Sonos has launched its latest soundbar – and it comes at an affordable price that’s uncharacteristic of the high-end multiroom audio brand.
The new Sonos Ray is a compact soundbar designed to enhance your TV sound, and it will be available to buy on June 7 for just $279 / £179 / AU$399.
It’s a lot cheaper than any other Sonos soundbar to date. So far, the best budget option has been the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which costs $399 / £339 / AU699. Meanwhile, the brand’s flagship Sonos Arc soundbar costs $899. / £899 / AU$1,499.
Sonos speakers have never been cheap, but the new soundbar is part of the company’s mission to bring better sound to more home theater setups. Speaking to TechRadar’s Matt Bolton, Sonos Head of Product Creation Brandon Holley told Us that “nine out of 10 TVs around the world still rely on built-in TV speakers,” which he has described as “fairly difficult”.
As well as coming at an affordable price, the Sonos Ray is the company’s smallest soundbar and features tapered edges, making it an ideal option for anyone short on space.
More interestingly, a pair of Ray soundbars can be used as rear speakers if you already have a Sonos Arc or Beam at home. Putting a literal twist on how we normally use soundbars, the Ray can be mounted to your wall vertically to amp up the sound from your existing Sonos soundbar.
Despite its small size, Holley says you’ll still get that “big Hollywood blockbuster home theater experience,” thanks to a bass-reflex system that delivers low frequencies while using anti-distortion technology to prevent “noise and turbulence.” that you [usually] get from a reach box”.
There are four drivers in total, comprising two elliptical midwoofers and two high performance tweeters.
Unlike the Sonos Arc and Beam soundbars, there’s no Dolby Atmos technology at work here – but the company has tried to deliver a wide soundstage nonetheless. Using a split waveguide, the Ray directs some of the high frequency energy directly at you and directs the rest behind you to bounce off your walls. In theory, this will create spacious sound that belies the soundbar’s compact dimensions.
If you want to amplify the sound further, you can wirelessly connect the Ray to other Sonos products; for example, a pair of Sonos One SL rear speakers and a Sonos Sub would create a complete home theater system. Plus, you get speech enhancement and night mode to tailor the soundbar’s audio performance to the content you’re watching.
As with the Arc and Beam, the Sonos Ray uses the company’s TruePlay technology to calibrate the audio output to its surroundings. During this process, the soundbar will emit a series of beeps and ticks across the entire frequency range; you will then be prompted to walk around your room waving your smartphone. The S2 app then uses your smartphone’s built-in microphones to analyze the audio and adjust the Ray’s sound to suit your room.
This feature is only available on iOS, which is a shame. Holley concedes that TruePlay “will only make the experience better”, but that the Ray is designed to sound great right out of the box for those who can’t access the feature.
Whether you have an iOS device or not, you’ll get all the other features you expect from a Sonos speaker from the Ray. It’s designed to pair seamlessly with the brand’s other products, so you can build your system as big (or as small) as you want, and it can be used with the same remote you use for your TV. .
More interestingly though, the Sonos Ray’s main connection to your TV will be via the optical port, rather than the HDMI eARC connection we often see for soundbars. Holley explains that this decision was made so that the Ray would be “a product that works with anything and is as easy to set up as possible”.
We’ve liked every Sonos soundbar so far – the Arc is our pick for the best Dolby Atmos soundbar you can buy – so we’re excited to see how the Ray fares compared to its siblings and older sisters. Stay tuned for our full review in the coming weeks.