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

After being leaked in April, Sonos has officially launched its new soundbar. The Ray is its most affordable home theater speaker at $279 and is more compact than the full-size Beam or Arc. Sonos also announced its own “Voice Control” service coming 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 by the marketing name leak last week. The most affordable Sonos soundbar is now official.

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

Sonos Ray Features

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

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

There are touch controls on the top of the soundbar and you can also use the Sonos app. More convenient features are a speech enhancement mode that clarifies speech and a nighttime sound mode that reduces loud sounds and enhances quiet sounds.

A Sonos Ray wall mount is available, and you can also pair the budget soundbar with the Sonos One for a surround setup.

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

Sonos Ray: What You Give 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 suitable for large rooms

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

Sonos Ray is available to order now with first shipments starting June 7.

Sonos voice control and more

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

an all-new voice experience that offers fast, precise hands-free control of your music and Sonos system without compromising your privacy. Award-winning actor Giancarlo Esposito is the lead voice of Sonos Voice Control (you might recognize him from hit shows like Breaking Bad).

The feature will work with the keyword “Hey, Sonos” and will use 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 worked natively with Sonos speakers (aside from a less convenient HomeKit/Siri feature). Keep in mind that the new Sonos Ray does not have built-in mics for the new Sonos Voice Control.

At launch, Sonos Voice Control works with Sonos Radio, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer and Pandora. If you use other music services, you won’t be able to ask Sonos Voice Control to find and start music, or manage your content library. You can still use other Sonos Voice Control functions 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 performer Lorde on a hand-selected station on Sonos Radio called SOLARSYSTM.

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