Sonos has a new speaker that will ship later this month. In many ways, it differs significantly from the company’s usual offerings. The whole new one Sonos Roam is a compact, portable speaker with an integrated battery and Bluetooth connectivity – but still a Sonos system team player with WiFi streaming, multi-room function, voice assistant support and surprisingly good sound quality.
At $ 179, the Sonos Roam is really tiny at just over 6 inches and roughly 2.5 inches in height for both height and depth. It weighs less than a pound and comes in either matte white or black, which Sonos goes without saying in terms of color scheme. Roam is also rated IP67, which means it is effectively waterproof and can withstand up to 30 minutes at depths of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet).
Sonos placed the speaker’s control surface on one end of the device, including a microphone button, volume controls, and a play / pause button. These are actual, tactile buttons and not touch-sensitive surfaces like those found on other Sonos speakers. This makes sense for a speaker that is designed for use on the go and in conditions where rain and water can mess up touch controls.
The Roam also has a power switch on the back next to a USB-C port for charging. It also offers wireless charging via a receiver at the base of the speaker that can be used with Sonos’ own magnetic adapter (sold separately) or with any standard Qi-powered wireless charger you want.
In addition to WiFi streaming, Sonos Roam can also connect to any device via Bluetooth 5.0. It also has AirPlay 2 for connecting to Apple devices via WiFi and works instantly with Spotify Connect. According to Sonos, the built-in battery is designed for playback of up to 10 hours when fully charged and can also play back for up to 10 days in sleep-like standby mode.
Design and performance
This is the smallest speaker Sonos has released to date and that is definitely a huge plus when it comes to this category of device. The dimensions make it feel like a slightly larger can of Red Bull which should give you an idea of how portable it is. Unlike Sonos’ first portable speaker with a built-in battery, the Sonos Move, the Roam really feels like something that can be thrown in a bag and taken anywhere you need it.
Despite its small size, the Sonos Roam offers impressive sound – probably the best I’ve seen so far for a portable speaker in this size class. Inside are two amplifiers, a tweeter, and a separate custom racetrack midrange that Sonos designed to deliver both lows and mids with an accuracy that smaller speakers normally miss. The roam also gets a lot louder than you’d probably expect while the audio quality remains clear and distortion-free.
One of the keys to the Roam’s great sound quality is Sonos’ automatic Trueplay technology, which actively and continuously adapts the audio to the environment. This feature requires the microphone to be enabled, but it’s worth using it in most settings and it makes a big difference when you stream in both Bluetooth and WiFi modes. This also helps the speaker adjust when it is switched from horizontal to vertical orientation. This is one of the main reasons the Roam is above its weight when compared to other speakers in this size and price range.
The Roam would be a winner for the award based on audio quality alone, but Sonos’ additional system-specific features make it a true category leader. This includes a standby mode, which saves the battery and at the same time keeps the roam available for WiFi streaming via the Sonos app for your system (practical and optional, as you can hold the power button down for five seconds to really turn on the device off and keep the charge evenly longer, which is great for traveling).
One of the really amazing capabilities of Roam is a handoff feature that pushes playback of whatever you’re using to the next Sonos speaker in your system when you long press the play / pause button. This works almost like magic and is a great speaker superpower for when you wander around the house and yard doing chores with the Roam in your pocket.
Sonos has waited a long time to release their first travel-friendly portable speaker, but they obviously used this time wisely. The Sonos Roam is the most thoughtful, feature-rich, and best-sounding portable speaker you can get for less than $ 200 (and better than many more expensive options). Even if you don’t already have a Sonos system to use it with, if you are looking for a portable, rugged Bluetooth speaker in the market place, it’s an easy choice – and if you’re already a Sonos converter, this is it Decision so much easier.