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Sonos Ray Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Jun 22, 2022 at 10:02 am
Sonos Ray Picture
6.3
Mixed Usage
7.0
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.9
Music
5.5
Movies
Channels
2.0

The Sonos Ray is Sonos' most affordable soundbar to date. Released in 2022, it's an entry-level 2.0 soundbar that you can integrate into your existing Sonos ecosystem using the Sonos S2 app. While it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) or the Sonos Arc, it can playback 5.1 surround sound content like Dolby Digital and DTS. You can upgrade the setup down the line with the Sonos Sub and speakers like the Sonos One SL or the Sonos Five.

Our Verdict

6.3 Mixed Usage

The Sonos Ray is acceptable for mixed usage. It's a simple bar that shines for vocal clarity, making it a solid choice if you want an upgrade over your TV speakers that won't break the bank. As a standalone bar, it fails to provide the rumble in the bass range that brings action-packed scenes to life, but if you're mostly listening to vocal-centric content that doesn't have a lot of bass mixed in, you won't notice it. Naturally, it doesn't have as many features as Sonos' more premium offeringsโ€”there's no Dolby Atmos support, for example, and its soundstage doesn't offer the same wide and immersive feel, so it's not ideal for watching blockbuster movies.

Pros
  • Clear and accurate vocal reproduction.
  • Room correction feature with iOS devices.
  • Dialogue enhancement mode.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No Dolby Atmos support.
  • No HDMI.
7.0 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sonos Ray is decent for dialogue-heavy TV shows and podcasts. Its balanced, neutral mids mean that voices are reproduced clearly and with detail, and there's a dialogue enhancement mode and a night mode feature to balance out the volume level when you watch TV at night. However, since it's a 2.0 setup, there isn't a discrete center channel to help provide a more clear and real representation of dialogue in the soundstage like you get with more premium models.

Pros
  • Clear and accurate vocal reproduction.
  • Dialogue enhancement mode.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ.
  • No Bluetooth support.
6.9 Music

The Sonos Ray is fair for music. If you have a compatible iOS device, you can use its Trueplay room correction feature in the Sonos S2 app to optimize audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics. Its sound profile is pretty neutral, especially in the mids, where most voices and lead instruments reproduce. As a result, vocals and instruments are clear and detailed in the mix. You can adjust its sound, too, using its bass and treble adjustments. However, like most standalone bars, it doesn't provide the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass that you find in bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM. You can add on a separate sub, but it's pricey.

Pros
  • Clear and accurate vocal reproduction.
  • Room correction feature with iOS devices.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No graphic EQ.
5.5 Movies

The Sonos Ray is disappointing for movies. There's no Dolby Atmos support, so you can't take advantage of the full immersive experience with certain movies on streaming platforms. It can handle 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and DTS; however, it has to downmix it into stereo to play it. The resulting sound isn't as clear or as real as with soundbars that have discrete surrounds. While you can add on a subwoofer or rear speakers for better performance, these extras don't come cheap, and movie lovers will probably prefer to get a bar with the full setup included.

Pros
  • Clear and accurate vocal reproduction.
  • Room correction feature with iOS devices.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No Dolby Atmos support.
  • No HDMI.
  • 6.3 Mixed Usage
  • 7.0 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.9 Music
  • 5.5 Movies
  1. Updated Jun 22, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Jun 15, 2022: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sonos Ray has a simple design. It's a small bar that's mostly plastic, and there's a plastic grille on the front. The bar's edges are rounded, which gives it a sleek look.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

You can add a separate subwoofer from the manufacturer if you want to upgrade your setup.

Design
Style - Satellites

The manufacturer sells a wide array of additional speakers to add on as rear satellites.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 22.0" (56.0 cm)
Height 2.8" (7.1 cm)
Depth 3.7" (9.5 cm)

The Sonos Ray is smaller than the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), and its compact design easily fits between the legs of a 55" TV. Since it isn't very tall, it doesn't block your screen, either.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Proprietary

The back of the bar has an opening for the inputs and the power cable. There are also proprietary holes so you can place it on your wall. However, you have to buy the wall mounting kit from Sonos separately.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
No Subwoofer
Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
No
7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Sonos Ray has a good build quality. Its plastic build is solid overall, and the mount in the front helps to protect the drivers inside. That said, the material feels a bit cheaper compared to more premium offerings from Sonos, like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2).

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
N/A
Digital Optical Cable Length
1.5 m (4.9 ft)

  • Manuals
  • Power cable
  • Optical cable

Sound
6.8
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
No Preset
Slope
-0.04
Std. Err.
2.85 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
71.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Sonos Ray has a fair stereo frequency response. As with Sonos' more premium offerings, it has a room correction feature called Trueplay on compatible iOS devices, which automatically optimizes the bar's audio reproduction based on the unique acoustics of your space. Its sound profile is neutral, especially in the mids, where most voices and lead instruments reproduce, ensuring they're clear and present in the mix. The lack of bass is noticeable, especially with bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM. Still, if you mostly listen to dialogue-centric TV shows without a lot of bass mixed in, you'll find that the vocals are pleasant and detailed.

6.8
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
No Preset
Suggested Bass Setting
0
Suggested Treble Setting
0
Slope
-0.04
Std. Err.
2.85 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
71.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Sonos Ray offers bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound more to your liking. However, if you prefer a more neutral sound, its default settings fall within the desired range, so you don't have to worry about playing around with its sound settings.

6.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
3.01 dB

The Sonos Ray's stereo soundstage is just okay, which is a bit disappointing given the impressive performance of the manufacturer's top-of-the-line products. The soundstage is perceived to be a touch wider than the bar itselfโ€”but the bar isn't very wide to begin with, so it doesn't feel like sound stretches out towards the walls of your living room. That said, the focus is good, so sound effects like instruments in an orchestra seem to come from accurate, pinpoint locations in the soundstage.

6.7
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
88.5 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.65 dB

The Sonos Ray has an adequate stereo dynamics performance. It gets loud enough to fill an average-sized living room with sound. However, like most small bars, it doesn't get much louder than that, so it's not suitable for listening in large, open spaces. There's also a bit of compression when you push it to max volume, especially in the bass range, so you notice pumping artifacts that distort the sound a bit.

7.5
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.52
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.85

The Sonos Ray has a good stereo total harmonic distortion performance. At normal listening volumes, distortion falls within good limits, so audio reproduction is clean and pure. While there's a slight increase in distortion at max volume, it's hard to hear with real-life content, especially if you're a more casual listener.

6.2
Sound
Center
Localization
Phantom
Slope
0.26
Std. Err.
3.77 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
86.8 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.86
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.67

The Sonos Ray is a 2.0 setup, so it doesn't come with a discrete center channel. Instead, it uses its left and right stereo drivers to simulate a phantom center. Unfortunately, this sounds more diffused than a discrete center, and voices aren't as accurately placed in the soundstage as a result. Still, the frequency response is quite balanced in the mids, where most voices reproduce, so dialogue is clear and accurate.

3.8
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
0.00
Std. Err.
4.01 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
90.6 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
1.46
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
4.11
7.1 Rears
No

The Sonos Ray can playback 5.1 surround sound content like Dolby Digital and DTS, which are commonly found on streaming services and Blu-ray discs. However, it has to downmix this content into stereo in order to play it. The resulting sound isn't very immersive, and audio seems like it's just coming from speakers in front of you. Sound effects don't seem like they're coming from all around you, either. However, you can always add rear speakers if you want a more clear and real representation of surround content.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A
6.2
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Yes
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
No
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
No

The Sonos Ray offers the same selection of sound enhancement features as the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). If you have a compatible iOS device, you can use the Sonos S2 app to access Trueplay. It's a room correction feature, meaning it optimizes audio reproduction based on your space's unique acoustics. You can also customize the bar's sound with its bass and treble adjustments. There's a dialogue enhancement mode called Speech Enhancement, as well as a Night Sound feature that balances out the volume level between the loudest and quietest sounds when you watch at night. As with other Sonos soundbars, however, you won't find an EQ for greater ability to customize its sound across the range.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
No
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
RCA In
No
USB for Files
No
Ethernet
1

The Sonos Ray has a limited selection of physical inputs. You can connect it to your TV using the included Optical cable, but there's no HDMI support. You'll also find an Ethernet cable and a button to link any subwoofers and satellites you choose to add in the future.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No
0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No
10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
Yes

The Sonos Ray supports Dolby Digital content, which is the most common surround sound format used on both streaming platforms and Blu-rays. Thanks to a recent update to the Sonos S2 app, there's also DTS support. However, the bar has to downmix this content into stereo to play it.

8.2
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
N/A
Optical
55 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A

The Sonos Ray has a great latency performance. Its low latency means that you don't notice a delay between the audio you hear and the video you see, and there aren't any lip-synching issues. Some apps and TVs compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience can vary.

3.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
Yes

The Sonos Ray has the same wireless playback offerings as other Sonos bars. You can wirelessly stream content to the bar over Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay 2, and there's also support for Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
No
HDR10 Passthrough
No
Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
No
Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
No
Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

There's no display on the Sonos Ray, but you'll find a small light above the Sonos logo that lights up when connected to Wi-Fi. You can also turn it off in the app if you don't want to have the light in your field of view.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

The Sonos Ray has some touch-sensitive controls. They let you play/pause your music and adjust the volume. However, you need to use the Sonos S2 app to access the bar's additional features.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No
Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Apple Siri
No

The Sonos Ray doesn't have built-in voice assistant capabilities. However, you can pair the bar to a third-party Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device to control it with your voice. You just need to set it up in the Sonos S2 app.

Additional Features
App
App Name Sonos S2
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts As A Remote
Yes
Controls Soundbar's Settings
All
Casts Device Files
Yes

The Sonos S2 app acts as a remote and lets you control all of the bar's features. If you already own Sonos products, you're likely already familiar with its capabilities, as it lets you control a whole network of Sonos speakers at once. You can set up different room configurations and manage your devices across your entire house, and even connect to third-party streaming services like Spotify and Tidal. Also, there are features specific to the bar, like Trueplay room correction and the bass and treble adjustments. However, Trueplay is only available on compatible iOS devices.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
No
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
No CEC, limited IR remote

As with most Sonos soundbars, the Sonos Ray doesn't offer a power-saving feature, so you have to remember to turn the bar off manually. There's no HDMI CEC support, but you can set up limited IR control for some basic features.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sonos Ray comes in two color variants: 'Black' and 'White'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you'll find the label for our model here. We expect that the 'White' variant will offer similar performance.

If you come across another version of the Sonos Ray, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Sonos Ray is the most affordable offering from Sonos to date. It's for those who want to get in on the brand with a simple, plug-and-play upgrade over their TV speakers, much like the Bose TV Speaker. It's a solid pick if you're already a fan of the Sonos ecosystem, and its pleasant vocal clarity makes it a fair choice for music and dialogue-focused TV shows. You can find better offerings for movies that come with a dedicated subwoofer and even rear satellites included for the same price as the Sonos bar—but fans of the Ray will likely appreciate its small, compact design in the first place.

See also our recommendations for the best small soundbars, the best budget soundbars, and the best soundbars under $300.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is better than the Sonos Ray. The Beam is a 5.0 setup with better soundstage and surround performances, and unlike the Ray, it has Dolby Atmos support. It has a more extended low-bass, so you feel more rumble in the mix. There's HDMI connectivity and built-in voice assistant support, which the Ray lacks. However, the Ray is a more affordable option, and it's still a pretty decent choice for vocal-centric TV shows and music.

Bose TV Speaker

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Bose TV Speaker or the Sonos Ray. They're both budget-friendly 2.0 setups that are best with music and dialogue-focused TV shows. However, the Bose can reproduce a more extended low-bass, so you feel more rumble in the mix. Unlike the Sonos, it supports HDMI connectivity, too. However, the Sonos comes with more sound enhancement features, such as room correction, and it lets you connect to the Sonos ecosystem through its Sonos S2 app. There's even DTS support, which the Bose lacks.

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam is better than the Sonos Ray. The Beam is a 3.0 setup, meaning it has a discrete center channel to improve dialogue reproduction, unlike the Ray. It's able to reproduce a bit more rumble in the bass range, too, and its soundstage offers a much wider, more immersive listening experience. There's also an HDMI input, which the Ray lacks.

Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc is a better standalone soundbar than the Sonos Ray. The Arc is a 5.0.2 setup that supports Atmos content, unlike the Ray. It has better soundstage, center, and surround performances and offers HDMI connectivity. The Ray can offer a better value for listeners who just want a simple setup for music and TV shows.

Bose Smart Soundbar 300

The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 is a bit better than the Sonos Ray for most uses. The Bose is a 3.0 soundbar, so unlike the 2.0 Sonos, it has a discrete center channel to improve dialogue clarity. It reproduces more low-bass, too, and has HDMI connectivity. However, it doesn't offer as many sound enhancement features as the Sonos.

Samsung HW-S60A

The Samsung HW-S60A is better than the Sonos Ray. The Samsung is a 5.0 bar with additional channels, including a center channel to improve dialogue reproduction as well as two side-firing drivers for surround sound. It has better soundstage and surround performances and reproduces more rumble in the bass range. There's no room correction like the Sonos, but the graphic EQ gives you lots of control over its sound.

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