Sonos Roam review: Room to Roam

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8.0 Cool as Roam-ys

For the first time, you’re getting the true Sonos treatment on the move (sorry, Sonos Move) and we’re shocked that it’s taken this long. The Roam adds to a perfectly delightful family of audio devices, and hardcore fans will certainly find a reason to buy one. Whether it’s the quality build, seamless connectivity, waterproof nature or ecosystem perks. The Sonos Roam brings brilliant audio to the outdoors, for real this time. 

  • Design 10
  • Battery 7
  • Price 7
  • Sound 8
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

It may not sound like much, but immersing yourself in any tech ecosystem really ups the game. That’s particularly true with Sonos’ premium audio kit, which we’ve grown so fond of, and we’re exceptionally happy to see a truly portable BT speaker that we can just throw in a backpack and go. 

Go where? Well, that’s up to you, really. The Sonos Roam is the US company’s first proper portable speaker, even though we know the Sonos Move would like that title. Of course, its size shifts it out of the running for anything ‘portable’, so the Roam’s stepping in to represent. 

We’re thankful to see both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity in the Roam, making it more accessible when the beach or forest just lacks the WiFi bars needed to play through the Sonos app. Of course, this also helps bring new non-Sonos fans into its world by offering plain BT connectivity. 

Has the speaker stalwart managed to successfully port to cordless? Might this sleek little device be exactly what the world needs that combines utility with brilliant sound?

Foamy and Roamy

Compared to all of the Sonos kit we’ve tested, the Roam is by far the most compact, while staying true to its design aesthetic. It weighs in at just 430g and is small enough to fit in a beach bag, backpack and those giant handbags some people lug around in the Checkers. 

Place it either horizontally or vertical, and the Roam’s right at home. Honestly, it’s hard to fault the design with its triangular prism (or polyhedron for the math nerds) shape. Unlike other products in its multi-room offering, the buttons found on the one edge are physical, to avoid any accidental presses. You also get USB-C charging and a branded cable in the box, while there’s a lovely custom-designed magnetic wireless charger available for further purchase. Sadly, it’s not included and will be for your own account, sir. 

It feels robust and is waterproof for reals with an IP67 rating — which means you’ll be able to get quite a lot of water splashes on it and it should survive. Being submerged isn’t even an issue in shallow water, so it’s one helluva cool gadget to bring to the poolside or any water-related activity. 

Keeping in mind Sonos’ design aesthetic, the Roam is made of metal mesh up front and the brand’s rounded edge design. The back is plastic but feels sturdy and the two ends are rubberised to help absorb shock, which is a nice feature considering this dude has places to go, and it’s not just the front porch. 

Meet my Roam-mate

We’re expecting more than a handful of features packed into Sonos’ first truly compact speaker. And on that note, it delivers. 

Setup is as seamless as you’d expect: The Sonos app instantly recognises the Roam and prompts a setup. If you’re used to using the app, controlling music or podcast playback from right in there is fairly straightforward — but there are other options this time around. You can listen through the Roam from any music streaming app that tickles your fancy, while there’s even an option to stream directly through AirPlay 2 on any Apple device. You’ll also have access to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa through the Roam if it’s connected to the net. 

Auto TruePlay, a feature introduced on the Sonos Move, allows the Roam to adapt its soundstage according to your placement (inside or outside). Of course, its microphones can’t be muted while using TruePlay, cos that’s what the Roam uses to determine where it’s placed and optimise the sounds accordingly. 

A useful feature introduced this time around is Sound Swap. It’ll switch the audio to the next best Sonos speaker in the vicinity. Hit the button, and the Roam will ping the sound along — this comes in when you’re moving outside for the braai and taking the Roam, obviously. 

We got a good 8-10 hours battery from the bugger, which is long enough for you to forget you actually need to charge the thing and just give it a boost every once in a while. It’ll take about 2 hours through the USB-C port, which is a bit long for our taste, but it works. Same goes for the custom magnetic charger we tested with the Roam. Remember to get your hands on a 5v/1.5A, 2.1A or more powerful adapter.

The Roam syndrome

If we blindfolded you and blasted tunes from the Sonos Roam alongside an… Arc or similar, you wouldn’t think much of it. But as a standalone sound-system in such a small body? It slaps. 

Sound emitted from the tiny polyhedron (see, we’re learning) may not outweigh sound from competing brands like JBL or Ultimate Ears, but it does try. Expect deep, impactful bass from this small body, accompanied by clear highs and a decent mid-range. It does feel like the Roam tries a bit hard to impress and pushes comfortable levels on its ranges, but it’s mostly a pleasurable experience. 

But this is the perfect companion for the outdoors, bringing the quality build and sound that you’d expect from this label. 

Sonos Roam Verdict

For the first time, you’re getting the true Sonos treatment on the move (sorry, Sonos Move) and we’re shocked that it’s taken this long. The Roam adds to a perfectly delightful family of audio devices, and hardcore fans will certainly find a reason to buy one. Whether it’s the quality build, seamless connectivity, waterproof nature or ecosystem perks. The Sonos Roam brings brilliant audio to the outdoors, for real this time. 

The Sonos Roam retails for R4,000, while the proprietary charger costs R950. There’s currently a bundle deal on offer that’ll get you both for R4,800.

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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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