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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sonos Arc users can now adjust the volume of Dolby Atmos height effects

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If you’re a Sonos Arc user who’s been looking to fine-tune their Dolby Atmos height cues, a just-released update to the Sonos app will let you do just that, while also improving the battery life of the new Sonos Roam portable speaker.

Update 13.1 for the Sonos S2 app is available now, and among other bug fixes and improvements, it adds the ability to tweak the volume of the Sonos Arc’s height drivers when listening to content with object-based Dolby Atmos sound. You’ll find the setting by navigating to Settings > System > Arc > Height Audio on the Sonos app.

Like other Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars, the Sonos Arc delivers height effects using upfiring drivers that bounce sound off your ceiling, which makes for an easier and more affordable alternative to installing height speakers in your ceiling.

Of course, the shape and height of your ceiling can alter the effectiveness of a soundbar’s upfiring drivers. If your ceiling is too high, too low, or vaulted, the signature height cues of Dolby Atmos soundtracks might be (depending on the situation) too diffuse, or too in-your-face.

By being able to adjust the volume of the height drivers (a feature that’s available in soundbars from other manufacturers), Arc users can fine-tune Atmos height cues to help compensate for a ceiling that’s too high or too low, although a vaulted ceiling would likely still be a problem. (You could always just move, right?)

Last summer, Sonos released a software patch for the Arc that helped tighten up the soundbar’s bass response, which sounded “muddy” and “distorted” at launch.

Besides the new height channel setting for the Arc, the Sonos S2 update also adds a fix designed to “improve” the Sonos Roam’s battery performance with Google Assistant installed.

sonos roam main Ben Patterson/IDG

Besides adding the ability to adjust the height channels of the Sonos Arc, an update to the Sonos app will fix a Google Assistant-related battery issue on the Sonos Roam (pictured), according to Sonos.

Sonos has been somewhat vague about the Google Assistant battery-life issue for the Roam, a compact portable speaker that began shipping last month.

At launch, Sonos said it was “working closely with our partners at Google to issue an update that improves battery life of the speaker when Google Assistant is enabled.”

I tested the Roam with Alexa and Google Assistant installed (you can only have one of those two voice assistants installed on the Roam at one time), and I didn’t notice any big difference in battery life. But for what it’s worth, any Google Assistant-related battery issues there were on the Roam should hopefully be history.

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