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Sonos Roam could raise the bar for all portable speakers — here’s why

Sonos Roam
(Image credit: Sonos)

In terms of granting wishes, the Sonos Roam might as well have emerged from a magic lamp. The upcoming portable smart speaker looks set to give almost everything we wanted from a Sonos Move successor: smaller dimensions, better waterproofing, upgraded connectivity, a more affordable price and more.

In fact, the Sonos Roam has a good chance of not just being an excellent Move follow-up, but becoming one of the best Bluetooth speakers— maybe even the best one ever. And while that could be partly down to it delivering desired improvements, there are some even bolder additions at play that might just see the Sonos Roam all the way to the top.

Fixing the Move

Sonos Roam

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Move is great — it’s one of the best outdoor speakers you can buy — but weighing nearly 7 pounds, it was never that good at actually moving. The Sonos Roam rectifies this portability issue entirely. It weighs less than a pound and measures a satchel-friendly 6.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches. Finally, we have a Sonos speaker that’s genuinely easy to take out and about, rather than confining it to the backyard or simply shifting between rooms at home.

It’s even smaller than our current favorite Bluetooth speaker, the UE Megaboom 3. And the Roam has that speaker’s flexibility too, as you can position it both sideways and upright. The Move, by contrast, was designed to only sit up straight.

Durability is improved too. An IP67 rating grants the Sonos Roam the full protection from water submersion that the IP56-rated Move always lacked. This is another way that the Roam heads towards the waterproof speaker elite, matching the Megaboom 3’s level of protection.

Most enticing of all is the price. It’s not surprising that a smaller speaker would cost less, but the $169 Roam represents an even bigger saving over the $399 Move than I’d hoped for. It’s still not dirt-cheap but for a brand with Sonos’ audio pedigree, this has the potential to be an outstanding deal.

Yes, battery life would ideally be longer than the Roam’s quoted 10 hours, but unlike the Move you don’t need to manually engage the Roam’s power-saving sleep mode to save juice. Instead, it kicks in automatically when music isn’t playing, so the new model could potentially last up to 10 days between charges.

Multi-room magic

Sonos Roam

(Image credit: Sonos)

On these upgrades alone, the Sonos Roam would likely make a very good Bluetooth speaker. However, it’s the Wi-Fi features that could really make it one of the best of its time.

Seamless integration with existing Sonos multi-room setups will grant the Roam an instant advantage over similar models from UE or JBL, and while that’s a quality shared with the Move, Sonos has developed the Roam’s connectivity smarts even further. The big result is Sound Swap: a new feature that will let you effortlessly transfer playback from the Roam to the nearest Sonos speaker.

Lots of portable speakers can connect to others to create, say, a stereo pair, but the Sonos Roam is the first that so smartly ties interconnectivity into its role as a portable device. So you’ll be able to start a song or playlist while you’re roaming around with the Roam, then switch over to your wired home speakers as soon as you walk in the door.

It’s this kind of forward-thinking feature that, frankly, the wireless speaker market has been lacking recently. The addition of voice assistant support (which, naturally, the Roam also shares) was a big shift several years ago, but by and large speakers that launched in 2020 aren’t all that different to speakers that launched in 2018. It’s time for some new ideas, and with its focus on connectivity, the Sonos Roam at least appears to have them.

Sonos Roam

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Roam’s ultimate success will also depend on some factors we can’t judge yet, like sound quality, the reliability of its crucial wireless connections and how well that battery estimate holds up. But on paper, this is a portable speaker that takes the best parts of existing models and adds its own fresh features, all while keeping the price at a manageable level.

That’s an awfully compelling formula for a quality speaker. But then, it should be — the Sonos Roam is giving us what we’ve asked for all along.

James Archer

As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. His favorite musical genre is rock, despite once claiming the guitar is “too complicated” for humans to play. He plays bass instead.