Finally, A Good And Cheap Soundbar

Finally, A Good And Cheap Soundbar
Meet Ray, the newest member to the Sonos soundbar family. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia
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Sonos has today announced Ray, a new, more budget-friendly soundbar that doesn’t compromise all that much on sound quality.

And look, even if it does, it’s not something the untrained ear would notice – besides, this thing isn’t for the soundbar aficionado. Rather it’s for those of you that want a better sounding streaming experience, but don’t want to spend more than the TV is worth on a soundbar.

It was inevitable that Sonos would follow through with a budget offering. Its speakers have been lauded about for over a decade for their relative room-filling sound. We had an inkling the Sonos Ray soundbar was coming, thanks to leaks last month touting this thing as the entry-level device alongside Sonos’ $699 Beam 2 and the $1,499 Arc.

The Sonos Ray comes in a little over half the price of the Beam 2, at $399. Told you it was cheap.

I got to go hands-on with Ray during a briefing this week and so-far, the soundbar has impressed me. Apparently, only 10 per cent of people with a TV use a soundbar. Sonos has nailed its market here, I feel, with the pitch for Ray being for those with smaller TVs, those with smaller living spaces or those who want a better sound, but don’t want to hand over $1,499.

It’s compact, I don’t know how much it weighs, but it’s very light (I held it in my hands and I have no concept of weight, I’m sorry) and is easy to use. I genuinely cannot wait to review the Sonos Ray and compare it to other, more premium soundbars I’ve played with from TCL and Samsung – the demo sound was great, whispers were audible, yelling wasn’t blurred and bass was clear, so I’m expecting good things.

sonos ray soundbar
With the TV (and my reflection) for scale. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

You can build a system, adding other Sonos devices, but you don’t have to.

Sonos Ray Soundbar sound

It’s compact, and is deliberately smaller than the other soundbars Sonos offers (because it needs to fit into a room or an apartment loungeroom, for example). But this means the audio needed to be approached differently than it is in the Arc or Beam 2.

Ray boasts all acoustic elements inside of it, all are forward-facing (instead of side-firing drivers or even upwards as is the case with Arc). This means you can comfortably sit the soundbar inside a TV unit, or a TV nook (as is the case in my apartment) and it won’t negatively impact the sound quality. There’s two tweeters built into Ray, both feeding into custom split wave guards (a way to get balanced, wall-to-wall sound from a smaller device). TL;DR: small form factor, surprisingly large sound.

It boasts Sonos’ Trueplay, which adapts the sound for the unique acoustics of the room it’s in, and Ray also packs Sonos’ Night Sound setting, allowing you to reduce the intensity of loud effects and keep dialogue clear so you don’t disturb anyone else at home.

sonos ray soundbar
Artistic* shot of the white soundbar. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The soundbar specs

  • Four Class-D digital amplifiers
  • Two tweeters
  • Two full-range midwoofers
  • Bass reflex system (to minimises distortion and round out low-end frequencies)
  • Adjustable EQ (through the Sonos app)
  • Up to Dolby 5.1

You can connect Ray to anything, including a gaming console. It’s connected via optical output and can be controlled with your TV remote.

The Sonos Ray Soundbar comes in white or black and will be available for $399 from June 7.

Same Roam, different colours

Also announced today is three new colours for the Sonos Roam range: olive, sunset and wave.

Inside, they pack the same as their black and white-coloured friends, but on the outside they look more like décor. They’re priced at $299, same as the rest of the Roam range, and will be available from June 17.

sonos ray soundbar
Roam, but prettier. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Lastly, voice control

Sonos also announced a non-voice assistant voice assistant. That is, the ability to control Sonos devices using your voice to perform tasks like pause the song, skip the track, etc, and while the activation phrase is ‘Hey Sonos’, it’s not meant to replace the likes of the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.

There’s no timeline for Sonos voice control’s release in Australia, so we’ll dive more into it when we know we should be expecting it.

Where to buy

You can pre-order the new Sonos Ray soundbar from Sonos’ online store here for $399.

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