Sonos Ray Soundbar Brings Smaller Size, Simpler Features for $279

Confirmation extensive leaksSonos has officially announced a new, less expensive one sound bar with the the company’s outstanding multi-room music system on board. It’s called the Sonos Ray, costs $279 (AU$399) and will be available on June 7th. The company will also update existing Sonos speakers on June 1 with a new voice control system called Sonos Voice.

The Ray is a two-channel soundbar with Dolby Digital decoding that promises a wide soundstage through the use of proprietary waveguides. The compact speaker is about two-thirds the size of the Sonos Beam and is designed to sit in a dresser but can also be wall mounted using a separate kit.

The Ray is Sonos’ new entry-level soundbar in the current lineup, below the $900 Sonos Arc and the $450 Sonos Beam Gen 2but unlike these bars, it does not include an integrated voice assistant Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so it doesn’t respond to wake words like “Hey Google” or “Alexa” or “Hey Sonos”. It also doesn’t support Dolby Atmos surround sound or have one HDMI connection to connect to your TV.

Sonos Ray in a room

The Sonos Ray can be used in conjunction with a pair of Sonos Ones or the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf speakers as rears.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Instead, the Ray offers a digital optical audio connection as well as WLAN and Ethernet. Like every other speaker in the range, the Ray offers the Sonos multi-room system with dozens of compatible apps and control via mobile devices. It also works with Apple AirPlay 2.

I heard the Sonos Ray at an event in New York City, and the soundbar seemed to offer fairly balanced sound, although it didn’t seem able to match the volume of the more expensive Beam. Based on my experience with the Arc and the Beam, their beamforming processing means they are better able to fill a room with sound, which the Ray lacks.

“Hey Sonos” voice assistant for music

The company also announced its first voice assistant, Sonos Voice Control, which will be available June 1 on all Sonos voice-activated speakers. The Assistant is designed to be used with music, but it also controls all the functions of a Sonos system, including power and volume. It features the voice of Giancarlo Esposito (Far cry 6, The Mandalorian), and it can be used on the same Sonos device as Amazon Alexa, but not with the Google Assistant. The wake word is “Hey Sonos,” and users can ask follow-up questions within 6 seconds without repeating the phrase.

Sonos has spanned both the luxury and mainstream markets for a while, but the Ray is the company’s first soundbar that can truly be described as “affordable”. The Ray competes with other single soundbars, including the $250 Polk React and the $219 Yamaha YAS-109, both of which have Amazon Alexa on board.

I look forward to testing the Sonos Ray soon.

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