Welcome to our Sonos Ray vs Sonos Arc guide, where we’ll break down the differences between the two Sonos speaker options.
Sonos Ray is the most compact and least expensive soundbar from Sonos. It’s not the cheapest speaker on the market – take a look at Best budget speakers A guide to our best affordable options – but a solid choice if you want to upgrade your TV’s sound and buy a Sonos soundbar on a budget.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Sonos arc. This is one of our top picks in The best loudspeakers Manual, providing a premium surround sound experience with an affordable price. Read Sonos Arc . review Find out why we recommend this excellent amplifier.
If you can’t decide between a Sonos Arc and a Sonos Ray, this guide is for you. The main difference between these two Sonos soundbars is the price. The right person for you is the one you can afford. But there are many other key factors worth considering, so we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each amplifier below.
Take a look at our guide to Best Sonos Speakers If you want to know more about the company’s other speakers. Instead, check out our website Best Dolby Atmos Speakers Head over if you want great sound but don’t need a Sonos.
Sonos Ray vs Sonos Arc: price and availability
The Sonos Ray will be available to buy on June 7 for $279 / £179 / AU$399. This makes the Sonos Ray the cheapest Sonos speaker to date.
There are other budget audiotapes available for under £200/$200, but it’s likely that few will offer the quality and clarity as one of the two from Sonos – we’ll have to see if that prediction is correct when we can review the Sonos Ray.
By comparison, the Sonos Arc launched in June 2020 and costs $899 / £899 / AU$1,499, which is five times more than the Ray. This difference in price may seem like a mouth-watering thing, but we’ll soon learn that they are designed for different purposes.
Sonos makes mid-range speakers, too. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) costs $399 / £339 / AU$699, so it might be worth considering if you want a relatively affordable speaker with good performance. Read Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review to know more.
Sonos Ray vs Sonos Arc: Design
The Sonos Ray is the smallest of the Sonos speakers and works best for upgrading the sound of TVs up to 55 inches. The Sonos Arc is the brand’s largest speaker, designed for TVs 55 inches and larger,
That’s why there is a huge difference in the size and weight of both speakers. Ray measures 559 x 71 x 95 mm / 22 x 2.8 x 3.7 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 1.95 kg / 4.3 lbs. By comparison, the bow is much longer at 1,142 x 87 x 116 mm / 45 x 3.4 x 4.6 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 6.25 kg/. The Ray is designed to open even under small TVs, while the bracket runs along most large TVs.
Both speakers have a similar Sonos aesthetic, with clean lines and a sleek, minimalist design available in black or white.
Both can be surfaced or wall-mounted. However, Ray can fit into a shelf in a TV cabinet because his audio technology is going forward. This won’t work with the Arc, because it has side speakers.
Around the back, the Arc has only two basic inputs: a power cable and an HDMI, and while an Ethernet jack and a Digital Optical to HDMI converter are available out of the box, they’re recommended only if you absolutely must. This is because Dolby Atmos can only be transmitted via HDMI (more on that soon).
In contrast, the main Sonos Ray connection to your TV will be through the optical port. Sonos says this is to make setup easier and make sure it works with as many TVs as possible.
Sonos Arc vs Sonos Ray: Features
The Sonos Ray are low-cost through-and-through speakers, so don’t expect its features to match the Arc’s (it’s five times the price, remember). However, Ray’s no-frills approach may appeal to some people.
Sonos Arc uses Dolby’s TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus audio codecs to deliver the best lossless audio quality you’ll find on Blu-ray and some streaming services. Arc can enhance a 3D audio scene by using Dolby Atmos object paths to bounce certain sounds off the walls around you, so you feel surrounded by sound.
However, the beam does not have any of these features. It won’t provide the immersive sound you get from a bow, but it’s not meant to. Instead, Sonos has worked to provide a wide audio range here. Using a split waveguide, the Sonos Ray can direct some of the high-frequency energy directly toward you and direct the rest toward the sides, separating the stereo.
We’ll have to wait until we review the Sonos Ray to see how it performs, but the idea is that this creates a wide sound that contrasts with the speakers’ compact dimensions.
The good news is, whether you have a beam or bracket, you can boost the sound by syncing the soundbar wirelessly with other Sonos products, which pair seamlessly. So if you have a Sonos Ray and a pair of Sonos One SL and Sonos Sub rear speakers, you can make a complete home cinema system.
This may defeat the Sonos Ray budget point, but it does mean that there are opportunities to build a better audio experience over time.
Both Arc and Ray speakers use Sonos’ TruePlay technology to calibrate the audio output. Lift your phone as you walk around the room and the S2 app uses its microphone to adjust the volume of the speakers to work perfectly within the space.
Unfortunately, this feature is only available if you have an iPhone. But Sonos says it’s just to improve the experience, and all the speakers still work well out of the box.
One notable difference between the Ray and the more advanced Arc is that the cheaper soundbar does not have a built-in microphone, and therefore no voice control. You cannot use it directly with Sonos Voice Control or with smart assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa.
Sonos Arc vs Sonos Ray: Audio Performance
The arc is great speakers. It has eight elliptical tweeters that work to deliver a solid bass response. We found the adjustment to balance out a good amount of warmth across the midsection during testing. There is also an amazing level of clarity on display.
Thanks to the three silk-dome tweeters, high frequencies are clear and an impressive level of control. We were amazed by the bow’s ability to deliver sonic views that differentiated the sound from individual instruments, but we didn’t feel disengaged.
That’s the spatial resolution we’ve come to expect from the Arc, which is designed to get the most out of Dolby Atmos. Once set to your room, the arc looks great and can bounce effects around and behind you.
It’s hard to comment on Sonos Ray’s vocal performance before we have a chance to test it out. However, given the specifications, we can make some reasonable assumptions.
It is impossible for a ray to sound as good as a bow. It has four drivers, which include two elliptical mid-woofers and two high-performance tweeters.
Given that it’s much cheaper than an arc, we think the beam’s acoustic theater will remain consistent. It should fit a lot of people – especially those with small TVs and rooms that fill with sound.
There is a huge difference between these two soundbars in terms of price. The Sonos Arc is five times more expensive than the Ray. The Arc is truly premium speakers with exceptional and powerful sound. That’s why it’s our top pick of the best speakers you can buy right now.
If you have a TV that’s about 50 inches or more and averages to a large room to put it in, you’ll need an Arc if you want Sonos speakers and high-quality sound. (or the midrange Sonos Beam Gen 2.)
However, the Arc is incredibly expensive, and there is huge appeal in choosing decent speakers for under £200/$200 with the Sonos Ray. If you have a small budget and a small TV, the Ray is a solid choice. It’s also a gateway to the Sonos ecosystem, where you can add more devices over time if you wish.
There is no point in putting these two voices head-on in terms of price and performance. They are two separate worlds. But deciding which one works for you comes down to your TV, your preferences, and your budget.