the most compact soundbar in form and price

Sonos formalized its new soundbar called Sonos Ray on Thursday. Following the groundbreaking Beam and the more exclusive Arc, it expands the US manufacturer’s offering with a product that goes to the essentials by tightening the price. And we were able to approach him.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Sonos Ray soundbar // Source: FANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

His message had been leaked for several weeks. Sonos Ray is now official. Sonos presented it to a couple of media outlets this week in New York. Opportunity to contact this newcomer who wants to expand the range of soundbars from the American manufacturer.

She is known by the code name S36 Fury and she intends to go completely crazy. Especially with smaller budgets. Because this is the core goal of the Sonos Ray. If the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is shown at 499 euros, the Sonos Arc, much more exclusive with its Dolby Atmos – DTS: X compatibility and its advanced sound system, will approach 900 euros. In order not to become too elitist, therefore, a more affordable model was needed, “entry level”even though we do not really like the term on the california side …

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
From left to right: Sonos Arc, Sonos Beam Gen 2 and Sonos Ray soundbars // Source: Sonos

Let’s not cut corners: the Sonos Ray is advertised for 299 euros by Sonos. For that price, of course, there are concessions to be made. Of course, it will not be on the ecosystem, and the new soundbar is completely in line with home habits. It will thus work with any other speaker in the family for multiroom or stereo (Sonos One, Sonos Play5, Sonos Sub, Sonos Move, Sonos Roam, etc.). But it still loses some features along the way.

Design: classic and minimalist

In terms of design, the Sonos Ray is also a bit different, although we find the sleek look with the rounded ends of the Sonos Beam. It is more compact (55.9 x 9.50 x 7.1 cm) and less heavy (1.95 kg versus 2.8 kg). This is also explained by its less extensive interior. But it is an all-in-one system that comes by itself.

Sonos’ wish is to have a more minimalist product in terms of content and shape that can slide into a piece of furniture or be discreet in front of a television of less than 55 inches (Beam is 65 cm long and Arc 114 cm). This achieves the goal of this mini format.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Sonos Ray is compact and can fit anywhere // Source: FANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

The set takes care of the aluminum and plastic design from Sonos soundbars. On the front is the same grille as the 2nd generation Sonos Beam with the Sonos logo in the middle, provided by an LED that lights up when the product is turned on.

Seen from above, we notice that the whole is quite trapezoidal, with a wider shape on the front facade than on the back. It is also a choice to direct the sound forward and towards the spectators by maximizing the internal sound system, and in particular to be able to place the soundbar in a piece of furniture without loss of sound quality.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Sonos Ray has the same front grille as Sonos Beam Gen 2 // Source: FANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

At the top there are, as usual, touch buttons for Play-Pause, Volume +/— (or forward / backward depending on use). Note that here there is no LED indicating activation of the microphone. And with good reason: Sonos Ray ignores voice control and therefore the voice assistant to control the soundbar.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Source: FANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

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On the back, the connectors take place in a rather classic arrangement on the brand’s soundbars, right in the middle of a recess. So there we find an Ethernet port on the right, an optical input, the power supply and the home configuration button. But no HDMI port.

This is one of the first surprises of this Sonos Ray: you can attach it to the wall or put it on any piece of furniture you want (the mountings are on the back), but you will have to go through the included optical cable for connection to your TV. Asked about the topic of Frandroid, Sonos explains that it did a study on consumer usage, and the point that often came up was the insufficient number of HDMI ports on their screen, especially small formats. Select the optical cable equally qualitative “, We are secured, and thus allowed to be released for similar uses.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Sonos Ray is connected to the TV via the optical cable // Source: FANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

Sonos Ray does not look out of place with your other products in the ecosystem, as it also comes in black or white. Here we have a soundbar that responds as much to the codes as to the usual care that the American manufacturer gives the impeccable finish. It is not on the quality of the materials that you should seek concessions at first glance.

Sound: no Dolby Atmos in sight

To meet the concern of simplicity and functionality, all the speakers are oriented towards the front. There are four Class D digital amplifiers, two tweeter speakers with waveguide to better spread the tweeter and two mid-woofers in the middle. Sonos has linked its bass reflex system to the one with low speed valves to limit distortion and improve low frequencies.

The sound waves are asymmetrical to project sound against the walls of your room and bounce around for better filling. Unlike its siblings, the Sonos Ray does not support Dolby Atmos or DTS: X.” satisfied “however, it supports Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Sonos Ray soundbar // Source: Sonos

From our first and quick listen, we noticed a fairly clear and powerful sound without having to force it, but a more marked presence of bass than usual. This can also be explained by the placement of the soundbar a little too far back in the cabinet during the demo we attended. It tended to sound like a soundtrack. It must be confirmed or invalidated during the test that we perform later. But it could also be Sonos’ desire to seek out a new audience, younger and more happy with powerful bass.

The trueplay feature to calibrate the bar to your room (via iPhone only) will in any case be an important asset in perfecting the sound experience. It will also be necessary, as often, to rely on the Sonos application to adjust the equalizer, switch to night mode, which softens the sound without compromising the dialogues, launch the music from the audio streaming services (Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music. ..) or compatible radio (TuneIn, Podcasts …). Or trust Sonos Radio, which is also enriched with a new arrival: SOLARSYSTM, the station designed and programmed by singer Lorde.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
Sound system for Sonos Ray soundbar // Source: Sonos

And Sonos Ray, like Sonos products, is AirPlay 2 compatible, so you can stream your audio content directly from your Apple devices.

A product for newcomers and small spaces

Above all, Sonos Ray is openly aimed at users who are new to the soundbar or who need a compact and inexpensive product for a small interior. On paper at the moment, it has assets to claim and the seal of Sonos sound quality as a guarantee.

If it decodes it, to have 5.1, however, it will be necessary to connect other speakers to it, otherwise it will be satisfied with a sound that comes only from the front, in 3.1. The concessions on the connectors may come as a surprise, but it is always possible to invest in an optical HDMI adapter to connect it to other products that would not have an optical port. It works on Wi-Fi just like all Sonos speakers (only with extra Bluetooth on Roam and Move), but the Ethernet port is available as a backup.

Sonos Ray: the most compact soundbar in form and price
No microphone on Sonos Ray, you will not be able to control it with your voice // Source: Sonos

Often a contentious issue, the microphone, and by extension the presence of a voice assistant, has been sacrificed, as much in the name of price reduction as the paradoxical attraction for new customers that the confidentiality of data may represent in their absence. While the use of the microphone is still essentially optional …

However, the company has announced the arrival of its personal assistant (and embedded, without data transfer to a cloud) Sonos Voice Control, designed by engineers from Snips, the startup acquired in 2019. To access it and start music, you must increase or decrease the sound of your movie on Ray, you’ll have to rely on a compatible Sonos speaker with a microphone.

Sonos Ray price and availability

The Sonos Ray will be available on June 7 in black and white for 299 euros on the Sonos website.

This item was produced during a tour with the brand to see the product.

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