Sonos Roam evaluation: Nice sound, in and out

Cruise the transportable speaker listings on Amazon and also you’ll end up buried in 1000’s of choices. Lots of them include sub-$30 value tags and 1000’s of constructive (if considerably questionable) opinions. As a way to stand out from the rabble, the $169 Sonos Roam speaker provides true hybrid efficiency that provides virtually the entire identical audio and connectivity advantages whether or not you’re tied into the corporate’s trademark wi-fi based mostly platform or just streaming through Bluetooth. It’s that over-engineered strategy that makes the Roam so successful.

What’s it?

Roam is the second transportable speaker providing from Sonos. Transfer was its first foray into this house and it arrived on the finish of 2019, simply because the COVID-19 pandemic primarily stopped individuals from going wherever in any respect for greater than a yr. The Transfer was extraordinarily well-designed, but it surely prices $400 and weighs 6.6-pounds. It’s like carrying round a gallon of milk that may blast Wu-Tang songs. 

Sonos Roam, nevertheless, falls far more according to what we’d count on from a conveyable speaker. It weighs just below a pound and it’s in regards to the measurement of an Arizona iced tea can, so it simply suits in a typical automotive cup holder. It has an IP67 ruggedness score, too, which implies it gained’t die once you inevitably spill that Arizona iced tea throughout it. 

Like with the Transfer, Roam connects to the Sonos wi-fi-based wi-fi music platform once you’re linked to your house community, then can hook up with units through Bluetooth once you’re out within the wild. 

Design

Roam (proper) is significantly smaller than its sibling, Transfer (left).

I took the Roam out of the field and instantly seen how totally different it feels from different rugged transportable audio system. There’s no rubberized coating on the principle speaker physique or fabric masking over the grate. It’s totally clean plastic, which truly makes it somewhat slippery for a tool you’re meant to seize and carry. There’s additionally no loop or hook on the skin to connect a strap or carabiner such as you get with the UE audio system. That might have been a pleasant contact.

The tip caps are rubbery and there are 4 raised buttons on the highest to deal with some primary controls. The tactile buttons are good since you don’t essentially need to see them to really feel what you’re doing. A single energy button on the again accompanies a USB-C charging port that doesn’t require a canopy to make it waterproof. The Roam comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, however not an influence brick. 

In the end, Roam appears to be like like a chunk of electronics or audio tools, moderately than a sporting good regardless of its rugged, waterproof nature. 

Organising the Sonos Roam

A top view of the Sonos Roam with grass in the background.
Raised buttons come in useful for navigating once you’re not trying.

For those who’re already utilizing some Sonos gear, setup is predictably easy. It took roughly 5 minutes to just accept Roam into my small setup, and that included downloading a software program replace. Connecting by Bluetooth was easy as properly. The facility button on the again of the speaker places Roam in pairing mode and it synced to an iPhone with no downside. 

Roam guarantees automated switching between the 2 connections, which is especially helpful for me. My yard solely has partial wi-fi protection and I didn’t expertise any hiccups whereas strolling round out and in of wi-fi areas. I’d nonetheless in all probability be higher off simply switching over to full time Bluetooth to chop down the opportunity of a problem throughout switching, however I give any gadget bonus factors when it permits me to be lazy with out consequence. 

Sound high quality

It was laborious to know what to anticipate from Roam. In any case, it’s a lot smaller than the chunky Transfer, however Sonos has a repute for obsessing over sound high quality. To place it merely, the Roam sounds nice in most settings. 

In comparison with another transportable audio system I’ve tried, just like the UE Increase collection, Roam has a really balanced sound. Audio system like this have a tendency to attempt to do an excessive amount of with too little in the case of maximizing bass, which leaves issues sounding muddy. Sonos appears to have accepted its low-end limitations, which makes the bass comparatively punchy, however lacks a bit on maintain. That works for some tracks with tight bass hits like Motion Bronson’s “Latin Grammys,” Child Cudi’s “Make Her Say,” and a wide range of dying metallic tracks. Placed on a observe like ODB’s “Received Your Cash,” nevertheless, and also you’ll discover that the bass doesn’t sound as huge and spherical because it does with an even bigger speaker.

Tuning

Like Transfer, Roam implements the corporate’s Auto Trueplay system, which analyzes sound efficiency and tweaks the degrees for optimum sound. The identical settings don’t work in a small lavatory as in comparison with a big yard. Roam can inform the distinction and change on the fly. It really works, however it will possibly’t repair every little thing. Stick Roam in a e book shelf the place it’s surrounded on virtually each aspect and it’ll nonetheless sound boomy, however that’s the nightmare state of affairs for any speaker. 

One factor to notice: Auto Trueplay now works in each Bluetooth and wi-fi mode. Transfer solely labored on your house community. 

Due to the Roam’s triangular design, the perfect sound occurs once you’re standing in entrance of the speaker. Get too far to the aspect or behind it and issues get muffled. For those who’re holding the speaker whereas it’s taking part in, you’ll clearly have the ability to really feel extra vibrations towards the aspect with the emblem due to the way in which the center are organized. This doesn’t appear to have an effect on the real-world sound efficiency, although, no less than in my expertise. 

Total, Roam sounds nice. It’s loud sufficient for my roughly 75 x 50-foot yard with out situation. Due to the tight bass response, the music truly sounds clearer from far-off than it might from a speaker with a punchier general low-end. 

The remainder of the specs

With that smaller physique, Roam additionally solely provides 10 hours of battery life on a full cost. That’s comparatively paltry in comparison with some audio system that may go properly past that. That solely actually comes into play if you happen to’re going to go a number of listening classes between fees, although. In roughly two weeks of testing, it by no means gave out on me after I wished to maintain listening. 

Roam does supply wi-fi charging, although, the wi-fi charging base is an non-compulsory accent. I actually just like the Transfer function that enables customers to easily drop the speaker right into a magnetic base and have it cost, so if you happen to’re going to make the leap into Roam, the $50 wi-fi charger could also be a worthwhile funding, even when it does appear moderately dear.

Who can buy it?

For those who’re already a Sonos consumer and also you’re in search of a conveyable speaker, then that is simple to suggest. It simply transfers from wifi to Bluetooth, it sounds nice, and it’s truly simple to hold round versus the Transfer. 

If this could be your first Sonos speaker, then the additional price will not be so simply justified. Roam permits customers to easily “throw” the music to their dwelling system by urgent a button on the transportable speaker. So, you’ll be able to stroll within the door and seamlessly change to whole-home listening with out having to disconnect and reconnect. That’s a luxurious, for positive, however that’s additionally a part of what justifies the value enhance over these $25 Amazon audio system. The over-engineering is the purpose.


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