Sonos on Wednesday announced a new soundbar, called the Arc, that will replace the Playbar and Playbase in its family of TV speakers.
If you’re unfamiliar, Sonos makes some of the best-sounding wireless speakers on the market, which has earned it a pretty dedicated fan base. It sells all sorts of speakers, from the portable Move to smaller Play devices and a dedicated sub, that work together seamlessly through the Sonos app. They support a bunch of audio services including Spotify, Apple Music, Sirius XM and more.
The Arc costs $799 which in normal times is about what you’d expect to pay for a good soundbar. But the economy is tanking. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence is hoping people stuck indoors and watching TV more than ever will want to improve the sound of the movies and music pumping into their living rooms. So, is now the right time to announce an expensive speaker? Spence thinks so.
He told CNBC that Sonos thought a lot about when to launch the Arc, but that its products are usually in development for years and last a long time. “We’re concerned about the state of the economy generally, but it’s no reason to hold back products,” he said. And he thinks customers will want the Arc to improve the sound quality from their TVs as they watch more Netflix and listen to more music inside.
The Arc is big — 45 inches long — and was designed to provide better audio and aesthetics to larger TVs. Sonos will continue to sell its smaller Sonos Beam soundbar for folks who don’t want something this long. But it thinks people with huge TVs also want bigger soundbars to recreate a movie-theater experience at home.
“TVs are growing larger and larger, and customers want to be more immersed in entertainment,” Sonos chief product officer Nick Millington told CNBC. “The type of immersion that you’d previously get in a cinema you can now get from these larger TVs.” Generally, though, TVs have pretty bad audio that can be vastly improved with a soundbar.
The Sonos Arc has eight woofers and three tweeters, which should provide more than enough bass and sound for most living rooms (though you can always add more speakers to your setup). It also has four microphones so you can talk to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The Arc, which will be available in black or white, launches on June 10. Also launching then are refreshes to the Sonos Sub, now in its third generation, and a Sonos Five speaker that will replace the Play:5. Both include additional processing power and minimal design tweaks but will run new software Sonos will start rolling out on June 8.
Spence told CNBC he doesn’t expect any issues in the supply chain. “It’s back up and running,” he told CNBC, noting that the company has factories in Malaysia and China. “Malaysia shut down in April but China is back open,” he said.