Sonos Roam: Finally, A Real Portable Sonos Speaker

We all know Sonos as those guys that make those home speakers and soundbars. And they make them really, really good. If you want to hit the road with the same quality audio you have at home, though, you’re out of luck, as the outfit’s never really had a portable speaker. At least, that was the case until they introduced the Sonos Roam.

We know, Sonos has that Move model that has an onboard battery. If you’re familiar with that, though, you also know that it’s way too big to be portable, making it a good option for a speaker you can take from one room of your home to another, but not for stashing in a backpack and playing music on the go. This one, however, is sized exactly for portable use.

The Sonos Roam is a compact Bluetooth speaker that measures 6.6 x 2.4 inches (length x diameter), around the same size as a water bottle, making it small enough to stash in a backpack pouch, the glove compartment, or a small corner of any bag.  It has a three-sided curved enclosure that houses one tweeter delivering the high frequencies, a mid-woofer handling the mid-range and low-end frequencies, and two class H digital amplifiers, creating acoustics that, the outfit claims, deliver the kind of “clarity, depth, and fullness you would expect from a much larger speaker.” The outfit’s Trueplay tuning is also onboard, automatically adapting the onboard acoustics to both the music and the surroundings, so you get detailed and balanced sound at all times.

A rugged build allows it to resist the usual drops and impact it will experience on the go, while an IP67 rating allows it to keep out dust and water, complete with surviving immersion in three feet of water for up to 30 minute stretches. It has an 18Wh rechargeable battery that’s rated for up to 10 hours of playback between charges, which should be enough to let you enjoy music through most of the time you’re spending away from a power outlet.

The Sonos Roam isn’t just a portable speaker you can use on the road, as it works much like any Sonos speaker when you’re using it at home. As such, it comes with Wi-Fi, allowing it to hop into your home network for multi-room audio, music streaming from supported services, and pairing with another speaker for stereo playback, all easily done through the Sonos mobile app. It also gets a far-field microphone array that uses advanced beamforming and multi-channel echo cancellation to pick up voice commands loud and clear, with support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can use it with your favorite intelligent assistant.

Features include physical buttons on one end for tactile playback control, auto-switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi depending on what’s available, and a “Sound Swap” feature that lets you quickly send what’s playing on it to the nearest compatible speaker. It also supports Qi wireless charging, so you don’t have to deal with USB cables if that’s not your thing.

The Sonos Roam comes out on April 20, priced at $169.

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