Science & Tech

Sonos unveils its most affordable soundbar yet and its own voice-control feature


Confirming earlier rumors, Sonos on Wednesday introduced a brand new soundbar aimed toward extra budget-conscious consumers, in addition to a brand new voice-control characteristic for its current audio system.

The former is named the Sonos Ray and shall be out there on June 7 for $179 (279 kilos, 299 euros). It’ll slot in beneath the $449 Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and $899 Sonos Arc as the favored related speaker maker’s most inexpensive and most compact soundbar up to now, measuring in at 559×95×71 mm (so, about 22 inches broad). By comparability, the equally compact Sonos Beam is available in at 651×100×69 mm (about 25.6 inches broad). As with the Beam, the Ray’s small dimension ought to make it finest suited with smaller rooms and secondary TVs, although Sonos posits the system may additionally work on a desktop and extra usually positions it as a place to begin for these fascinated with their first improve from their TV’s built-in audio system.

Paying much less means you may sacrifice some options, although. Unlike the Beam and Arc, the Sonos Ray does not help Dolby Atmos digital encompass sound. It additionally lacks an HDMI port, as an alternative choosing a lower-bandwidth optical audio port and an Ethernet jack as its solely connectivity choices, with no further HDMI adapters within the field. The omission of an HDMI ARC port may make the cable state of affairs a bit messier for these with extra concerned residence theater setups, although Sonos says the Ray can nonetheless work in parallel along with your TV distant by its IR receiver.

Also lacking are any type of microphones, which suggests there isn’t a native help for voice assistants resembling Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant. Privacy-conscious consumers may even see this as a plus, if something, although the dearth of mics additionally means there is not any help for Sonos’ “Automatic Trueplay” characteristic, which permits sure Sonos audio system to tune their sound to finest swimsuit their placement in a given room (supplied you have got an iOS system). The Ray nonetheless helps Trueplay, however you may must undergo the tuning course of manually. Like most Sonos audio system, there’s additionally no help for Bluetooth audio right here.

In normal, the Ray is a less complicated piece of {hardware} than the Beam or Arc. This is a 3.0-channel soundbar, with all its audio system stating of a front-facing perforated hard-plastic grille. Internally, there are 4 amplifiers, two tweeters, and two midwoofers; the Beam, in the meantime, packs 5 amplifiers, a tweeter, 4 midwoofers, and three passive radiators for bass response. Sonos is now positioning the latter as its “high-definition” compact soundbar by comparability.

I used to be in a position to briefly take heed to the Ray at a media occasion in New York City this week, and whereas nothing sounded notably offensive, it is at all times tough to glean significant insights from an audio demo in a manufacturer-controlled atmosphere. Sonos says it has personalized the Ray’s drivers to get a larger sense of width out of the soundbar’s small dimension, nevertheless it’s solely so attainable to get round a speaker’s physics, and the marginally bigger Beam already wasn’t the very best at producing thumping, low bass by itself. You’ll seemingly be sacrificing depth of sound for the comfort of a speaker that is simpler to slot in any room, as with most small soundbars. There are different soundbar programs round this value that help Atmos and include a subwoofer and discrete satellite tv for pc audio system. All that stated, most Sonos residence audio system have supplied a properly correct and impartial sound up to now, so we’ll must take heed to the Ray extra extensively to get a greater sense of the way it performs.

Elsewhere, there’s nonetheless a trio of touch-based playback controls on prime of a sometimes minimalist design, which shall be out there in black or white. It’ll even be mountable, albeit by a proprietary mount.

Beyond that, the core attraction of most Sonos audio system remains to be right here. The Ray is completely controllable by the Sonos app and thus helps a wide range of streaming providers. It works with Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol, so you’ll be able to beam audio to the soundbar straight from an Apple system. And it’s going to pair neatly with every other Sonos audio system you personal or—as Sonos hopes—might wish to personal sooner or later, permitting you to make use of all of them in tandem in a wi-fi whole-home setup. If you wished to develop the Ray with a Sonos Sub subwoofer and two Sonos One audio system as rear surrounds, you may achieve this with little friction, although it will be very costly. (There’s additionally nothing to recommend that Sonos shall be yanking software program updates for these units any time quickly.) Again, we’ll have to substantiate whether or not or not the Ray lives as much as the corporate’s common customary by way of audio high quality. While there are many cheaper soundbars on the market, however for many who have wished to improve their TV audio and hop aboard the Sonos prepare, this might be probably the most approachable entry level.

The actual voice you hear when using Sonos Voice Control is based on recordings of Giancarlo Esposito, the actor best known for starring roles in <em>Breaking Bad</em> and <em>The Mandalorian</em>.
Enlarge / The precise voice you hear when utilizing Sonos Voice Control relies on recordings of Giancarlo Esposito, the actor finest recognized for starring roles in Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian.

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