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Sonos Roam is official – and the cheapest, smartest Sonos speaker yet

Sonos Roam
(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos has just unveiled its cheapest and most portable speaker yet. The new Sonos Roam, which you might already have been acquainted with courtesy of several pre-launch leaks, is the company's answer to the likes of the JBL Flip 5 and Ultimate Ears Boom 3 portable Bluetooth speakers. But while it shares the same goal in offering an easily transportable, durable way to play music on the go, it naturally boasts some unique, Sonos-centric features that make it stand out from the crowd.

You can predominantly think of the Sonos Roam as a miniature, more affordable Sonos Move, which arrived in late 2019 as the company's first 'portable' speaker. Like its hybrid sibling, the new Roam has both Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, allowing owners to simply pair it with a phone or tablet over the former, or tap into the wide world of music streaming and/or use it within a wider Sonos system.

Its portability is mostly defined by two things: a form that is smaller than a water bottle (16.8 x 6.2 x 6cm), weighs less than a pound (or 430g if you're more metric-oriented), is IP67-rated for complete water and dust resistance (it can be immersed in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes), and has a built-in rechargeable battery that offers 10 hours of music playback (or can last 10 days in an automatic sleep mode). 

On that note, the Sonos Roam comes with a USB-C charging cable (although not a power adapter) and is compatible with standard Qi wireless chargers. Sonos is also launching its own charging base ($49, £tbc), to which the Roam snaps magnetically.

Sonos Roam

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Roam supports Bluetooth 5.0 for connection to a phone, tablet or any other Bluetooth-toting music player, but while that's often the limit of a Bluetooth speaker's connectivity, aside from perhaps a 3.5mm input, the Roam can also connect to a home network, opening up at-home accessibility to streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Tidal, as well as voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. AirPlay 2 is available when connected to wi-fi, too, as is control via the Sonos S2 app.

To that end, the Roam has a few Sonos-centric tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, the Roam can automatically switch between wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity and connected devices, so when you leave the house it can connect to a Bluetooth device without the owner having to initiate pairing, and vice versa. You "just grab it and go," as a Sonos representative said in the media briefing.

Sonos Roam

(Image credit: Sonos)

Then there's the all-new Sonos Swap feature, which lets owners hand off whatever music the Roam is playing to the nearest Sonos speaker by long-pressing the play/pause button. Neat. (It's something we thought might debut in the highly anticipated Sonos wireless headphones, expected later this year.)

Auto TruePlay – the automatic calibration technology that uses the speaker's microphones to measure the frequency response of its surroundings and adjust sound accordingly, whenever it detects being placed in a new location – is on board following its debut in the Move, too. This time, however, it can work in a Bluetooth domain as well as a network one – functionality that's also now available for the Move via a new software update.

Sonos Roam

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos has confirmed that the Roam can't be used as a surround speaker with the company's Beam or Arc soundbars, though, leaving that job to the Sonos One SL and Sonos IKEA speakers.

Of course, while the Roam enters the market as perhaps the smartest and best connected Bluetooth speaker of its size and price, it will need to sound good to seal a favourable fate. Handling the sonic duties is a custom-designed racetrack woofer and tweeter pairing, driven by two Class H amplifiers and with an adjustable EQ output.

And that's all, folks. The Sonos Roam is priced £159 ($169, AU$279, €179), making it the most affordable Sonos speaker yet (if you discount the Sonos IKEA collaborative models), undercutting the One SL by the price of a round of drinks. 

The Roam is available to pre-order now, with shipping beginning on 20th April.


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Becky is Hi-Fi and Audio editor of What Hi-Fi?, and has been part of the team for almost eight years, with her current position preceded by roles as a staff writer and news editor. During that time she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching horror movies and hunting for gluten-free cake.