Sonos Ray Soundbar review: Great TV sound on a budget, it’s even better for music

The most exciting trend in audio over the past years has been the move toward affordable equipment that actually sounds good. Examples include Vizio speakers, Elac amplifiers, and even expensive brands like Sonos. After indulging in the “budget” category by its distinction Symphonyx Cooperation and excellent One Sonos has now introduced its first “affordable” soundbar. He is the winner.

The $279 Sonos Ray may look deceptively simple with its concise feature set, but it still can rival the more expensive sonos beam in some ways. Ray lacks an HDMI port and does not have a file voice assistant Like Alexa or the built-in Google Assistant, but the voice is narrower than Beam. Overall, the Ray is a better value than the Beam in my book, because it still has all the features you want plus great sound for a lower price.

Likes

  • Excellent sound for movies and music
  • Compact and attractive design
  • simple connection
  • Still the best multi-room system

You do not like

  • No HDMI
  • Some competitors offer wireless subwoofers as well

If you’re looking to save money, Sonos might not be the first place to look, but budget products like Ray allow more people to enjoy the company’s excellent multi-room system. If you’re in the market for a compact speaker that can be integrated into an entire home music system today or on the road, Ray is a great place to start.

Black Sonos Ray Speaker

The beam is available in a choice of white or black.

Sonos

Simple design, key features

Sonos Ray follows the tradition of his higher level siblings Ray and Arch. It’s also a single speaker without a subwoofer, but unlike the other two, the Ray is a stereo only model. It has a pair of amplifiers and subwoofers – none Dolby Atmos Elevation channels here. These speakers feature a special waveguide that focuses the high frequencies outward. They are the main reason why a beam is able to appear much larger than its dimensions suggest.

The Ray has similar aesthetics to the Ray, with a choice of white or black, but the Ray is slightly smaller at 22 inches wide. In contrast to the shape of the tongue depressor, the beam is trapezoidal, although it has the same polycarbonate grille and a set of touch controls on top. Viewing it from above, I immediately noticed Ray’s lack of microphones. And while it doesn’t have a built-in voice assistant, you can still control it by issuing voice commands to a paired smart speaker like Amazon EchoAnd the Google Nest Mini Or another Sonos smart speaker like Sonos One.

The Sonos Ray speakers are located on top of the Sonos Beam

The ray on top of the ray.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The other thing Ray missed? HDMI port. Considering that almost all new speakers – even $80 of it Now with an HDMI port, this seems like a weird way to cut costs. However, it is not a huge omission, because basically every TV has a file digital optical output, so you should be fine with the beam contact. While this connection limits the soundbar to Dolby Digital, the soundbar comes with other audio functions such as night mode, speech enhancement, and TruePlay tuning using an iOS device.

Like all other Sonos speakers, the Ray lacks a remote control, but after a straightforward setup process with an Android or iOS app, you can use your TV’s remote to control it. If you want to be more involved than changing the volume, the Sonos app lets you activate sound modes or control the music around your home. The Sonos system remains the gold standard for multi-room speakers and features dozens of streaming services, as well as connectivity with Apple. broadcast 2And the Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect.

What does Sonos Ray sound like?

I have compared the Sonos Ray with two other speakers, the Sonos Beam and the Polk’s reactionwhich costs about the same.

that

Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury / CNET

The CNET Sound Lab is a mid-size 13 by 16 foot room with high ceilings, and Ray had no trouble filling it with sound. Ray may not be as loud as Beam or React, but it can still play music and movies at satisfying volumes, and an amazing amount of bass.

Of the three speakers in the company’s lineup, Ray is very similar Sonos One phonetically. The midrange is a little “dark” or closed off sound – though the sounds sound super pure – and the highs and bass are full. The Rai is capable of a wide sound range and doesn’t sound like a small speaker at all.

Musical comparisons

I started my exams with some music – tight funk Tom Cardy Between the Lines. The song features vocals mixed to the extremes with a soft bass drum and an acoustic coded line driving the song from the center. Of the two Sonos speakers I tested, the beam sounded larger, offered more mid-range detail and better bass. By contrast, the beam first exhibited single-beam-like inclinations with a textured, substance sound that did not match the beam’s grandeur.

Then I tried the heart-breaking soft folk song The flower field of Grand Salvo. This track, with its ripped guitar verses and close-mic vocals, was more intimate on the rai. Singer Buddy Man looked like he was there with me. Beam provided a greater sense of dynamics once the song broke out in a chorus led by the chorus, but the speaker also amplified the sound of the tape, and Mann’s voice wasn’t present in the verses.

I swapped Beam for Polk React and tried music that could test each speaker’s ability to make use of the space: yulunga (soul dance) for the dead can be danced. In the 3:13 song, Sonos Ray identified with the angled tweeters that placed the left and right shakers 3 feet apart on either side of the speaker, and there was even a satisfactory phoom of the bass drum. Your pee wasn’t deep – there was more vibe from the hall, but Lisa Gerrard’s voice was also a little nasally. Although Polk showed good stereo separation, the shakers were eventually limited to the confines of the cabinet.

Audio comparisons with movies

While the music was weighted in favor of Rai, if you watch a lot of movies, Beam was the best speaker here. The beam provides an effective pseudo-image.Dolby Atmos effects And with Mad Max: Fury Road, he showed what an all-in-one speaker can do. At the beginning of the film, a series of audio commentaries narrate the events of the apocalypse, and the beam sent an ominous omen around my listening room. In comparison, votes have been relatively consistent on Ray and Polk React. At 2 minutes and 7 seconds, a car jumps over the listener, an effect that the beam has dramatically brought to life, with a real sense of movement and soaring from back to front. Although it didn’t offer the same sense of movement, Ray’s dialogue reproduction was still respectable and was an impressively broad sound for a small unit.

Moving on to the lobby scene from The Matrix (1 hour 41 minutes 4 seconds in), Polk React was a lot deeper and louder than Ray. The high-frequency and bass effects sounded less boisterous on the Sonos Ray, but on the flip side, listening to them wasn’t exhausting.

Finally, I tried Ray’s Speech Enhancement technology and it was subtle. He offered a little more definition, especially in the difficult-to-decipher dialogue in Batman Begins – it was easier to explain that the Sentinel was sending Bruce Wayne to a “recluse” rather than a “cemetery”. other speakerssuch as Polk React and Xfox AV357 Offers many levels of sound enhancement, and is more effective if you need it Make speech more understandable.

Should you buy it?

I intentionally didn’t compare Sonos Ray to Physio V21 Or other amplifiers with a separate sub, because if I did then the anemia would sound positive. That’s not the point with speakers like Ray, Beam, or React: All three are designed for people who want a speaker in one box that’s easy to set up. The rai looks especially good with music and can be upgraded with Symfonisk rears or later.

For a huge discount compared to the Beam, Sonos Ray offers great performance. It’s pretty close when it comes to movies, and in some cases even better with music. It might lack buzzing bang features, but I personally wouldn’t want a voice assistant in my speakers, anyway. smart speakers Cheap price and often sold.

The Ray is the perfect complement to a bedroom TV, and it’s a good way to upgrade a terrible-sounding TV into a smaller living room. If you want better audio control and movies, React has the advantage, but where Ray really shines (ahem) is the integration of music and multi-room streaming features. The Rai looks good, looks great, and is easy to set up and use.