Sonos unveils Apple Music voice control without Alexa or Assistant, budget ‘Ray’ AirPlay 2 soundbar

Sonos unveils Apple Music voice control without Alexa or Assistant, budget ‘Ray’ AirPlay 2 soundbar

After being leaked back in April, Sonos has officially launched its new soundbar. The Ray comes as its most affordable home theater speaker priced at $279 and is more compact than the Beam or full-sized Arc. Sonos has also announced its own “Voice Control” service that will arrive next month to let users control Apple Music directly from Sonos speakers with built-in mics.

The Verge leaked the Sonos Ray in late April and revealed the speaker’s features, specs, and launch date. Then followed up by leaking the marketing name last week. Now the most affordable Sonos soundbar is official.

Coming in $170 below the $449 Beam soundbar, Ray naturally makes some concessions but Sonos says it delivers “clearer, more powerful sound than ever before possible by a small standalone speaker.”

Sonos Ray features

Ray uses four Class-D amplifiers finely tuned to work with two tweeters and two midwoofers. And Sonos employs what it calls its “Bass Reflex System” to minimize distortion and balance out low-end frequencies.

You get features like AirPlay 2 and Apple Music support (all the other major streaming services too), and the Trueplay auto EQ feature to customize audio to your space.

There are touch controls on top of the soundbar and you can also use the Sonos app. More handy features are a Speech Enhancement mode that clarifies speech and a Night Sound mode that reduces loud sounds and enhances quiet sounds.

Sonos Ray 2

There’s a Sonos Ray wall mount available and you can also pair the budget soundbar with the Sonos One for a surround setup.

The Sonos Ray comes in black and white and measures 2.79-inches (71 mm) high, 22-inches (559 mm) wide, and 3.74-inches (95 mm) deep. That’s about three inches less wide than the Beam.

Sonos Ray: What you’re giving up

As for what you’re missing out on compared to the $449 Sonos Beam gen 2.

Sonos Ray has:

  • No HDMI or HDMI eARC (optical audio only)
  • No built-in mic for voice control (can use Sonos app on iPhone etc.)
  • No Dolby Atmos support
  • Not a good fit for large rooms

But if those missing features aren’t an issue, the Sonos Ray is an affordable way to bring the connected speakers into your home theater setup.

Sonos Ray is available to order now with the first deliveries starting on June 7.

Sonos Voice Control and more

Another new product is Sonos Voice Control which will launch on June 1. Here’s how the company describes it:

an entirely new voice experience that delivers fast, accurate hands-free control of your music and your Sonos system with no compromise to your privacy. Award-winning actor Giancarlo Esposito is the first voice of Sonos Voice Control (you might recognize him from hit shows like Breaking Bad).

The feature will work with the keyphrase “Hey, Sonos” and uses on-device processing for queries. It will work with Apple Music at launch which is a handy upgrade for Apple users. Previously only Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have worked natively with Sonos speakers (outside of a less convenient HomeKit/Siri functionality). Keep in mind the new Sonos Ray doesn’t feature mics built-in for the new Sonos Voice Control.

At launch, Sonos Voice Control works with Sonos Radio, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, and Pandora. If you are using other music services, you will not be able to ask Sonos Voice Control to search and start music, or manage your content library. You can still use other functions of Sonos Voice Control such as skip, pause, volume, and grouping.

Sonos has also launched three new colors of the ultra-portable Roam speaker. The new additions are Olive (green), Wave (blue), and Sunset (red-orange). Check out our full review for more details on the speaker itself.

And finally, the company is partnering with performing artist Lorde on a hand-curated station on Sonos Radio called SOLARSYSTM.

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