Sonos formalized its new soundbar called Sonos Ray on Thursday. After the pioneering Beam and the more upscale Arc, it expands the American manufacturer’s offer with a product that goes to the essentials by tightening the price. And we were able to approach him.
His announcement had been leaked for several weeks. The Sonos Ray is now official. Sonos presented it to a few media this week in New York. The opportunity to approach this newcomer who wants to extend the range of sound bars from the American manufacturer.
Known under the code name of S36 Fury, she intends to be all the rage. Especially with smaller budgets. Because this is the core target of the Sonos Ray. If the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is displayed at 499 euros, the Sonos Arc, much more upscale with its Dolby Atmos – DTS: X compatibility and its advanced audio system, is approaching 900 euros. In order not to be too elitist, a more affordable model was therefore needed, “entry level”even if we don’t really like the term on the Californian side…
Let’s not cut corners: the Sonos Ray is announced at 299 euros. For that price, of course, there are concessions to be made. It will obviously not be on the ecosystem and the new soundbar is fully in line with home habits. It will thus work with any other speaker in the family for multiroom or stereo (Sonos One, Sonos Play5, Sonos Sub, Sonos Move, Sonos Roam, etc.). But it nevertheless loses some functions on the way.
Design: classic and minimalist
In terms of design, the Sonos Ray is also a bit different, even if we find the slender look with the rounded ends of the Sonos Beam. It is more compact (55.9 x 9.50 x 7.1 cm) and less heavy (1.95 kg against 2.8 kg). This is also explained by its less extensive interior design. But it’s an all-in-one system that comes on its own.
Sonos’ desire is to have a more minimalist product in terms of content and form that can slip into a piece of furniture or be discreet in front of a television less than 55 inches (the Beam is 65 cm long and the Arc 114 cm ). In this, the objective is achieved with this mini-format.
The set takes up the aluminum and plastic design of the Sonos soundbars. On the front, it is the same grid as that of the 2nd generation of the Sonos Beam with the Sonos logo in the middle, surmounted by an LED which lights up when the product is on.
Seen from above, we note that the whole is rather trapezoidal, with a wider shape on the front facade than at the back. It is also a choice to direct the sound forward and towards the spectators by maximizing the internal audio system, and in particular to be able to position the soundbar in a piece of furniture without loss of audio quality.
On the top, as usual, there are touch buttons for Play-Pause, Volume +/— (or forward/backward depending on use). Note that here, there is no LED indicating the activation of the microphone. And for good reason: the Sonos Ray ignores voice control and therefore the voice assistant to manage the soundbar.
On the back, the connectors take place in a fairly classic arrangement on the brand’s sound bars, right in the center in a recess. So there we find an Ethernet port on the right, an optical input, the power supply and the home configuration button. But no HDMI port.
This is one of the first surprises of this Sonos Ray: you can fix it to the wall or put it on a piece of furniture as you wish (the fixings are on the back), but you will have to go through the optical cable provided for the connect to your TV. Asked about the subject by Frandroid, Sonos explains that it did a study on consumer usage and the point that often came up was the insufficient number of HDMI ports on their screen, especially small format. Opt for the optical cable equally qualitative “, we are assured, thus allowing one to be freed up for similar uses.
The Sonos Ray won’t look out of place alongside your other products in the ecosystem, as it also comes in black or white. Here we have a soundbar that responds as much to the codes as to the usual care given to the impeccable finish by the American manufacturer. It is not on the quality of the materials that you have to seek concessions at first sight.
Audio: no Dolby Atmos in sight
To respond to the concern for simplicity and practicality, all the loudspeakers are oriented towards the front. There are four class D digital amplifiers, two tweeters with waveguide to better diffuse the treble and two mid-woofers in the center. Sonos has attached its bass-reflex system to it with low-speed vents to limit distortion and improve low frequencies.
The sound waves are asymmetrical to project sound towards the walls of your room and bounce around to better fill. Unlike its siblings, the Sonos Ray does not support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.” satisfied “nevertheless support Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround.
From our first and quick listens, we noted a fairly clear and powerful sound without having to force it, but a more marked presence of bass than usual. This can also be explained by the positioning of the soundbar a little too far back in the cabinet during the demo we attended. It tended to sound like a sounding board. It will have to be confirmed or invalidated during the test that we will carry out later. But it could also be Sonos’ desire to seek out a new audience, younger and more fond of powerful bass.
The Trueplay function of calibrating the bar according to your room (via the iPhone only) will in any case be an important asset to perfect the sound experience. It will also be necessary, as often, to rely on the Sonos application to adjust the equalizer, switch to night mode which softens the audio without compromising on the dialogues, launch the music from the audio streaming services (Apple Music , Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music…) or compatible radio (TuneIn, Podcasts…). Or rely on Sonos Radio which is also enriched with a new arrival: SOLARSYSTM, the station designed and programmed by singer Lorde.
And the Sonos Ray, like Sonos products, is AirPlay 2 compatible so you can stream your audio content directly from your Apple devices.
A product for newcomers and small spaces
The Sonos Ray is above all openly aimed at users who are new to the sound bar or who need a compact and inexpensive product for a small interior. On paper for the moment, it has assets to claim and the seal of Sonos audio quality as a guarantee.
To have 5.1, however, it will be necessary to attach other speakers to it, otherwise it will be content with sound coming only from the front, in 3.1. The concessions on the connectors may surprise, but it is always possible to invest in an optical-HDMI adapter to associate it with other products which would lack an optical port. It works on Wi-Fi like all Sonos speakers (with additional Bluetooth on Roam and Move only), but the Ethernet port is available as backup.
Often a subject of contention, the microphone, and by extension the presence of a voice assistant, has been sacrificed, as much in the name of the price reduction as the paradoxical attraction for new customers that the confidentiality of data can represent by its absence. While the use of the microphone is still essentially optional… However, the firm has announced the arrival of its personal assistant (and embedded, without data transfer to a cloud) Sonos Voice Control, designed by engineers from Snips, the startup acquired in 2019. To access it and start the music, increase or decrease the sound of your film on the Ray, you will have to rely on a compatible Sonos speaker, with a microphone.
Sonos Ray price and availability
The Sonos Ray will be available on June 7 in black and white at a price of 299 euros on the Sonos site.
This article was produced during a trip with the brand to preview the product.