Sonos Roam Review – Is it Worth Buying in 2024?

Sonos Roam review – As we approach the three-year mark since its launch, the Sonos Roam remains a top contender for the title of best Bluetooth speaker for many users. The reason is because its versatility and affordability. With full Sonos Wi-Fi connectivity for multi-room functionality, Bluetooth support, it has a durable design. Even it offers bass-forward sound profile ideal for outdoor use and it has a compelling package.

The introduction of the Sonos Roam SL, which lacks built-in voice assistant support. But is otherwise identical, provides an option for those who don’t require voice control features. Although the Sonos Move 2 has been released as the latest portable speaker from Sonos, its higher price and larger size make it a different product altogether, rather than a direct replacement for the Roam.

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Sonos Roam Review – Connectivity

The Sonos Roam follows the lead of its larger sibling, the Sonos Move, by offering both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. This versatility allows the Roam to function as a portable speaker and seamlessly integrate into your broader Sonos multi-room system. Additionally, with built-in Google Assistant and Alexa support, it serves as a smart speaker. This, provides voice control and access to a wide range of voice assistant features.

Based on Sonos Roam review, this smart speaker offers excellent value for its price point. Its sleek design ensures it blends seamlessly into any home decor. While its durable, waterproof, and dustproof construction, coupled with a respectable battery life, make it perfect for outdoor music enjoyment. Additionally, its integration with Google Assistant or Alexa enables convenient voice control. So, users can manage the speaker and other smart devices effortlessly.

For those who prefer a Bluetooth speaker without built-in microphones, Sonos offers an alternative version of the Roam called the Sonos Roam SL. This variant, lacking microphones, comes at a slightly lower price point. Similar to the Sonos One and Sonos One SL speakers, the Roam SL provides users with options based on their preference for voice control.

Sonos Roam Review – Features

To facilitate a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors, the Sonos Roam is equipped with several noteworthy features. One such feature is Sound Swap, which allows users to hold down the play button and seamlessly transfer their audio to the nearest Sonos speaker available.

Additionally, the Sonos Roam features Automatic Switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. This means that when you enter your home, the Roam, having been previously paired with your Bluetooth device, will seamlessly switch to your Wi-Fi network without requiring manual setup or reconnection.

Furthermore, the Auto TruePlay feature, initially introduced with the Sonos Move, has been enhanced in the Roam. This functionality automatically adjusts the speaker’s soundstage to match its environment, whether connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Sound Swap Features

Sound Swap is indeed a standout feature of the Sonos Roam. It enables you to seamlessly transfer music from your Roam to the nearest Sonos speaker and vice versa. To initiate Sound Swap, simply hold down the play/pause button until you hear the third tone, indicating the transfer process. Ensure that the Roam is close to the other speaker you want to transfer the music to. The music should then begin playing from the second speaker or the entire Sonos system if applicable.

This capability allows you to move the Roam from one room to another without interrupting the music playback, offering a seamless listening experience. Moreover, Sound Swap works in reverse as well. Holding down the play/pause button on the Roam will enable it to pick up audio playing on another Sonos speaker or system. This is useful when transitioning the Roam to different locations such as the garden.

Voice Assistant

The Sonos Roam offers both Google Assistant and Alexa integration. This allows you to choose your preferred voice assistant for hands-free control of the speaker and your other smart home devices. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to be connected to Wi-Fi to utilize these features.

While it’s unfortunate that you can’t access the voice assistant while using Bluetooth mode, this limitation isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. In fact, attempting to use Google Assistant over Bluetooth may lead to a more frustrating experience than a helpful one.

Setting Up Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam offers easy setup and versatile connectivity options. This makes it seamlessly integrates into the Sonos ecosystem while remaining portable.

You can incorporate the Roam into a multi-room audio setup. Or, you can pair two speakers for stereo sound by simply holding down the play/pause button. However, it’s worth noting that you can’t use two Sonos Roams as rear channels for a home cinema system due to potential sync issues and directional sound focus concerns.

With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 connectivity, the Roam can be used at home or on the go. The Automatic Switching feature enhances this flexibility by automatically connecting to your Wi-Fi network when in range and re-pairing with your phone when you’re out and about.

Setting Up Sonos Roam from App

To begin using the Sonos Roam, you’ll need to connect it to your Wi-Fi network using the Sonos S2 app. This initial setup is essential for accessing Bluetooth connectivity and other features, although it may not be explicitly stated in the instruction leaflet included in the box. Setting up the Sonos Roam is a straightforward process that can be completed in just a few minutes. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  • Download the Sonos app if you haven’t already done so.
  • Open the Sonos app and navigate to Settings > System > Add Product.
  • Begin connecting the Sonos Roam to your network by following the on-screen instructions. You’ll be prompted to enter an 8-digit code located on the bottom of the speaker. You can enter this code manually or use NFC to automatically input it.
  • After entering the code successfully, you’ll hear a chime indicating that the connection process has started. The speaker will then begin connecting to your Wi-Fi network. If there’s an available update, you may need to wait for the Roam to update.
  • Once connected, you can customize settings such as Auto Trueplay and add your preferred voice assistant (Google Assistant or Alexa). The Sonos app also provides a product tour to help you familiarize yourself with the Roam’s controls and features.

By following these steps, you’ll have your Sonos Roam set up and ready to use in no time.

Sonos Roam Review – Audio Performance

The Sonos Roam impresses with its powerful sonic performance, despite its compact size. It boasts remarkably prominent bass, which is well-suited for outdoor use where there are no walls for the sound to bounce off. However, audiophiles may find the bass slightly overpowering, and the speaker lacks the rhythmic accuracy expected from high-fidelity audio equipment.

Nevertheless, the Roam stands out with its class-leading connectivity features, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, as well as its rugged design and smart assistant integration. While it may not surpass the audio quality of the Sonos One, the Roam’s overall package makes it our top choice for the best portable speaker of 2021 and 2022.

Sonos has undoubtedly achieved its goal of creating its smartest speaker yet with the Sonos Roam. Its seamless integration into existing home audio systems combined with its portability makes it a versatile choice for both indoor and outdoor use. Whether you’re enjoying music at home or taking it with you on outdoor adventures, the Roam delivers an impressive audio experience.

Furthermore, Sonos continues to innovate and improve its products. An update in September 2021 enhanced the Roam’s connectivity and battery life, demonstrating Sonos’s commitment to providing the best possible user experience. With these improvements, the Roam remains a top choice for those seeking a high-quality portable speaker with smart features.

Design

The design of the Sonos Roam represents a departure from the brand’s previous devices, focusing on ruggedness and portability while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic. Compared to the Sonos Move, the Roam is longer and thinner, resembling the size of a water bottle or the newer Cleer Scene speaker. It’s also significantly lighter, weighing only 0.95lbs / 0.43kg, making it easy to carry in hand or pack in a bag.

With an IP67 water-and-dust-resistance rating, the Roam is designed to withstand the elements and can even survive being submerged in water up to three feet for 30 minutes. The front of the speaker features an embossed Sonos logo and LEDs that indicate the speaker’s connection status and battery life.

Buttons

Control buttons are located on the left end of the speaker when placed horizontally, but you can also orient it vertically with the buttons on top. These buttons include volume controls, play/pause, and a button for toggling the microphone on and off. The play/pause button can be double-pressed to skip tracks or triple-pressed to go back to the previous track.

On the back of the Sonos Roam speaker is the power button, which you need to press and hold to initiate pairing with a Bluetooth device. You’ll hear a pairing tone once the process begins. Below the power button is a USB-C port for charging the speaker. While a USB-A to USB-C connector is included in the box, you’ll need to use your own adapter for charging.

The ends of the speaker feature a slightly concave design. Sonos claims this can enhance drop-resistance and help prevent accidental button presses. This design feature ensures that you won’t inadvertently raise the volume to maximum every time you brush past the speaker.

Described by Sonos as “tactile and slightly embossed,” the buttons on the Sonos Roam are raised. So, it is easy to locate and press play or adjust the volume. They’re highly responsive, with no noticeable lag between pressing the button and the desired action. This tactile feedback is particularly beneficial for users with visual impairments, as the Sonos Move’s buttons are touch-sensitive.

Available in ‘Shadow’ black and ‘Lunar’ white, the Sonos Roam features a precision-engineered honeycomb grille. However, it’s important to note that this grille is not wraparound. So, the speaker doesn’t provide true 360-degree sound dispersion.

Placement

The Sonos Roam offers flexibility in placement, allowing you to position it horizontally for stability on uneven surfaces or vertically for a smaller footprint, with its triangular shape directing sound upwards. When placed horizontally on a flat surface like a table, small feet on what is considered the bottom of the speaker in this orientation help keep it stable.

For added convenience, you have the option to purchase a wireless charging stand for $49 / £44 / AU$79. This stand allows you to simply place the speaker on it, where it will snap into place with magnets, providing a permanent home for your Roam.

Overall, the design of the Sonos Roam is quite attractive. Unlike many other portable waterproof speakers that feature garish colors and utilitarian materials, the Roam maintains the sleek aesthetic of Sonos’ home speakers. Its lightweight and compact build make it perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

Sonos has achieved its goal of creating a speaker that performs equally well indoors and outdoors with the Roam.

Pairing Roam with Other Sonos Products

To pair the Roam with other Sonos products, you can press and hold the play/pause button. Holding the button for a longer duration activates the “throw” feature. This switches audio to the nearest other Sonos speaker. The slightly embossed buttons provide tactile feedback and are more accessible for users with visual impairments compared to the touch-sensitive buttons on the Sonos Move.

Also read: How to Connect Sonos Roam to Bluetooth

Sonos Roam Battery Life

The Sonos Roam boasts a claimed battery life of 10 hours, although during our testing, we found that it typically lasted around nine hours when playing at a moderate volume level. Additionally, the speaker can remain in sleep mode for up to 10 days, automatically activating this mode when not in use.

While the Roam’s battery life falls slightly short of the Sonos Move’s 11-hour duration, it remains competitive with most other high-quality portable speakers on the market.

For convenient charging, the Sonos Roam supports wireless charging with any Qi-certified charging device. Alternatively, Sonos offers a dedicated wireless charging stand priced at $49 / £44 / AU$79, which includes magnets to securely hold the speaker in place during charging. Additionally, the box includes a USB-A to USB-C connector, allowing you to use your preferred adapter for charging.

Sonos Roam Review – Price

The Sonos Roam is currently available for purchase at $179 / £179 / AU$299. This price reflects a $20 / £20 / AU$20 increase from its original launch price in April 2021, following a nearly product-wide price hike announced by Sonos.

Despite the increase, the Sonos Roam review shows that it is the most affordable Sonos speaker to date in the US and UK, matching the price of the Sonos One SL. In Australia, the price of Sonos Roam is lower than the Sonos One SL, which costs AU$269.

Compared to other Bluetooth speakers on the market, such as the UE Boom 3 and the Tribit Stormbox Blast, the Sonos Roam offers a higher price point due to its smart assistant compatibility and advanced features. For those who do not require voice assistant capabilities, the Sonos Roam SL offers a more affordable option at $159 / £159 / AU$269.

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Buy Sonos Roam or Not?

Based on Sonos Roam review here, there are some reasons why you must buy it or not at all:

Buy the Sonos Roam if:

1. You already own Sonos speakers at home. The Roam seamlessly integrates into your existing Sonos ecosystem. This allows you to enjoy your music both at home and on the go. Features like Automatic Switching and Sound Swap simplify the transition between environments.

2. You appreciate a sophisticated design. With its sleek and understated design, the Sonos Roam exudes elegance compared to some other portable speakers on the market.

3. You enjoy robust bass. The Sonos Roam delivers powerful bass frequencies. Thus, it well-suited for outdoor listening where bass response can be particularly impactful.

Don’t buy the Sonos Roam if:

1. You’re on a tight budget. While it’s the most affordable Sonos speaker to date, the Roam still comes with a higher price tag compared to many other portable speakers on the market.

2. You prioritize audiophile sound quality. While the Roam offers decent audio performance, it may not satisfy audiophiles who prioritize nuanced sound and precise audio reproduction.

3. You rely on voice assistants over Bluetooth. You can only access Google Assistant or Alexa over Wi-Fi. So, you won’t be able to utilize these features while connected via Bluetooth.

Summary

The Sonos Roam review stands out as our top choice for the best portable speaker available. It offers a combination of powerful sound, durable design, versatile connectivity options, and smart home integration. Its bass-heavy audio profile makes it well-suited for outdoor use. Also, its Automatic Switching feature ensures seamless transition between indoor and outdoor environments. However, some audiophiles may find the emphasis on low frequencies and rhythmic handling to be overwhelming.

Priced at $179 / £179 / AU$299, the Sonos Roam is the most budget-friendly and compact speaker in the Sonos lineup to date. It’s essential to note that the Sonos Ray, released on June 7, 2022, is a separate product from Sonos, priced at $279 / £279 / AU$399. However, unlike the portable Bluetooth functionality of the Roam, the Ray is a modest plug-and-play soundbar.

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