Sonos Roam Review
Pros: Great audio quality, wireless charging, compact size, integrates with Sonos home systems
Cons: Poor battery life
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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 systems||Good sound quality, waterproof, long battery life||Super-portable, waterproof, great battery life||Loud, compact, durable||Portable, great battery life, inexpensive|
|Cons||Poor battery life||Not the strongest sounding bass||Sound quality diminishes significantly at higher volumes||Distortion at higher volume, not the longest battery life||Sub-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 seamlessly||An affordable balance for those that want good sound quality and portability but don't want to pay a premium price for the absolute best||This mega-portable, waterproof, and durable speaker is perfectly at home on hikes, bike rides, out on the lake, or in the shower||This durable little speaker packs plenty of volume into a waterproof package||A 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%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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