According to a report in The Verge, Sonos is currently developing a new range of speakers that will include multi-directional speaker drivers and Dolby Atmos support. The Verge says that it's seen photos of the still-in-development larger flagship model (a recreation of which is just below), which apparently is known as 'Optimo 2' – for the moment, at least.
The report says that a smaller 'Optimo 1' speaker is also in development, as well as an 'Optimo 1 SL'. It appears that the 'Optimo 2' would be a replacement (or equivalent to) the Sonos Five, while the 'Optimo 1' and 'Optimo 1 SL' would replace the Sonos One and Sonos One SL, respectively.
Aside from speaker upgrades and Dolby Atmos, The Verge says that the flagship speaker is also being built with more advanced computing power than previous Sonos speakers, plus Bluetooth audio support in a non-portable speaker for the first time, and new features in the Sonos app. There will also be mics for voice control (though not in the 'Optimo 1 SL', most likely), and the company is considering USB-C audio input (the Sonos Five currently supports 3.5mm wired input).
The 'Optimo 2' will apparently have a new angular design, which looks like it would help it to fit in a range of speakers firing in all directions.
Based on what The Verge says in its report, we wouldn't expect these new speakers to arrive any time soon. In its earning report, Sonos mentioned another launch in 2022, but that's expected to be the long-awaited Sonos Sub Mini.
And there's no guarantee this is the final design, either.
During the launch of the Sonos Ray, we interviewed Brandon Holley, Product Creation Lead at Sonos, and he told us that Sonos' design process includes a period of testing different physical shapes in people's homes, to see how well they work in practical terms. These may not have any audio tech in – they're to help in the overall design process.
We suspect that it's one of these prototypes that The Verge has seen pictures of, which means that the product could be anywhere from in the middle of the engineering process – where neither acoustic or aesthetic designs are final – or it could be that it's actually quite an advanced test unit. So don't hold your breath, just in case.
The other big question is whether these speakers will use the new super-small speaker technology that Sonos gained in its acquisition of Mayht earlier this year. Mayht's HeartMotion tech would enable Sonos to put much more speaker power in the same kind of space as its current speakers – but there's no way to guess whether it can integrate the tech into its speakers any time soon. If it has, though, it could be very exciting.
Opinion: we've been waiting for this Dolby Atmos push
Regardless of what technology is inside the new 'Optimo' speakers, Sonos getting deeper into Dolby Atmos is desperately needed for the company.
The Sonos Arc is still a fantastic and popular soundbar, and its ability to work with other Sonos speakers in a surround system delivers excellent audio quality, but it's being left behind in the tech race… and the price race.
Using Sonos Ones as your rear speakers means you only get upfiring Dolby Atmos sound from the Arc soundbar – not from the rear, so you're only getting half the height experience that you could be.
Some of the best soundbars at the higher end now include rear speakers that feature upfiring Dolby Atmos sound, creating a more complete 'dome of sound' for home theater thrills. And they're doing it for extremely competitive prices – the Samsung HW-Q930B includes soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers with upfiring drivers, and costs about half of what you'd pay for an equivalent Sonos setup, despite include better Atmos effects. And the Sonos system wouldn't blow it away for sound quality or anything.
Soundbars and home theater speakers are now the major way Sonos makes its money, so it can't afford to be left behind here – these new speakers with Dolby Atmos support are the perfect way for it to catch up, so let's hope they're not too far away.
And while we're at it, here's what we'd like to see from a Sonos Arc 2 to go with them…