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Sonos Roam Review | The Portable Speaker That Packs A Punch

Including the key features, functions, pros and cons of this high-end waterproof portable speaker from Sonos.

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here's our process.

The Sonos Roam is Sonos’ waterproof, portable Bluetooth smart speaker. It’s designed to be something you can easily carry everywhere, whether that’s around your home, in your backyard, or outdoors such as at the park, or for road trips and camping.

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As it’s rated as waterproof, you can also use it in and around water, so it’s also a top choice for high-end sound if you want a shower speaker or to take it places where it may get wet or dusty.

In this Sonos Roam review, I explain the key features and the pros and cons of this small portable speaker. I’ll also share how we’ve been using it for our on-the-go lifestyle, and provide a comparison between the Roam and the Sonos Move, the company’s other more powerful portable Wifi and Bluetooth-enabled speaker.


Sonos Roam Review – Table of Contents


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Key features

On first look, this is a well-designed, good-looking speaker, consistent with other speakers in the Sonos range. We also own a Sonos Move, and the full Immersive Set with Arc for our TV media system, which by the way is insanely awesome!

The Sonos Roam’s shape is more unusual than most – a rounded triangular shape – that allows you to stand it up on end (to take up a small amount of space) as well as lie it down on its side, for greater stability. It has four small silicone feet on one of the sides so it’s really stable when lying down.

I really like how it looks on its side (see below), and the sound somehow feels richer when used this way too – that could just be me, though.

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This Sonos waterproof speaker is relatively lightweight compared to other similar quality speaker devices, at less than 1lb (0.95lb) – and you really notice this when carrying it around with you, whether that’s into your backyard, or on a trail.

Size

It’s not quite pocket-sized, in that it would look a bit funny bulging out (oooh err, Matron!) but the portable speaker can easily be picked up with one hand, and the triangular shape helps you feel confident that you have a good grip on it. This smart design should reduce the risk of it being dropped while you’re moving it around.

The Roam’s dimensions are:

  • Height: 6.61 in (168 mm)
  • Width: 2.44 in (62 mm)
  • Depth: 2.36 in (60 mm)

Sonos Roam Color options

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The Sonos Roam, shown in my hand for size reference

You can buy this Sonos Bluetooth speaker in either matte white or matte black. I personally really like Sonos speakers in white – so this Roam matches our Sonos Move, Arc, Sub, and One SL speakers, which collectively make up our home entertainment sound system.

Connection and wireless audio streaming

Once you have used the Sonos app to set up your speaker to connect with your other devices on Bluetooth, as well as your Wifi network, then you’re ready to stream music or other audio.

The most popular methods of streaming are to play music directly from your smartphone (including Apple and Samsung), tablet, or computer using the Wifi network, or via Bluetooth.

Wifi will usually be the best option for consistent signal and sound quality when your device and speaker are both connected to your Wifi network. This is also how you can sync multiple Sonos speaks with one another so that you can have the same music playing throughout your home, and backyard – we do this when we have guests over.

Bluetooth is used to stream music from your device when you’re out of range of your Wifi network, i.e. away from home.

There are several ways you can stream music to play on your Bluetooth speaker. You can use the Sonos App, or other music player apps such as Apple Music, or Spotify to give you the option of what speakers on your Wifi network you want to play the music on.

Spotify now allows multiple people to control the Sonos speakers as and when they want to take over control of the music playlist – this happens a lot in this household, haha.

With all my Sonos speakers, I’ve found that on occasion (it happens far less nowadays) Spotify doesn’t always connect when you want to cast music to the Sonos speakers, but if that happens I can pick up the connection reliably by instead opening and using the Sonos app.

You can also connect the speaker directly to your phone (or tablet/laptop) when away from home, and play music on the speaker that way.

The speaker automatically connects to your Wifi, and when you leave the house (and go out of range of the wifi), it connects to your phone, laptop, or tablet using Bluetooth.

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The microphone light and button, and music play/pause and volume buttons are on the top of the Roam (or side, if it’s lying down).

The Sonos Roam has several buttons, including power on/off, a microphone button (which you can mute), play/pause, and volume/track skip forward and back. As this is a personal-sized speaker you’re likely to have sitting near you, then you’ll likely find you use the buttons a lot, rather than needing to use your phone.

The Sonos Roam is also a voice-enabled smart device, so you can use it hands-free with voice control using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Although I generally prefer to change tracks and volume using the app, or directly on the speaker using its buttons, I also find the voice control to be pretty responsive, it picks up your words quickly (e.g. ‘OK Google’).

It’s worth noting that if you don’t feel the need for voice control features, in early 2022 Sonos also introduced a new version of the Roam, the Sonos Roam SL. This speaker is the same except it does not have a microphone (so no voice control… or listening in by Alexa or Google), and is $20 less expensive.

Waterproof features

The Roam is a dustproof and waterproof speaker rated to IP67, meaning it is suitable for using outside and taking to places where it can get wet. It can be submerged in up to one meter (around 3ft) of water for up to 30 minutes, although I haven’t directly tested that!

In reality, this is to prevent it from being ruined if you did drop or knock it into a body of water (like a pool) or use it in wet conditions, as opposed to the speaker being designed for use underwater.

I know many people also buy Sonos Roam speakers with the intention of using them in the shower, so it’s a great choice if that’s your thing 😉

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The Sonos Roam is described by the company as being drop-resistant, which provides some reassurance that it would survive a fall if knocked off a table onto a hard floor.

The speaker isn’t equipped with chunky rubber or silicone bumpers, so I am curious about this but not curious enough to test it. I do have my doubts that it would come away from a drop unscathed (although hopefully, it would only be cosmetic rather than functional damage).

As someone who likes to take good care of my gadgets, I am therefore still pretty careful about where I place my Sonos Roam speaker and put it in a soft case for transporting in a bag. This may not be necessary but when something costs this much and is such a pleasure to use, I like to do whatever I can to prolong its life and good looks!

If you want to be less cautious with your speaker then you may prefer to go with a cheaper option (especially if you’re less fussed about sound quality), to avoid any heartbreak resulting from damaging something that costs $179 to buy.


The Sonos Roam’s sound quality

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The sound quality of this portable Sonos speaker is very clear and crisp, even at higher volumes. It doesn’t generate the booming or distortion levels that other speakers can when turned up, even for those banging dance tunes I like to play when I’m working!

The Roam also offers what Sonos calls ‘Automatic Trueplay’. This means that it adapts the sound for your surroundings, the audio content (the type of music, radio, audiobook, or podcast you’re playing), and the orientation of the speaker.

This contributes to the crisp audio quality you get both indoors and outside. To have Trueplay work automatically, you need to make sure the microphone is always on.

Where it is not going to compete with beefier speakers such as the Sonos Move is when it comes to the overall volume and depth of the bass (see below for other differences between the Roam and Move Sonos portable speakers).

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One of the great things about having more than one Sonos speaker in your house is that when listening on Wifi, you can pair one or more Sonos speakers to provide sound throughout the house, or simply some stereo sound within one room.

For example, I can play music on both my Sonos Roam and Sonos Move – this provides really immersive surround sound unlike anything I’ve experienced on other systems.

If I had two Roams, I could pair them together for a more compact (and cost-effective) setup. I can also playback music on my ‘living room’ entertainment system (which consists of the Sonos Arc and wireless Sub, plus 2x Sonos One SL speakers) at the same time as my Roam and/or Move!

All of these configurations can easily be selected using the Sonos app without any painful pairing or syncing of speakers.


Sonos Roam battery life and charging

When it comes to battery life, the advertised duration of playback you’ll get from one charge is around 10 hours based on playing audio at 50% volume while streaming on Wifi (as opposed to Bluetooth).

You can also play music on it while it is plugged in, so if you need a longer playback time than 10 hours, that’s not an issue assuming you can plug it in.

If you plan to use it outdoors for longer than 10 hours without a mains power supply then you could always look at getting a portable power station such as an Ecoflow that can charge the speaker as well as run many other gadgets – it’s such a great camping gadget to have.

LEARN MORE: Read our ‘Best Portable Power Stations‘ Buyer’s Guide next.

When you’re not using the speaker, it switches to a battery-saver mode to conserve power and can last up to 10 days in this mode. If I’m not going to use the speaker for a while and want better battery preservation then instead, I just turn it off (by pressing and holding the power button on the back).

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The Sonos Roam’s power button and USB-C port (for charging) are located on the back.

For charging, the Sonos Roam comes with an angled USB-C charging cable, but no power adaptor.

If you prefer not to charge it using a USB outlet (on a computer or modern outlet) then you can either buy the Sonos Roam charging power adaptor ($19) or use a power adaptor that you may already own for another device. If the latter, ensure it’s capable of powering up to 7.5w, rather than the smaller phone power adaptors (such as the small white iPhone ones) as they are only capable of charging up to 5w and won’t be powerful enough for charging the Roam.

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Sonos Roam magnetic wireless charger

You can also separately buy a magnetic wireless charger ($49) that charges the speaker when you place it on top of the charging pad and includes the power adaptor mentioned above, giving you a couple of options for charging.

When it’s plugged in and charging, the Roam shows a solid orange light. To get charged up from low to around 50% battery, it takes around an hour (this takes a bit longer if you charge it using a wireless charging pad).

To learn what the various lights and flashes mean on the Sonos Roam and the other Sonos portable speakers, this page has an explanation for each one.


Sonos Roam vs Move

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The Roam is significantly smaller and lighter than the Sonos Move. This makes it a much more portable option for taking places outside of your house, as well as just carrying between rooms in your house.

Because of the weight and larger size of the Sonos Move, we generally don’t move it around the house on a daily basis, whereas the Roam fits in one hand or a large pocket so you can easily take it out into your backyard or to the park without it taking up half a backpack.

That being said, you can buy a special travel case for making carrying the Move around easier, especially if you’d find yourself wanting to take it out of the house regularly.

While the Sonos Roam is a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, the Move has a lesser rating – it’s classed as being water-resistant.

The Sonos Move does, however, offer deep bass and a really huge sound for such a small speaker. It also comes with a wireless charging base with a 110v power adaptor.

For entertaining at parties, BBQs and larger gatherings, you’d probably be better off with the Sonos Move for the oomph and added fullness you get from a much larger speaker than the ultra-compact Roam – you can only expect so much from an almost pocket-sized sound system.


Cost and where to buy

The Sonos Roam costs $179 at sonos.com, making it the least expensive Sonos portable speaker – wheras the Move is $399 at sonos.com. For this price you get a high-end, waterproof portable speaker that you can use pretty much anywhere you’d want.

While it’s not the cheapest portable speaker on the market, it’s not trying to be – this is a quality gadget for discerning music lovers who care about great sound quality in a compact, go-anywhere package.


Sonos Roam review summary

Sonos Roam Review
Sonos Roam Review
Design & Function
9.5
Durability
8
Performance
9.5
PROS
Truly portable, easy to carry or stuff in a backpack
Crisp, clear sound quality
Quality, good-looking and well made speaker
Dust and waterproof, ideal for using outside, camping and even in the shower
Connectivity with other Sonos products
Choice of button, phone or voice controls
CONS
More expensive than other portable bluetooth speakers
Although stated as drop-resistant, it is not particularly rugged
The voice control capability can run down the battery - it's best to turn it off or mute the mic if you ever need to conserve battery
Power adaptor plug is sold separately (it does come with a USB-C charger however).
9
Overall Score

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