Skip to main content
  • About the Sonos Ray soundbar

  • What we like

  • Related content

  • What we don’t like

  • Should you buy the Sonos Ray?

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality

  • Rich networking features

  • Small and stylish design

Cons

  • No HDMI or Bluetooth

  • No included remote

  • Not compatible with all TV remotes

A pint-sized, premium sound machine at a great price.

About the Sonos Ray soundbar

The white Ray soundbar is shown above a PS4 console on a black and brown TV console.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Ray looks small but stout on your TV console, with a flex toward the grille for acoustic efficiency.

Here are the Sonos Ray’s main specs:

  • Price: $279
  • Height x Width x Depth: 2.79 x 22 x 3.74 inches
  • Weight: 4.29 pounds
  • Colors: White or Black matte
  • Speakers/drivers: Two full-range woofers, two tweeters, bass reflex system
  • Amplification: Four Class-D digital amplifiers
  • Wireless connection: Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Sonos ecosystem
  • Wired connection: Ethernet, digital Optical input
  • Smart features: Requires smart speaker for voice assistant or Sonos Voice Control
  • Other features: IR receiver, Trueplay (iOS only), Speech Enhancement, Night Sound
  • Audio formats: Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, DTS digital surround

The Sonos Ray arrives in a strikingly small box. Unwrapping the system within reveals a matte, monochromatic bar (in white or black) that’s as much wireless speaker as soundbar, reminiscent of the early Wi-Fi streaming days when products like the B&W Zeppelin ruled the roost.

In a small cardboard compartment you’ll find the charging cable, a digital Optical cable in matching colors, and instructions that begin and end with the Sonos app. One thing you'll note is there's no remote control in the box. Since the bar does not support HDMI ARC connection and relies on an IR signal for TV remote programming, this could complicate usability for some. You can read more about TV remote compatibility on the Sonos website.

What we like

Small profile, sweet style

Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Ray looks more like a Wi-Fi speaker than a soundbar.

The Ray is among the smallest soundbars I’ve tested. End-to-end, it’s nearly four inches shorter than the compact Sonos Beam, and its weight of less than 5 pounds lets you easily wield it with one hand. Setting it upon your console somehow compacts the bar even further, especially if you’ve got a 55-inch TV or bigger. While they’d be lying, your eyes would tell you there’s little chance this system could offer any significant cinematic punch.

The Ray immediately reminded me of Polk’s ultra-small Magnifi Mini, which looks even more like a portable speaker. The Mini is several inches shorter at the sides, but also includes a separate subwoofer, making its overall profile more burdensome.

The white Ray soundbar's top touch keys are shown as it sits on a black and brown console.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

Simplicity and minimalism are calling cards of the Sonos aesthetic.

The one caveat to the Ray’s miniature status is its height; the bar expands from back to front like a crescendo, rising at the grille to 2.79 inches, a shade higher than the Beam. While this design touch is part of a larger sonic puzzle that helps the Ray sound much bigger than it has a right to, it does mean the bar could creep up and block part of the screen for low-profile TVs.

Related content

Incredible sound for the size

Sometimes you just know immediately that a sound system is going to outperform your expectations. With the Ray, I could tell from the quick few chimes of the audio logo during setup that I was in for a fun time. I had a similar experience with the Roam, both of which seem to use every millimeter of their sonic enclosures to squeeze out rich, musical, and (in the Ray’s case), cinematic sound.

The first thing you’ll likely notice is just how smooth and natural the Ray’s sound signature is, while still keeping details present. It’s all the more impressive when you consider the vast amount of DSP (digital signal processing), compression, and acoustic expansion the system requires to pump out sound beyond its size. There’s notable clarity up high, a rich and full midrange, and a soundstage that can pop up a few feet beyond its tiny metrics when called upon.

The Sonos Ray sits on a brown TV console between red speakers with Iron Man shown on screen.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The sound is great for TV shows, but the Ray also does well with action movies.

The Ray also puts out relatively full midbass, which is a good thing because that’s about as far into the bass register as it goes. Unlike other mini-bars like the Magnifi Mini and so many ultra-slim bars, the Ray doesn’t lean on a subwoofer to fill out its lower frequencies. This helps the overall profile sound more balanced and organic between registers, but you definitely lose the impact of the very lowest frequencies. That makes the bar particularly appealing to those living in tight quarters, where the Ray will flourish best.

I’ll get to its musical skills shortly, but when it comes to TV content the Ray is at its best elevating common fare, from your local newscast to sitcoms like The Office. This isn’t a slight mind you—a lot of cheap and small soundbars tend to focus more on bombastic fervor than the subtle moments, where a lot of us spend most of our TV time. Not so with the Ray. Each line of dialogue, each shuffle of paper, and other minutia of the circa-2000s office were relayed with depth and clarity as the bar seemed to savor the finer details.

That’s not to say the Ray can’t punch up your favorite action movies. A full rewatch of Iron Man was a delight. I found myself almost rooting for the little bar as it stretched its tiny form to offer pulpy machine gun fire and searing explosions from the first battle scene, all the way to the sizzling crunch of the Arc reactor’s lightning bolts in the climax. All of this was well-balanced, with only a moment or two in which I had to ride the volume between action and dialogue.

The Ray is particularly adept at recreating synths and electronic percussion.

I did notice the Ray struggled a few times balancing the bass and midrange, particularly in dialogue. Most notably, Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan dialogue in the new Disney series was boomier than I’d have liked. That said, a quick bass adjustment in the app helped smooth things out, and overall I found much more to compliment than complain about. Unlike many other small bars, including the Magnifi Mini, there’s also very little audible distortion when things get loud.

The Ray also sounds great for streaming music. While it performs well across spectrums, it’s particularly adept at recreating synths and electronic percussion, offering a blend of vivid textures and smooth grooves. It’s loud and clear enough to be your primary musical device for smaller rooms, with the only real detraction coming from tunes like The Weeknd’s Starboy where the lack of true gravitas in the bass can’t be ignored.

For its price and size, this is an incredibly capable audio device that should thrill most any potential buyer. My wife has been front row with me for dozens of sound systems good and bad, and she mentioned multiple times how much she liked the Ray. Its small stature simply catches you off guard, backed up by quality sound.

Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 at this price?

Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

Touch keys on top of the bar let you control basic playback from up close.

In true Sonos fashion, the Ray does not offer Bluetooth, which can limit its accessibility for streaming playback. Sonos remains confident that this won’t be an issue for most users thanks to extras like Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, and a host of the best streaming services available directly through the app. You can also source your own audio files from a NAS drive. For the most part, if you can stream it, the Ray can play it.

All the benefits of Sonos

The Ray's white front grille is shown close up on a brown and black TV console.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

Sonos software makes it simple to add on to the bar or pair it with other Sonos speakers in your home for multi-room sound.

Alongside the Ray’s networking capabilities comes one of the primary benefits of choosing Sonos—simple, powerful software for serious versatility. The app makes it strikingly easy to get the Ray up and running on your Wi-Fi network in minutes—including, in my case, a firmware update. It also serves as your command center for the bar, as well as any other Sonos products in your home.

The app unlocks a host of options, from grouping the bar with other Sonos speakers in a multi-room or surround sound configuration to accessing streaming services, adjusting EQ, playback controls, and even fine-tuning the system to your room with Sonos TruePlay (iOS only). Unlike Bose’s Soundbar 900, I didn’t notice a massive difference after calibration, but I do wish Sonos would make TruePlay available for Android.

One thing to note: unlike the Sonos Beam or Arc, you won’t get a built-in smart assistant and microphone. If you want to use them, you’ll need a separate smart speaker. This also means you won’t be able to use Sonos’ new voice assistant for playback control directly.

What we don’t like

No HDMI or remote makes things complicated

The input section for the white Ray soundbar is shown on a black and brown console.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The lack of HDMI looms conspicuously at the Ray's backside.

I’ve long bemoaned the lack of a spare HDMI input for soundbars like the Sonos Beam and Arc, as well as rivals like Bose’s Smart 900. Especially for Dolby Atmos bars, this limits your options with regards to connecting source devices and audio resolution support. However, each of those models offers HDMI ARC or eARC connection which is crucial not only for sourcing Dolby Atmos from your TV, but also for simplifying soundbar control with your TV remote.

To cut costs, the Sonos Ray cuts all HDMI, including ARC. This limits the bandwidth to 5.1 audio (not a problem for the Ray), but it also means the soundbar cannot automatically communicate with your TV over Consumer Electronics Control (CEC). Since there’s also no included remote, you’ve got to put in some work to even control the Ray outside the app.

The app happily walks you through the steps to program your TV remote for the Ray, but complicating things further, the process requires an IR remote. More modern RF or Bluetooth remotes (like mine) require further steps (or may not work at all). Sonos’ help site attempts to assist, but actually misprinted the directions for my LG Magic Remote, so I had to fumble around for the right settings. And for those with an Apple TV, while there appears to be a way to make it work through the TV settings, I ended up skipping that headache.

That’s not a great sign for soundbar novices. Sonos should take pains to make this simpler (and clearer) and/or kick in a physical remote.

Adding a subwoofer triples the cost

Sonos hopes to make up for the Ray’s lack of a sub with its other features, including the ability to easily add a subwoofer later. Unfortunately, Sonos’ lack of any cheaper subwoofer option than its wallet-snuffing Sonos Sub ($749) makes ramping up the system’s bass response all but prohibitive.

Funnily enough, as I was writing this it appears Sonos filed an FCC patent for a mini-subwoofer, so there may be a cheaper solution in the near future. You can also add options like the Ikea/Sonos Symfonisk speakers for $100 a pop, which is a viable solution for surround sound speakers that keeps the cost just above the Sonos Beam gen 2.

Still no Bluetooth or onboard display

While I expected the Ray to skip Bluetooth since that’s a Sonos calling card, another way to stream is always appreciated. Sonos’ other networking features are a great alternative, but we already used that excuse for the lack of HDMI ARC. I also wish Sonos would provide a better physical display for its soundbars. You can see it all in the app, but the Ray’s single LED up front is literally the least the brand could offer. But it also helps put the focus solely on sound.

Should you buy the Sonos Ray?

Yes, as long as your setup is compatible

Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Sonos Ray pairs versatile features with excellent sound performance for another big win.

The Sonos Ray is the best sounding bar of its size I’ve ever heard. Thanks to impressive engineering across the board, it offers premium sound quality and plenty of punch with low distortion, all in a profile that barely registers. It also tows along Sonos’ versatile networking features, multiple ways to stream, and the ability to build the system as you go. At under $300, that’s a helluva package.

That said, while the networking features are unexpected at the Ray’s price point (I don’t know of another comparable soundbar that rivals it there), so is the lack of HDMI ARC input or a remote. It’s not a huge issue for most, but be aware; if you don’t have an IR remote or you’re using an Apple TV as your primary streamer, you’ll have to put some work in for convenient operation, and not all remotes will be compatible.

If you’re looking for a more traditional bar, Yamaha’s YAS-209 doesn’t offer the same versatility or sound quality as the Ray, but it does offer Alexa built-in, Wi-Fi streaming, Bluetooth, and HDMI ARC connection for simple control. It also adds a subwoofer for more cinematic punch down low. Klipsch’s Cinema 400 sounds excellent, and again includes a subwoofer, Bluetooth, and HDMI connection—but it doesn’t offer any form of Wi-Fi connectivity. And of course, if you’d like to dabble in Dolby Atmos (virtually) you can jump up to the Sonos Beam Gen 2, which brings all the same features as the Ray, HDMI eARC, and more.

As long as your remote is supported, I can’t think of a more capable soundbar below $300 than the Ray. Even without all of its Wi-Fi extras, the Ray’s sound quality alone makes it well worth consideration—especially for those in a small living space. If you want a pint-sized, premium sound machine on a budget, the Ray lives up to the hype.

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or Flipboard for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor - Electronics

@ryanwaniata

Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.

See all of Ryan Waniata's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

Shoot us an email