Sonos Ray Review: Is The Cheapest Soundbar From Sonos Any Good?
This is the cheapest soundbar from Sonos yet, but it might actually be one of the best options, value-wise.
We have the Sonos Ray soundbar with us today, and don’t underestimate this small speaker. It really does pack a punch.
So, let’s talk design. It’s quintessentially Sonos, with that perforated grill at the front and the standard black or white options. That being said, you’ll notice the grill is only at the front now, which means the drivers are all front-facing, making it a perfect, compact little speaker to put in tight spaces in your TV console, or like me, under my monitor stand. And when I say compact, I mean compact. It’s 56cm long, 7cm tall and just 9.5cm deep. It fits under my monitor stand with plenty of space to spare.
It weighs just under 2kg as well, so it’s not like you’ll have to wrestle it into place like some other soundbars. With that said, Sonos has managed to pack in four Class D amplifiers, two tweeters and two midrange drivers. Pretty impressive. On the top, you get simple touch controls for volume control as well as play/pause. There aren’t any microphones here, presumably to keep the cost down, so you don’t get voice controls, but if you’re worried about your privacy and big companies listening in to your conversations, no issues here.
Around the back is actually where the first problem starts to show up. You get just three ports, one for power, one for the Ethernet cable and one for an optical input, meaning, there’s no HDMI support on this, which also means, no Dolby Atmos support, unlike all the other Sonos soundbars. If your TV or computer doesn’t have an optical input, you’re pretty much shit out of luck. So this is a major dealbreaker in my opinion. If you’re planning on buying this soundbar, you need to make sure whatever you’re planning on pairing it with has an optical port. Unless you’re just gonna use it to stream music via Wi-Fi from your phone, well, then by all means.
Luckily for me, my desktop at home has an optical port, so I was able to test this with movies and games, along with music streaming from my phone. Speaking of phone, you’ll have to download the Sonos app to get this soundbar set up. In the app, you get most of the standard features, including TruePlay with iOS devices, which allows the speaker to measure the acoustics in whichever room you place the speaker in and adjust the sound for the best experience. There’s also the standard bass and treble EQ, speech enhancement and night mode, although Sonos has added an IR receiver on the soundbar to allow for you to use your existing remotes with the Ray. Since I was using it with my computer, there wasn’t much of a need for this, but people using it with their TVs will definitely be happy this is included. The soundbar also supports AirPlay 2, so that’s nice.
There is the option to add the One SL speakers for surround sound or even the Sonos Sub, but with all that additional money needed, you might as well get the Beam Gen 2 or something.
But let’s talk about the sound now. The most recent experience I had with a Sonos soundbar was with the Sonos Beam Gen 2, and I was quite impressed with that speaker primarily because of how good vocals sound on them, and it’s actually no different here. In movies, voices are crisp and clear, making it easy to follow along with dialogue instead of having to rely on subtitles. The overall soundstage is decent and accurate, although I do have to note that the speaker is limited here by the forward-only facing drivers. Because of that, you don’t quite get the same sense of location as you would with soundbars that have up-firing units.
Gunfire, explosions and cars are all very well brought to life, and even though you don’t get that same immersiveness and depth that a sub would provide, for a soundbar of this size, it’s really hard to fault it.
Coming to music, it’s pretty good. In the app, you get to link music services like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Audible, Bandcamp, Deezer, KKBox, YouTube Music and a lot more. Another connectivity problem here is that there’s only Wi-Fi streaming and no Bluetooth streaming, although it does mean better streaming quality. The soundbar does get quite loud, so there’s no real need to turn it up especially if you have it right in front of you beneath your monitors. With my computer, I typically had the speaker around 20% volume. I’d think that with a TV and the speaker being further away, you might need to turn it up to around 50%.
As for how music sounds, you get plenty of depth and power in the lows while the vocals are still very clear and distinct. I do enjoy more forward vocals, so this is right up my alley.
For its size, the Sonos Ray does a very good job at being an upgrade over TV speakers or cheaper computer speakers. While I don’t see this being the main soundbar for any TV setup, it’s undoubtedly great when paired with a computer, or maybe even a second TV in the bedroom.