Sonos Roam review: Yes, this portable speaker really is as good as it sounds
With the all-new Roam arriving in stores April 20, there’s another Sonos speaker to expand your music collection. This is the smallest, cheapest and most portable device the audio firm has ever built, but don’t think for one minute that its price and size means the quality we’ve come to expect from Sonos has been compromised. Express.co.uk has been putting the Roam through its paces for the past few weeks and we’ve been left seriously impressed. Straight out of the box, it feels at one with the trusty Sonos speakers we’ve grown to love over the years with a build quality that’s as good as all previous products.
It’s also incredibly simple to set up and, if you already own some Sonos kit, you’ll be up and running in the time it takes to get a playlist started on your phone.
Power up the Roam and things sound pretty impressive. This portable speaker is comfortably able to fill a good-sized room with some rich and detail-packed sound. It’s not by any means the loudest or most bass-rich Sonos speaker but, for its size, it packs a very decent audio punch.
To help create this mighty soundscape, Sonos has tucked two class-H amplifiers, one tweeter, and one custom racetrack mid-woofer inside its shell. There are also fully adjustable EQ settings so you can add more bass, treble, or loudness to your tunes.
Sonos’ clever Trueplay tuning technology is also included which sets about smartly adjusting the sound for the speaker’s orientation and location.
That’s important as the Roam can be placed upright or flat depending on where you happen to place it. Even when you pick it up and move the Roam to another room or position the Trueplay automatically begins adapting to its new surroundings making sure you always get the best sound.
We’ve been using the Roam on its own in our home office during the day before moving it into the kitchen at night where it seamlessly joins our Sonos One and Play:5 to add an even more immersive sound to the room.
That’s something we really like about the Roam as it’s so easy to pick up and move around your home or garden, while still seamlessly linking to all of your other Sonos kit – exactly like a full-sized Sonos One.
Even the triangular design means grabbing it is easy and you never feel like it’s going to slip through your fingers.
Of course, being a Sonos speaker it needs to be linked to your Wi-Fi to get the full multi-room experience, but the firm is clearly aware that owners might also fancy taking it to the park or beach. Once you start heading further afield you can then switch over to a standard Bluetooth connection allowing you to play tunes straight from any phone or tablet.
The minute you walk back through the front door the speaker instantly switches back to Wi-Fi. It’s all clever stuff but its audio quality and portability aren’t the only thing to love as it’s so beautifully simple to use.
Being battery powered, the Roam automatically goes to sleep to save its energy but start up the Sonos app and it instantly springs back into life without you having to touch a single button. It’s all so seamless and effortless that using it is an absolute joy and you’ll never find yourself having to start pressing buttons or linking the device to your phone to get the party started.
The simple controls on the top also make it easy to pump up the volume or switch on /off the Alexa and Google voice controls – yes it’s fully compatible with these chatty assistants meaning you can start playlists or set timers without lifting a finger.
Other vital features include a water-resistant design which is IPX 67 rated. That means it’s not only able to take a dip in the pool but is also protected against sand – that should put your mind at rest when heading on your next summer holiday.
It should also survive plenty of punishment as Sonos says it’s designed to be drop-proof. We’ll have to take their word for that as, luckily, we didn’t drop our review unit whilst testing.
We have very few moans about the Roam, but one thing that is worth noting is the battery life. Unfortunately, you’ll only get around 10 hours on a single charge. That’s probably enough for most days out… but it does lag behind some of its similarly priced rivals, including the UE Boom, which can keep on going for another five hours after the Roam conks out.
Sonos also only supplies a USB-C cable in the box – but no plug, which is slightly annoying and could mean needing to splash out on an extra charging accessory. The Roam can charge wirelessly with Sonos selling its dock for £44. We did place ours on a standard Qi charger and it seemed to work fine. If you have one of these lying around your home to refill your smartphone you might want to try it and save yourself a few quid.
Sonos Roam review: Final Verdict
FOR: Great design makes it ultra-portable • Good sound • Simple set-up
AGAINST: Rivals beat its 10-hour battery life • No plug in the box
There’s plenty to love about the Roam – and almost nothing to hate. This truly portable speaker is a great addition to any Sonos setup and will link seamlessly with all of your existing Sonos products whenever it’s in the house.
The design makes it easy to hold and the audio is good enough for some chilled-out tunes in the bath, shed or your home office.
The fact it’s fully Bluetooth compatible also means you can pop it in your bag and use it pretty much anywhere. You don’t even need to worry about the British weather as it’s fully water-resistant. And as soon as you walk back through the door, you’ll be able to use it to add some oomph to your existing speakers – that puts it at a real advantage over other Bluetooth speakers if you’re already invested in Sonos kit.
Our only real gripe is the 10-hour battery, which feels a little lacklustre, especially when compared to some of its rivals such as those on offer from Ultimate Ears. And if you haven’t got a drawer packed with USB-C charging plugs, you’ll need to add one to your shopping basket when buying your Sonos Roam online too, which is a bit annoying.
However, if you think that 10-hours is easily enough power for your needs and you already love the Sonos brand then it’s really hard not to recommend the Roam. This is the portable speaker many have been waiting for and it really is as good as it sounds.
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