Sonos used to only be a speaker company for those that could afford to spend hundreds on a new speaker or speaker system. But in recent years, Sonos has released some really great speakers that are relatively cheap, without watering down their brand. The Sonos Move was their first portable speaker, which impressed a lot of people, myself included, at $399. Now we have the Sonos Roam. Which is a much smaller portable speaker, that comes in at $169. That’s the cheapest speaker in its lineup.
So why did Sonos opt for a much cheaper price tag? Well, to get more people into the ecosystem. Because once you get in, you will want to buy more Sonos speakers to take advantage of the multi-room audio – all of which can be controlled in the app.
Now just because the Sonos Roam is the cheapest speaker the company has made, doesn’t mean it’s a bad speaker. In fact, quite the contrary. I was surprised by just how good this speaker is.
When Fedex dropped off the Sonos Roam, I was very surprised at how small the box was. I knew the Roam was going to be small, but I honestly did not expect it to be this small. Of course, part of the reason the packaging was so small was due to the fact that there is no charger in the box. But we’ll talk a bit more about that in a minute.
The Roam is a triangle shaped speaker. It’s a tiny bit taller than a smartphone. So that gives you a good idea of just how short it is, and how small.
It fits quite nicely under my monitor, and packs a punch in terms of audio quality. Which is another area that surprised me.
The build quality of the Sonos Roam is exactly what you’d expect from Sonos. It is plastic, but it’s more like polycarbonate. So it feels nice in the hand. Which is not something we’d normally talk about with a speaker, but since this is portable, you can move it around the house and take it to the beach.
On the back, there is the USB-C port as well as a power button. The USB-C port is definitely a good send. But not the first time Sonos has used USB-C, as it is also available on the Move. Though the Move also comes with a base for charging, so I never used the USB-C port myself.
On the left triangle side of the speaker, you’ll find a microphone button with an LED above it. This is where you can opt to turn on or off the microphone. I usually keep it off, since I have many other Google Assistant devices around my desk. Below that is the play/pause button with the volume buttons on either side.
The opposite end is the wireless charging base. We have the Lunar White color here, but it also comes in Shadow Black. Just like every other Sonos product, so that all of your Sonos speakers will match.
You’ll be shocked by the sound quality
I’m not new to Sonos. I’ve been using and reviewing Sonos products for a few years, and have a number of other speakers and soundbars in my home. So I knew what to expect from the Sonos sound signature. But given the size of the Roam, I really did not expect it to be this good.
Inside the Roam, Sonos has packed two Class-H Digital Amplifiers, one tweeter and a mid-woofer. Which sounds like a lot for a speaker this size, and that’s because it is. Especially with how large the battery is inside. But with those internals, the Roam sounds amazing.
I’d say that it is fairly comparable to the Sonos One. Not quite the same level of bass, but pretty close. Also surprising since the Sonos One is about three to four times the size, but only $30 more (or $10 more if you get the One SL).
In terms of everyday listening, the Roam offers some crystal clear mids and highs, as well as plenty of bass. Now it’s not going to shake your house with its bass, but it’s there. You can of course, adjust the bass and treble in the Sonos app to your liking. Even bringing the Roam to max volume, the sound doesn’t distort much. There is a little bit of distortion, but that is expected with any speaker that is at max volume – even the Beam and One distort at max volume.
Other speakers of this size, even in this price range, come nowhere close to the Roam in terms of sound quality, which is what really surprised me.
Works great with Sonos’ multi-room audio feature
Besides the audio quality, one of the big selling points of a Sonos speaker, is the multi-room audio feature. Allowing you to play the same audio on all of the Sonos speakers in your home. The best part of this feature is that there is no delay at all. With some other systems, there might be a slight delay between some of the speakers, but since Sonos does this over WiFi, the latency is better and thus no latency.
The Roam fits in perfectly in this system. I had it paired with the Beam in my living room and it worked flawlessly. You can group products together in the Sonos app, which makes it super simple to do a surround sound setup – though you might want to get a couple of Sonos One’s or Fives for that. But it does work with the Roam.
The battery is fairly decent
The Sonos Roam is rated for ten hours of playback on a single charge. Which isn’t the most we’ve seen on a portable speaker. However, considering the size, and the sound quality coming out of this one, that is very respectable. And there were days where I got to ten hours and still had about 30% of the battery left.
Battery life will of course depend on a few things. Like the type of audio you’re listening too – bass-heavy music will use more juice than a podcast – and the volume of what you’re listening too. But I can confidently say that this will get you through at least ten hours and then some.
That’s enough for a day at the beach, or even a party, when we can all see each other again.
It also has wireless charging, which is new for Sonos, but very cool. Sonos does sell a wireless charging base for the Roam, but because it uses Qi for wireless charging, it works on any wireless charger. I did try it out on the OnePlus wireless charger, and while you do need to set it on there just right due to the angles on both products, it does work. Which is really neat.
The Sonos app could still use some work
Honestly, I rarely use the Sonos app. But I had to download it for this Sonos Roam review, to set it up and such (and all of my speakers had updates that I had to apply first). This is because the Sonos app isn’t the best, especially if you are a Spotify user. With Spotify Connect, you can easily connect to your Sonos (and other Cast or AirPlay) speakers without leaving the app. And that’s generally how I play music. The Beam just plays audio from the TV, so the Sonos app isn’t needed there either.
But using the app with the Roam has shown me that the app could still use some work. Mostly in terms of music playing. For example with Spotify, your library is there, but most of the made for you playlists are not there, and you can’t really search for new ones.
But for adjusting the settings of your speakers and grouping them together, it does work really well.
Choose between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
As far as I know, Sonos is still one of the only smart speakers that allows you to choose either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for your speaker. Instead of offering slightly different models for each assistant. In the Sonos app, you can set up the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for your speaker (and for each speaker). And you can change it at any time.
This is a game-changer, making it easy to switch assistants if you wish to do so. Which is a bigger deal than it sounds. It also means that you are not stuck with one assistant over the other.
Should I buy the Sonos Roam?
If you’re looking for a portable speaker, then yes. It doesn’t get much better for portable speakers than the Roam. It’s pretty small, lightweight, great battery life and offers incredible audio. It’s also waterproof at IP67 and drop-proof. Which is a big deal too.
Those that are looking to get into the Sonos ecosystem or even add to their Sonos setup will also really like the Roam. Since you can move it around the house when you’re working and such. And since it uses WiFi primarily, it won’t disconnect or skip a beat.