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Sonos Ray review: Small but loud

Sonos Ray review: Small but loud

Sonos Ray

The Sonos Ray is the most compact soundbar from the audio brand. It's a more affordable gateway to Sonos and its wireless multi-room system. You can easily add more wireless speakers and even a subwoofer to the Ray and get them all to stream music via Wi-Fi from the major streaming services through the app. But while it sounds great for its size, I think it's more suitable for a second TV in the bedroom. If you can, get at least a Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which has Dolby Atmos and HDMI, for your TV in the living room instead.

Quick specs

  • Four Class-D digital amplifiers (2 tweeters and 2 midwoofers)
  • Optical port, Ethernet and Wi-Fi
  • Apple AirPlay 2 support
  • Dimensions: 559 (W) x 95 (D) x 71mm (H)

Despite being the most compact Sonos soundbar, the Ray isn't actually that much smaller than the higher-end Sonos Beam. What makes the Ray different is how its two tweeters and two midwoofers are positioned within the soundbar. They all face forward, unlike the Beam, which has side-firing speakers. Hence, you can treat the Ray like your Xbox or PlayStation console and stow the soundbar in your TV console — without worrying about blocking the sound. You'll only need 5mm of clearance between the Ray and its surroundings. Sonos says it uses custom waveguides to project the sound to fill your room, as well as a bass reflex port system to deliver “perfectly weighted bass”. Unlike the Beam, the Ray lacks the microphones to support voice assistants. But you can control the Ray with voice using another device, like the Sonos One or a Google Nest Hub.

Sonos Ray
The Ray (at the front) is just slightly shorter than the Sonos Beam (1st Gen). Touch controls for volume and media playback are at the top. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Whether it is due to product differentiation or simply cost-cutting, Sonos has gone for an optical port over a HDMI ARC (or even better, eARC) port. You'll likely find an optical port on any TV, which is not always the case with HDMI ARC. But you'll lose out on HDMI-CEC (control multiple devices with one remote), and optical output is restricted to 5.1 surround sound. Newer TVs with Bluetooth or non-infrared remote controls also have to go through extra steps to work with the soundbar. Despite getting help from a tech support guy, I just couldn't get the LG Magic Remote on two LG TVs (2021 and 2022 models) to work properly with the Sonos Ray. Thankfully, I could still control the soundbar from my couch via the excellent Sonos app, which, on an iPhone or an iPad, can calibrate the soundbar's audio for its environment using the Trueplay feature.

Sonos Ray
No HDMI, just an optical output and Ethernet port. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The Sonos Ray delivered a voluminous amount of sound. I'm definitely not blasting it at anything close to maximum volume. The bass, too, was surprisingly good for its size. The mids and trebles came across clearly and cleanly. With Sonos' Speech Enhancement feature enabled, I had no problem making out the dialogue in movies. Compared to the similarly-priced LG S65Q 3.1ch soundbar that I was also testing, the Ray sounded less muddy. However, the LG's subwoofer gave it greater impact in action sequences. But my 1st Gen Sonos Beam still sounded fuller, rounder and had a wider soundstage than the Ray. Not to mention that the newer Beam (Gen 2) also has Dolby Atmos.

I feel that the Sonos Ray makes sense if you're looking for a compact soundbar for a second, perhaps older TV in your bedroom or gaming den. In this scenario, the lack of HDMI ARC (and HDMI-CEC) on the Ray isn't a big deal, while its compact size is an advantage. But given its US$279 pricing in the US, the Ray's S$529 Singapore price is not quite as entry-level as you'd expect. A used Beam (1st Gen), which you can easily find for around S$400, may be a better option for some. Alternatively, if you can afford it, a brand-new Beam (Gen 2) is S$799. Available in black or white, the Sonos Ray is now listed for pre-order at its official Lazada and Shopee store. You can also order it from Amazon SG. The soundbar will be available in Singapore from June 24 onwards.

See Also
Sony WF-1000XM5

Note: Review unit provided by Sonos.

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Big sound for its size.

Available at Lazada
Buy it at Shopee
Available at Amazon SG

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