Sonos Roam

Sonos Roam BT/Wi-Fi portable speaker – Sonos quality wherever you go (review)

SBA
9

The Sonos Roam is the baby of the range – a mono Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (smart assistant capable) speaker that you can take anywhere. It sounds terrific too.

When we announced the Sonos Roam in March (announcement here), we cautioned against calling it yet another BT speaker like those excellent ones from JBL, Sony, Ultimate Ears, LG et al. It is far more including Wi-Fi, voice assistant. Multi-room and features like Auto Trueplay room tuning in the Sonos S2 app.

We have been testing the Sonos Roam for about a week. While our music preference is for stereo speakers (like the Sonos Five 9/10), this ultra-portable has become our go-to for music on the go – in the bathroom (it is IPX67), around the pool, on the boat, and for podcast and Audible books that don’t need stereo.

Not taking away either from the excellent Sonos Move 8.7/10, which adds significant mid-bass to the Sonos sound signature but with IP56 water-resistant rating, it is more for home use.

Sonos Roam, Move and One

Review: Sonos Roam

  • Website here
  • Price: $279 with free delivery and a 100-day return policy
  • From 20 April at Sonos and selected professional audio retailers including JB Hi-Fi and Video
  • Warranty:  1-year ACL If purchased from Sonos online or authorised resellers. Like many other leading global brands, Sonos is a victim of counterfeiting, especially from online marketplaces like Alibaba, Amazon, Kogan, Dick Smith, and eBay.
  • Country of manufacture: China
  • Sonos is an American Audio company based in Santa Barbara, California [Est 2002]. It develops and manufactures smart speakers designed to last for at least five years. Sonos speakers play music simultaneously in multiple rooms.
  • You can read other GadgetGuy Sonos news and review here
Sonos Roam

Our test paradigms include


  • Volume
  • Sound Signature
  • Battery and charging options
  • Durability

It aces all tests.

First impression

Physically it is a Toblerone-shaped (Triangle) speaker 168 x 60 x 60mm x 430g. It sits forward-facing, either horizontally or vertically and projects a mono sound slightly upwards from a carbon fibre Racetrack Mid-Woofer and Tweeter. It is IP67 (1metre for 30-minutes), about drink bottle size, and fits can/carry holders, so take it anywhere.

It is available in Lunar white or Shadow black.

Battery and Charging

It has an 18W, 10-hour battery (at 50% volume) which should be enough for personal listening.

The recommended charger is 5V/2A (USB-A to USB-C cable supplied), and it takes about 3.5 hours. Using a UCB-C PD 5V/3A or higher charger takes about 2.5 hours.

It can use any Qi wireless charge pad that does the job two to three two-to-three times slower depending on whether it is 10 or 15W. I think Sonos has been enormously clever in allowing Qi chargers.

There is a dedicated Qi base at $79. It has a 5V/2.1A/10.2W wall charger, and the charging pad outputs 5V/1A/5W. We have not tested this but expect that a 5W wireless charger will take 6 hours or more. However, it should be more than sufficient to top up and play.


Mag charger

The Sonos Roam can run on power all the time. If left on standby (sleep), it will run down in 10-days. Or long-press the power button to turn it off. It has a 10-minute sleep standby. Sonos states that its service agents can replace the battery, so it is a keeper. And, as its USB-C, it is a perfect device to run off a USB-C power bank.

Volume/Sound

Whether sourced from Spotify over Wi-Fi or BT, the maximum volume is about 80dB with minimal distortion, although the treble is a little accentuated at that level. We were impressed at the sound signature. Mid-bass builds steadily to 100Hz. It is then flat (good) to 15kHz and then drops gradually off. That is superb for a small IP67 speaker – amazing that it neither adds nor subtracts from the source content.

The app has an EQ that can add more bass or treble. You can ramp up bass about 5dB, and the signature becomes warm and sweet, so prized for music and movies. You can ramp up the treble, and it becomes a bright vocal signature for vocals and string instruments. Auto Trueplay also adjusts the speaker to each room after you move it and start playing music.


Sonos Wi-Fi

The Sonos Roam works on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 (N) network. The main difference is that the 2.4Ghz has a longer range – out to 30 metres. In fact, we tested to 90 metres, admittedly with the world’s current fastest Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 tri-band router 9.5/10.

Users report some issues with Mesh routers, but we suspect it is more the Mesh router not passing the signal off to its satellites properly. We had no problems.

With Wi-Fi and the Sonos S2 app, you can wirelessly stream directly from a vast range of service, including directly from your iOS device with AirPlay 2. Or BT pair directly to your mobile device. You can group Roam with other Sonos speakers for a multi-room experience. You can also stereo pair them. The only thing you can’t do is use them as rear speakers with Sonos soundbars. Group and Swap detect s which room you are in and ‘moves your music’ to the closest speaker at the press of a button.

Voice Assistant – Google Assistant or Alexa

We tested with Google Assistant, and it is a matter of linking the Sonos S2 app to Google Home. Once done, it behaves just like any other voice speaker. The far-field mics are good to about five metres. But one minor downside is that you need to have it on mains power (charging), or it will time out.


GadgetGuy’s take

If you want a BT speaker, there are heaps at far lower costs. You don’t need the intelligence Sonos provides.

If you want an intelligent voice assistant speaker (Wi-Fi and BT), Sonos quality and the Sonos ecosystem, it is unique.

Part of that is Sonos Radio and access to hundreds of music content streams in its app. Sonos hope its relatively low price will encourage more to enter its ‘tent’. As a recent Sonos convert, I can say that both my wife and I love the Sonos sound signature, and its multi-room system is hard to beat.

Sonos Roam BT/Wi-Fi portable speaker
If you want an intelligent voice assistant speaker (Wi-Fi and BT), Sonos quality and the Sonos ecosystem, it is unique.
Features
9
Value for money
9
Performance
9
Ease of use
9
Design
9
Positives
Superb sound a sealed waterproof speaker
IP67 and rugged
Terrific Wi-Fi 2.4Ghz range
Sonos S2 app and ecosystem adds value
Voice Assistant
Qi charge for continuous use
Negatives
None really - needs mains power to be used as a voice assistant speaker for any length of time
9