Sonos Roam review: the portable speaker you’ll want to use at home too


Sonos’s new smaller and cheaper Roam portable speaker is one which gained’t find yourself relegated to a drawer amassing mud because it sounds nice at home too.

The £159 Roam joins the a lot greater and heavier £399 Move as the second of agency’s battery-powered fashions and proves itself as certainly one of the finest choices in a saturated market.

The Roam can stand upright on its finish or lay down with little silicon ft on one facet to preserve it from vibrating towards a desk. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The speaker has each wifi and Bluetooth and is triangular in form, like a Toblerone, however solely about the size of a 500ml bottle. It weighs 430g so gained’t drag down a bag and is straightforward to grip for carrying about the home.

The entrance is a steel mesh, the again is high-quality mat plastic and the finish caps are rubber to assist take in impacts when you drop it. The speaker is water-resistant and might be submerged in up to 1m of water for half-hour, so it’s sturdy sufficient to survive most out of doors settings. It doesn’t float although, so don’t drop it in a pool.

It’s a very good design that’s each purposeful and engaging wanting the half in the home in addition to outdoor.

Sonos Roam review
The prime has 4 buttons: one for muting the voice assistant microphones, two quantity controls and a pause/play button that additionally skips tracks when double or triple pressed. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 168 x 62 x 60mm

  • Weigh: 430g

  • Connectivity: Wifi 5 (ac), Bluetooth 5, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect

  • Battery: 10 hours playback, 10 days standby

  • Charging: USB-C (up to 15W; 5V/1.5A or increased), Qi wi-fi

  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m depths for 30 minutes)

Setup and options

Sonos Roam review
The Roam has three LED standing lights: one on the prime displaying when the mics are turned on, one simply above the Sonos emblem displaying when the speaker is turned on and one at the backside displaying when it’s charging. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

You should arrange the Roam on wifi utilizing the Sonos app earlier than you possibly can use it as a Bluetooth speaker, however it solely takes a few minutes. The Sonos app acts as a controller for enjoying music from virtually each music streaming service obtainable through wifi. The speaker can be managed straight from the Spotify app or utilizing AirPlay 2 on Apple gadgets. To use it outdoor you merely pair it together with your cellphone through Bluetooth like an everyday portable speaker.

The Roam has just a few methods up its sleeve you probably have different Sonos audio system. It can share music being streamed to it through Bluetooth with different audio system in your home wifi community. But it could possibly additionally create an instantaneous group together with your nearest Sonos audio system or switch music to or from them simply by holding the play/pause button on the Roam. It works like magic.

The Roam additionally helps voice assistants from Google and Amazon’s Alexa, permitting you to swap between them. It has three mics constructed into it and works identical to certainly one of Google’s Nest or Amazon’s Echo audio system on wifi, answering questions, streaming and controlling music. They want an web connection to function so don’t work on Bluetooth.

Great sound

Sonos Roam review
The speaker sounds its finest when enjoying one thing grand and melodic over wifi cranked up to at least 20% quantity. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Roam lives up to Sonos’s fame for high quality sound. Its audio efficiency punches approach past its weight and dimension, producing a few of the clearest, crispest and most well-balanced audio even at excessive volumes that I’ve heard from a portable speaker.

It doesn’t have actually thumping bass, and whereas it’s actually loud sufficient for private listening or in small teams – something louder than 30% whereas on a desk in entrance of you is basically greater than sufficient – it isn’t up to smashing out the beats for a big out of doors get together. But its separate mid and tweeter audio system give an actual vibrancy and depth to music that’s typically poorly reproduced on opponents of this dimension. It will deal with something from high-energy electronica to a string quartet with aplomb.

The Roam additionally has Trueplay, the system which tunes the speaker robotically, adjusting for orientation, surroundings and obstacles. Still, I believe it sounded barely higher when stood on its finish than when laid horizontally. You can even alter the treble, bass and “loudness” in the Sonos app and create stereo pairs with two Roams whereas on wifi, however not Bluetooth.

10-hour battery life

Sonos Roam review
The energy button is simply above the USB-C charging port. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Roam lasts for about 10 hours of playback on battery on wifi or Bluetooth, which is a bit in need of key Bluetooth speaker competitors however greater than sufficient for a day’s music in the park or round the home. You can see battery life in the Sonos app on wifi or ask the voice assistant, however there’s no approach to see it on Bluetooth apart from a blinking LED when the battery is low.

The speaker ships with a USB-A to USB-C cable, however no charger, requiring a 5V/1.5A (7.5W) or larger energy adaptor, which needs to be most smartphone chargers. It takes greater than two hours to cost with a primary adaptor or quicker with a extra highly effective 15W one.

It can be charged through Qi wi-fi charging in additional like 4 hours. Sonos sells an non-obligatory £44 wireless charger that magnetically attaches to the base of the speaker, however any Qi-compatible charger ought to do it. The speaker can be utilized whereas charging.

Sustainability

Sonos charges the battery in the Roam for 900 full-charge cycles earlier than a big drop in efficiency, which is says equates to about three years of use. The battery is just not user-replaceable, however the firm will supply a manufacturing facility substitute service related to most smartphones.

The firm commits to a minimal of 5 years of software program help for characteristic updates after it stops promoting a product, however has a observe file of for much longer together with bug and safety fixes for its legacy merchandise.

Sonos didn’t touch upon the use of recycled materials in the Roam, however offers trade-in and product recycling, and publishes annual responsibility and sustainability reports.

Observations

Sonos Roam review
Very few audio system allow you to swap between two totally different voice assistants, stopping you from being tied into just one service endlessly. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
  • Unlike different Sonos audio system, Roam can’t be paired with a sub or used as surrounds in a home cinema setup.

  • There is presently a battery-drain bug with the Google Assistant integration for which Sonos is engaged on a repair, however in the meantime it suggests turning the speaker absolutely off after use, turning off Assistant or switching to Alexa.

  • Trueplay solely works when the mic is just not muted.

Price

The Sonos Roam prices £159 by itself or £203 bundled with a wi-fi charger and ships from 30 April.

For comparability, the UE Boom 3 prices £129.99, the UE Megaboom prices £149.99 and the JBL Charge 5 prices £159.99.

Verdict

The Roam is definitely certainly one of the finest portable audio system and, not like the majority of the competitors, it really works even higher indoors.

It isn’t the largest or the loudest and doesn’t have thumping bass or super-long battery life. But the Roam produces high quality, well-rounded sound with a readability unmatched by rivals. Outdoors it features identical to any rugged, water resistant Bluetooth speaker. Inside it really works like Sonos’s different wonderful wifi audio system, appropriate with virtually each music service obtainable and with a selection of voice assistants too. It even appears nice as a modern piece of premium electronics, and like different Sonos audio system shall be supported for a really very long time.

For present Sonos customers after a portable speaker, the Roam is a no brainer. For others what you get is excess of a easy Bluetooth speaker for a lot the similar worth as prime opponents. For many it is perhaps the solely private music speaker you want.

Pros: nice sound, Trueplay, simple to use, wifi and Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, water and shock resistant, non-obligatory Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, small and lightweight, USB-C and Qi wi-fi charging, battery might be changed by means of service, very lengthy software program help.

Cons: battery life solely about 10 hours, takes a very long time to cost, can’t be grouped as a part of a Sonos home cinema system, not low cost.

Sonos Roam review
The Roam is smaller than it appears and gives significantly higher sound than you’d anticipate from its svelte body. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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