At its Spring Event, Sonos has announced a new entry-level soundbar called the Ray, privacy-centered voice control for playing music on its microphone-equipped speakers, and three new colors for the Roam portable speaker.
Sonos Ray — A Soundbar for Every TV
The Ray is the brand’s attempt to bring its simplicity and versatility to a more accessible soundbar with a $279 price point. To get to this price, the Ray sheds a few features found on the Sonos Beam, including a microphone (so no Voice Control, which we’ll get to next), side speakers, and top speakers, which keeps the Ray from producing Dolby Atmos. It can produce stereo PCM and unlicensed Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround.
The Ray features all front-firing speakers, so it can be placed on a shelf in a cabinet and not have any sound bounce off the top or back of it. It has three arrays with waveguides to provide separation when listening to movies and music. It does include Trueplay to get the soundbar optimized for the room and is compatible with all streaming services, and the Sonos app can be used to adjust bass, treble, and loudness. The Ray can be controlled with the existing TV remote, the Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2, and more. And a pair of Ones and/or a Sub can be added to create a surround sound setup.
The Ray only has an optical connection on the back to connect to a television and an Ethernet port if that is an option instead of Wi-Fi. There are no HDMI or eARC connectors.
In the demo provided at the Spring Event, the Ray did sound formidable on its own, providing decent rumble, thanks to a new bass reflex system, in the viewing of Ford v. Ferrari. Naturally, the sound filled out tremendously when two Ones were added as surrounds. Other familiar features include Sonos’ Speech Enhancement for dialog and Night Sound, which reduces the intensity of loud effects so you don’t disturb anyone else at home.
Inside the Ray you will find four Class-D digital amplifiers, two tweeters for clear highs, split waveguides, two full-range midwoofers, and bass reflex system. All that fits into a chassis that is 22 inches wide x 3.74 inches deep x 2.79 inches high. It is also wall-mountable.
The Ray will be available starting June 7.
Sonos Voice Control
Starting in the U.S. on June 1, after a free update, every voice-capable Sonos speaker owner will be able to say, “Hey Sonos…,” and request music, whether it be a song, artist, album, playlist, or radio. According to Sonos, it takes place completely on the device — no audio or transcript is sent to the cloud, stored, listened to, or read by anyone — so it is private. At launch, Sonos Voice Control is compatible with Sonos Radio, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Pandora, with more services and markets to follow.
In addition to security, local processing also delivers faster response times and effortless follow-ups without repeating the wake word — all you need is one “Hey Sonos” and you can follow up without the need to repeat the phrase. It also uses your personal music libraries and playlists to ensure that you hear the right version of the song without having to say too much. Sonos Voice Control can also be used to verbally add or move sound to different speakers.
Sonos Voice Control also understands the nuance of human communication and will respond to natural commands like “turn it up!”. If the Sonos response voice sounds familiar, it is because Sonos chose award-winning actor Giancarlo Esposito — best known for his roles in Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and The Mandalorian — to deliver a familiar voice for U.S. customers.
For speakers with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, like the Move and Roam, Sonos Voice Control will work over both. If you use a Sonos speaker with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you will have a few options. Multiple speakers in the same room can have different assistants, with one having Sonos Voice Control and another, say, Google Assistant. Amazon Alexa can work on the same speaker as Sonos Voice, but Google Assistant can not. Customers who like options can activate both Sonos Voice Control and Alexa on the same device, and then add Google Assistant on a different device in the same system.
Additionally, Sonos Radio announced a new Lorde-curated station called “Solar System,” and those interested can say “Hey Sonos, play Solar System” and hear it quickly play on the speaker.
New Roam Flavors
The Sonos Roam is no longer seeing things in black and white the addition of models in a trio of new colors — Olive, Wave,and Sunset — that are influenced by natural serenity, evening skies, and outdoor living — all things you can enjoy anywhere with the Roam.
Olive: Inspired by lush landscapes from desert cacti to pristine park gardens.
Wave: Drawing from the serenity of coastal beaches and backyard poolside oases.
Sunset: Influenced by painted desert sands and vibrant evening skies.
All three new colors are available worldwide on May 11, 2022 for $179.
This article originally ran on residentialsystems.com