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Sonos Roam review

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10Expert Score
Pocket powerhouse

It may be three years old, but the Sonos Roam is still one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers you can buy in Australia.

Design
10
Performance
10
Pros
  • Exceptional sound
  • Robust body, stylish design
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi playback
  • Good battery life
Cons
  • Power button can be hard to press
  • Sound swap transfers music instead of grouping

It may have launched back in 2021, but I’ve only recently gotten my hands on the Sonos Roam portable Bluetooth speaker to review.

Given it’s a three-year-old speaker that still appears prominently in lists of the best Bluetooth speakers across the internet, I wanted to see for myself how the compact speaker holds up.

After all, this is a $299 speaker that can integrate with your existing Sonos system as well as double as a portable Bluetooth device. Unlike the Move or Move 2, it can be thrown in a bag and taken away without any difficulty.

After weeks of listening to anything and everything, I have to say that this is my new favourite portable speaker. 

Sonos Roam resting on a tap

Design

Measuring in at 168 × 59 × 62 mm with a triangular prism design, the Roam is relatively hefty for a speaker so small. It weighs 420 grams, which is enough to give it some oomph, but light enough to throw in your carry on luggage.

The speaker is available in a few different colour options: Shadow black, Lunar white, Sunset, Wave and Olive. I tested out the Sunset colour, and while I wouldn’t normally lean towards orange, it did contrast nicely with the black of my desk.

The Roam can sit either horizontally or vertically. When you place it horizontally, there are four little nubs that help it sit flat on the surface. Vertically, the controls sit on the top, giving you easy access to the speaker’s controls.

The exception is the power button, which sits on the back of the speaker next to the USB-C charging port.

You need to press and hold the power button to switch the speaker to Bluetooth and start pairing. It can be a little difficult to press in – there’s not a lot of tactile response.

When powered on, a tiny LED next to the embossed Sonos logo lights up white when connected to Wi-Fi, and switches to Blue when you pair it via Bluetooth.

The Sonos Roam is rated as IP67 dust and waterproof, which means yet can be submerged in 1 m of water for up to 30 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend actually doing that, but it’s good to know the speaker should still work if you accidentally drop it in the pool.

Sonos Roam next to a bathroom sink

Features and functions

Sonos has managed to pack a whole lot of tech inside this speaker’s compact body. Two Class-H digital amplifiers combine with a mid-woofer and a tweeter to create the sound (which is fantastic, but more on that later).

There’s also a far-field microphone array inside. This allows the Beam two key functions: Google and Alexa voice assistant functionality, and Automatic Trueplay.

Automatic Trueplay is pretty remarkable. It automatically adapts the speaker’s sound for the environment. So, for example, if you use the roam in an echoey bathroom, it will adjust the sound so it echoes less. Move it out to the spacious loungeroom, and it will hear the acoustic difference of the room and adjust the output to better fill the new environment.

Sonos has also introduced a feature called Sound Swap, which lets you quickly and easily share music to and from your Roam by pressing and holding the Play button while the speaker is near another Sonos speaker in your home.

It’s worth a quick note to say that features like TruePlay, voice assistants and Sound Swap only work when the Roam is connected to Wi-Fi, not via Bluetooth.

Close up of the Sonos Roam's controls

Performance

I’ve been using Sonos speakers since the mid-naughties, so coming in to this review, I would have been very surprised if the Roam didn’t sound great. Sonos has always managed to have impressively well-balanced speakers.

The Roam is no exception. Typically, bigger speakers sound better, and that’s still true here, but Sonos has managed to deliver a huge amount of sound from such a compact device.

It’s understandably a bit light on in the bass-department, especially compared to speakers live the Move 2. 

But it still holds its own, and impressively doesn’t distort at higher volumes.

I listened to everything from Taylor Swift (I have a teenage daughter) to Bon Jovi, Birds of Tokyo and Metallica through the Roam over the past few weeks of testing. Nothing sounded bad.

Connectivity

One of the reasons I use Sonos speakers around my home is the ease of connectivity.

Setting up the Roam was straightforward – you need to use the Sonos app to set it up, but once done, it’s easy to control settings like voice assistant and turn on Auto TruePlay.

But it also supports AirPlay 2, so when I was on a Zoom call for work and my AirPods died (it was a long meeting) I quickly beamed the audio from my MacBook to the Roam for better quality audio.

I wasn’t able to test it because I only had the one Roam speaker, but you can also set up two to act as a stereo pair. 

Because it offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options, Sonos has introduced quick switching. If you have the speaker at home, it will connect to your Wi-Fi network, but if you take it out of range, it will jump over to Bluetooth. Move back in range and it will jump back to Wi-Fi.

That’s not for music playback, though – it doesn’t seamlessly swap what you were listening to. It’s more about automatically knowing what connection type to use at home and away.

Sound swap

I wanted to briefly talk about the Sound Swap functionality. Basically, you press and hold the play button next to a speaker to move the audio from the Roam to another speaker in your Sonos setup, or vice versa.

It definitely works. I tried it against a Play 5, a Sonos Beam and the Move 2, and it worked most of the time. 

It works as a transfer of playback, though, instead of grouping speakers together. So it’s more a case of moving audio from one place to another. 

Personally, I think grouping would be a more useful option in a home’s setup, but it’s still a cool function.

Battery life

You’ll get about 10 hours of playback from the Sonos Roam. That’s pretty normal for a device this size.

It also supports Qi wireless charging, which was a nice surprise. I couldn’t find a USB-C cable mid-way through the review, and just popped it on my phone charger, and it was full within a few hours.

Close up of the Sonos logo

Verdict

The Sonos Roam is relatively expensive for a portable Bluetooth speaker. But it also offers a lot more than your average Bluetooth model.

Seamless integration with existing home Sonos systems is the primary benefit, and the ability to transfer music to and from the Roam is a nice touch.

So if you don’t have any existing Sonos speakers, the Roam may not be the ideal fit. Or, it could be the first of many.

Either way, the Roam is a solidly built, great sounding compact speaker with plenty of versatile, good battery life and better sound. It’s easy to recommend.

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AU $349.00
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AU $349.00
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Product disclosure

Sonos supplied the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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