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Hands on: TCL RAY-DANZ soundbar review

Dolby Atmos on the cheap

What is a hands on review?
soundbar
(Image: © TCL)

Early Verdict

This soundbar's unique design means that TCL has made Dolby Atmos relatively affordable, and powerful drivers mean that it the RAY-DANZ can easily fill your living room with sound. However, if you need your soundbar to look as a good as it sounds, you may want to look elsewhere.

For

  • Dolby Atmos
  • Subwoofer included
  • Powerful sound

Against

  • Clunky design

At a first glance, you might think that TCL's latest soundbar, the RAY-DANZ is just like any other – look a little closer, and you'll notice that the speaker grille only takes up the middle third of the bar itself, giving it a somewhat hollow effect. 

What's the reason for this unusual design? Well, it's all about the way sound bounces off the different parts of the soundbar, ultimately allowing for room-filling, immersive Dolby Atmos sound.

We saw the soundbar in action at IFA 2019 – read on for our initial thoughts on this mid-range Dolby Atmos speaker. 

Price and availability

TCL hasn't revealed an official release date, or even an official price; however, a TCL spokesperson told us that the soundbar and the included subwoofer will cost around €400 when it does become available to buy. 

This works out at around $440 / £360 / AU$650, placing it firmly in the middle of the price range for soundbars generally, and towards the lower end of the scale for Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars. 

Its nearest competitor therefore, is probably the Sonos Beam, which costs $399 / £399 / AU$599 – this model doesn't have Dolby Atmos though. 

soundbar

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design

With the speaker grille taking up on the middle section of this soundbar, the RAY-DANZ looks a little unusual, with each side carved out to create a reflective surface for sound to bounce off against. 

Aside from that, the design of this soundbar isn't much to write home about – it's functional, a little clunky, and very big. You'll need a rather large TV stand to house it. 

On the top of the soundbar you'll find an array of buttons to control the power, inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, and volume; etched seamlessly into the chassis, they look sleek and sophisticated. 

This is rather at odds with the rest of the soundbar, which has a somewhat stocky build; it certainly doesn't have the minimalist fabric-covered appeal of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage, for example.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Features and performance

The main selling point of this soundbar is its ability to replicate a wide, virtual surround-sound effect in your living room, without the need for a multi-speaker setup. 

One of the ways it does this is by utilizing two sideways-firing speaker drivers that direct sound to a reflector on each side of the soundbar.

According to TCL, these reflectors then "bend the sound at a precise angle to create natural reverberation and a much wider perceived soundstage." When we heard the soundbar in action during a demonstration, we were impressed by how powerful it sounded from all angles of the room.  

This works in tandem with a third front-firing speaker, which focuses on delivering "crystal clear dialogue and accurate voice positioning"; we were treated to a clip from Everest, in which the characters speak to each other amidst a whirling snowstorm. 

Highs were sparkling and crisp, while the booming lows of cracking ice were conveyed forcefully by the included subwoofer, which provided room-shaking bass frequencies throughout the demonstration. 

Despite the thunderous noises surrounding them, the characters' dialogue came through with clarity and precision, which is exactly what you want from a loud film. 

The soundbar does generally get very loud, and it can easily fill a room – it could even double up as a party speaker thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity and the subwoofer's potential to support pounding bass lines. 

During the demonstration, we also heard a sound clip of a thunderstorm. This is where the Dolby Atmos feature really shone; giving us a real sense of height and space, it almost felt as though rain was falling around us. 

TCL RAY-DANZ

(Image credit: TCL)

Early verdict

Overall, we were impressed by the TCL RAY-DANZ soundbar, and the innovative way it uses reflective structures to bounce sound around your room. 

It's powerful enough to do justice to even the most action-packed adventure films, but has enough clarity and precision to handle dialogue with ease. 

It's not the prettiest soundbar we've ever seen, but the inclusion of a subwoofer and support for Dolby Atmos means that it feels as though you're getting a lot for your money.

Of course, we'll need to carry out a full review before we can say whether the TCL RAY-DANZ soundbar represents good value for your money, but we like what we've heard so far. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.