Sonos Roam evaluate: Tiny speaker, large worth

MSRP $169.00

“This magic little speaker may do for Sonos what the iPod did for Apple.”

Professionals

  • Glorious design
  • Light-weight and transportable
  • Completely water and dustproof
  • Excellent sound for its measurement
  • Alternative of sensible speaker assistants
  • Wi-fi charging

Cons

  • No Bluetooth stereo pairing
  • Doesn’t work as a speakerphone
  • Much less battery life than another audio system

The $399 Sonos Transfer is a really succesful wi-fi speaker. When at residence, it will probably connect with the remainder of your Sonos gear, and its built-in microphone lets it act as a Google- or Alexa-powered sensible speaker. On the street, its Bluetooth radio and 10-hour rechargeable battery makes for a strong, transportable sound system. Properly, possibly not that transportable.

In fact, nearly as good because the Transfer is, it’s by no means going to be a grab-and-go speaker as a result of it’s just too huge and too heavy. Going from the lounge to the patio? Seize the Transfer. Going from the patio to the park? That’s a distinct story.

However now we’ve got the $169 Sonos Roam. It’s received the entire Transfer’s capabilities (after which some), nevertheless it’s a fraction of the Transfer’s measurement, weight, and worth. Does this make the Roam a no brainer buy for Sonos followers? Let’s test it out.

What’s within the field?

Sonos RoamSimon Cohen / Digital Traits

Sonos has lengthy been a pacesetter in sustainably packaged merchandise, however the Roam is its greatest effort but. It even features a useful label to assist decide which parts might be recycled.

Contained in the small, plainly printed cardboard field, you’ll discover the Roam, a USB-C charging cable, a printed quick-start information, and never a touch of plastic or foam.

Design

Sonos RoamSimon Cohen / Digital Traits

The very first thing that strikes you once you unbox the Sonos Roam is simply how small it’s. It’s not simply the smallest Sonos speaker by an enormous margin, at a hair over 6.5 inches tall, nevertheless it’s additionally a bit smaller and lighter than lots of the Bluetooth audio system it will likely be competing with, just like the $120 JBL Flip 5 and the $150 Marshall Emberton.

The Roam’s form virtually begs you to scoop it up and take it with you.

Regardless of its diminutive measurement, the Roam’s minimalist design is pure Sonos, whether or not clad in matte black or matte white like our evaluate unit.

Its Toblerone-esque triangular form isn’t only for seems; it makes the Roam supremely grabbable. Angle any of its three sides towards your palm, and your fingers naturally curl across the curved edges, alongside the opposite two sides. The place the Transfer’s built-in carry deal with all the time feels a bit dangerous once you seize it, the Roam’s form virtually begs you to scoop it up and take it with you.

The one factor lacking is an built-in lanyard possibility for instances once you want your palms free.

You’ll be able to stand the Roam up vertically or lay it down horizontally utilizing the 4 built-in rubber ft to maintain it securely anchored to no matter floor you select.

Both means, the Roam’s easy class lets it mix invisibly with nearly any decor.

Sonos Roam with Sonos MoveSonos Roam (entrance) and Sonos Transfer Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

The bodily controls are additionally very stealthy — a set of 4 buttons which can be hidden behind a layer of rubber on the highest panel, barely hinted at by their barely raised icons. From a distance of some ft, they disappear utterly.

The speaker grille, with its hundreds of tiny perforations, easily integrates into the Roam’s physique. It seems prefer it may find yourself getting badly dented, however behind that skinny layer is a way more strong hexagonal lattice, which provides the grille a formidable quantity of rigidity.

Two tiny LED lights hidden behind the grille inform you the speaker’s standing: One gentle that reveals whether or not you’re in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth mode and one which signifies the battery’s cost degree. A 3rd gentle subsequent to the microphone button lets you realize when the mic is energetic — Sonos says that is hard-wired to the mic circuitry so when the sunshine is off, you might be assured that nobody is listening.

Sonos RoamSimon Cohen / Digital Traits

Across the again, you’ll discover the USB-C charging port and a tiny energy button that can be used for Bluetooth pairing. While you’re residence, you’ll need to go away the Roam constantly plugged in to energy so it’s all the time able to play your tunes, however if you happen to’re prone to transfer it about loads, you’ll need to make the most of its wi-fi charging characteristic.

Sonos sells a $50 customized Qi charger that’s formed to match the underside of the Roam and might keep magnetically latched till you want it, however I didn’t get one to check. Not that it issues — any Qi charging mat will do the job, and I discovered it very straightforward to simply go away the Roam sitting on one once I wasn’t carting it round.

Setup and configuration

For those who’re a Sonos proprietor, you don’t want me to inform you how straightforward it’s to arrange the corporate’s wi-fi audio system. A couple of faucets within the Sonos app, a couple of button presses on the speaker, and fewer than two minutes later, you’re completed. However with the Roam, Sonos has simplified this course of even additional.

Each tech product ought to be this straightforward to configure.

After connecting the Roam to an influence supply utilizing the included USB-C cable (or a wi-fi charger) and opening the Sonos S2 app, you might be robotically prompted by the app to arrange the speaker. It’s loads like the best way Apple’s AirPods will immediate you once you open their charging case for the primary time.

The subsequent step is to faucet the again of your phone in opposition to the again of the Roam. This could set off the speaker’s NFC sensor to acknowledge your phone so it will probably full the method.

Sadly, this didn’t work with my iPhone 11, however after two failed makes an attempt, the Sonos app offered a distinct resolution: It triggered the Roam to emit an audible chime, which was picked up by the iPhone’s mic, and the setup robotically accomplished, together with the addition of the Roam to my Wi-Fi community. No buttons to press and no passwords to enter. Each tech product ought to be this straightforward to configure.

At this level, you’ll have the ability to play music from the Sonos app, handle the Roam as a single speaker or as part of a gaggle of Sonos merchandise, or stream audio on to the Roam utilizing Apple AirPlay.

However provided that the Roam can even act as a wise speaker, it’s possible you’ll need to take the additional step of including it to the Google Residence app or the Amazon Alexa app — one thing that takes just a few additional minutes.

Sound high quality

Sonos Roam with JBL Flip 5 and Marshall EmbertonJBL Flip 5 (left), Sonos Roam (center), and Marshall Emberton Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

In line with Sonos’ repute for merchandise that punch nicely above their weight class, the Roam sounds superior for such a small speaker.

It delivers a heat but clear signature, with an honest quantity of resonance contemplating simply how compact it’s.

Indoors, the Roam is a perfect speaker for smaller rooms.

While you’re on Wi-Fi, the Sonos app helps you to modify bass and treble if you wish to override the manufacturing unit EQ — a tweak that can be maintained even if you happen to swap to Bluetooth operation.

Indoors, the Roam is a perfect speaker for smaller rooms — like a bed room, a rest room, or perhaps a kitchen. Open air, it will get loud sufficient to energy a pool social gathering or yard get-together. Talking of quantity, the Roam is successfully distortion-free all the best way as much as its loudest setting, and there’s no disagreeable buzzing of the speaker cupboard, one thing that may occur with lesser-quality Bluetooth audio system.

As you climb up the amount settings, the Roam manages to maintain the frequencies balanced — till you hit about 75%. When you exceed this restrict, the speaker merely has no extra low- or midrange left and leverages the excessive frequencies to get to its most quantity.

There’s merely no means a speaker of this measurement can ship the sort of deep bass or highly effective sound of bigger gadgets, however if you happen to place the Roam in a nook — a confirmed technique for enhancing bass-response — it’s shocking simply how deep the sound can get.

The Roam outshines the JBL Flip 5 for readability and tonal high quality, nevertheless it delivers an nearly an identical signature to the Marshall Emberton.

The Emberton proved barely extra versatile for outside gatherings due to its 360-degree speaker sample, whereas the Roam is extra directional.

In idea, the Roam’s Computerized Trueplay characteristic will regularly adapt the Roam’s sound primarily based on the place you place it. It really works whether or not you’re utilizing Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and also you gained’t discover it on every other wi-fi speaker that doesn’t bear the Sonos model.

In apply, I discovered it tough to find out whether or not Auto Trueplay was really making a major distinction. I moved the Roam into numerous locations each inside and outdoor, turning Auto Trueplay on and off to see if I may inform. For probably the most part, the modifications had been barely detectable, even once I positioned the speaker in areas that ought to have prompted a giant adjustment (just like the nook placement talked about above).

Usability

Sonos Roam top controls

For those who’ve by no means used the Sonos app and the Roam is your first Sonos product, you’re in for a deal with. It’s, bar none, the perfect audio streaming software program on the planet. Not solely is it suitable with nearly each streaming music supply possible — over 100 to date — however all that music is extremely straightforward to navigate and discover due to the common search characteristic.

The Sonos software program is so good, it’s motive sufficient to purchase the Roam over every other transportable speaker in its worth vary.

You’ll be able to create your playlists and favorites that work independently from those you will have already created in your music apps, and after you have multiple Sonos speaker, you may management every speaker independently or as a gaggle.

Most different Wi-Fi audio system depend on Apple HomeKit, Google Residence, or Amazon Alexa for his or her multiroom performance, however these can not maintain a candle to the Sonos app’s in depth characteristic set.

The Sonos software program is so good, it’s motive sufficient to purchase the Roam over every other transportable speaker in its worth vary.

Like each different Sonos speaker, the controls are as intuitive because it will get. The 2 quantity buttons work precisely as you’d count on, whereas the Play/Pause button can skip one observe ahead with a double press or backward with a triple press.

Switching from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth can be useless easy. An extended press on the small button on the again panel shifts the speaker to Bluetooth mode, and the Roam will robotically re-pair with the final paired system.

Pairing a second or third system is a little more sophisticated. It’s worthwhile to disable the Bluetooth radio on the presently paired system in order that the Roam is aware of to provoke Bluetooth pairing once more. However as soon as the second (or third, and so on.) system has been paired, you may management which one the Roam is speaking to with out repeating the pairing course of.

Sadly, Sonos doesn’t assist stereo pairing of its audio system over Bluetooth. To do that, you must be on your property Wi-Fi community, and you must have a matched set of Sonos audio system — the Roam can solely stereo pair with a second Roam, and even a paired set of Roams can’t be used as encompass audio system for a Sonos Arc, Beam, Playbase, or Playbar.

And regardless of the presence of a microphone, you may’t use the Roam as a speakerphone — which is a little bit of a bummer given what number of businesspeople are prone to pack the Roam of their baggage once they journey.

Good speaker abilities

Sonos RoamSimon Cohen / Digital Traits

The Sonos Roam is by far probably the most reasonably priced transportable speaker that may additionally double as a wise speaker — and it’s one of many few that provides you a alternative between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

It’s astonishing how simply the Roam can hear and reply to your instructions

I set it up with Google Assistant, a course of that takes about two minutes and requires you to have the Google Assistant app put in in your phone.

When you’re good to go, it’s astonishing how simply the Roam can hear and reply to your instructions. For enjoyable, I positioned the Roam at one finish of our yard and referred to as out “Hey Google,” from the opposite finish — a distance of about 40 ft. The Roam heard and responded immediately.

Good audio system are fairly darned useful, letting you do every little thing from managing music playback to organizing your purchasing lists and controlling sensible residence gadgets like lights and cameras. However sensible audio system normally want to remain tethered to energy, which is why of us will typically purchase a Nest Mini or Echo Dot for every room of their home. As a result of the Roam is absolutely wi-fi, it will probably go wherever you go and can proceed to work as a wise speaker so long as it has entry to Wi-Fi.

The Final Ears Blast and JBL Hyperlink Transportable can do that too, however they price $10 greater than the Roam, they usually solely work with one assistant (Amazon Alexa for the Blast, Google Assistant for the Hyperlink Transportable).

If freedom of alternative is vital to you, the Sonos Roam is clearly the most suitable choice.

Extras

Sonos RoamSimon Cohen / Digital Traits

What makes the Sonos Roam such a exceptional speaker is its additional options. Some, like wi-fi charging, Auto Trueplay, AirPlay, and its skill to double as an assistant-agnostic sensible speaker, are tangible advantages for anybody who buys it.

However you probably have or are planning to purchase different Sonos merchandise, there are much more cool options on faucet, like Sound Swap, which helps you to switch a Wi-Fi streaming session to and from the Roam by urgent and holding the Play/Pause button. It solely works with newer Sonos merchandise like Sonos One, One SL, Beam, Transfer, and Arc, nevertheless it works flawlessly.

You can even leverage the Roam’s Bluetooth connection as a supply to your different Sonos audio system. For example, if you happen to’re away from residence utilizing the Roam as a Bluetooth speaker, then once you return residence, you may open the Sonos app and group your different audio system with the Roam, which is able to then share the Roam’s BT session with the group.

That is additionally an excellent resolution for giving company entry to your Sonos system with out giving them your Wi-Fi password or forcing them to obtain and set up the Sonos app.

It’s additionally an excellent resolution for streaming songs which can be regionally saved in your phone — a characteristic Sonos used to supply from inside its app.

Battery life

At a claimed 10 hours of battery life, the Roam gained’t set any stamina information, particularly when you think about that the JBL Flip 5 will get 12 hours and the Marshall Emberton packs 20 hours. However, the Emberton weighs 40% greater than the Roam.

Nonetheless, 10 hours might be greater than sufficient for a day journey, and if you must lengthen the Roam’s play time, you may all the time convey alongside a transportable battery pack for the reason that Roam (not like the Transfer) can cost from just about any USB energy supply.

Ruggedness

Sonos RoamSimon Cohen / Digital Traits

With an IP67 ranking, the Roam will have the ability to deal with absolutely anything you throw at it, from full immersion in water to a sandy day on the seaside. That makes it an excellent pool social gathering companion so long as you’re ready to dive in after it if it goes kerplunk: The Roam doesn’t float.

However I’m not satisfied that the Roam will have the ability to face up to drops onto arduous surfaces in addition to the JBL Flip 5 or Marshall Emberton.

Regardless of its skinny rubber finish caps, the physique of the Roam is unprotected arduous plastic, which seems prefer it may crack or chip with a direct affect — some care ought to be taken to keep away from this from taking place.

Our take

Sonos has packed so many options into the Roam, it’s simply the perfect worth in a transportable speaker.

Is there a greater different?

Yow will discover transportable audio system which have higher sound high quality, longer battery life, or louder quantity ranges, however you gained’t discover one which has all of the options of the Sonos Roam at any worth — together with its dearer huge brother, the Sonos Transfer.

That mentioned, if you happen to’re keen to surrender Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, voice instructions, and the Sonos ecosystem, the $150 Marshall Emberton sounds simply nearly as good and has a 20-hour battery.

For those who’re keen to surrender a alternative of voice assistant, Apple AirPlay, and the Sonos Ecosystem, the $180 UE Blast has longer battery life and 360-degree sound.

How lengthy will it final?

Sonos merchandise are very nicely constructed. When you think about its IP67 safety from mud and water, it ought to final a few years so long as you shield it from severe impacts. All Sonos merchandise include a one-year guarantee.

Must you purchase it?

Sure, I extremely suggest the Sonos Roam whether or not you propose on beginning a brand new Sonos system, including it to an present system, or utilizing all of it by itself.

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