Sonos was the first, and is still one of the best, wireless, multi-room speaker systems you can buy. Many users of the beloved audio company are not just fans, but zealots of these sleek, beautifully crafted speakers, which tend to expand across homes of all different sizes and iterations.
Yet with the Sonos Roam, the newest addition to the family, Sonos is bucking its usual trend of high-end home audio, and galloping straight ahead with its first truly portable, waterproof speaker. And the verdict is in: it sounds as great as it looks.
Why We Chose It: We are already avid Sonos users and have been buying the speakers for our home since they came out in 2005. So, it was with relish that we got our hands on this slim, triangular-shaped speaker which is both drop resistant and IP67 waterproof. In fact, we’ve been eagerly awaiting an outdoor Sonos speaker for many years—though the company made it clear they wouldn’t sell one until they got it right.
Well, they got it right.
The Roam embodies all the things we love about Sonos: the industrial design, the ease-of-use and of course, the powerful sound. But it also embraces the future with its portability and simple switching between Bluetooth and WiFi. Plus, it doubles as a smart speaker which works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant—and we’ve enjoyed taking it in the bathroom and asking it to play NPR while we shower. (Yeah, we’re geeky, don’t judge.)
Why You Need It: There’s no doubt the market is flooded with portable, wireless Bluetooth speakers, but the Sonos Roam is committed to upgraded connectivity with its additional WiFi features. The new SoundSwap feature, for instance, bridges the nomadic aspect of the speaker with home set-ups, allowing existing Sonos users to automatically transfer whatever audio they might be listening to from Roam to the nearest speaker in their home. Which means you can start your playlist by the pool and finish it in the kitchen.
The ergonomic design is also helpful, letting you slip the speaker into pockets as well as bags, and all told, it weighs less than one pound. It’s also battery powered and comes with a USB-C charging cable.
But it’s the sound that really makes the Roam special, and for $169, you get a finely tuned speaker with two amplifiers, one tweeter, a mid-woofer and a motor range. No, the audio won’t be as rich as the much pricier Sonos Move ($399), the only other battery-powered, semi-portable speaker in the company’s line-up, but it delivers amazingly hearty sound in a much smaller, feature-rich, more affordable package.
Like the Move, the Roam also includes the professional tuning feature, Trueplay, which lets the built-in, far-field microphone array measure any room or environment, then calibrate the speaker’s performance based on its surroundings. We love this because it lets the Roam adapt its sound depending on where you’re listening—a useful feature when you may be switching from an echoey room to the beach.
The Roam comes in Lunar White or Shadow Black and has about 10 hours of battery life on one charge.
What Others Are Saying: The folks at The Verge also appreciates the Sound Swap feature, saying “Another neat Roam trick is called Sound Swap. Just hold the play / pause button on the top for three seconds, and the Roam will pass the music it’s playing to whatever other Sonos speaker in your system is closest. The way Sonos achieves this is clever: when Sound Swap is activated, all of your Sonos speakers will emit a high-pitched frequency that people (and dogs, I’m told) can’t hear.”
Trusted Reviews believes the Roam is the most versatile Sonos speaker yet. “With an attractive 10-hours of continuous battery life (ten days when not in use), an IP67 waterproof and dust proof rating, while weighing under one pound (0.95 lbs), Sonos is definitely targeting mainstream on-the-go consumers.”
Final Conclusion: The Roam is an audio marvel for a smaller, wireless speaker. It is everything you were expecting from a truly portable product from Sonos, and even a little more. And for $169, it will be hard to resist for anyone looking for rich, balanced sound in a great-looking, totable package.
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