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Review: Sonos Roam – Richly equipped wireless speaker

Review: Sonos Roam- It is in any case the cheapest option to get acquainted with the Sonos ecosystem and a first step towards a multi-room system.
5/5 - (1 vote)

Do you want a Sonos speaker that you can carry with you and use in the garden, for example? Then there has been the Sonos Move for a while , but we cannot call this model very compact and portable. Recently you can also go for the Sonos Roam, which is intended to be taken with you everywhere. Sonos is competing with well-known bluetooth speakers, such as the JBL Flip series and the Ultimate Ears Boom series.

This is the Sonos Roam

With a size of 16.8 x 6.2 x 6 cm and a weight of 340 grams, the Sonos Roam can be called a real portable speaker. The model connects simultaneously via WiFi and Bluetooth. When you’re listening at home, Roam connects to your system and streams over WiFi. When you leave the house, it automatically switches to Bluetooth to connect to your mobile device. With the new Sound Swap feature, you can hold the play/pause button on the speaker to switch the music to the nearest speaker in your Sonos system at home. This way you can easily move the music from one room to another. Connectivity options also allow Bluetooth streaming for the rest of the system; with the Sonos app, all Sonos speakers can be grouped with Roam when streaming via bluetooth.

The Roam works like other Sonos speakers with over a hundred streaming services, including Sonos Radio, and can be easily controlled with the Sonos app, your voice via the Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2 or directly from your favorite streaming services and apps such as Spotify. The speaker has automatic Trueplay tuning, both via Bluetooth and WiFi. The speaker is dust-resistant and completely waterproof thanks to the IP67 rating. The silicone end caps protect against drops and bumps. According to Sonos, the battery of the Sonos Roam lasts up to ten hours on a single charge. Charging can be done with the supplied USB-C cable, but can also be done by connecting to the special magnetic wireless charger from Sonos – sold separately – or a wireless Qi-certified charger.

The Roam is available in Shadow Black and Lunar White. The suggested retail price is 179 euros for the speaker and 49 euros for the optional wireless charger.

design

In terms of specifications, we can call the Sonos Roam striking, especially because the small speaker offers so many possibilities. However, the design is far from striking, and for some even a bit boring. The Roam is a sleek speaker, with a large Sonos logo on the front and buttons on the top. This depends on how you place the speaker because you can place it both horizontally and vertically.

Although the design is not special, the build quality is good, actually exactly as we are used to from Sonos. The speaker feels sturdy, is neatly finished and can also take a beating. Even use in the rain, in the shower or near the water is no problem. The speaker remains stable in both vertical and horizontal orientation, thanks to rubber feet and the rubber side, respectively. The buttons on the top are a bit small but give just enough feedback for comfortable operation. There is also a standby button on the back, but we didn’t even notice it at first. In terms of connections, we only see the USB-c port, and that is purely provided for charging the speaker. So you cannot physically link sources with the Roam.

Charging with a Qi charger

The Sonos roam is easy to charge with the included USB-C cable, but without an adapter to plug it into the socket. That’s something we see more and more today. However, if you no longer want to use cables and prefer wireless charging, Sonos offers a Qi charger that costs 49 euros.

The charger itself is not wireless, but you can simply place the speaker on it, after which it remains firmly in place by means of magnets and is charged. If you want to use the speaker, remove it from the charger. So it’s mainly about that little extra ease of use. The great thing is that by supporting the Qi charging technology, you can also use wireless chargers from other manufacturers, or use the Sonos charger for other devices that support Qi.

In terms of battery life, the roam lasts about 10 hours on a full charge. Is it empty and do you want to load it quickly? Then you can get about 5 hours of playback time with an hour charger. When not actively used, the speaker enters an energy-efficient mode that holds the charge for up to 10 days.

Installation

Installing the Sonos Roam is a piece of cake and little different than installing other Sonos speakers. If you don’t have the Sonos app yet, download it, create an account and search for new speakers. When the Roam is switched on, it is automatically recognized, after which the WiFi settings of your smartphone are automatically transferred to the Roam. You can play music within 2 minutes. What is important is that the first installation must always be via WiFi. Only then can you communicate with the speaker via bluetooth.

Usage and possibilities

You can access the Sonos Roam in two different ways: via WiFi and via bluetooth. When you start with WiFi and let the speaker play while you walk out of the house, the Bluetooth connection is automatically switched. When connecting with bluetooth, you depend on what you play on your smartphone. You can simply show that through the speaker. When you are connected to WiFi, you also have the option to use Airplay 2 and make the speaker part of a setup with multiple Airplay 2 speakers.

Operating the speaker is the same as the other speakers. The Sonos app is the place from which you can control everything, in addition to options such as Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect. We have written about the app many times and the user experience is still very positive. Sonos has a sleek, logically structured and well-stocked app that puts everything at your fingertips. You can quickly select a speaker, create groups, unlink groups or choose another source. There is support for all major music services including Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Qobuz, Deezer and YouTube Music.

Various options for the linked speakers are available from the app. The Roam can be found in your normal list of speakers, including an immediately visible percentage of the battery. In addition, you can activate Trueplay here, operate a simple equalizer and set a volume limit.

If you have two Sonos Roam speakers, you can connect them as a stereo pair. This is a handy option, but please note that this only works when you are connected to WiFi. Unfortunately, you cannot set the Roam as a surround speaker for your Sonos soundbar.

As mentioned, the Roam has Trueplay, a function that we have known from other Sonos speakers for years, but the function is not quite the same. The Trueplay function on the Roam works automatically, thanks to the built-in microphone. If you enable the option, the environment in which the speaker is located is automatically analyzed and the display is adjusted based on the results. However, it works fine, within the capabilities of the speaker. It is only a compact device with a limited number (and size) of drivers, but Sonos still manages to optimize the playback, depending on where you use the speaker. Outside, in an open environment, the speaker sounds a bit louder and more bombastic, while inside, in a much smaller environment, the speaker sounds a bit more controlled and finer. It’s not a world of difference, but every little bit helps.

Finally, the Roam has a built-in microphone, which you can happily switch off at the touch of a button. If you switch on the microphone, you can activate voice control. You can choose from the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for this. To use Google Assistant, you must register the speaker in the Google Home app. Once paired, you can ask the Roam to turn the music up or down, stop playing, play a specific song or radio station. Of course, voice control is also possible outside the Roam, for example asking general questions to the voice assistant or operating your smart home.

Sound quality

So the features and functions of the Sonos Roam are fine, but how does that small speaker actually sound? Let’s start by saying that the Roam sounds like a small speaker. It’s not a revolution in portable speakers, but that’s okay either. A small speaker mostly sounds small, without a wide sound field, without much dynamics and without much depth. The Roam has that in common with many of its competitors.

Still, the Roam sounds very good for its size. A lot of volume can be squeezed out of the small housing, even in a large, open garden. The speaker continues to sound clean and detailed. A small party by the pool should therefore not be a problem. At the same time, the Roam offers a clear and sleek display, in which everything is well balanced. Warm vocals, reasonable bass and clear highs. Yet we see that various bluetooth speakers in this price range focus more on the range in the lower regions. For example, the speakers from JBL and Sony offer a bit more power in the low end. That is a choice of Sonos, and that choice is not wrong in our opinion. The Roam is simply comfortable to listen to, but less exciting and powerful than some of its competitors.

However, the placement of the Roam is close. You get the best audio reproduction when you place the speaker facing yourself (or the group) and preferably not too low, for example on a table. The Roam does not give 360-degree sound like some other speakers. The loudspeaker offers the widest and most free reproduction in horizontal position. Vertically it sounds just a bit more closed and focused.

Sonos Roam – Conclusion

Looking at the equipment and options, with the Sonos Roam you get the complete package; a full-fledged Sonos speaker. It is, partly due to integration with the Sonos ecosystem, one of the most widely deployable wireless speakers. With Wifi, bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Google Home integration you can go in all directions. At home in combination with other Sonos (or Airplay 2) speakers, and outdoors as a portable Bluetooth speaker. On top of that, you get Trueplay, the option of wireless charging and a housing that can withstand water and dust. The audio reproduction is also simply good. The Roam offers a comfortable listening experience, whether on a quiet spring day in the garden or during a party by the pool.

Yet the Roam is not an exciting speaker. In terms of design, speakers from JBL and Sony offer more bells and whistles, and they are also more robustly designed. The Roam is a simple, perhaps somewhat boring speaker. As far as the audio reproduction is concerned, you can also get a little more power and dynamics with other speakers in this price range, but then you compromise on the possibilities. It’s just what you’re looking for. A pure bluetooth speaker with good sound? Then take a look at Ultimate Ears, Sony or JBL. WiFi, bluetooth, Airplay 2, Google Assistant, wireless charging and all the benefits of the Sonos ecosystem? Then the Roam is a very good choice with a decent price. It is in any case the cheapest option to get acquainted with the Sonos ecosystem and a first step towards a multi-room system.

Pros of Sonos Roam

  • WiFi, bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Google Assistant
  • Tight audio playback
  • true play
  • Wireless charging
  • Sonos ecosystem
  • Compact and portable

Negatives of Sonos Roam

  • Not the best speaker in its price range
  • No stereo pair with bluetooth
  • No connectivity options
  • What a boring design

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