Sonos launched its first moveable speaker a number of years again with the Sonos Transfer, which is fairly nice — aside from the truth that it’s considerably enormous and a whopping $399. In case you don’t wish to spend that a lot, and need one thing you’ll be able to really match into your bag or pocket in your solution to the seaside, the brand new $169 Sonos Roam might be for you.
Just like the Transfer, the Roam can connect with Bluetooth to allow you to jam out to your favourite songs on the go, and to Wi-Fi whenever you’re at house to connect with the Sonos app and sync up with no matter litany of Sonos gadgets you may have already got. This ends in a extremely versatile good speaker that pumps out manner larger sound than its tiny body may recommend — so long as you don’t thoughts dwelling with among the quirks that include being within the Sonos ecosystem.
Is the Sonos Roam the brand new moveable good speaker to get? Right here’s what we expect after a number of days of listening to music, speaking to Alexa, and sure, even dunking the Roam in a bowl of water.
What it’s: The $169 Sonos Roam is a compact Bluetooth speaker that additionally packs the entire software program smarts that Sonos gadgets are recognized for, together with a strong companion app, Alexa and Google Assistant assist and the flexibility to sync up with different audio system by way of Wi-Fi.
Who it’s for: The Sonos Roam is for folk who desire a high quality Bluetooth speaker that doubles as a sensible Wi-Fi speaker, and don’t wish to shell out for the larger, costlier $399 Sonos Transfer. It’s particularly supreme for individuals who already personal Sonos audio system, as its Wi-Fi assist permits it to seamlessly change into a part of your present ecosystem.
The way it compares: The Roam is exclusive amongst Bluetooth audio system in its worth vary, together with the $129 UE Growth 3 and $179 JBL Cost 4, due to its means to connect with Wi-Fi and sync up with different Sonos audio system. If you would like extra shade choices and don’t wish to spend as a lot, the UE Growth 3 is a popular various. However the Roam wins on sheer versatility.
The Sonos Roam is the corporate’s smallest and most tasty speaker but, packing Sonos’ signature model right into a extremely moveable machine that’s in regards to the dimension of a small water bottle at about six and a half inches tall. We love the elegant, understated look of our Lunar White mannequin (there’s additionally a Shadow Black possibility), however a number of different shade choices would have been appreciated — particularly in comparison with the rainbow of hues you’ll discover on rivals from UE and JBL.
At slightly below a pound, the Roam is simple to select up as soon as it’s time to hit the highway, and its clean plastic exterior simply feels good to carry. That’s paired with a agency rubber base on the backside in addition to 4 small rubber legs on the facet, which makes it simple to place the Roam both vertically or horizontally relying on the place you’re inserting it.
The Roam is Sonos’ first speaker with bodily controls, and so they all held up properly in our testing. The speaker’s rubberized prime panel has buttons for pausing/taking part in, adjusting the quantity and muting the built-in microphone, every of which triggers a satisfying chime each time you press them. The soft-touch buttons had been simple to press whereas resistant sufficient to forestall unintentional inputs, and their distinctive iconography allowed us to inform every button aside by really feel.
Sonos’ newest speaker is properly geared up for a visit to the seaside or the pool, with an IP67 waterproof ranking that enables it to be dunked in as much as three toes of water for half-hour. We totally submerged our Roam in a bowl of water for a couple of minutes, and it saved on pumping out tunes even whereas going underneath. As you may count on, the Roam’s sound output was a bit muddied when it was lined in water, however as soon as we dried the speaker off, it saved on rocking as if we simply took it out of the field.
Like its huge brother within the Sonos Transfer, the Roam is exclusive amongst moveable audio system due to its means to connect with each Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The latter permits the Roam to be managed by the Sonos S2 app in your iPhone or Android machine, and combine seamlessly with some other Sonos gadgets you have already got in your house.
Sonos S2 is the most recent model of Sonos’ software program, and is required for controlling all of Sonos’ newer merchandise (sure legacy audio system are tied to the older S1 app). It permits you to play music from varied sources, in addition to handle your complete system of suitable Sonos merchandise to maintain the tunes going all through the home. Simply ensure you obtain the best app — we by accident downloaded Sonos S1 to start out, solely to seek out that it didn’t assist the Roam.
That minor hiccup apart, setting the Roam up took only some minutes. After downloading the app and creating an account, all we needed to do was faucet our telephone towards the speaker to sync the 2 up after which join the Roam to our Wi-Fi community, and we had been able to get began.
Once you’re utilizing the Roam over Wi-Fi, the Sonos app is basically the speaker’s command heart. The app works with greater than 100 music companies, together with heavy hitters like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Pandora, as properly extra area of interest platforms like meditation app Calm and the Plex media library. So as an alternative of utilizing these particular person apps in your telephone, you’ll use the Sonos app to import your companies of alternative, log in with any consumer accounts you have already got, and management your playback from there. Establishing companies comparable to Spotify and Apple Music typically took just some faucets of the display screen — as soon as you choose a service, you’ll be redirected to that service’s app or login web page for authorization, and you then’ll be good to go.
That is how music playback is dealt with on all Sonos audio system, and it has its execs and cons. On one hand, you may have your whole streaming platforms in a single place, permitting you to go looking a number of companies without delay for a extra obscure artist or swap between the likes of Spotify and Apple Music on the fly. However these companies feel and look completely different inside the Sonos app in comparison with their very own apps, which may make issues a bit jarring.
For instance, whereas the Sonos app model of Spotify surfaced all of our latest artists and playlists, we couldn’t discover a simple solution to pull up podcasts. And when combing via Phoebe Bridgers’ discography on Apple Music by way of the Sonos app, we discovered that issues weren’t organized chronologically, making it laborious to seek out her newest album.
Making issues extra complicated is that the Sonos app doesn’t sync up playback with some other music apps you might need in your telephone, so when you’re utilizing Spotify via Sonos and open up the common Spotify app, you received’t see your present monitor. Longtime Sonos customers is perhaps used to this, however we personally felt a bit locked in by the Sonos software program, and needed to retrain ourselves a bit after being so used to switching between completely different music apps.
Thankfully, you’ll be able to circumvent these issues by connecting the Roam to Bluetooth, which you’ll must do anytime you are taking Sonos’ little speaker out of the home. Pairing the Roam to our telephone by way of Bluetooth took seconds, and was so simple as holding down the facility button and discovering the Roam in our iPhone’s Bluetooth menu. As soon as we had been related, the Roam labored like some other Bluetooth machine, routinely taking part in any content material we fired up from any app.
Like with the bigger, pricier Sonos Transfer, this added Bluetooth assist offers the Roam way more versatility than a regular Wi-Fi based mostly good speaker, and likewise is useful when you merely don’t wish to cope with the Sonos app. It’s additionally price noting that the Wi-Fi vary of the Roam is kind of good when you desire that route, as we had been in a position to take the speaker out to our balcony and carry on listening with none interference.
The Roam works with each Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, providing you with loads of choices for controlling the speaker along with your voice (notice that you simply’ll have to be on Wi-Fi to make use of these options). Alexa labored properly in our testing, responding precisely after we requested Amazon’s assistant to inform us the climate, set a timer or pause our present tune. Alexa additionally performed good with a number of music companies without delay, permitting me to request one artist on Spotify and one other on Apple Music proper after. And when you don’t need the Roam listening to you, there’s a useful microphone mute button proper on the highest of the speaker.
Regardless of its tiny body, the Roam pumps out enormous, crisp audio with greater than sufficient quantity to fill our small condominium. Significantly, this factor will get loud — we might simply hear our tunes from a room over, and after testing it out at full quantity, we rapidly turned issues down out of worry of disturbing our neighbors.
It additionally merely sounds nice, bringing to life each monitor we threw at it with a vivid soundstage that made it simple to listen to each single instrument with readability. Within the bouncy pop-punk of “Can’t Wait Perpetually” by Tigers Jaw, the crunchy guitars, clear bass, crackling drums and searing synths all sounded equally shiny and clear, offering loads of room for the vocals to shine with out overpowering them.
On the extra somber indie rock tracks like Julien Baker’s “Flip Out the Lights,” the singer-songwriter’s ethereal vocals had been so vivid that it gave the impression of she was within the room with us. That remained true even when the large electrical guitars and background harmonies kicked in, making a wall of sound that by no means bought muddy or distorted regardless of its many shifting components.
The Roam additionally dealt with the atmospheric hip-hop of Child Cudi’s “Lovin’ Me” properly, giving the spacey vocals, atmospheric strings and plucky guitars all room to breathe whereas maintaining our heads bobbing together with deep bass and snappy treble popping out of the drums.
The Roam options Sonos’ TruePlay know-how, which makes use of the speaker’s built-in mics to routinely tune the speaker to any surroundings to offer the very best sound. We examined the Roam in varied settings, together with our huge open front room, our outside balcony and our small toilet throughout a bathe singing session, and observed persistently clear audio high quality regardless of the place we used it. We even tucked the speaker into our bookshelf and leisure heart — two areas the place sound can simply change into muffled and muted — and nonetheless observed crisp, vibrant sound.
Sonos guarantees 10 hours of steady music playback from the Roam, which appears in step with our testing to this point. After two full days of on-and-off use, the speaker lastly ran out of juice the following morning. You possibly can doubtless stretch this even additional when you’re solely listening a number of hours a day, as Sonos says the Roam can last as long as 10 days on a cost in sleep mode.
You possibly can cost the Roam utilizing both USB-C or a Qi wi-fi charging mat, and we discovered each strategies to work reliably with USB charging being a bit sooner. Sonos additionally sells a customized Roam Wi-fi Charger that snaps to the underside of the speaker magnetically and guarantees as much as a 50% cost in two hours. Nonetheless, this add-on prices a whopping $49 additional, so that you’re in all probability higher off sticking with the included cable or utilizing a less expensive wi-fi charger.
The Sonos Roam presents nice sound high quality and flexibility for the worth, pumping out wealthy and full of life audio for all sorts of music whereas serving up a ton of options for each listening at house and on the go.
The Roam’s mixture of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi assist makes it an ideal companion for picnics and pool events, in addition to a strong good speaker for whenever you need Alexa that can assist you with dinner when you take heed to your favourite podcasts. The truth that it appears to be like nice, is tremendous compact and may survive falling into the pool actually doesn’t damage both.
There’s additionally the Roam’s deep integration with the Sonos ecosystem, which could be each a promoting level and a headache. On one hand, the truth that the Roam can work with different Sonos gadgets is a significant plus. However utilizing companies comparable to Spotify and Apple Music on the Sonos app is way extra cumbersome than utilizing their respective apps, and presents a little bit of a studying curve.
On the similar time, when you’ve been questioning what Sonos audio system are all about, the $169 Roam is your most accessible entry level but. Those that simply desire a good Bluetooth speaker they will take to the seaside might wish to contemplate less complicated choices such because the $129 UE Growth 3. However in order for you a great-sounding moveable speaker that additionally packs plenty of smarts inside, the Roam presents an entire lot in a small bundle.