ENHANCING your TV experience is easier than ever with a range of inexpensive and cheerful soundbars.
The gadgets fit perfectly under your set and deliver great sound without having to install a bulky multi-speaker system.
The latest to throw its hat in the ring is the Sonos Ray, a £279 soundbar that gets you a lot of bang for your buck.
I’ve been trying the Ray for a few weeks now and think it’s ahead of the pack when it comes to affordable TV speakers.
The little speaker that could
The Ray is Sonos’ cheapest soundbar to date and went on sale last month.
It offers the great sound of other Sonos speakers without the exorbitant wallet price sported by the rest of its line.
Sonos says the Ray is designed for the nine out of ten people who still use their TV’s built-in speakers.
On that front, the Ray certainly does its job, offering a massive sound upgrade over anything your average TV can offer.
It’s the least you can expect, though, if you’re planning on shelling out over £270 for it.
When it comes to sound, the Ray puts out an assertive, punchy, and well-balanced noise.
It’s not the best soundbar you’ll ever hear, but it does a decent job of elevating almost any TV or movie.
I had a little trouble hearing dialogue while watching shows like “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” forcing me to crank up the volume.
I was quickly punished for this when action scenes unfolded and hit me with a wall of noise which probably worried my neighbors.
Fortunately, I was able to fix this problem with “Speech Enhancement”, a feature you can activate through the Sonos app.
It did what it said on the tin and since activation I haven’t had any issues with the dialogue.
Overall, I’d say the Ray is a massive upgrade over all TV speakers, making it a great starting point for soundbar beginners.
However, if you’re a real audio or movie buff, you might consider spending a bit more for a more expensive kit with better sound.
Smooth as you want
Beyond the sound, one of the most important things to consider when buying a soundbar is how it looks in your living room.
The Ray knocks that aspect out of the park, in my opinion, with a sleek, compact design that looks perfectly at home under my TV.
Available in black or white, it is pill-shaped and approximately 55cm long, with a flat front and tapered sides.
There are touch controls on the top, to adjust volume or play/pause music.
Primarily, the Ray does exactly what most people expect from their living room tech: it seamlessly integrates with everything else.
Apart from looking good, the soundbar also comes with a bunch of handy features.
I’ve already mentioned speech enhancement, which is designed to make speech easier to hear compared to other things.
There’s also a night mode, which dims explosions and makes whispers louder so you won’t wake anyone in the house during a late-night action movie.
If you want to tweak the EQ, you have to do so through the Sonos app, which can be a bit clunky and difficult to navigate at times.
Here you can also configure your speaker to play Spotify or the radio if you wish.
The price is right
Besides the brand behind it, the price of the Ray is what is most likely to attract punters – and for good reason.
At £279 it’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum, with Sonos’ next cheapest soundbar, the Beam, priced at £449.
However, it is far from the cheapest on the market.
You can buy soundbars from Samsung or LG for under £100, for example, if you look in the right places.
However, the sound of these speakers is so poor that they are hardly worth your money. They’re barely better than your TV speakers.
The Sonos Ray, in my opinion, strikes the perfect balance between price and quality, especially if this is your first soundbar.
You get a guaranteed upgrade to your TV speakers without breaking the bank.
If you’re interested in a soundbar, the Ray is a decent bet. I didn’t use a soundbar before and can’t imagine watching Netflix without one.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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