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Sonos Ray Soundbar Brings Smaller Size, Simpler Features for $279

In addition to the entry-level soundbar, Sonos announced a new voice-control system for music called Sonos Voice.

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Confirming extensive leaks, Sonos has officially announced a new, less-expensive soundbar featuring the company's excellent multiroom music system onboard. Called the Sonos Ray, it costs $279 (AU$399) and will be available June 7. The company will also update existing Sonos speakers with a new voice-control system, called Sonos Voice, on June 1.

The Ray is a two-channel soundbar with Dolby Digital decoding and which promises a wide soundstage through the use of proprietary waveguides. The compact speaker is roughly two-thirds the size of the Sonos Beam and is designed to sit inside a credenza but can also be wall-mounted with a separate kit. 

The Ray is Sonos' new entry-level soundbar in the current lineup, under the $900 Sonos Arc and the $450 Sonos Beam Gen 2, but unlike those bars it doesn't include an onboard voice assistant, namely Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so it won't respond to wake words like "Hey Google" or "Alexa" or "Hey Sonos." It also doesn't support Dolby Atmos surround sound or have an HDMI port to connect to your TV. 

sonos ray in a room

The Sonos Ray can be used in conjunction with a pair of Sonos Ones or the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf speakers as rears. 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Instead, the Ray offers a digital optical audio connection as well as Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Like every other speaker in the lineup, the Ray offers the Sonos multiroom system with dozens of compatible apps and control via mobile devices. It also works with Apple AirPlay 2.

I heard the Sonos Ray at an event in New York City, and the soundbar did seem to offer a fairly balanced sound, though it didn't seem to be capable of the volume levels of the more expensive Beam. Based on my experiences with the Arc and the Beam, they are more able to fill a room with sound due to their beam-forming processing, which the Ray lacks. 

'Hey Sonos' voice assistant for music

The company also announced its first voice assistant, Sonos Voice Control, which will be available on all Sonos voice-enabled speakers on June 1. The assistant is designed to be used for music but will also control all of the functions of a Sonos system including power and volume. It features the voice of Giancarlo Esposito (Far Cry 6, The Mandalorian), and it can be used on the same Sonos device as Amazon Alexa, though not Google Assistant. The wake word is "Hey Sonos", and users can ask follow-up questions within 6 seconds without repeating the phrase.

Sonos has straddled both the luxury and the mainstream markets for a while, but the Ray is the company's first soundbar that could truly be considered "affordable." The Ray competes with other single soundbars, including the $250 Polk React and the $219 Yamaha YAS-109, both of which include Amazon Alexa onboard.

I look forward to reviewing the Sonos Ray soon.