Testing the New Sonos Ray AirPlay 2-Enabled Soundbar
Sonos in June launched the Sonos Ray, a compact, affordable soundbar that pairs well with an Apple TV-powered home setup because of its AirPlay 2 and HomeKit integration. We picked up a Sonos Ray to give MacRumors readers an idea of how it works and whether it's worth the $279.
The Sonos Ray is smaller than other Sonos soundbars, measuring in at about 22 inches long, so it's ideal for smaller spaces and smaller entertainment setups. Like most Sonos products, it's sleek and blends well into surrounding decor, and it looks a lot like the Sonos Beam.
There are easy access touch controls at the top, along with power, ethernet, and optical audio ports at the back. Just as a quick note, if you happen to have a remote that doesn't support IR, you might not want to pick up the Sonos Ray as some of these remotes are not compatible due to the optical audio port and you'll need to manually adjust volume. This won't impact most people, as most remotes (including the Apple TV remote) work with the Sonos Ray.
If you need more audio output than what the Ray provides, it does play well with other Sonos speakers and subwoofers, but even on its own, the sound quality is impressive. You won't get Dolby Atmos at this price point, but the sound is solid despite the small form factor, and it easily beats out TV speakers. There are four Class-D digital amplifiers, two tweeters, two high-efficiency midwoofers, and a built-in bass reflex system, plus it features adjustable EQ and Sonos' TruePlay feature for tuning sound to the room the Ray is located in.
With AirPlay 2 and HomeKit integration, the Sonos Ray pairs with HomeKit-enabled products and speakers, plus it can be controlled and adjusted through the Home app and Siri commands. AirPlay integration makes it easy to AirPlay audio directly to the Ray if needed, and it is all in all a good choice for those who need a soundbar for a smaller space.
Top Rated Comments
I have an Arc (with the associated surround speakers and Sub), and they sound wonderful, and the set is 100% reliable in the connection to the TV - the Apple TV plugs into the TV, the Arc plugs into the TV (via the TV's HDMI eARC port), and it Just Works™️. Turn on the TV, sound is automatically routed from the TV's tuner, or the Apple TV, or the PS5, to the Arc (and from the Arc to the surrounds and Sub). When I hit the volume buttons on the Apple TV's remote, it sends volume commands to the Apple TV over bluetooth, the Apple TV transmits them to the TV over HDMI CEC, and the TV forwards these to the Arc - it's all completely seamless from the user's perspective - TV sound always comes out of the Arc, and the Apple TV's remote controls the volume.
With the Ray, the digital optical standard has no provision for sending volume control information, so the TV sends the audio to the Ray "full strength", and you'd program the Apple TV's remote (which can send IR commands for volume) to send volume up/down commands directly to the Ray. The only limitation of this is that you need more-or-less direct line of sight from the remote to the Ray. (I've found with the Apple TV remote transmitting over bluetooth, I'll often walk into the kitchen for a moment, remote in hand, and raise the volume a bit along the way to be able to follow what's being said - obviously more useful if you're watching something news-like, where you're mostly listening - for a movie, I'll just pause.)