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Sonos Ray review

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HomeReviewsSonos Ray review

Sonos Ray review

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The Sonos Ray is an entry-level soundbar for someone who wants better audio than what their TV or monitor can provide. 

It’s a small soundbar that can be neatly tucked away underneath a TV or computer monitor. It won’t fill a large living room with sound, however it will fill a bedroom or office with clear audio.

For $450, the Ray is a mid-range soundbar. The good news is, for $450, you’re not only getting a soundbar, you’re also getting a decent home speaker. The Ray’s Wi-Fi compatibility allows you to stream music from almost any service seamlessly.

But as a soundbar the Ray lacks some crucial features. There’s no HDMI eARC connectivity, it doesn’t have surround sound and unless you have a newer TV, your TV remote might not work with the Ray.

With that said, if you want those features, you’re usually going to have to cough up significantly more money. 

For an affordable soundbar, the Sonos Ray is a good option. And if you’re invested in the Sonos ecosystem, it’s an even better option.

Pros

  • Nice size for small to medium rooms
  • Easily fits into Sonos ecosystem
  • Good audio for a small soundbar
  • Doubles as a decent home speaker
  • Easy to setup

Cons

  • No HDMI eARC support
  • Optical audio connection can be problematic
  • No surround sound virtualisation

Price

The Sonos Ray costs $450.

Design

The Ray is a small, (height: 71 mm, width: 559 mm, depth: 95 mm) standalone soundbar oriented towards small-to-medium rooms. It doesn’t come with a subwoofer or surround speakers.

I had no problem placing the soundbar. It tucked nicely underneath my TV, and due to its short length was easy to place on my computer desk or the shelf that my TV sat on. 

On the back of the soundbar, there’s a power outlet, an optical cable input and also an Ethernet port. On top of the bar there’s touch controls for pausing and playing music and volume controls. It’s all very simple.

For playing music, all you have to do is connect the Ray to your Wi-Fi and you can stream music from virtually any streaming service to the soundbar. I tested it with Spotify and it was simple. All I had to do was select the Ray as my playback device, and the music came through.

There is a problem with the Ray’s design though and that’s the way it connects to TVs or PCs. There’s no HDMI connectivity here, Sonos instead opted for an optical audio cable connection. This is a fairly dated option, seeing as we now have HDMI eARC, and I had a couple of problems with it. 

Sonos Ray review

Setup

Setting the Ray up was easy. The Sonos app, available on iOS and Android, guides you through the steps and it works seamlessly.

If you’re a Sonos household and you have other Sonos products around the house the Ray is compatible with the ecosystem. You can wirelessly connect it via the app. This multi-room setup for Sonos devices is brilliant. You can deliver music to multiple speakers around your house, simultaneously or separately, easily. In this regard the Ray is another capable Sonos speaker and it’s easy to connect it to existing Sonos systems.

During setup, I realised that the Ray wasn’t compatible with my LG TV’s remote. Half way through the process, you’re prompted to connect your remote in order to control the volume of the soundbar.

Annoyingly, this is only compatible with infrared remotes (IR), my LG one uses radio frequencies (RF). It meant I had to have both my phone and my remote in order to watch TV. I had to use the Sonos app to turn the volume up and down and it got tiresome very quickly. For newer TV’s this won’t be a problem as most of the latest screens come with an IR remote control.

Sonos Ray review

Audio

The Ray has four drivers, two midwoofers and two tweeters. For a small soundbar, it produces a very good sound. 

It’s ideal for a small room. I set it up in my office and it easily filled the room. The Ray is aimed at providing a better sound than your TV’s in-built speakers, and in this case it’s much better, you won’t be disappointed.

For bigger rooms, the Ray struggles, but that’s to be expected. If you have a large room, with a large TV, you probably should be looking for a larger soundbar.

The impressive surround sound virtualisation found in the Sonos Arc and Beam is absent here. The Ray only supports stereo PCM, DTS audio and Dolby Digital. There’s no Dolby Atmos. Again this feels like a backwards step. However, Dolby Atmos’ inclusion would bump the price up and probably isn’t necessary for a soundbar that’s going to sit in a small room. For surround sound, there’s always the option to pair it with other Sonos speakers, but that means spending more money.

The bass capabilities of the Ray are decent. They don’t compete with a soundbar that has a dedicated subwoofer, but again, for a standalone it’s fine. I had no issues with the audio while playing PS5 and watching Netflix. 

The speech enhancement feature (in which the speech is turned up and the ambient sound is turned down) works very well. Vocal clarity is a highlight of this soundbar. The slog of having to turn the volume down in action scenes then back up for talking scenes isn’t needed here. There’s also an option for night mode which comes in handy if someone is sleeping next door. 

The Ray is compatible with almost any music streaming service. Playing Spotify was great. The sound is crisp and you can easily connect to the Ray within your chosen music streaming app.

Sonos Ray review

Verdict

The Sonos Ray is an entry level soundbar for someone that wants a better sound than what the in-built speakers (in their TV or monitor) can provide. And in that respect it achieves what it sets out to do. 

The Sonos Ray delivers powerful, loud audio for a soundbar of this size, with the vocal clarity feature being a highlight. 

There is a lot missing here, though. The lack of HDMI connectivity is a step backwards as optical audio cables can be tricky to manage and (other than TVs) not a lot of devices have them. There’s no compatibility with surround sound virtualisation software like Dolby Atmos, and you’ll need to have a relatively new infrared TV remote control in order to simultaneously control the soundbar with your TV.

But for $450, the Sonos Ray is a soundbar that punches above its weight, and size. Other than the HDMI connectivity, the missing features explained above are usually reserved for more expensive soundbars. To stay at an affordable price, something had to be removed.

If you’re looking for an affordable, entry-level soundbar for a small room, that’s going to sound better than your TV speakers, the Ray is a great option. If you’re looking for a soundbar to fill up a large room, you’ll be better off with a larger soundbar.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Price
Design
Performance
Setup

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