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Sonos Roam Review

This speaker delivers lush sounds in a compact size, is exceptionally portable, charges on a wireless pad, and integrates with other Sonos speakers seamlessly
Sonos Roam
Credit: Sonos
Top Pick Award
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Price:   $169 List
Pros:  Great audio quality, wireless charging, compact size, integrates with Sonos home systems
Cons:  Poor battery life
Manufacturer:   Sonos
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Jul 15, 2021
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Sound Quality - 40% 9
  • Portability - 25% 7
  • Volume - 20% 8
  • Battery Life - 15% 5

Our Verdict

Sonos has created a great speaker ecosystem connecting multiple speakers and devices throughout a home, and the Roam is capable of busting out on its own great sound or integrating with the home system. On its own, it's one of the best sounding small portable speakers, great for BBQs and picnics, and durable enough for the beach. Its 10 hours of battery life is much less than its competition, but still sufficient for most uses. Charging this model is a breeze since it's one of the very few portable Bluetooth speakers that utilize wireless charging. For folks all-aboard the Sonos system or swapping over to a wireless charging lifestyle, this is a worthy addition to the collection.

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Sonos Roam
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Price $169 List$120 List
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Pros Great audio quality, wireless charging, compact size, integrates with Sonos home systemsGood sound quality, waterproof, long battery lifeSuper-portable, waterproof, great battery lifeLoud, compact, durablePortable, great battery life, inexpensive
Cons Poor battery lifeNot the strongest sounding bassSound quality diminishes significantly at higher volumesDistortion at higher volume, not the longest battery lifeSub-par sound quality
Bottom Line This speaker delivers lush sounds in a compact size, is exceptionally portable, charges on a wireless pad, and integrates with other Sonos speakers seamlesslyAn affordable balance for those that want good sound quality and portability but don't want to pay a premium price for the absolute bestThis mega-portable, waterproof, and durable speaker is perfectly at home on hikes, bike rides, out on the lake, or in the showerThis durable little speaker packs plenty of volume into a waterproof packageA much less expensive, but still enjoyable, portable speaker option for those sticking to a tight budget
Rating Categories Sonos Roam JBL Flip 5 JBL Clip 4 Ultimate Ears Wonde... Anker Soundcore 3
Sound Quality (40%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Portability (25%)
7.0
7.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
Volume (20%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Battery Life (15%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Sonos Roam JBL Flip 5 JBL Clip 4 Ultimate Ears Wonde... Anker Soundcore 3
Dimensions (in x in x in) 6.61" x 2.44" x 2.36" 3.64" x 3.6" x 8.5" 1.8" x 3.4" x 5.3" 3.68" x 3.68" x 4.02" 6.9" x 2.4" x 2.2"
Inputs and Charging Ports USB-C port, wireless Qi charging Micro USB port USB-C port Micro USB port USB-C port
IP Rating IP67 IPX7 IP67 IP67 IPX7
Reported Weight (ounces) 15.20 oz 19.04 oz 8.48 oz 15.04 oz 13.12 oz
Measured Weight 15.2 oz 19 oz 8.13 oz 14.9 oz 17.8 oz
Wireless Range (feet) Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed 100 66
Reported Battery Life (hours) 10 12 10 13 24
Measured Battery Life (hours) 10.25 27 27 13 16.75

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Roam is optimally connected, utilizing Bluetooth and Wifi to transition from a network of Sonos speakers in your home to a stand-alone unit paired with only your phone. It charges wirelessly on a wireless charging pad (purchased at an additional charge, or you can use an aftermarket wireless charging pad). When it's time to leave the nest, the Roam is prepared with IP67 waterproof capabilities (30 minutes submerged to 3 feet) and a feature called "Trueplay" that uses internal microphones to automatically fine-tune speaker settings based on your surroundings. Bring it back home and the speaker will connect back to your Wifi and re-integrate with the other Sonos speakers in your home. The Roam also has full support for Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Performance Comparison


This model sounds great, especially for its small size. The durable...
This model sounds great, especially for its small size. The durable silicone end caps prevent it from getting too beat up when you're on the go.
Credit: Jason Peters

Sound Quality


Like the Roam's larger brethren, it's well-engineered and projects a balanced sound where (unlike some of the competition) the bass is tight and clear, without overwhelming the mids or highs. Acoustic guitars sound rich and clear, with fret noises and other quiet flourishes sounding as nuanced and detailed as full-on bluegrass chopping. Highs are well-represented here, are crisp and clear, not thin or tinny like other small speakers.


The Roam sounds great even before you consider its diminutive stature. Listening while looking at this little speaker ups our amazement considerably.

For those on the Sonos bandwagon, you can grab your speaker while...
For those on the Sonos bandwagon, you can grab your speaker while it's working as part of your home system and carry it out to the pool or hop on your bike without missing a beat.
Credit: Laura Casner

Portability


This speaker is small and very portable, weighing 15.2oz, less than half the weight of its closest competitor in sound quality. It measures 6.61" x 2.44" x 2.36", taking up roughly the same amount of space as a tallboy in a backpack. We wouldn't hesitate to bring it on day hiking or biking adventures, and its IP67 assures us that it can survive a brief submersion up to three feet. If it does get wet, Sonos even recommends blasting some tunes to assist with draining the speaker.


Sonos also says the Roam is impact resistant, though there are no specified impact ratings. After weeks of use during the testing period, we didn't find any wear or tear on this speaker.

The Roam speaker has amazing audio quality and ample volume for its...
The Roam speaker has amazing audio quality and ample volume for its size; it takes up about as much space as a pint glass.
Credit: Jason Peters

Volume


We measured a maximum volume of 86.6 decibels from the distance of a meter. The Roam can blast out the beats with the best of them. What distinguishes this speaker from much of the competition is how well it handles high volume without an overall degradation of sound quality. Many small speakers start to break up once they're running hot, with bass becoming rattle-y or boomy, and overwhelming other frequencies. The Roam sounds almost as good at the upper end of its volume capabilities as it does at 50% of max volume.


Battery Life


The definitive weakest aspect of the Sonos Roam is its short 10 hour battery life. Our independent testing shows that it does operate to the manufacturers stated 10 hours (even exceeding it by a few minutes) but 10 hours isn't very long, considering some of the competition can go over 30 hours between charges. 10 hours is plenty for a day out or two afternoons away from the charger, but if you often go off the grid for a few days, you'll need a speaker with longer battery life or have some way to charge the Roam.


When it is time to charge, the Roam draws power quickly via a USB-C cable and it also works on Qi-certified wireless chargers, so you merely need to set it down for a few hours before you're ready to go again. At the time of testing, this was the only model we tested that can be charged with a wireless charging pad. We expect other models to eventually follow suit, but the Roam stands at the forefront in this aspect.

You can charge this speaker with a USB-C cable to about 50% in about...
You can charge this speaker with a USB-C cable to about 50% in about an hour, however, its overall battery life is relatively short at 10 hours. Not shown here, but this model also charges on any Qi-certified wireless charger.
Credit: Jason Peters

Value


This speaker is less expensive than its closest competitors, but its true value is most apparent when integrated into an existing Sonos speaker system. If you're on a tight budget and don't have a Sonos system, there are other options that are just as loud, sound decent, and cost a lot less.

An IP67 waterproof rating ensures this speaker will be at home in...
An IP67 waterproof rating ensures this speaker will be at home in the shower or at the beach.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


For those converting their portable electronics to wireless charging models, the Sonos Roam is an obvious choice. Further, for fans of the Sonos speakers, the Roam should be a no-brainer for a top choice portable speaker, as they can enjoy portability and and more mids and highs to their existing home system. Everyone else should still give this speaker a close look, as it has an excellent balance of portability and sound quality.

Michelle Powell and Matt Bento