Audio | March 10, 2021 5:09 am

The New Sonos Speaker Aims to Be “Ultra Portable”

Roam is affordable and lightweight, two firsts for the premium audio brand

Sonos Roam
The new Sonos Roam weighs just 15 oz.
Sonos

Now that we can look forward to getting out and about (fingers crossed), we don’t know necessarily want to leave our Sonos home audio setup behind. Thankfully, the brand seems to have pictured a day where we’d be on the go: They’ve just announced Roam, an extremely lightweight new speaker built for travel.

“As the world starts to open back up, we’re gonna want to bring our music with us,” as Sonos CEO Patrick Spence noted in a virtual presentation earlier this week.

This isn’t the first “portable” device Sonos has built. We reviewed their Move speaker late in 2019, calling it hefty and pricey, while lauding its sound and durability. It seemed like the sound system you’d bring to tailgates or lug out to your backyard, which the emphasis on “lug.”

The names of the products here are interesting bellwethers: “Move” suggests effort, like you’re moving apartments. “Roam” expresses something more positive and less weighted down. Not surprisingly, the Move is 6.6 lbs. while the ultra-portable (and smart) Roam is 0.95 lbs. Plus, as Sonos designer Aki Laine notes, “It’s smaller than a water bottle and it just feels like a grab-and-go speaker.”

Sonos Roam
The two versions of the Sonos Roam
Sonos

Besides its small imprint, Roam’s big selling point is how easily it supposedly switches between Wifi and your phone’s Bluetooth, so you don’t have to think about re-pairing the speaker when you take it out of the house. And it’ll pair with your existing Sonos system like any other speaker from the brand.

Some other key attributes:

  • The battery lasts 10 hours at a time, and when not in use the unit will stayed charged for up to 10 days.
  • To power up, you can either recharge using an included USB-C cable, buy a Sonos magnetic wireless charging base ($49) or utilize any Qi-certified wireless charger.
  • Roam has an IP67 rating, meaning it’s both water- and dust-proof.
  • The three-sided design was intentional: The system works fine either horizontally or vertically.
  • If you have Sonos speakers at home, you should be used to this feature: Automatic Trueplay, which uses spatial awareness to “smartly adjust the sound for the speaker’s orientation, location and content playing on Wifi and Bluetooth.”
  • If you hold the play/pause button, you can “swap” sound to or from your nearest Sonos speaker.

Most importantly, Roam is really cheap compared to other Sonos gear (that Move speaker was a whopping $399!) and comparable to other portable speakers; the device is $169, which is the higher end but a decent price for a good Bluetooth system that you can fit in your hand.

Unlike their portable competitors, Sonos isn’t offering a colorful unit — you get your choice of white or black — so any impression you make with Roam will be about the sound and its ease of use.

You can pre-order the Roam starting today; it officially goes on sale on April 20th.

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