Sonos Roam – Is this the best BT/Wi-Fi portable speaker ever? (review)

Sonos made a bold statement when launching the Sonos Roam in March 2021. It was hailed as ‘the best portable Wi-Fi speaker yet’. Is it?

Well, CyberShack can say that it is a pretty safe statement. First, because it sounds great – better than its competitors – for an IP67 water-resistant speaker. Second, as there are few portable Wi-Fi speakers, it has the premium portable market almost to itself.

The Sonos Roam is a mono Bluetooth (BT) and Wi-Fi (voice assistant capable) battery operated IP67 speaker that you can take anywhere. And soon, there will be a Sonos Roam SL, sans microphone that has that wonderful Sonos sound Signature.

What differentiates it from BT speakers like those excellent ones from JBL, Sony, Ultimate Ears, LG et al. is Multi-room audio, Apple AirPlay 2,  Auto Trueplay room tuning and the Sonos S2 app has additional EQ and other features.

Sonos Roam

WebsiteProduct page
Price $299 with free delivery and a 100-day return policy
FromSonos and selected professional audio retailers including Harvey Norman (Domayne), JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys and  pro audio/video stores like VideoPro
Warranty1-year ACL If purchased from Sonos online or authorised resellers. Like many other leading global brands, Sonos is a victim of counterfeiting, especially from online marketplaces like Alibaba, Amazon, Kogan, Dick Smith, and eBay.
Country of OriginChina
AboutSonos is an American Audio company based in Santa Barbara, California [Est 2002]. It develops and manufactures smart speakers designed to last for at least five years. Sonos speakers play music simultaneously in multiple rooms.
MoreCyberShack Sonos news and reviews

How CyberShack tests speakers

It aces all tests.

First impression – small and solid

It is a triangle-shaped (Toblerone Bar) 168 x 60 x 60mm x 430g. It sits forward-facing, either horizontally or vertically and projects a mono sound slightly upwards from a carbon fibre Racetrack Mid-Woofer and Tweeter. It is IP67 (1metre for 30-minutes), about drink bottle size, and fits can/cup holders, so take it anywhere. BT 5.0 gives it a multi-point connection.

It is available in Lunar white or Shadow black.

Setup – there is an app for that

Download the Sonos S2 app (Android and iOS). Here are a few salient points

  • Establish a Sonos account  – it works for all Sonos devices
  • Setup detects the speaker and connects it to the 2.4 or 5Ghz. Select 2.4Ghz as it has a longer range and all you need for music streaming
  • Each speaker is allocated to a room and given a name for voice access
  • If you have two identical speakers, you can stereo pair
  • You can set up multi-room with its speakers and soundbars
  • The EQ gives you +/-10dB of Bass and Treble and a loudness setting. We found the bass just a little strong and backed off by 3dB.
  • Trueplay room tuning is automatic (for speakers with mics)
  • It can link to Sonos Radio, Spotify, Apple Music and hundreds of streaming services – more than most.
  • Compression is automatic, or you can set it to uncompressed for higher-res music.

Battery and Charging

It has an 18W, 10-hour battery (at 50% volume) and our multiple tests give it between 7-9 hours at 75% or higher volume.

The recommended charger is 5V/2A (USB-A to USB-C cable supplied), and it takes about 3.5 hours. Using a UCB-C PD 5V/3A or higher charger takes a little less. . it can also run off a USB-C power bank.

Sonos has been enormously clever in allowing it to use 5-15W Qi chargers. It also has an optional 5V/2A/10W Qi base at $79. We have not tested this but expect it will take 6 hours or more.

The Sonos Roam can play while charging, and voice assistance requires it to run on power all the time. If left on standby (10 minutes before sleep), it will run down in 10-days. A power button press turns it off.

Sonos service agents can replace the battery, so it is a keeper

Volume/Sound

It is a mono speaker with one tweeter and one woofer powered by two Class-H digital amps. Now Class H amps are rather special (compared to the usual Class-D amps in 99% of BT speakers) that, while more expensive, offers a better dynamic range and lower power use.

The maximum volume is about 80dB with minimal distortion, whether sourced from Spotify over Wi-Fi or BT.

It has a neutral sound signature (neither adds nor subtracts from the source content), rare for an IP67 sealed device. Mid-bass builds steadily from 50-100Hz, and it is then flat (good) to 15kHz and then drops gradually off.

It has plenty of dynamic range, so the App EQ can make a difference. We got a warm and sweet, so prized for music and movies. It can also do clear vocal (1-4kHz) and bright vocal for vocals and string instruments.

Auto Trueplay also adjusts the speaker to each room after moving it.

Sonos Wi-Fi

The Sonos Roam works on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 (N) networks. The main difference is that the 2.4Ghz has a more extended range – out to 30 metres. We tested to 90 metres line-of-sight, admittedly with one of the world’s fastest Netgear Nighthawk AX11000 RAX200 tri-band routers.

We also tested with a Mesh router setup and had no problems. But we stress that if you use any smart home Wi-Fi devices, you need a top-end router.

With Wi-Fi and the Sonos S2 app, you can wirelessly stream directly from a vast range of services, including directly from your iOS device with AirPlay 2 or BT pair directly to your mobile device.

You can group Roam with other Sonos speakers for a multi-room experience. You can also stereo pair them when connected to Wi-Fi. The only thing you can’t do is use them as rear speakers with Sonos soundbars.

‘Sound Swap’ detects which room you are in and ‘moves your music’ to the closest speaker at the press of a button.

And BT automatically connects to BT sources.

Voice Assistant – Google Assistant or Alexa

We tested with Google Assistant – link the Sonos S2 app to Google Home. Once done, it behaves just like any other voice speaker. The far-field mics are good to about five metres.

CyberShack’s view – Sonos Roam is the best BT/Wi-Fi portable speaker to date

There are heaps at far lower costs if you just want a BT speaker. You don’t need the intelligence Sonos provides.

If you want an intelligent voice assistant speaker (Wi-Fi and BT), Sonos quality and the Sonos ecosystem are unique, and you get an awful lot for the money. We recommend you explore the Sonos ecosystem – you won’t regret it.

Part of that is Sonos Radio and access to hundreds of music content streams in its app. Sonos hope its relatively low price will encourage more to enter its ‘tent’. I can say that both my wife and I love the Sonos sound signature, and its multi-room system is hard to beat.

Sonos Roam

$299
9

Features

9.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Superb sound for an IP67 portable waterproof speaker
  • Neutral sound signature gives the dynamic range to use an EQ properly
  • Terrific 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi range
  • USB-C, Power bank and Qi charge
  • Can join the Sonos ecosystem and is voice-enabled

Cons

  • None really


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