angled shot of Focal Celestee closed back headphones

SONOS
Roam Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

A portable smart speaker for all your listening adventures.

PRICE


$169.00

THE HIGH NOTES


  • 10-Hour Battery-Life
  • Premium Sound On-the-Go
  • Ultra-Portable, Rugged IP67 Waterproof-Rating

Company & Product Overview

It’s been almost 20 years since Sonos first rocked the world with their unique concepts that changed the way people experience music. Today, Sonos is one of our favorite brands and for many reasons. Their software is simple to use and their hardware products deliver incredible sound for their size and price. Not to mention, their designs look great in just about any setting.

Sonos typically offers a complete ecosystem of high-performance smart speakers that can cover your whole house with music. The Sonos Roam, however, lets you expand on this smart home concept to the great outdoors. With Sonos Roam, the music already playing inside your home can come along onto the patio, the pool, or even to the beach!

At Audio Advice, we test a lot of portable outdoor Bluetooth speakers that can produce a lot more in terms of sheer volume but for less than $200, we think the Roam delivers impressive performance and packs incredible technology and value for the money.

 

female model wearing a pair of Focal Celestee closed back headphones

Packaging, Design and Build Quality

The Sonos Roam is definitely small in size and is designed to stand up vertically, or you can lay it down horizontally. If you stand it up vertically, the Roam stands about 6.5-inches tall and spans less than 2.5-inches wide and deep. Compared to its bigger brother, Sonos Move, the new Roam has a tubelike triangular form-factor that looks almost like a water bottle it weighs just shy of a pound. This Bluetooth speaker is highly portable and its handy shape just begs for it to be picked up and taken everywhere you roam. Roam is available in a matte Shadow Black or a matte Lunar White color option which helps repel fingerprints, easily.

It has a very high IP67 rating, and this is what sets it apart from the Sonos Move. The Move's internal components are protected by a shock-resistant case, which makes it fairly durable if it slips or takes a fall — but, that doesn’t offer much protection if it gets caught in a rainstorm or if it takes an accidental slip into the pool.

IP67 means the Roam has a much more rugged build-quality that’s not only drop-resistant — Roam can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes in up to 3 feet of water. It’s also impervious to dust, so on paper, this one is definitely up for just about any outdoor excursion you throw at it.

Charging the Sonos Roam is substantially upgraded on this portable Bluetooth speaker. It has a USB Type-C port on the back for charging. This conveniently connects with most power adapters that use USB Type-C to USB type-A cables, including the Sonos Power Adapter that comes in the box.

 

A view of the Focal Celestee side profile showing the venting port on the side of the ear cup.

Features & Technology

Simultaneous Bluetooth & WIFI Connectivity

A simultaneous connection to both WiFi and Bluetooth opens up the Roam for a more seamless streaming experience.

When listening at home, Roam can connect to an existing Sonos system and stream music over WiFi — and as soon as you leave and go outside of WIFI-range, Roam will intuitively switch to Bluetooth, pairing up with your mobile device. When you get back home, this new smart feature also unlocks Bluetooth streaming for the entire Sonos S2 ecosystem. Since it can do both WIFI and Bluetooth at the same time, you can Bluetooth to it, and the Roam will show up as a room you can add in the Sonos S2 app.

What really sets this portable speaker apart from other Bluetooth speakers is a new feature called “Sound Swap.”

Sound Swap

Since Sound Swap can do both WIFI and Bluetooth at the same time, you could Bluetooth to the Roam, and when you are back within WIFI-range, Roam will show up as a “room” in the Sonos S2 app that you can add to your existing Sonos multiroom sound system right from within the app. In an existing Sonos system, this makes it really easy to move music from room to room, so you can enjoy the music or TV that’s already playing from the Sonos speakers all-around your home.

Alternatively, you could press and hold the special Sound Swap button on Sonos Roam and get the nearest Sonos speaker on the WIFI network to hand off what you are playing on the Roam to that Sonos speaker.

Sonos S2 App Compatibility

When Roam is back within WIFI-range, Sound Swap will let you stream high-quality audio over a WIFI connection using the Sonos S2 app. When streaming to Roam via Bluetooth, you can group any Sonos speakers in the house to the Roam through the Sonos app over WiFi. The app gives you access to adjust the bass, treble, and volume. You will also have an all-access pass to nearly every popular music streaming service under the sun — including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, and a lot more. What you decide to play next is entirely up to you.

In fact, we have a Sonos Tips & Tricks video that will walk you through the setup process of using the app, and all Audio Advice purchasers will get our exclusive Tips and Tricks which will come in handy when setting up the Roam with an existing Sonos system.

Automatic Trueplay Tuning via Bluetooth & WIFI

The coolest feature to be added to the Roam is Auto Trueplay over Bluetooth. At Audio Advice, we love room calibration, so this means Sonos’s special calibration technology can also be brought with you on the go!

No matter where you are, the Roam automatically tunes itself so you always get the best listening experience in any environment. In Bluetooth mode or WiFi mode, it doesn’t matter. You can still get automatic Trueplay tuning to work — even outside! We see this coming in handy on a bus ride, a train ride, or for those long road trips to the beach.

A view of the Focal Celestee side profile showing the venting port on the side of the ear cup.

Stereo Sound - two are better than one

If you have two matching Sonos Roams, the Sonos S2 app will let you create a stereo pair via WIFI. This is really cool because you can enjoy even more detailed stereo separation with a wider soundstage for listening to music with the best sound quality. However, a Roam stereo pair will not work as surround speakers in a Sonos home theater system or with the Sonos Sub. No matter how you play music to the Roam, we think this portable Bluetooth speaker offers a seamless experience that is incredibly smart and versatile.

Convenient Wireless Qi Charging

At Audio Advice, one thing that really sets the Sonos Roam apart from all the other portable speakers on the market is the wireless Qi charging. You can place the Sonos Roam on any Qi-certified Charging pad and Roam will wirelessly charge! You can also charge it using the Wireless Charger Sonos custom designed specifically for the Roam — but this is sold separately.

As a truly wireless speaker, Roam gets a long-lasting battery that will let you enjoy up to 10-hours of continuous playback from a single charge. We also like the Roam’s power-saving features. When not in use, Roam will automatically go into sleep mode to save battery and wake back up with the press of a button.

Additional Features & Bonuses

As an added bonus, for basically the same price as some other Bluetooth receivers, Sonos Roam will add Bluetooth capabilities to any Sonos S2 system. When you Bluetooth to the Roam, the connected Sonos S2 system will also show up as a room which you can then add in the Sonos S2 app.

With the WIFI connection, Roam will also have voice control with popular voice assistants. You can use Roam with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to turn up the volume, check the news, and control your smart home devices. Apple users can use Siri with AirPlay 2 from their iOS device to control Apple Music.

If you are concerned about privacy, the built-in microphone can be turned on or off right from the Roam — and this also turns off the LED light next to the Sonos logo, so you know your voice assistant is never listening.

exploded view of the full-range 40mm 'M'-shaped Aluminium/Magnesium Driver and other components inside Focal Celestee ear cone enclosure.

Performance

The Sonos Roam may be the approximate size of a water bottle, but the speaker technology housed inside is pretty impressive. We’ve definitely tested other Bluetooth speakers that could produce more in terms of sheer volume, so if you’re looking to use this in a really large outdoor space, you may want to check out our list of best portable Bluetooth speakers for outdoor entertaining for some better options that can put out a lot more sound.

Having said that, the Sonos Roam has two Class-H digital amplifiers that are tuned for each driver. There is one high-excursion racetrack-style woofer that does a decent job reproducing the mid-range frequencies and a tweeter that creates a clear high-frequency response each is driven by its own power-efficient Class-H digital amplifier. So, even though this is a small speaker, Sonos packed some pretty decent power into the Roam that is impressive for its size.

We like how Sonos designed the little Roam to stand up vertically or to be laid down horizontally. If you stand it up vertically, the Roam will output a sound that is almost room-filling in a smaller-sized room and as a bonus, it fits inside the water bottle holder on a bag or a bicycle while you are on the go.

The midrange coming out of the woofer was more punchy than we expected, and the top-end extension was pretty clear. If you enjoy listening to a lot of top 40 party music like EDM, Pop music, Hip-hop/R&B, or even rock music when you are on the go, the Roam is a good option to consider but there are better Bluetooth speakers capable of a lot more output.

Having said that, we enjoyed cooking in the kitchen with vocal jazz music in the background. For such a small travel-sized Bluetooth speaker, the little Roam provided clear sound on just about any vocal-centric music we tested with minimal distortion. If you want to experience the clear mid-range performance of the Roam for yourself, you have to check out Michael Bublé’s exquisite vocal performance on “Comin’ Home Baby (with Boyz II Men).”

When we set up two matching Sonos Roams as a stereo pair, the wider soundstage helped spread out the sound in a medium-sized room a little more. Even at low volume, the lyrics Bublé and the other vocalists sang were pretty engaging, which made singing along with the music more fun than just listening with a single Roam.

When we laid it down horizontally on more uneven surfaces like grass or a beach towel in the sand, we noticed the triangular shape did a good job directing sound up to our ears. However, the small portable size of the Roam really came in handy when grilling out while the big game was playing inside the house. Since the Roam can handle WIFI and Bluetooth at the same time, we never missed a beat or an important play when we streamed audio from the TV to the Roam. Walking out of WIFI range over to the game of cornhole in the backyard automatically switched to Bluetooth so we could stream music from our phones.

It was more difficult for us to hear a difference in sound with Trueplay enabled — but if the outdoor space was surrounded by more physical barriers like trees or other reflective surfaces and barriers that could bounce the soundwaves back to us, then the sound of Trueplay working was more audible — but only slightly. We found laying the Roam down horizontally was the best way to use the Roam outdoors and optimize the sound. When back indoors, standing it up vertically and using Auto Trueplay gave us the best results.

A view of the Focal Celestee side profile showing the venting port on the side of the ear cup.

Overall Recommendation

There are other Bluetooth speakers like Sonos Move that will produce a lot more in terms of sheer volume. Having said that, the Sonos Roam is a portable speaker that just works in so many different applications — we have to say — the high IP67-rating makes it really shine as a travel-friendly speaker that is small enough to fit inside of a bag or even a water bottle holder. It’s also rugged enough to explore the great outdoors, and not have to worry about it. Even though there are even better-sounding options to consider, for use on the go, or for smaller indoor spaces, the Roam’s performance is impressive.

Plus, if you are already invested in the Sonos ecosystem or even considering upgrading to a Sonos product, we think it is really cool the Roam lets you dip your toes into whole-house music. For less than $200, we think you would be hard-pressed to find a better portable smart speaker at this price point.

We hope this review has given you a better idea about how this new portable outdoor smart speaker works, and how it might fit in with your adventurous lifestyle or integrate with your other Sonos products. If you have any questions about the Sonos Roam, give us a call, chat with one of our experts at audioadvice.com, or just stop into one of our award-winning showrooms, and we’ll be happy to help you add some great music to your outdoor fun.

HIGH NOTES UNPACKED

Focal Celestee closed back headphones at an angled view.

10-Hour Battery-Life

Sonos Roam is equipped with a long-lasting battery. Enjoy up to 10 hours of continuous playback on a single charge. The speaker falls asleep to save power when not in use and wakes up in less than a second — all with the press of a button.

A look inside the Focal Celestee Closed Back headphone's ear cup exploded.

Premium Sound On-the-Go

Stand it up, and the Roam will deliver room-filling sound while taking up very little room. Create a multiroom sound system with other Sonos speakers at home, so you can enjoy things like music, or TV all-around your home.

close up shot of Focal Celestee Anti-Resonant Semi-Aniline Leather Earpad.

Ultra-Portable, Rugged IP67 Waterproof-Rating

Roam weighs less than a pound, and its handy shape begs to be picked up and taken everywhere. It is drop resistant, waterproof up to three feet for 30 minutes, impervious to dust, and solidly constructed and rated IP67.

Recommended Products:

  1. Sonos Roam Wireless Charger Sonos Roam Wireless Charger
    $49.00

 

  1. Sonos Roam Charging Cable Sonos Roam Charging Cable
    $15.00

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