A soundbar that nails the basics

With the $279 Ray soundbar, Sonos is heading right after a new market place. The company’s prior home theater merchandise have all been $400 or far more and have largely been geared toward folks intent on obtaining the greatest sound probable. The Ray, meanwhile, is far more obtainable for people who want far better audio than their Television set speakers can give, but do not necessarily care about items like Dolby Atmos guidance or area-shaking bass. The Ray is not particularly a spending plan speaker, although, so I established out to find out if Sonos built the ideal compromises right here in its exertion to make a much more mainstream soundbar.

Hardware and set up

Sonos Ray review photos

Sonos Ray review shots

Bodily, the Ray is smaller than the by now-compact Beam, with a tapered design that is broader in the front than it is in the back. In contrast to other Sonos soundbars, while, the Ray’s speakers are all forward-facing in this way, it reminds me a bit of a wider and flatter edition of the Sonos Five speaker. This design means you can tuck the Ray into a media stand and not have to worry about the audio bouncing off of nearby surfaces. Considering that the Ray does not have a mic for voice assistants, you do not need to have to fret about no matter whether it can hear you if you position it in a media stand, possibly.

As with just about each other Sonos solution, the Ray has touch-sensitive buttons on top rated to start and pause tunes and regulate the quantity. There’s also an LED position mild on the front, relatively than on the best as it is on most Sonos speakers. Once again, this is in circumstance you put it on a shelf that would or else conceal the light-weight if it was on the prime. On the again, there is a electricity jack, setup button, ethernet port and optical audio jack Sonos left out HDMI assist to lower costs, and since the Ray doesn’t help far more innovative audio formats like Dolby Atmos, the further bandwidth HDMI allows was not required here.

Sonos Beam vs. Sonos Ray

The Sonos Beam (in black) pictured in front of the new Sonos Ray (in white).

The set up course of action was easy: I just plugged the Ray into the wall and linked it to my Tv with the incorporated optical audio cable. From there, I finished environment it up in the Sonos application on my cell phone. The method will consider a little bit more time if you’ve in no way set up a Sonos speaker in your home prior to, mainly because you’ll have to have to do factors like authorize the many streaming music solutions you want to use. But I simply essential to wait around for the app to identify there was a new speaker to established up, tell it which room the Ray was in and then wait for it to get linked to my wi-fi network.

After that’s completed, you have the option of tuning the Ray using what Sonos phone calls Trueplay. This takes advantage of the microphone on an Apple iphone or iPad to harmony the speaker’s audio based mostly on how your place appears. It’s a little bit of a odd course of action, going for walks around your place slowly but surely boosting and reducing your cellular phone, but I’ve located it constantly can make my Sonos speakers audio improved, so it’s truly worth the 5 minutes it usually takes to set it up if you have a appropriate product on hand.

How do films sound?

Sonos Ray review photos

Sonos Ray critique photographs

I’ve spent the final 7 days or so viewing flicks and demonstrates with the Ray and it is an apparent improvement over my TV’s constructed-in speakers. Sonos reported it centered on dialogue quality, bass response and a broad soundstage, and it undoubtedly succeeded on two of all those fronts. Dialogue seems incredibly crystal clear, whether or not I was viewing a drama like HBO’s The Staircase or having fun with Galadriel’s narration at the starting of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The latter also furnished a fantastic prospect to listen to how the Ray carried out in a lot more rigorous, action-loaded sequences. As the prologue of Fellowship ongoing to its significant battle versus the forces of Sauron, swordplay and arrows flying crammed the place around the narration in a properly-balanced combine. And the rumbling explosion and large thud of Sauron’s helmet hitting the ground right after his defeat ended up a superior chance to hear the Ray flex its bass muscle groups.

One more beloved of mine for tests soundbars is the 15-moment intro of Pacific Rim. The beginning of this in excess of-the-top rated film has it all – large battles between big robots and monsters, cities remaining wrecked as panicked citizens flee and a reliable heroic narration, all of which the Ray faithfully reproduced in a properly-well balanced mix.

The Ray pulls this off despite acquiring a great deal simpler acoustics than the Beam: it incorporates two heart midwoofers, two tweeters with split waveguides to broaden the speaker’s soundstage, a bass reflex technique that supplies a surprising amount of low-conclusion efficiency, and 4 Class-D amplifiers. It’s an successful technique, but my major complaint is that the waveguides and computational audio can only do so significantly to widen the soundstage. Whilst the Ray evidently has a solid stereo presence, it is not just about as immersive as the initially-technology Sonos Beam that I ordinarily use. Even although my older Beam does not assistance Dolby Atmos, its larger sized measurement and additional sophisticated speaker array give it a massive edge in excess of the Ray.

The Ray is also not the loudest speaker out there. Again, this is not a huge surprise, as Sonos is marketing this unit for use in rather smaller sized house. That doesn’t imply it was too peaceful for me, but I did usually have its volume up about 50 percent for it to be loud sufficient. If I definitely required to kick factors up though viewing a major film, I may possibly get closer to 70 %. If you’re the type of particular person who really desires theater-style audio, you’ll be superior off with a extra highly effective machine.

The very good news is that, as with all other Sonos residence theater devices, you can pair the Ray with the Sonos Sub to strengthen bass overall performance. You can also use two Sonos 1 speakers as rear surrounds to make for a considerably a lot more immersive knowledge. The Ray could be an excellent preference for a first soundbar to improve your TV’s audio and then use it to build out a much more elaborate setup down the line. That reported, the Sonos Sub prices a whopping $749 it’s challenging to envision a person shopping for a Ray and then investing a few periods as a lot on a subwoofer.

Sonos Ray review photos

Sonos Ray overview photographs

What about new music?

Though the Ray is meant to be hooked up to your Tv set, it’s also a able audio speaker. Sonos says that when it builds its dwelling theater products and solutions, tunes quality is just as significant as how it works with videos and exhibits. In my tests, the Ray sounds good – tracks like Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the Feeling” have lots of reduced stop and tremendous-very clear vocals. Meanwhile, the hard remaining- and right-panned guitars in Metallica’s “Wherever I Might Roam” were rather unique. Whilst it’s however not the loudest speaker, the Ray is more than able of filling a medium-sized space with distinct and energetic new music.

In a natural way, the Ray has all the exact same multi-area audio capabilities as other Sonos speakers. This suggests you can concurrently stream the exact same new music to numerous speakers on your WiFi network, or engage in some thing unique on each a person. You can set up custom made speaker teams (just the speakers on your initially ground, for case in point) and stream audio right to the Ray employing AirPlay 2. The only actual aspect it’s lacking when compared to most other Sonos speakers is voice control. There’s no mic, which signifies you just cannot manage the speaker straight with Alexa, Google Assistant or the impending Sonos Voice Control attribute. That stated, if you have other intelligent speakers, such as any other Sonos speaker with a mic, you can use them to command the Ray.

Sonos Ray review photos

Sonos Ray assessment shots

Wrap up

There is no issue in my brain that the Ray is a severe upgrade more than a TV’s developed-in speakers. What’s less apparent is how significantly far better it is compared to other modest soundbars, like Roku’s $180 Streambar Professional. Sonos has a very long heritage of offering excellent audio, and the Ray carries on that custom. And just as the portable $179 Sonos Roam is a very good gateway drug into the Sonos ecosystem, the Ray is a great 1st Sonos for someone who desires to increase their Television audio. Sure, you can obtain more affordable soundbars, but Sonos is betting its popularity for fantastic audio quality will make the Ray a achievements. Soon after shelling out some time with it, I’d have no trouble recommending the Ray to anybody who wants an easy way to improve their TV’s audio but would not treatment about having the finest speaker that supports the most formats. For a good deal of people today, specially all those with smaller sized residing rooms, the Ray will be just the correct soundbar for their house.