you listen through to the end (which you should), you’ll hear the small string section enter the track, a feature more typical of classical music than hip hop. Beam delivers on the overall emotion of the track—bass, stereo sound—but also the subtler details you may otherwise miss.

Radiohead, “Reckoner”
“Alexa, play ‘Reckoner’ by Radiohead.”
Listen for stereo separation.

This track is a great example of Beam delivering detailed stereo image for music. The percussion from the start of the track is panned hard left and right, so you can really hear the separation.

Beck, “Wow”
“Alexa, play ‘Wow’ by Beck.”
Listen for bass and stereo separation.

The great low bass lines really bring soul to this song. Beam is able to balance the bass while simultaneously sounding great for the vocals and overall production.

Sonos Beam is now available for purchase on Sonos.com and wherever Sonos devices are sold. Order yours today.

Also available in: en-gb en-au fr de it es da nl sv no