I have pretty much all of Sonos' products at home. I have the awesome Sonos Arc (here the review) connected to the TV together with the Sonos Sub (here the review) and two second generation Sonos One satellites for wireless surround, I have two Sonos Five in the studio, I have a Sonos Move (here the review), in the bedroom I have a second generation Sonos Beam (here the review) and in the garden I have a Sonos Roam (here the review). In short, I have always been of the idea that - especially in the audio world - when you want to use a quality system, you have to accept the price.
And when I talk to someone who is actually not passionate about the sector, explaining all the features of the system that I have decided to install practically all over the house, his answer is always the same: "Yes, but it costs a lot!". It's actually a more than fair reaction that, of course, even those at Sonos were aware of. But now, they have solved the problem.
sonos ray is the company's new budget soundbar, smaller and more accessible, but with all the credentials to make even the less enthusiastic understand what the quality of Sonos products really is. A sort of hook, with which groped to retain users and then push them towards the ecosystem, with all (or almost) the sound quality of Sonos.
Sonos Ray review: the best budget soundbar
Design and materials
As soon as you take it out sonos ray out of the box and turn it on, you realize that Sonos continues to have an edge. And the reason is simple: the brand's new budget soundbar is much smaller than all the others ever produced by Sonos, and although the audio output grille is totally front, the engineers of the brand have managed to integrate four transducers (two midwoofers and two tweeters each of which managed by a class D amplifier) capable of guaranteeing a more than immersive sound for such a compact soundbar.
A solution that amazes in terms of sound body and frequency balance, which we have hardly had the opportunity to hear in products of similar size to the sonos ray: we are talking about a product with a length of about 56 centimeters, 7.1 centimeters high and less than 10 centimeters deep, which weighs less than 2 kg.
The soundbar can also be hung on the wall, but with an accessory to be purchased separately, and essentially integrates two main ports: the one for the power supply and the digital optical input. No HDMI, therefore, and no compatibility with eARC: the only connection available in the sonos ray it is the optical one, which makes it compatible with the vast majority of TVs but, at the same time, puts a big limit on it which we will talk about shortly.
Above there is a small status LED that you can decide to keep on or off, together with touch controls with which you can manage music playback, and a totally invisible IR receiver with which the company has tried to remedy its own. to the limit due to the optical connection: the volume control.
Configuration and Application
It will not be enough to connect the sonos ray to your TV in order to use it fully. Because everything is managed through an application with which it connects via WiFi or ethernet cable: it is the Sonos S2, a new app that those of the company have introduced both in the Play Store and in the App Store in conjunction with the release of the Sonos Arc , with which you can manage all the system parameters.
And despite sonos ray does not integrate any digital assistant, however, it is a model that is also compatible with Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal and many other online streaming services, as well as with Apple's AirPlay 2.
The configuration process is however extremely intuitive, and is structured so that it can be completed even by those who totally ignore the dynamics of technology. If you also had a Sonos Sub, or a pair of Sonos One to use as surround satellites, pairing the devices would be very simple.
All the management of the company's speakers and, therefore, also of the new one sonos ray is done through the Sonos app, available for both iOS and Android. The connection to the TV will take place with the single optical cable and as soon as the soundbar is turned on and the app started, the Sonos system will automatically detect its presence to start the configuration process.
Through the application, then, you can complete two important procedures: the True Play optimization and the association of the remote control.
Those who know Sonos will know True Play: it is a sound optimization process, thanks to which (by analyzing the refractions of sound waves) the system will optimize playback based on the environment in which the soundbar is placed. The process is really very simple to complete, and will require the use of an iPhone or iPad to be able to capture the sound. The biggest flaw of the Sonos application, however, lies in the fact that TruePlay is only available in the version for iOS.
Then I advise you to immediately perform the association of the remote control, because it is only in this way that you can control the playback volume of the soundbar without having to use the app or the touch panel. The point is this: the optical connection makes it impossible to directly control (by the TV) the playback volume, something possible with eARC for example.
By pairing the remote control, all you have to do is start the procedure and point the remote control of your TV towards the front of the sonos ray: This way the soundbar will save the remote control code and pick up the volume adjustment signal. In short, everything becomes more convenient, except that it is a procedure that can only be performed if your TV uses an infrared remote control: the most modern models, for example, cannot take advantage of this feature because they use Bluetooth remote controls, making therefore the management of the volume decidedly inconvenient.
The listening test
As we have already said, compared to the ultra-compact size, the sound of the sonos ray is very interesting, and is characterized by the typical audio profile of the brand, balanced and full-bodied: the two bass reflexes that accompany the mid-woofers do an excellent job and the midrange and highs are always reproduced in a very natural way, without the slightest distortion.
And despite the lack of any lateral driver, sonos ray it is capable of reproducing a rather immersive sound. The reproduction of the dialogues is also good (an important feature, given the nature of the product), which can also be improved through an emphasis function present in the application.
Unfortunately, given the nature of the connection, sonos ray it is neither compatible with Dolby Atmos nor with Dolby Digital Plus: obviously it supports Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital and DTS Digital formats. In any case, the power is all there: at high volumes there are never distortions, but we must consider the fact that compared to the other soundbars produced by the brand, the bass are perhaps less incisive. Fortunately, in the app it is possible to manage the equalization of the soundbar and activate the Loudness mode: activated and executed the True Play, things change radically.
Going back to us, and always keeping in mind that we are talking about a soundbar and not a physical multi-channel system, I must admit that the new arrival in the Sonos house is doing really well.
I have listened to several pieces of music, both from Spotify, and from vinyl (connecting the turntable to the Sonos Amp), and with loseless audio files and, if initially the bass tended to "croak" a bit, after the last update the problem is been totally fixed: I was surprised how much the sound bounces around the room.
Price and considerations
If you evaluate the price of sonos ray compared to that of the other products of the brand, the 299 euros needed to buy it will seem more than reasonable. And yes, I realize that if you compare the figure with what you would have to spend to buy a more "traditional" 2.0 soundbar, the sonos ray anything but a cheap soundbar would seem.
But I'll tell you right away: in my opinion, the price of this product is more justified and, if evaluated based on the quality, the sonos ray it is the best soundbar in terms of value for money. In short, the soundbars that cost from 200 to 300 euros, do not in any way offer a performance comparable to that of the newly arrived Sonos.
In the brand lineup, sonos ray it is well positioned especially considering that the Beam (Gen 2) costs 499 euros in the list. It is a compact, convincing product, whose only limit is the only optical connection available but which guarantees a sound performance that far exceeds expectations.
NB If you do not see the purchase link, we recommend that you disable AdBlock.