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Sonos Ray vs Beam (2022): Compact Soundbar Comparison

The Sonos Ray and Sonos Beam are compact soundbars from the brand. The Sonos Beam, which is the more expensive model, is better across the board. It has more channels, it has a built-in mic for voice assistant and it has an HDMI port that supports the eARC standard. Meanwhile, the Sonos Ray is the cheaper option as it is a pretty basic soundbar. If you are looking to get a small soundbar, which of these two should you buy? Is the cheaper Sonos Ray a better buy? Or should you open up your wallet to get the more expensive, but better Sonos Beam (Gen 2)?

Sonos Ray vs Beam Comparison Chart

ModelSonos Ray Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
 
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Dimensions2.79 x 22 x 3.74 inches2.72 x 25.63 x 3.94 inches
Weight4.29lbs6.2lbs
Speakers2x tweeters
2x midwoofers
1x center tweeter
4x midwoofers
ControlsCapacitive touch controls
Play, Pause, Skip, Replay, Volume
Capacitive touch controls
Play, Pause, Skip, Replay, Volume, Microphone
MicrophonesN/AFar-field microphone array
Voice AssistantN/AAlexa, Google Assistant
Audio FeaturesSpeech enhancement
Night Sound
Trueplay
Speech enhancement
Night Sound
Trueplay
AppSonos S2Sonos S2
Audio FormatsStereo PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital SurroundStereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos (True HD), Multichannel PCM, Dolby Multichannel PCM and DTS Digital Surround
Ports and Connectivity1x Optical
1x Ethernet port
WiFi
Apple AirPlay 2
1x HDMI (eARC) (HDMI to optical adapter included)
1x Ethernet port
WiFi
Apple AirPlay 2
ColorsBlack, WhiteBlack, White

Design

The Sonos Ray is great for TVs 55 inches and below while the Sonos Beam is designed to provide audio for TVs up to 65 inches.

sonos ray vs beam design
Both soundbars are compact, but the Sonos Ray (top) is shorter by a couple of inches than the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) (bottom).

Looks-wise, these two soundbars have that minimalist and modern look that Sonos speakers have. They are both available in black or white so you have a choice if you want an all-black, all-white or contrasting aesthetic for your home theater setup. They can be placed on top of a TV rack or you can wall mount them.

As for size, the Sonos Ray is more compact and lightweight. It measures 2.79 x 22 x 3.74 inches and it weighs 4.29lbs. On the other hand, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) measures 2.72 x 25.63 x 3.94 inches and it weighs 6.2lbs. The difference in size is mostly in their width, with the Sonos Ray being shorter by a couple of inches. They are short enough that they can be placed in front of your TV without obstructing your view.

When it comes to connections, the Sonos Ray only has an optical input, so it’s quite limited when it comes to audio formats supported (more on that below). Meanwhile, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) has an HDMI port that supports the eARC standard. It also comes with an HDMI to optical adapter, but if it’s used, it can only support up to 5.1 surround sound. Both of them have WiFi connectivity and they have an ethernet port.

Features

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) can decode more audio formats than the Sonos Ray.

sonos ray vs beam features
The two soundbars have capacitive touch buttons on top.

Features-wise, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) has a couple that you won’t get with the Sonos Ray. It has a built-in microphone for voice assistant support, so you can control it with just your voice. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Another feature that the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) has over the Sonos Ray is its ability to decode more audio formats. As mentioned earlier, the Sonos Ray only has an optical input, so it only supports stereo PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround. On the other hand, Sonos Beam (Gen 2) has an HDMI eARC port so it can decode a wider range of audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and multichannel PCM.

Both soundbars work with the Sonos S2 app. The app lets you access various features such as Night Sound and Speech Enhancement, treble and bass adjustments and Trueplay room correction (the last one is only available on iOS devices).

As for controlling them via remote, both soundbars can sync with your TVs remote for unified control. Even though the Sonos Ray does not have an ARC/eARC HDMI port, it has an IR receiver for this function. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) also has an IR receiver, and as mentioned earlier, an HDMI eARC port.

Sound

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) can deliver more room-filling and better virtual surround sound than the Sonos Ray.

sonos ray vs beam sound
The Sonos Ray (top) has an optical input while the Sonos Beam (bottom) has an HDMI port.

Equipped with four class D amplifiers that power a couple of midwoofers and a couple of tweeters, the Sonos Ray is a very capable soundbar. The lows are handled by reflex ports, but don’t expect too much out of them. The bass is there, but since it is a compact soundbar, low-bass is pretty underwhelming.

Meanwhile, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) has five class D amplifiers that power four midwoofers and a center tweeter. Two of these reproduce surround sound, as well as overhead sound for Atmos content. There are passive radiators for the low frequencies, and although there’s still a dip in the low bass, it produces a more enhanced bass than the Sonos Ray. Overall, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) sounds wider and more immersive than the Sonos Ray, especially when watching Dolby Atmos content.

Both soundbars can be paired and connected with other Sonos speakers for a complete home theater setup. They are compatible with the Sonos Sub and Sonos’ smaller speakers such as the Sonos One and Sonos One SL.

Verdict

Get the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) if you want a compact soundbar with voice assistant and Dolby Atmos support. The Sonos Ray is a good choice if you don’t particularly care about Dolby Atmos and voice assistant as it is cheaper.

Sonos Ray

Cheaper compact soundbar

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Better overall compact soundbar

There’s no question that the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is the better overall compact soundbar here. It’s more feature-rich, with built-in smart assistant and support for a wider range of audio formats. It also sounds better with a wide soundstage that’s excellent for a compact soundbar. If you are looking to get the best small soundbar, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is the best choice in the market. The Sonos Ray, on the other hand, is the more budget-friendly option. If you just want a small soundbar without all the bells and whistles, the Sonos Ray is an affordable soundbar that can enhance your viewing, listening and gaming experience.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Which is better, the Sonos Ray or Sonos Beam?

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is clearly the better soundbar, however, the Sonos Ray has its appeals. Pricing is one of them, along with its more compact and lightweight build.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is it worth getting the Sonos Beam?

Yes, it’s worth getting if you are looking for a compact soundbar. It tops our list of the best small soundbars that you can buy right now.

๐Ÿ“Œ Do you need a sub with the Sonos Ray?

You don’t need one, but having a subwoofer will definitely enhance the low frequency output of the sound system.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Sonos Beam loud enough?

It’s ideal for medium-sized rooms, but may struggle when placed in a very large room or open area.

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Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.