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I have some pretty bad news. For the next 1500 words or so, I’m not going to give you a reason to… not buy the Sonos Ray soundbar.
The Sonos Ray is cheap. It sounds great. And it’s perfect for those looking to boost the sound of a budget TV.
The Sonos Ray Soundbar
Sonos Ray announced just a few weeks ago† Despite Sonos making some pretty kick-ass sound systems, Ray is not for the soundbar enthusiast. Rather, it’s for those of you who want a better sounding streaming experience but don’t want to spend more than the TV is worth on a soundbar. It is for those of us who live in apartments with small living rooms. Or those of us with a bad-sounding TV with acceptable picture quality sitting atop a chest of drawers in our bedroom.
It was inevitable that Sonos would go ahead with a budget offer. The speakers have been praised for their relative room-filling sound for over a decade. We suspected the Sonos Ray soundbar was coming, thanks leaked last month touting this thing as the entry-level model next to Sonos’ $699 radius 2 and the $1,499 Bow† The Sonos Ray comes in just over half the price of the Beam 2, at $399.
When Sonos unveiled this little thing, I got to experience the sound during a briefing. But I’ve had Ray in the TV nook of my Sydney apartment for a week now and I really can’t fault it.
The Ray has two cables: one is optical that you run from the TV to the soundbar and the other is the power cable. Once these are connected, you will need to download the Sonos app to set up the soundbar. If you do not want/cannot set up the soundbar via WiFi, there is an Ethernet port.
I didn’t exactly have the smoothest experience because the Ray was half set up on a different network, on a different TV. Factory resetting Ray solved my problems (I had to google how to do that though). The app makes setup easy, but the process from opening the box to hearing Jughead’s soothing voice Riverdale via Ray took 31 minutes. This included installing an update. You must also have a Sonos account, which also takes into account the time.
One feature I’d definitely recommend you set up is Trueplay, although walking around the living room and letting the app listen to the space resulted in massive judgment from my cat. Trueplay measures how sound is reflected off walls, furniture and other surfaces in a room, then tunes your Sonos speaker to make sure it sounds great.
You need the Sonos app
The sound wasn’t coming through Ray, but if you opened the app and tapped ‘LG TV’ you could see the sound beaming. You can enable sound enhancement (amplification of the audio frequencies associated with the human voice) and also Night sound. Night sound reduces the intensity of loud sounds and increases the level of softer sounds, making dialogue clearer without having to turn up the volume. This would be used a lot in a house with more than one person, where someone is trying to sleep while you watch Avengers: Endgame for the 82nd time. You hardly notice the switch to Night Sound when you are sitting in front of the television.
While I was reviewing the Sonos Ray, I received a new TV from LG to review (stay tuned there), but swapping the soundbar to a new TV didn’t require me to do anything but go to the app. go and tap on the new TV .
Size, look & feel
He’s a smol boi. This TV isn’t huge – it’s only 55 inches – but the Sonos Ray dwarfs.
As you can see, the Ray is small. It’s light, but doesn’t feel cheap. It comes in black and white. While it feels nice, it was smeared like crazy just by putting it on. I’ll save you from a picture of my dirty fingers on the soundbar.
But how does the Sonos Ray sound?
I thought you would never ask.
People who love Sonos, For real love sonos. If you have a Beam or an Arc and you’re reading this to see if it’s worth replacing either one, the answer is no. The sound cannot be compared. Sonos knows how to make things sound great, but it won’t really undermine itself by selling a half-priced version of a highly successful soundbar. With that lens, I have to say that the Sonos Ray sounds brilliant, for its price.
It is compact and deliberately smaller than the other soundbars that Sonos offers (because it has to fit in a room or the living room of an apartment, for example). But this means that the audio had to be approached differently than in the Arc of Beam 2.
Ray has all the acoustic elements in it, they are all forward facing (instead of sideways facing drivers or even upwards as is the case with Arc). This means that you can place the soundbar comfortably in a TV cabinet or a TV corner and that this has no negative influence on the sound quality. There are two tweeters built into Ray, both of which are fed by custom split wave guards (a way of getting balanced, wall-to-wall sound from a smaller device). TL;DR: Small form factor, surprisingly big sound.
Watch TV or movie
With this TV that I am reviewing, you can choose the sound of the TV, soundbar or TV plus soundbar. It’s almost not necessary to have both when watching a show, unless of course it’s something like Obi-Wan Kenobi, where using the soundbar and TV speakers gives you the illusion of a more surround sound given the direction each of the speakers transmits the sound. Watching a TV show, even reality TV (in my case LEGO Masters), it heightens the sound of the show and makes something as simple as watching people build LEGO epic sound.
Put on a movie, though, and the Sonos Ray absolutely hits. Please note that this is rated in an apartment with a dedicated TV ‘nook’ built in. The living room is also barely two meters away from the TV cabinet. Watching No time to dieI felt the engine hum, heard the loose rock bounce off the spokes under the wheels and fly off the sides of the bridge – every sound could be heard clearly. Even before a single shot was fired. With the Sonos Ray at about 45 percent, I could hear whispers and background crashes, the clanging of a gun, and of course the action was epic. At full volume, apart from irritating my neighbors, the sound is only a little at a lot. It doesn’t come out muffled, rather it’s just too loud for my small space.
listening to music
It’s also worth pointing out that the Ray is tuned differently for TV audio and music. When you’re listening to TV, you’ll get clearer dialogue thanks to the soundbar’s speech enhancement feature. For music, the levels shift, and the Ray delivers clear highs on top of well-balanced mids. Again, the bass isn’t life-changing, but you wouldn’t expect that with a speaker setup of this size.
When playing music, there is consistent bass and clarity across all genres. The Sonos Ray treated everything Well, while I wouldn’t actually use a music speaker soundbar, Ray may change my mind. In a song with a lot of bass, Ray didn’t vibrate and avoided that awful resonance vibration that so many speakers get with a song like that. The sound is clear on all levels. There is no splash of tones and each instrument or beat can be heard without overpowering the others. Full volume was insane – the sound was crisp, clear and at full volume it wasn’t distorted. The Sonos app lets you play music through their radio, which is nice, but limited.
Can you add a sub to the Sonos Ray?
Yes and no. Ray is compatible with all generations of subwoofers, provided they are Sonos brand. the soundbar will not work with a third-party subwoofer. The only subwoofer Sonos currently sells is the $1,099 Sonos Sub Gen 3. Taking the cost of the Ray into account, you’ll get to $1,500 in total. But the good news is, thanks to a report verified by The Verge, we believe a budget-friendly Sonos sub could be on the market soon† You can also add Sonos speakers to create a more surround sound.
I do wonder how much the Sonos Sub would add to the Ray experience, the same goes for surround sound.
Having to control the sound via the Sonos app is annoying. As is the fact that the only Sonos sub currently available is more than double the cost of the soundbar. But other than that, I can’t fault the Sonos Ray. It’s cheap, reliable, easy to use and sounds brilliant. If you’re big on sound bars, this isn’t for you. But if you have a small space and still want to experience some rad sound while in a binging hole, it’s hard to see past the Sonos Ray. I am deeply impressed.
Where do you buy the Sonos Ray soundbar?
The Sonos Ray soundbar will be available for purchase from June 7.
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