This is how the cheapest soundbar from Sonos performs

Sonos already offered two soundbars, and a few weeks ago a third was added with Sonos Ray. I was able to try what this can do.

Sonos is gradually trying to cover cheaper price ranges for its categories. With Roam, we have a cheap alternative to Sonos Move in mobile products. You can go for the Sonos Beam if the Arc soundbar is too expensive for you, and the Sonos One is recommended for jukeboxes if you do not want to spend that much money on the Sonos Five.

With Ray, Sonos has now added a soundbar at an even lower price. It is smaller than the Beam, has fewer speakers and comes with fewer features. The sound quality should still be such that you can enjoy movies, series and music. Let’s take a look together at this point to see if that is the case.

Unpacking and initial setup

Sonos Ray comes again in sustainable cardboard packaging. As with other models, the design was kept very simple. You mainly see some illustrations, logos and an indication of the included color variant. The contents of the package can be accessed by removing two seals. It contains the soundbar of a fabric case, a cable with an optical connector to connect to a TV, a power cord, and some notes.

The contents of the Sonos Ray box. (Photo: TechnikNews)

The Sonos app is required for the initial setup. After connecting Ray to the power supply, a pop-up will appear asking you to connect the product. The beam then plays a tone that is used to identify the two devices. A WLAN connection must then be established and a room selected. Finally, some updates will be installed. Alternatively, you can connect to a TV immediately. To do this, connect the optical cable and mute the TV. Then you can connect your remote control to control the volume. This should work with any infrared remote, and the remote for an Apple TV is also recognized. The TV may need to be restarted once if there is still no sound. In addition, adjusting the sound with TruePlay is also optional. How it works, I have already explained enough here.

design and processing

Although Ray looks a little different from other Sonos soundbars, it is certainly still recognizable as a Sonos product. It is smaller than both Beam and Arc, making it easier to place on compact shelves. However, there is also loss of sound due to the size, which I will get into more detail about later. Sonos Ray is available in two colors, black and white.

Sonos Ray Comparison Beam

The Sonos Ray is a lot smaller than the Sonos Beam. (Photo: TechnikNews)

There is only one grid to protect the drivers in front as they are only front facing Ray. A Sonos logo was placed on it. There is also a status LED above it, which sometimes lights up when the volume changes.

Sonos Ray design

Image: TechnikNews

At the top we find the familiar touch control buttons. You can pause and resume music, change the volume, and skip a track back and forth. Sonos Ray does not have microphones for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can use other Sonos speakers with a microphone to send voice commands to Ray using Sonos Voice Control. However, it will be a while before the service comes to us.

All important compounds are hidden on the back of their own bulge. The power connection, an Ethernet port and the optical connection are installed there, and a function key is built-in. HDMI eArc for audio transmission from a TV is missing compared to Beam. Although the optical finish is intended to replace it, this has two disadvantages. You can then no longer adjust the volume directly via the TV, so you can only see the exact level in the app. In addition, the setup is a little more complicated. In addition, the infrared receiver is often not completely reliable. It must have a clear path to the remote control so that it can receive a signal.

Sonos Ray uses aluminum as a material, which looks very robust and well-made. I could not find any deformations, scratches or dents.

sound quality

What sets Sonos Ray apart from other Sonos soundbars is the orientation of the drivers. As already mentioned, these are all aimed at the front, which means that the spatial sound is missing. Sonos generates this through a special arrangement of the speakers inside. These include four amplifiers, two treble speakers and two midrange speakers and a bass reflex system.

Dolby Atmos is not part of the game. It basically ensures that you dive even deeper into the experience of a movie, a series or a piece of music. However, home theater formats such as Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround are still supported.

Then Ray also comes with two smart features, one of which is the night mode. This is intended to increase the intensity of the quieter sounds so that the overall sound is not as high. It all did not really appeal to me with the second generation of Beam and the effect here is not worldwide either. Then we have speech enhancement, which should make spoken words sound louder.

And how is the sound in everyday life? First, you hear no difference compared to other Sonos products. Everything sounds clear, natural and balanced, although the bass in my opinion falls a bit short. Spatial sound is also noticeable despite the lack of side drivers, so Sonos’ efforts with the interior design are clearly evident. Dolby Atmos would have enhanced the experience, but its lack is not really a deal breaker. In a direct comparison with the Sonos Beam, however, one notices that the more compact form factor influences the sound. The beam is not so high at the same volume and the sound lacks volume in comparison. But as already said, only things that are audible in a direct comparison. If the bass should hit a little more in some places, the sound of Ray is excellent – especially for the price.

Sonos app

The Sonos app mentioned in the setup section is again used to control Ray. This is free and available on iOS, Android, Windows and macOS. Here, music services can be added, equalizers can be set and speakers can be managed and grouped. It was also claimed in advance that it should be possible to use the Sonos Ray as a surround speaker. But as it turns out, that is not the case.

Sonos Roam app

Screenshots: Technology news

The app hasn’t changed since my last Sonos review, so I’ll skip the details this time.

Prices and availability

You can buy Sonos Ray from Sonos, Amazon, MediaMarkt and other retailers. The suggested retail price for the soundbar is 299 euros.

Sonos Ray: Conclusion

Sonos gets a big plus from me for covering an even cheaper price segment with Ray. So there is now a suitable (and also very good) soundbar for every budget. Still, there are clear boundaries at the start of the feature so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. I just hope the lineup doesn’t get too crowded. Sonos should now offer a cheap option for Sub and then release updates to existing products.

Of course, one has to compromise on the relatively low price. Among other things, you do not get Dolby Atmos, the bass could be better and there is also no eArc connection. Perhaps this could be included in the next generation. Such a connection can not be so expensive, can it?

There’s a whole new audience for the Sonos Ray. It’s perfect as the first soundbar, and even if you do not know what to do with expressions like Dolby Atmos or can not see the difference. Nevertheless, the sound is so good that it is a lot of fun with music, movies and series.

Thank you for delivering the Sonos Ray!

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