With Amazon Prime Day 2022 literally days away, movie fans might be thinking now is a good time to start seeking out a Dolby Atmos soundbar to improve their TV’s sound. We routinely track the best soundbar deals to provide a sense of how much money can be saved, but a special opportunity like Prime Day could present motivated buyers with a chance to score the soundbar of their dreams at a much reduced price.
One of the most exciting audio trends of the past few years has been Dolby Atmos, which uses overhead height effects to give movie soundtracks a “spatial” element. Many movies and some TV shows available for streaming from Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and other services feature Atmos soundtracks, and these can be experienced using the latest soundbars.
While Atmos-capable models won’t be the least expensive soundbar option, there are models available in the $500 / £415 range that use virtual Dolby Atmos processing to deliver “overhead” effects with Atmos soundtracks. Stepping up from there, you’ll find soundbars with built-in upfiring speakers to render these effects, and models with both upfiring speakers and virtual processing for surround sound. Some of these can also be paired with optional wireless surround speakers at an additional cost.
Here are my Dolby Atmos soundbar picks for movie fans to keep an eye on during Prime Day. While there’s no guarantee they will end up being discounted, each one has been vetted with a TechRadar review and is well worth your consideration for buying from Amazon or from other retailers that hitch a ride on the Prime Day sale bandwagon.
1. Sonos Beam
The Beam is the least expensive Dolby Atmos-compatible model in the Sonos soundbar lineup, which is topped by the $899 Arc. Where the Beam differs from the Arc – aside from being a compact, 26-inch-wide model – is in the number of speaker drivers it contains and the manner in which it delivers Atmos effects. Unlike the pricier Arc, the Beam uses virtual Dolby Atmos processing to expand its soundstage both horizontally and vertically. And while we found the effect to be a bit underwhelming compared to pricier soundbars in our review, the Beam’s overall performance was solid enough to merit a four-star rating.
Beyond Atmos, the all-in-one Beam features an HDMI eARC port, TruePlay room calibration, and an ability to link with other products in the Sonos ecosystem like the Sub subwoofer and One SL speakers for use as rear speakers in a full surround setup. As with other Sonos products, everything is controlled by the company’s class-leading S2 app.
2. Sony HT-G700
Sony’s HT-G700 is another soundbar that relies on virtual processing to deliver Dolby Atmos effects – something that’s common for its price range. In this case, however, DTS:X decoding is added to the mix, and there’s a separate wireless subwoofer to augment the sound coming from the HT-G700’s slim cabinet. Two HDMI ports are provided, one with eARC, while Bluetooth offers an easy way to stream music to the system from an iOS or Android device.
The Sony’s virtual Atmos processing didn’t necessarily rock our world, but its overall performance was strong enough to earn a four-star rating in our review. The HT-G700 can be considered a good option for someone seeking a slim soundbar for movies, but one that comes with a separate subwoofer to deliver extra bass kick.
3. Sonos Arc
The Arc sits at the top of the Sonos soundbar food chain and, similar to its baby brother Beam, is an all-in-one model with no separate sub. This is a full Dolby Atmos soundbar with 8 woofers and 3 tweeters, and it delivers both surround and overhead effects via angled speaker driver arrays that bounce sound off the side walls and ceiling. Same as with the Beam, connections are limited to a single HDMI eARC port. Also same as with other Sonos speakers, the Arc features TruePlay tuning, can be paired with the company’s Sub subwoofer, and can be integrated into a multiroom S2 app-controlled system.
In our Arc review, we found its performance with both music and movies to be top-notch, with the flagship Sonos bar earning 5 stars. What most impressed us was the spatial precision with which the Arc delivered surround sound effects, something that’s even more awe-inspiring when you consider it’s coming from a single all-in-one bar.
4. Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3
Designed to do battle with the Sonos Arc, the Panorama 3 calls on Bowers & Wilkins’ extensive history of speaker manufacturing to deliver an impressive 3.1.2 Atmos soundbar that looks as good as it sounds. Like the Arc (and the Beam) the Panorama 3 is an all-in-one solution that offers up enough bass to satisfy all but the most bass-hungry viewers. A single HDMI-eARC port is accompanied by an optical digital input. Bowers & Wilkins’ own app, which is used for control, mostly sticks to the basics, though it does let you integrate various music services for direct streaming.
As explained in our review, music playback is one the Panorama 3’s main talents, making it almost unique among soundbars in this respect. While we were less impressed with the bar’s handling of Atmos soundtracks, its overall performance earned it 4.5 stars.