The Sonos Roam is a great portable speaker with serious smarts – CNN11 min read

Mike Andronico/CNN.

At the exact same time, if youve been wondering what Sonos speakers are all about, the $169 Roam is your most accessible entry point yet. Those who simply desire a good Bluetooth speaker they can take to the beach might wish to think about simpler alternatives such as the $129 UE Boom 3. But if you desire a great-sounding portable speaker that also loads great deals of smarts inside, the Roam offers a great deal in a little package.

Mike Andronico/CNN.

Mike Andronico/CNN.


The Roam features Sonos TruePlay technology, which uses the speakers integrated mics to instantly tune the speaker to any environment to provide the finest possible noise. We evaluated the Roam in numerous settings, including our huge open living-room, our outside veranda and our little restroom throughout a shower singing session, and noticed regularly clear audio quality no matter where we utilized it. We even tucked the speaker into our bookshelf and home entertainment center– 2 locations where noise can quickly become smothered and silenced– and still discovered crisp, lively sound.

Mike Andronico/CNN.

Sonos promises 10 hours of continuous music playback from the Roam, which appears in line with our screening up until now. After two full days of on-and-off usage, the speaker lastly ran out of juice the next early morning. You can likely extend this even further if youre only listening a few hours a day, as Sonos says the Roam can last up to 10 days on a charge in sleep mode.

Like the Move, the Roam can link to Bluetooth to let you jam out to your preferred tunes on the go, and to Wi-Fi when youre at home to link to the Sonos app and sync up with whatever list of Sonos gadgets you may already have. This results in a highly versatile clever speaker that pumps out way bigger sound than its tiny frame may recommend– as long as you dont mind living with some of the peculiarities that come with remaining in the Sonos community.

For example, while the Sonos app variation of Spotify surfaced all of our current artists and playlists, we could not find a simple way to bring up podcasts. And when combing through Phoebe Bridgers discography on Apple Music via the Sonos app, we found that things werent organized chronologically, making it hard to discover her newest album.

Mike Andronico/CNN.

The Sonos Roam uses fantastic sound quality and flexibility for the cost, draining rich and lively audio for all types of music while dishing out a lot of features for both listening in your home and on the go.

On the more mournful indie rock tracks like Julien Bakers “Turn Out the Lights,” the singer-songwriters heavenly vocals were so vivid that it sounded like she was in the space with us. That remained true even when the huge electric guitars and background harmonies kicked in, producing a wall of noise that never ever got muddy or distorted regardless of its numerous moving parts.

It likewise merely sounds great, bringing to life every track we tossed at it with a vibrant soundstage that made it simple to hear every single instrument with clarity. In the bouncy pop-punk of “Cant Wait Forever” by Tigers Jaw, the crispy guitars, tidy bass, crackling drums and scorching synths all sounded equally brilliant and clear, offering plenty of room for the vocals to shine without overpowering them.

This is how music playback is dealt with on all Sonos speakers, and it has its cons and pros. On one hand, you have all of your streaming platforms in one place, permitting you to browse several services at the same time for a more odd artist or switch in between the similarity Spotify and Apple Music on the fly. But these services look and feel various within the Sonos app compared to their own apps, which can make things a little disconcerting.

Sonos S2 is the most recent variation of Sonos software, and is needed for controlling all of Sonos more recent products (certain legacy speakers are tied to the older S1 app). It allows you to play music from various sources, in addition to manage your entire system of compatible Sonos items to keep the tunes going throughout the home. Just ensure you download the best app– we accidentally downloaded Sonos S1 to start, only to discover that it didnt support the Roam.

Is the Sonos Roam the new portable clever speaker to get? Heres what we believe after numerous days of listening to music, talking with Alexa, and yes, even soaking the Roam in a bowl of water.

How it compares: The Roam is distinct amongst Bluetooth speakers in its cost variety, consisting of the $129 UE Boom 3 and $179 JBL Charge 4, thanks to its ability to link to Wi-Fi and sync up with other Sonos speakers. When youre using the Roam over Wi-Fi, the Sonos app is basically the speakers command. Matching the Roam to our phone via Bluetooth took seconds, and was as easy as holding down the power button and discovering the Roam in our iPhones Bluetooth menu. The Roam includes Sonos TruePlay technology, which uses the speakers integrated mics to immediately tune the speaker to any environment to offer the best possible noise. Sonos also offers a customized Roam Wireless Charger that snaps to the bottom of the speaker magnetically and guarantees up to a 50% charge in 2 hours.

Who its for: The Sonos Roam is for folks who want a quality Bluetooth speaker that doubles as a clever Wi-Fi speaker, and dont want to spend for the larger, more costly $399 Sonos Move. Its especially ideal for those who currently own Sonos speakers, as its Wi-Fi assistance allows it to perfectly enter into your existing environment.

The Roam is Sonos very first speaker with physical controls, and they all held up well in our testing. The speakers rubberized top panel has buttons for pausing/playing, changing the volume and muting the built-in microphone, each of which sets off a rewarding chime every time you press them. The soft-touch buttons were simple to press while resistant enough to prevent accidental inputs, and their unique iconography allowed us to inform each button apart by feel.

The Roam also handled the atmospheric hip-hop of Kid Cudis “Lovin Me” well, providing the spacey vocals, atmospheric strings and plucky guitars all room to breathe while keeping our heads bobbing along with deep bass and stylish treble coming out of the drums.

The Roams mix of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support makes it a great buddy for picnics and pool celebrations, in addition to a robust smart speaker for when you desire Alexa to help you with supper while you listen to your favorite podcasts. The fact that it looks fantastic, is incredibly compact and can make it through falling into the pool certainly does not harmed either.

Theres likewise the Roams deep combination with the Sonos ecosystem, which can be both a selling point and a headache. On one hand, the fact that the Roam can deal with other Sonos gadgets is a significant plus. But using services such as Spotify and Apple Music on the Sonos app is much more troublesome than using their particular apps, and provides a little bit of a knowing curve.

Sonos most current speaker is well geared up for a journey to the beach or the pool, with an IP67 water resistant rating that allows it to be dunked in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. We completely submerged our Roam in a bowl of water for a couple of minutes, and it kept on pumping out tunes even while going under. As you may expect, the Roams sound output was a bit muddied when it was covered in water, once we dried the speaker off, it continued rocking as if we simply took it out of the box.

Like with the larger, costlier Sonos Move, this included Bluetooth support provides the Roam much more adaptability than a standard Wi-Fi based wise speaker, and likewise can be found in helpful if you just do not want to deal with the Sonos app. Its likewise worth keeping in mind that the Wi-Fi variety of the Roam is quite excellent if you prefer that path, as we had the ability to take the speaker out to our balcony and continue listening without any disturbance.

What it is: The $169 Sonos Roam is a compact Bluetooth speaker that also packs all of the software smarts that Sonos devices are understood for, consisting of a robust buddy app, Alexa and Google Assistant assistance and the capability to sync up with other speakers by means of Wi-Fi.

You can charge the Roam utilizing either USB-C or a Qi wireless charging mat, and we found both methods to work reliably with USB charging being a bit faster. Sonos also sells a custom-made Roam Wireless Charger that snaps to the bottom of the speaker magnetically and guarantees approximately a 50% charge in two hours. However, this add-on costs a whopping $49 extra, so youre probably better off sticking to the consisted of cable television or using a cheaper wireless charger.

Sonos launched its first portable speaker a few years back with the Sonos Move, which is pretty great– other than for the truth that its somewhat huge and a tremendous $399. If you do not wish to spend that much, and want something you can actually fit into your bag or pocket on your method to the beach, the brand-new $169 Sonos Roam is probably for you.

Like its huge brother in the Sonos Move, the Roam is distinct amongst portable speakers thanks to its ability to connect to both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The latter allows the Roam to be controlled by the Sonos S2 app on your iPhone or Android gadget, and incorporate seamlessly with any other Sonos gadgets you already have in your home.

Despite its tiny frame, the Roam pumps out big, crisp audio with sufficient volume to fill our little apartment or condo. Seriously, this thing gets loud– we could easily hear our tunes from a space over, and after checking it out at full volume, we rapidly turned things down out of fear of disturbing our next-door neighbors.

Mike Andronico/CNN.

The Sonos Roam is the businesss smallest and most attractive speaker yet, packing Sonos signature style into an extremely portable gadget thats about the size of a small water bottle at about 6 and a half inches high. We love the classy, understated look of our Lunar White model (theres likewise a Shadow Black option), however a few other color options would have been valued– particularly compared to the rainbow of colors youll discover on rivals from UE and JBL.

You can prevent these problems by connecting the Roam to Bluetooth, which youll have to do anytime you take Sonos little speaker out of the home. Combining the Roam to our phone by means of Bluetooth took seconds, and was as easy as holding down the power button and discovering the Roam in our iPhones Bluetooth menu. Once we were linked, the Roam worked like any other Bluetooth device, instantly playing any material we fired up from any app.

The Roam deals with both Amazons Alexa and the Google Assistant, providing you a lot of choices for controlling the speaker with your voice (note that youll need to be on Wi-Fi to utilize these features). Alexa worked well in our testing, reacting accurately when we asked Amazons assistant to inform us the weather condition, set a timer or pause our present tune. Alexa likewise played good with several music services at when, permitting me to ask for one artist on Spotify and another on Apple Music right after. And if you do not want the Roam listening to you, theres an useful microphone mute button right on the top of the speaker.

When youre using the Roam over Wi-Fi, the Sonos app is essentially the speakers command. Instead of utilizing those specific apps on your phone, youll use the Sonos app to import your services of choice, log in with any user accounts you currently have, and control your playback from there.

At just under a pound, the Roam is simple to get once its time to hit the roadway, and its smooth plastic exterior just feels good to hold. Thats paired with a company rubber base at the bottom along with four little rubber legs on the side, that makes it easy to position the Roam either vertically or horizontally depending upon where youre putting it.

How it compares: The Roam is unique amongst Bluetooth speakers in its cost variety, including the $129 UE Boom 3 and $179 JBL Charge 4, thanks to its capability to link to Wi-Fi and sync up with other Sonos speakers. The UE Boom 3 is a well-liked option if you want more color choices and do not desire to spend as much. The Roam wins on sheer adaptability.

That minor hiccup aside, setting the Roam up took just a few minutes. After downloading the app and creating an account, all we needed to do was tap our phone against the speaker to sync the two up and after that link the Roam to our Wi-Fi network, and we were prepared to get going.

Making matters more confusing is that the Sonos app doesnt sync up playback with any other music apps you might have on your phone, so if youre using Spotify through Sonos and open up the regular Spotify app, you will not see your current track. Longtime Sonos users might be used to this, however we personally felt a bit locked in by the Sonos software application, and had to re-train ourselves a bit after being so utilized to changing between various music apps.

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