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Sonos Roam Portable Speaker - Everything you need to know
The smallest and cheapest Sonos speaker is here! We’ve got all the details you need to know so let’s go!
As of 9 pm on the 9th March, Sonos has just unveiled their brand new portable wireless speaker called the Sonos Roam for a price of £159 which makes it the cheapest Sonos speaker in the line-up. Very quickly before we get into the video, remember we are an authorised UK Sonos reseller and purchasing through us comes with all of these benefits (flash benefits on the screen). And as a celebration of the release of this speaker, everyone who pre-orders the Roam through us will have the chance of having their order refunded,. Pre-orders go live very soon on our site or may be live already, depends on when you are watching & general release of the product is the 20th of April just in time for when the temperatures start to soar and we can enjoy life outside in the sunshine. (fingers crossed!) If you’re not already, please consider hitting that subscribe button so you don’t miss our full in-depth video coming soon where we will put the Roam through its paces, testing if the Roam actually meets the spec Sonos have given it, a full sound quality test using our brand new binaural microphone and answering our top 5 questions which we will come onto later, as well as all of the unanswered questions that you put down in the comments section of this video.
INTRODUCTION / OVERVIEW
The Sonos Roam is Sonos’ second portable speaker in the line-up, available in both black and lunar white to accompany the highly successful Sonos Move speaker which is priced at £399. The idea with the Sonos Roam is that it’s much more compact, lightweight and more affordable than the Move at £159 so it can be taken with you on all of your adventures, hence the name Roam. 21% of you wanted a smaller, more portable speaker than the Sonos Move in our recent poll and here it is. And don’t worry we will be doing a comparison between the Move and the Roam in a later video. The £159 price tag makes it a real competitor with the likes of the JBL Extreme 2, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 and the Bose Soundlink Revolve II but for us, the Sonos Roam already has a slight advantage as it’s the first portable speaker to also be fully integratable with a home audio system. That means it can be grouped with your existing Sonos sound system in your home but also taken away with you seamlessly. Again we will be comparing it to all our favourite portable speakers in the market in the coming weeks.
Sonos Roam DESIGN
So if we take a closer look at how the Roam has been designed, it takes on a pyramid kind of shape, a bit like a Toblerone which can be used in two different orientations and will optimise its sound quality depending on whether it’s standing up or lying flat. Combine this with its rubberised top and feet and it shouldn’t roll around as easy as cylindrical speakers if you’re taking it with you on journeys. Its dimensions of 16.8cm width, 6.2cm height and 6cm depth and weight of 0.43 kg make it the smallest and lightest Sonos speaker they’ve designed to date so in a practical sense can be taken anywhere for the same weight as about a bottle of water.
The top panel is finished in a rubberized material to add to the durability of the speaker & the controls on top consist of play, pause, volume, skip track, replay track and turn off the microphones.
Sonos claims the USB-C connection at the back is the first to use a right angle connection which is unusual and leads me to wonder if this is for a particular function in the future, maybe as surrounds positioned on a floor stands for example to a Sonos Beam or Arc? I really hope so as this is such a highly requested feature on the Sonos Move. We’ll come back to charging in a minute.
Internally, it houses 2 Class-H digital amplifiers which consist of 1 mid-woofer for the mid-range and low end output and 1 tweeter for crisp higher frequencies. These drivers have been positioned as close to the edge of the speaker as possible so you get the widest possible soundstage from a compact portable speaker. The drivers take on the same oval shape as the Beam as Sonos learnt some valuable lessons with squeezing as much bass out of a small driver size and applied this to the Roam as well.
You can customise the EQ in the Sonos app so you can play around with the bass, treble and loudness settings to find the right sound for you. We will be testing its sound quality using our new binaural microphone in our upcoming reviews and it might be ambitious to hope for it to sound as good as the Sonos One but will hopefully come very close.
BATTERY LIFE & CHARGING
So one of the most important features of a portable Bluetooth speaker is its battery life and charge time. The Roam has a battery life of 10 hours which should give you enough battery to last through the day before needing charging.
Sonos say the Roam will go into a standby mode when not in use for some time and will last 10 days. We recently did some tests on the Move in response to a number of claims that it was draining battery too quickly when not in use so it’ll be interesting to see how the Roam performs in this area when we test it in our next video so don’t miss it!
In terms of charging, Sonos supplies a USB-C to USB cable but no mains power bank to connect it to but the Roam can be used with any Qi charger. Sonos will also be selling their own separate wireless charger which will magnetically snap for a smoother experience when at home but we wouldn’t say it’s entirely necessary and at £44.99 it’s not the cheapest option. It’s a bit disappointing a mains charger wasn't included in the box but you could argue this is to keep the Roam as affordable as possible. Not supplying a mains charger is very Apple and it’s likely all companies will go in this direction for all sorts of reasons including sustainability but I know personally I would have preferred to have one supplied so I’m not going to have to swap between charging my phone and my speaker.
So this is where things get interesting for new & current Sonos users as the Roam offers some new features not currently available on any other Sonos speakers.
The first feature I want to mention is the new Sound Swap feature - a great new feature that means you can send music from the Sonos Roam to the nearest Sonos speaker in your system all at the touch of a button. You could be listening to Roam in the garden, then take it indoors, hold down the play/pause button on the Roam and it will automatically throw the sound to the closest Sonos speaker in the home whether you are on Bluetooth or WiFi.
On the Sonos Move, you can listen through Bluetooth on the Move only, so being able to share Bluetooth to your whole home on the Roam opens you up to completely whatever audio you’re listening to on whichever device and on whatever Sonos speaker you want. This also means that theoretically, you could share the audio from a Bluetooth turntable to the Roam and ultimately your whole home. Whether Sonos intentionally decided to limit Bluetooth on the Move only or if Bluetooth grouping is something they have been able to innovate since I guess we will never know. We’ll of course be testing this in our upcoming review.
Another new feature to the Roam is automatic switching so Roam will automatically connect to your WiFi when you are in range and if you take it with you away from home, it will automatically switch to Bluetooth. This is a nice feature as it will transition smoothly between Bluetooth and WiFi instead of manually needing to switch it by pressing a button. This makes the Roam truly grab & go.
Moving onto some other features you should be aware of, it will still have the automatic TruePlay tuning feature that the Move has currently and we did test this out in our review of the Move and found it did make a difference in performance. If you’re not aware of what Trueplay is, it’s Sonos’ way of automatically adjusting the speaker’s EQ based on the environment it’s in. So after 15 seconds of the Roam being in a new fixed position, it will scan the environment and make subtle tweaks internally so you can get a better sound from it. This works on both WiFi and Bluetooth so you can be sure you’re always getting the best sound of it wherever you are, however you are listening.
Roam is IP67 weatherproof rated so that means it’s fully waterproof and can even be submerged into water up to 3 feet for 30 minutes and in true SHS fashion, we’ll be dunking it in our tank of water to see if it can really withstand that. It is also completely impervious to dust so it gives you all the confidence you need when you’re out and about to resist the elements. As it’s drop-proof and much lighter at 0.43 KG, you shouldn’t have any issues dropping it on the floor like I did when testing the Move. Although Sonos state it is drop-proof and it passed our drop test, it just feels wrong dropping the Move as it’s so much heavier.
The Roam has all the same methods of control that Sonos currently give you like Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, TuneIn radio and all services provided on the Sonos app, as well as Bluetooth 5.0 and voice control consisting of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
These assistants can be used when you’re on WiFi at home and also be used to control any other Sonos speakers in your home.
We are hoping there will be an SL version released in the future like we’ve seen with the One SL, supplied at a slightly cheaper price point for those who do not require voice control in this speaker but we will have to wait and see. Currently the difference between the One SL and voice-activated Sonos One is £20 so we would love to see something like this become available for the Roam.
Sonos have also said the Roam is going to feature their quickest and easiest setup. We’re not sure exactly how it will be set up yet but we’ll be testing this as soon as we get our hands on it. Currently, on the Move, you have to go through the WiFi set up first before you can use Bluetooth so it will be interesting to see if this remains true for the Roam.
The Roam is set up just like any other Sonos speaker using the Sonos app. You’ll need to set up the Roam on WiFi first before you can use Bluetooth. I’m disappointed that they haven’t let you use the speaker on Bluetooth straight out of the box, it’s something we wanted with the Move and it’s something that has confused people thinking they could start listening via Bluetooth straight away. My cynical side questions if it’s so Sonos can capture your email address but I could be very wrong and they might have a reason behind this!
I’m sure many of you would like to know if it can be stereo paired and the answer is yes it can, with another Roam but they still cannot be used as surround speakers to a Sonos TV speaker but like I mentioned earlier about the right angled USB-C, we’re hoping it could be a possibility in the future but don’t hold us to it!
So that is all the details we currently know about the Sonos Roam. Back when we did our last Sonos Move video, we said the Move is not designed to compete with traditional portable speakers due to its size and price tag. The Move is designed to be moved from room to room and outdoors without being tied to a power socket but the Sonos Roam has been designed absolutely to compete with smaller portable speakers and there’s some fantastic USPs for the Roam. Features like Soundswap, Auto TruePlay, the ability to integrate it with your Sonos home sound system will most likely set the benchmark for other competitors when designing portable speakers. If you’re an existing Sonos user already who’s after a portable speaker and the Move is either too big or too expensive, here’s your answer. For me, I have Sonos at home but not in my kitchen or bathroom so it’ll be great around the house as an additional speaker which can then come with me on holiday, out in the garden, to the park, on bike rides and so much more. I think, unlike some portable speakers which you kind of forget about unless you’re going on holiday, this is a speaker which could offer the best of both.
At £159, access to the Sonos ecosystem has never been more affordable and will make a great starter Sonos speaker or it will fit right into your existing system and we think it will be a massive hit, especially going off the popularity of the Move.
So as I said at the start of this video we have 5 big questions for when we get our hands on the Roam & put it to the test. One - how quickly does it charge from dead to full power? Is there a quick charge function? Two - How does the Bluetooth/WiFi work? Is it an upgrade from the Move? Three - How does it actually sound? It’s all well and good reading about the internals but how well will this actually perform in a very crowded market? Four - How well does sound swap work? and Five how long does the speaker battery last in the real world test?.
If you want your comments and questions to be seen by us and potentially Sonos, now is your chance. Leave any questions you have in the comments below and we’ll make sure we test it out and get all the answers you need before buying! Thanks as always for watching and I look forward to chatting with you further in the comments below.