The Sonos Roam is the latest in the Sonos ecosystem. Sonos calls it ‘The Best Portable Wi-Fi speaker yet’, and yes, Sonos is referring to all brands and models.
So, I politely challenged Daniel Casner, Sonos Roam Creation Leader, and asked whether the statement was like Apple CEO Tim Cooks’s broken record, “This is the best iPhone yet”. Or if not, was it indeed the best’ Best portable Wi-Fi and BT speaker yet’.
Let’s say that his response was humble and modest. He answers that what it does via hardware and software puts it ahead of the rest, but he will let users judge themselves. I look forward to reviewing it.
What is the Sonos Roam?
Physically it is a Toblerone-shaped (Triangle) speaker 168 x 60 x 60mm x .43kg. It sits forward-facing, either horizontally or vertically and projects a mono sound slightly upwards from a Racetrack Mid-Woofer and Tweeter. It is about drink bottle size and fits can/carry holders, so take it anywhere.
It is IP67 waterproof – 1 metre of water for 30 minutes and operates at 5-35° temperature. Forget any marketing showing snow! It is also quite rugged, surviving multiple 1.5metre drop tests and tumble tests. It is a keeper.
Comms – auto switch
It supports Wi-Fi AC 2.4 or 5Ghz and Bluetooth 5.0 with auto-switching between both depending on signal strength. A neat trick is to ‘sound swap’ where audio content on the Sonos Roam can cast to a nearby Sonos speaker – or vice versa. And it has all the clever Sonos smarts in the S2 app, including stereo pair and joining multi-speaker systems (not for Sonos Arc soundbar rears yet).
Battery, Qi or mains powered
Power-wise it has a 10-hour battery (at 50%) which should be enough for personal listening. It charges in about 2.5 hours from any UCB-C PD charger (requires 5V/3A/15W) or can use any Qi wireless charge pad that does the job two to three two-to-three times slower. There is a dedicated Qi base and charger at US$49 (approx. A$80). The Sonos Roam can operate on power all the time, but if left on standby (sleep), it will run down in 10-days. Or simply long press to turn it off.
Sound-wise, GadgetGuy will do frequency response tests, but Daniel describes it as ‘easy listening’. Knowing Sonos it will be relatively flat (good) from high bass to low-treble, not influencing the musician’s intent. There is a software EQ if you need it.
It also features automatic TruePlay room tuning that we saw in the Sonos Move (score 8.7/10). This automatically changes the frequency response to suit the environment.
Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Airplay 2
It is fully voice assistant capable with a mic mute switch for its far-field mic array.
Price and availability
$279 from 20 April (you can pre-order at Sonos Australia) or buy through major CE retailers. Available in Shadow Black and Lunar White.
OK, Sonos Roam could well be ‘Best portable Wi-Fi and BT speaker yet’.
As much as Google, Sony, JBL, LG, et al. make good quality and lovely sounding Wi-Fi voice assistant speakers, this adds the entire Sonos ecosystem making it very hard to beat. 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.