Sonos Roam review: Portable perfection

I’m a big Sonos fan and I have nearly a dozen Sonos speakers spread out around my home. I also think the Sonos Move is far and away the most impressive portable speaker I have ever experienced, hands down. The deep, full sound that Sonos managed to pack into the Move is nothing short of mind-blowing. I really cannot say enough good things about it, but there is one detail that will prevent plenty of people from even considering the Sonos Move: it costs $399. The Move pulls double-duty as a stationary Sonos speaker in your home, so it’s actually worth every penny and then some. But $399 is still a lot of money to spend on a portable speaker.

With that in mind, the first thing I did when Sonos sent me its press materials ahead of its Sonos Roam announcement was to check the price. $169 might seem a bit hefty at first, especially when you consider how inexpensive some portable speakers are. Once you try one out for yourself, however, it’ll only take a few moments before you realize how special this little speaker really is.

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While the Move is practically in a league of its own, the Sonos Roam enters a market where many top rivals cost a fraction of its price. Take the best-selling compact portable wireless speaker on Amazon, for example. It’s called the Oontz Angle 3, it has a whopping 95,000+ 5-star reviews, and it retails for $35. It was on sale for $26 at the time of this writing, which means you can buy six Angle 3 speakers and still spend less than you would on a single Sonos Roam.

Of course, there are two things to keep in mind about the Roam’s price.

First, comparable speakers from top brands tend to cost at least as much as the Sonos Roam. The Bose SoundLink Revolve retails for $200, Beats’s Pill+ goes for $180, and the UE Boom 3 is priced at $150. With that in mind, Sonos’s price tag is anything but unreasonable. In fact, the Sonos Roam’s pricing comes in at the lower end of the price spectrum when you’re talking solely about premium brands.

Second, and even more importantly, the Sonos Roam delivers incredible sound quality and cutting-edge features that no rival can match.

Image source: Sonos

As is the case with all of Sonos’s wireless speakers, setting up the Roam is quite easy. As a matter of fact, the Roam is by far the simplest Sonos speaker to set up thanks to the addition of NFC. Simply open the Sonos app, tap over to settings, launch the function to add a new speaker, and the app pretty much does the rest. The only other manual step is to tap your smartphone to the back of the Roam when the app gives you the cue. And of course, Bluetooth is even easier to set up — just turn on the speaker, hold the power button until you hear two chimes to indicate you’re in Bluetooth mode, and pair.

If you don’t have any other Sonos speakers, the only thing you need to know about the Roam is that it offers breathtaking sound quality that outshines most rival offerings — even ones that are twice its size. It’s rugged, water-resistant, the battery lasts for 10 hours of playback, and it supports Qi wireless charging in addition to USB-C charging. If you use voice assistants, you’ll appreciate built-in support for Alexa and Google Assistant. The Roam also has Sonos’s new Automatic Trueplay tuning tech that uses spatial awareness to optimize the sound based on the speaker’s orientation and surroundings. It’s a spectacular portable speaker that punches well above its weight class.

On top of all that, if you do have a Sonos speaker system in your home, you also get to enjoy a few added features from the Roam.

The Sonos Roam integrates with your Sonos system just like any other Sonos speaker. You can add it to groups, stream any supported service wirelessly without eating up your phone’s battery, and so on. But it also has some extra features that take advantage of the Roam’s portability. My favorite is the ability to hold the play/pause button anywhere in your home and have the audio automatically switch to the nearest Sonos speaker in your house. It’s very nifty tech and it’s also more than just a novelty; it’s so cool to be able to listen to music in your yard or on the go and then instantly switch to a different speaker when you come back inside.

Image source: Sonos

The Sonos Roam is set to be released on April 20th and it’s already available for pre-order on Sonos’s website. There will also be a wireless charger accessory made available for $49 that fits perfectly with the shape of the speaker, but any Qi charger you already have will do the job as long as it’s 10W or higher.

Finally, I should note that at the time of this writing, the shipping estimate for new Roam orders was already pushed back to May 7th. That means either demand is very high or supply is limited. In either case, you should probably order yours now if you’re hoping to receive it anytime soon.

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Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world’s top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine’s top-30 Internet of Things experts.