According to a new report in On the edge (opens in new tab)Sonos is currently working on a new range of individual speakers that appear to be configured to include multi-directional speaker drivers and Dolby Atmos support. On the edge says he’s seen photos of the larger flagship model still in development (a recreation of the one below), which is apparently known as the ‘Optimo 2’ at the moment.
The report says 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 for (or equivalent to) the Sonos Five, while the ‘Optimo 1’ and ‘Optimo 1 SL’ would replace the Sonos One and Sonos One SL respectively.
In addition to speaker updates and Dolby Atmos, On the edge says the main speaker is also being built with more advanced computing power, Bluetooth audio support in a non-portable speaker for the first time, and new features in the Sonos app. There will also be microphones for voice control (though not on the ‘Optimo 1 SL’, 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 angled design, which seems to help it fit into a variety of speakers firing in all directions.
based on what On the edge says in its report, we don’t expect these new speakers to arrive anytime soon. In its earnings report, Sonos mentioned another launch in 2022, but it’s expected to be the long-awaited Sonos Sub Mini.
And there’s also no guarantee that this will be the final design.
During the launch of the Sonos Ray, we interviewed Brandon Holley, Sonos’ product creation lead, and he told us that Sonos’ design process includes a period of testing different physical shapes in people’s homes to see how they work in practical terms. They may not have any audio technology – they are to help with the overall design process.
We suspect that it is one of those prototypes that On the edge seen pictures, which means the product could be anywhere in the middle of the engineering process – where neither the acoustic nor aesthetic designs are final – or it could be that it’s actually a pretty 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 Mayht acquisition earlier this year. Mayht’s HeartMotion technology would allow Sonos to pack a lot more speaker power into the same kind of space as its current speakers – but there’s no way of guessing if it will be able to integrate the technology into its speakers anytime soon. If you do, though, it can be very exciting.
Opinion: We’ve been waiting for this Dolby Atmos boost
Regardless of the technology that is inside the new ‘Optimo’ speakers, Sonos delving into Dolby Atmos is desperately needed by 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 provides excellent audio quality, but it’s being left behind in the technology race… and the price race.
Using the Sonos Ones as your rear speakers means you only get Dolby Atmos sound from the Arc soundbar – not the rear, so you only get half the height experience you could have.
Some of the best soundbars on the higher end now include rear speakers that feature upfiring Dolby Atmos sound, creating a fuller ‘sound dome’ for home theater thrills. And they’re doing it for extremely competitive prices – the Samsung HW-Q930B includes a soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers with upfiring drivers and costs about a half than you’d pay for an equivalent Sonos setup, despite including better Atmos effects. And the Sonos system wouldn’t surprise you for the sound quality or anything.
Soundbars and home theater speakers are now the main way Sonos makes money, so it can’t be left behind here – these new Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers are the perfect way 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 along with them…