Sonos Roam Review: Possibly the BEST Portable Speaker at 430g!
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
When Sonos came out with the Sonos Move back in 2019, they called it their first portable speaker. Portable… was a bit of a stretch though.
A 3kg speaker isn’t really portable, but I got what Sonos was trying to say. It’s their first wireless speaker with a built-in battery, yeah, but I couldn’t just throw it into my bag and bring it to a picnic. Well, Sonos has listened, and the new Sonos Roam is everything I want in a portable speaker.
The Sonos Roam finally becomes truly portable, at just 430g. It’s also shaped very differently, more like a slab of Toblerone, and there are some pretty nice benefits to this new shape too. First is that you can use this either vertically, or set it down horizontally for more stability if the surface isn’t flat. There are some small rubber feet on one side of the speaker too.
You get four physical buttons on the top end of the speaker when it’s standing upright. A play/pause button that also doubles up for track skipping with double and triple presses, as well as volume controls on either side of it, and a mic mute button, with mics being used for voice control through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The ends are ever slightly concave, which is a great little touch by Sonos since it should prevent accidental button presses if it’s in a bag and getting jostled by other stuff.
The speaker charges via USB-C on the rear, and right above the charging port, there’s a power button that allows the user to put the speaker into sleep mode, pairing mode or just turn on and off.
The Roam can also be charged in a few different ways; via USB-C through the port, and it also supports wireless charging. So if you have a Qi-charging pad, you could even put the Roam on top of it to charge. Sonos has their own sleek little triangular charging pad for the Roam though, but it’s an additional cost to be factored in if you want that design continuity, since it’s sold separately.
Like the Move, the Roam connects either via WiFi or Bluetooth, which is great. At home, you can stream music to the Roam over WiFi for a better listening experience, but if you pick it up and head out, the speaker will automatically switch to Bluetooth, which is definitely handy.
Sonos has packed plenty of convenient features into the Roam though, not just this. There’s also the new Sonos Swap feature which is currently exclusive to the Roam. Long press the play/pause button and whatever is playing on the Roam will be “handed over” to another Sonos speaker in range.
There’s also Auto TruePlay, which first showed up in the Move. It’s an auto-calibration feature that activates whenever the speaker detects it’s being moved to a new position. The speaker adjusts the sound based on the environment near it to ensure you get the best listening experience no matter where it’s placed.
So how do these sound? Well, really great for its size. It’s smaller than the Move, yes, and as a result, it doesn’t get quite as loud, but it can still blast music at a very respectable volume. The sound is rich and full, and you get a decent amount of bass while still keeping the mids and treble clean and detailed. Soundstage is decently wide, and no matter whether you’ve got it standing vertically or laying horizontally, it still sounds great. My personal preference has got to be the horizontal orientation, because the speaker is angled upwards, meaning the sound sort of gets beamed up towards my ears when I’m putting it on my work table in front of me.
Setup is incredibly easy. All I had to do was get the Sonos app, search for nearby products and the Roam got picked up almost immediately. Something interesting was that the app requested for me to turn on NFC on my phone and then tap my phone to the rear of the Roam speaker to make sure it was the correct one. It’s a small additional step, but it did make me fumble a bit, sliding the top of my phone around the back of the speaker. Not a problem by any means, but yeah.
The Roam is super portable, and I can definitely see this making an appearance at pool parties, at the beach and more. So it’s a good thing that Sonos has tried to make it as rugged as they could, with an IP67 rating along with a very decent 10-hour battery life. You might get away with some splashes of water on the speaker, but do try to avoid spilling a beer on it!
At S$299, or US$169, this isn’t a cheap Bluetooth speaker that you’ll be expecting to replace in a year or two. This will definitely last you a good amount of time, it looks really neat, and best of all? It sounds really, really good.
Also, a quick shoutout to Sonos for their packaging. Somehow, the products I’ve been reviewing lately have all had really nice packaging, resulting in me showing them off in the videos. Here we have the box for the Sonos Roam, and the company has actually used a very nice 100% sustainably sourced paper material and gotten rid of any plastic we would normally see. There’s even a really nice dust cover inside for the speaker, although I reckon most Roam speakers would be seeing so much use that they wouldn’t even need it!
Content by Cheryl Tan