Hands-On With the New Sonos Roam Speaker
Sonos in March introduced a new portable smart speaker called the Sonos Roam, which is priced at $169, making it the most affordable Sonos speaker to date. We were able to check out the Sonos Roam to see if it's worth the asking price and how it compares to other portable speakers on the market.
At just under a pound, the Sonos Roam is lightweight and able to be taken anywhere, from the living room to the pool to the park. It's not ultra small, but it is smaller than a water bottle, which makes it easy to transport. The Sonos Roam offers IP67 water and dust resistance, so it can survive splashes of water and even a dunk if it accidentally falls into a pool. Depending on how you're using it, the speaker can be set upright or laid on its side thanks to the triangular design.
Design wise, it fits in with other Sonos speakers and it will be immediately familiar to those in the Sonos ecosystem. Though it's light, it has a premium feel, and you can get it in black or white.
Sonos says there are two Class-H amplifiers inside, along with one custom racetrack mid-woofer, one tweeter, and a high-efficiency motor. There are built-in beamforming microphones, and an adjustable EQ. When it comes to sound, the Sonos Roam is fantastic for its size. The Roam is a bit larger in size than the HomePod mini because of its design, and that comes across in the sound quality. Audio quality is always subjective and it's not going to match higher-end larger speakers, but it offers the sound that you expect from a premium Sonos product.
An Automatic Trueplay feature allows the Roam to adapt the sound based on the environment that it's in and the music that's playing. The microphones detect what song is playing and then adjust the EQ based on the surroundings for a balanced sound profile.
Sonos is known for its WiFi-connected speakers, and the Roam works like many other Sonos speaker options, but it also supports Bluetooth. When at home, the speaker connects to WiFi and can be used as a standard Sonos speaker, but when out of WiFi range, it pairs to an iPhone over Bluetooth. For those in the Apple ecosystem, the Sonos Roam supports AirPlay 2, which is rare for a portable speaker. With AirPlay 2, the Sonos Roam can be paired up with other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in the home for easy multi-room audio, and it also makes it easy to play songs to the device from an iPhone.
There are physical controls and a Sonos app for controlling music, plus the speaker also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The battery in the Sonos Roam lasts for up to 10 hours and it can be charged over USB-C or wirelessly using any Qi-based charger. Sonos eventually plans to make a dedicated charging cradle for the Roam, but it's not yet available.
Two of the Sonos Roams can be paired together to create a stereo pair, and it is also able to interface with other Sonos speakers. Sonos supports more than 100 streaming services, including Apple Music, so you can also stream direct from Apple Music using the Sonos app.
If you're in the Sonos ecosystem already or want a portable AirPlay 2 speaker experience, you're not going to be disappointed with the Sonos Roam even at its $169 price point because of the build quality and the impressive sound from a small speaker. There are few other AirPlay 2-enabled portable speakers on the market and because of the portability and Bluetooth/WiFi switching functionality, the Sonos Roam is more versatile than Apple's own HomePod mini, which must be plugged in to function.
Sonos plans to begin selling the Sonos Roam on April 20, and it is available for pre-order for $169 ahead of that date.