When it comes to sound systems, Sonos is not new to the game. I was even surprised it’s taken Sonos this long to create a truly portable speaker that we can take to the park for a picnic. The Sonos Roam is a fully capable portable speaker with some great features, but are those features just geared towards Sonos users? Should a non-Sonos user look elsewhere?
In the box you have the Roam and a USB C cable, oh and the usual setup guide, but it’s pretty simple. Once you’ve unboxed your Sonos Roam, you will need to set it up and the setup process is super easy. If you’ve done it before, you just need to load up the Sonos app and power on the Roam and it will find it, then you just follow the instructions. During the setup, you can also turn on Trueplay, which basically tunes the audio the Roam delivers based on its positioning and what’s around it. It supports 2.4Ghz and 5GHz Wifi and can also connect via Bluetooth 5.0.
Around the Sonos Roam, you have a mix of plastic, rubber bits and metal grille. It’s designed to be placed upright or on its side; it has four rubber studs to keep it stable and I do worry the rubber grips will eventually fall off, so I’ll let you know if it does in the future. The Sonos Roam has a unique shape, it’s kind of triangular but also rounded off on each edge to make it rounded like many Sonos speakers. Regardless of how you have it placed, Sonos will always spell Sonos.
At the top, you have the music control buttons that are not easy to accidentally press, which is good, you have the play button that also doubles as your skip button, volume and microphone on/off button with an LED light in front of it to let you know when the mic is on or off. On the back is a USB C port and a button used for powering it up, putting it into standby, and also Bluetooth pairing should you be roaming with no Wifi connectivity or your home system.
That’s about it for the Roam. It’s also available in black and if you buy two of them, you can pair them into a stereo mode to create a wider soundstage. We have two more LED lights on the front; one by the Sonos logo for WiFi or Bluetooth mode and it would flash when pairing for example and one on the other end to show battery status, so you’ll see it when it’s charging for example. The other end of the cylinder is not just there for the sake of it either, you can charge the Roam wirelessly if you have a Qi charging mat or you can for out another £50 for Sonos own which is pretty neat as it would charge at 15W.
If you’ve used the Sonos app before, you’ll be familiar with it. You’ll be able to adjust the equalizer, set up pairs, check battery status, add a choice of Alexa or Google assistant and ultimately add your music service like Spotify or use Sonos radio which can be handy when you don’t want to be in charge of the music you play.
One feature that the Roam has up its sleeve being able to Pass audio on by holding the play button using sound swap. You do this by pressing and holding the play button for it to find the nearest Sonos speaker to pass it on to once you get in your Wifi network. It also works the other way around too and when not in WiFi, it will automatically switch to Bluetooth mode.
Inside the Sonos Roam is a Tweeter, mid-woofer and it will last for 10hours, less than that of the UE mega boom with up to 20hours and it’s IPX67 rated, making it ideal as a shower speaker if you can be bothered to keep taking it out for charge.
So many great features and use cases, but how does it sound?
The Sonos roam gives you a lot in a small package, it sounds great in most cases but Trueplay is also its downfall as it’s not always accurate in my experience. It’s also not that loud for say a picnic in the park with a few people where you’re having a party. Sound quality is great in most cases too, but I find it a little heavy on the bass regardless of the music I’m listening to. I wish the sound was more precise especially in the mids and I wish it was more balanced for more natural-sounding audio. As you can expect also, with its shape and design, you will need to face it to fully appreciate its sound so those behind it might complain about its volume. That aside it’s really portable, seems durable so far, and produces good enough audio for personal use. If you want a true portable party speaker, then look at UE Boom. If you’re already in the Sonos ecosystem and just want it to match, then this is also great. It’s not to say you won’t enjoy the sound from it.