Sonos unveils its most affordable soundbar yet and its own voice-control feature

To confirm previous rumors, Sonos announced a new soundbar aimed at more budget-conscious buyers on Wednesday, as well as a new voice control feature for its existing speakers.

The first is called the Sonos Ray and will be available on June 7 for $279 (£226, $299). It fits under the $449 Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and $899 Sonos Arc as the most affordable and most compact soundbar from the popular connected speaker maker to date, measuring 559 × 95 × 71 mm (so about 22 inches wide ). In comparison, the equally compact Sonos Beam comes in at 651 × 100 × 69 mm (about 25.6 inches wide). As with the Beam, the Ray’s small size should be best suited to smaller rooms and secondary TVs, although Sonos states the device could also work on a desktop, positioning it more broadly as a jumping-off point for those who interested in their first upgrade to their TV Built-in Speakers.

However, paying less means sacrificing some features. Unlike the Beam and Arc, the Sonos Ray does not support Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound. It also lacks an HDMI port, opting instead for a lower bandwidth optical audio port and an Ethernet jack as its only connection options, with no additional HDMI adapters in the box. Leaving out an HDMI ARC port could make the cable situation a bit cluttered for those with more involved home theater setups, though Sonos says the Ray can still work in parallel with your TV’s remote via its IR receiver.

Microphones are also missing, meaning there’s no native support for voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Privacy-conscious buyers may see this as a plus, although the lack of microphones also means there’s no support for Sonos’ “Automatic Trueplay” feature, which allows certain Sonos speakers to tailor their sound to their placement in a particular room ( provided you have an iOS device). The Ray still supports Trueplay, but you will have to go through the tuning process manually. Like most Sonos speakers, there’s no support for Bluetooth audio here either.

Overall, the Ray is a simpler piece of hardware than the Beam of Arc. This is a 3.0-channel soundbar, with all speakers pointing out of a front-facing perforated hard plastic grille. Internally there are four amplifiers, two tweeters and two mid-woofers; the Beam, meanwhile, contains five amplifiers, a tweeter, four mid-woofers and three passive radiators for bass reproduction. Sonos is now positioning the latter as its “high-definition” compact soundbar for comparison.

I got to briefly listen to the Ray at a media event in New York City this week, and while nothing sounded particularly offensive, it’s always difficult to gain meaningful insights from an audio demo in a manufacturer-controlled environment. Sonos says it tweaked the Ray’s drivers to get a greater sense of width from the soundbar’s small size, but it’s only so possible to get around the physics of a speaker, and the slightly larger Beam was already not the best at producing thumping, low bass on its own. You’ll probably sacrifice depth of sound for the convenience of a speaker that fits more easily into any room, as with most small soundbars. There are alternative soundbar systems around this price that support Atmos and come with a subwoofer and discrete satellite speakers. That said, most Sonos home speakers in the past have offered a pretty accurate and neutral sound, so we’ll have to listen to the Ray more extensively to get a better idea of ​​how it performs.

Elsewhere, there’s a trio of touch-based playback controls atop a typically minimalist design, which will be available in black or white. It will also be mountable, albeit via its own mount.

That aside, the appeal of most Sonos speakers is still there. The Ray is fully operable via the Sonos app and thus supports various streaming services. It works with Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol, so you can beam audio directly from an Apple device to the soundbar. And it pairs perfectly with any other Sonos speakers you own or, Sonos hopes, might want in the future, so you can use them all at once in a whole-home wireless setup. If you wanted to expand the Ray with a Sonos Sub-subwoofer and two Sonos One speakers as rear surrounds, it could be done with little friction, although it would be very expensive. (There’s also nothing to indicate that Sonos will yank software updates for it) this one devices at any time.) Again, we’ll have to confirm whether the Ray meets the company’s usual standard of audio quality. While there are plenty of cheaper sound bars out there, this may be the most accessible entry point for those looking to upgrade their TV audio and board the Sonos train.

De daadwerkelijke stem die je hoort als je Sonos-spraakbediening gebruikt, is gebaseerd op opnames van Giancarlo Esposito, de acteur die vooral bekend is van de hoofdrollen in <em>Breaking Bad</em> and <em>The Mandalorian</em>.” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Giancarlo-Esposito-Sonos-Voice-Control-640×427.jpg” width=”640″ height=”427″ srcset =”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Giancarlo-Esposito-Sonos-Voice-Control-1280×853.jpg 2x”/><figcaption class=
enlarge The actual voice you hear when using Sonos voice controls is based on recordings by Giancarlo Esposito, the actor best known for starring in Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian

Sonos

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.