The Sonos Ray is the company’s cheapest soundbar but it’s missing key features

Smart ‘speaker specialist Sonos has unveiled the latest addition to its soundbar range today: the Sonos Ray. The new soundbar sits at the bottom of the firm’s soundbar range, below the superb Sonos Beam 2 and it’s even more compact and cheap.

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Available in the usual white or black Sonos colours, the Sonos Ray is priced at £279 and it launches alongside the company’s new in-house voice assistant, which is designed to add voice control to Sonos speakers without the need for an internet connection. There’s news on the Sonos Roam front, too: it’s getting three new colours.

The new Sonos Ray, however, is the big news here. Despite its lowish price, Sonos claims it provides room-filling sound and that may well be true given the quality of the Beam 2’s audio. Despite its lowly status, it includes plenty of core Sonos technologies, including TruePlay, which allows you to tune the speaker so it sounds great in your room. You’ll also be able to pair the Ray with other Sonos speakers and sub to create a proper surround system, if you want to expand in future.

In terms of hardware, the Ray isn’t quite up to the level of the Beam but it looks as if Sonos has put plenty of thought into the design. Inside are four speaker drivers, each one backed by its own Class D digital amplifier. Two of these are mid-woofers, each one front-ported, with vanes inside the ports to reduce the effect of turbulence on the sound quality.

There are also twin front-facing tweeters, each of which  has a split wave-guide sat in front of it to spread the sound around your room and give it a sense of width, important in a product this small.

It’s certainly an inventive design from an audio-engineering standpoint and, if the Sonos Beam is anything to go by, it should deliver bigger sound that you might expect such a small speaker to be capable of.

However, there are some crucial features missing here and the major one is that the Sonos Ray doesn’t come with an integrated microphone. This means it doesn’t, like the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Arc, support any kind of voice assistant. That’s slightly odd, given the soundbar is launching alongside the unveiling of Sonos’ own voice assistant technology.

There’s also no HDMI input although, for some, that may be a blessing in disguise. Instead, the Ray connects to your TV via optical cable, and this way is able to receive stereo, Dolby Digital or DTS Digital Surround audio. There’s no support for Dolby Atmos here or DTS:X but, since this is a single soundbar, that’s no great loss.

The Sonos Ray will be available from 7 June and we can’t wait to get our hands on one to test. Could it be the new standard by which all other budget soundbars are judged? Let’s wait and see.

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