REVIEW Sonos Roam: super compact, WITH ALEXA, spectacular sound and three TOP FUNCTIONS

Imagine a Sonos Move, now make it significantly smaller and lighter, improve the software by optimizing the automatic True Play and introducing new features. And then, bet everything on this gamble. Because, in a nutshell, this is what one of the most famous US companies in the audio world did by introducing the new Sonos roam, a portable smart speaker (compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa), which can be used both with Bluetooth and via WiFi, and which was probably presented at the time least suitable for the sale of speakers designed for travel and mobility. The name, "Roam", means wandering, but it is clear that today, thinking of being able to do so is still a gamble.

But, fortunately, as well as all the other products of the company also the Sonos roam it integrates with all of itself into the audio ecosystem of the brand. And it does so with a price that is practically halved compared to what it takes to buy its bigger brother. It will cost 179,00 €, will be available from 20 April and yes, it is a very high-end price that could make life even more difficult for the American baby. But hey, especially in the audio sector, you pay for quality, and the Roam it has earned the title of the cheapest speaker among those produced by Sonos.

Sonos Roam Review

Design and materials

Sonos roam it is a triangular-based prism, with rounded corners and the design heritage of all the company's products. At first glance you will notice a certain similarity with the Sonos Move and the Sonos arc, but its features make it an extremely compact and portable product than its older brother: just think that Sonos Move is a portable smart speaker that weighs 3 kg, while Roam weighs around 430 grams and has dimensions of 168 x 62 x 60 mm. In short, it is very compact and portable. Which, initially, made me fear about the real sound quality (and battery life), characteristics that - especially in the audio sector - they generally clash with portability.

It can be used both horizontally and vertically, on the two rubber bases, it is very stable in any orientation it will be positioned and in addition to the input for the USB-C charging cable, it is also compatible with the Qi wireless charging: the base, however, will be purchased separately (and costs a good 49 euros), but fortunately it can be recharged with any other wireless base.

On one of the rubber bases there are the buttons for the playback control, for the volume management and for the deactivation of the microphone, which can be used both to speak hands-free (if connected to the smartphone via Bluetooth) and for the management of digital assistants.

Finally, it will be available in two colors, Lunar White e Shadow Black: the one we received in test is the clearest, in my opinion aesthetically more beautiful than the black one but very subject to fingerprints and dirt. And it is mainly for this reason that I was very disappointed to see that those of Sonos have not included in package a case or at least a bag for transport because, come on, it is a device made mainly to be carried around, and having such protection (especially when you have the white color) is a convenience that you must not give up.

In any case, the IP67 certification makes it resistant to water (even for immersions up to 1 meter deep for a maximum of 30 minutes) and to dust, including sand. And since I hate the dirt that accumulates on the white color, I admit I washed it under running water without losing functionality and audio quality in any way.

App and features

As well as the Sonos Arc, Sonos Move, Sonos Beam etc, too Sonos roam is able to manage both Google Assistant and Alexa, but not at the same time: you will need to choose the digital assistant you want via the management app called Sonos S2.

Those familiar with Sonos systems will know that the new version of the speaker management application has been totally revised, both in terms of the graphical interface and the immediacy of use. Some of the most annoying problems of the first version have been fixed but, above all, the support for high definition audio formats, together with a faster search in the various streaming services and a practically immediate response in the management of the speakers (the volume control, for example, is zero lag), is not bad at all. And in addition to Google Assistant and Alexa, Sonos Move It is also compatible with Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal and many other online streaming services which, among other things, can also be controlled by voice and completely independently of your smartphone.

Also through the Sonos S2 app (or simply using voice commands) you can also listen to one of the many stations of Sonos radio, a streaming service of the company in which thousands of stations from sources already used in the past converge (there are over 60.000) which have, however, been reorganized and enriched with local international broadcasters, with thematic channels divided by genre and with stations curated by internationally renowned musicians and DJs. All in high resolution. And if you like the genre, I suggest you listen to "Blues Masters" which has become, in fact, one of my favorite radio stations.

And so far, anyone familiar with the Sonos ecosystem would say “nothing new”. But the Roam introduces two novelties that totally explain its essence. Basically, when you are at home, the Roam it is in effect a speaker of the Sonos ecosystem: it connects via WiFi (both 2.4 and 5 Ghz) and can be integrated into the company's wireless multi-room system. However, it has one more gem, which is called Sound swap: if you are listening to music on a “fixed” Sonos system, press and hold the play button on for two seconds Roam, the portable speaker "would capture the music being played" and continue to play it on the go, all in less than a second and with a continuity that is almost frightening.

Leaving the house, then, the Sonos roam would realize the "remoteness" from the home WiFi network and it would automatically activate Bluetooth, to be used in while on the go. And it does not end there: finally, back home, always holding the Play button on for two seconds Roam, the system would disable audio playback on the portable speaker to continue playing it on the Sonos home speaker closer to the Roam.

It is a system that it works perfectly and that, even if for many it might seem almost superfluous, gives the whole Sonos ecosystem that continuity in use that consecrates it as one of the best ecosystems on the market. In conclusion, Roam contains 100% of Sonos' DNA, but not everyone will be clear about the differences with a more traditional Bluetooth speaker.

Audio quality

When I anticipated that the compact size of the Sonos roam they would affect the overall quality of the audio, I wasn't wrong. The sound played by the little one of the family has poco to do with the incredible body that can be found in a One, a Move and a Five. But considering the extremely compact dimensions, one cannot but admit that those of Sonos a small miracle they did it: proportionally to the size, the Sonos roam is among the best super compact speakers around.

within the Sonos roam there are a tweeter and a mid-woofer bi-amplified and made of carbon fiber which, obviously, cannot be defined as generous in size and able to reproduce a full-bodied sound like the largest speakers. From the conformation, then, it is easy to guess that it is a directional speaker, but it can also be used in stereo configuration by associating two Roam.

The reality of the facts is that if a Move and a Roam, the smallest would play much worse, precisely because of its more compact size. But comparing it with any other speaker of the same size (for example a Bose), even the less experienced would realize that the audio quality of the Sonos roam it's definitely to another level. And it's not for everyone to continue to guarantee crystal-clear, full-bodied audio fidelity at such a small size, which happens with the little Son of Sonos.

I must admit, however, that the body and the perfect balance of frequencies are much more enjoyable at medium volume levels: by raising the volume to the maximum, the equalization is totally upset (probably to preserve the drivers) and the amount of high and low frequencies is significantly reduced in favor of the mids. As far as I'm concerned, I would never use the Roam at maximum volumes, both for a question due to energy consumption, and for the fact that with the volume at maximum the reproduction quality falls below the standard (very high, it is true) of the company.

Auto TruePlay

Basically the concept is this: the Sonos Roam fixes itself, adapting to the environment in which it is used. And it does so by exploiting not only the microphones, which are also managed for voice control, but also using a integrated accelerometer in the speaker itself that detects any movements of the speaker and automatically starts the optimization process: when the movement stops for at least 20 seconds, the internal processor analyzes the audio signal detected by the microphones, processes an optimization calculated on the basis of sound reflections and passes the ball to the internal DSP that corrects the audio output to balance and equalize the sound bands.

It seems a very complicated thing, but in reality it is a process so integrated into the device that the user would not even realize it if not for the tangible improvement in the quality of audio reproduction, but beware: disabling the microphones AutoTruePlay will not work.

Battery Life - Sonos Roam

Sonos guarantees an autonomy of about 10 hours with a single charge of the Roam. And I must admit that, in principle, the results I obtained in my tests were, after all, in line with what the brand declared. The reality, however, is that - especially in this speaker - this is an extremely dependent factor on the type of use: activating Google Assistant, for example, I noticed a full-bodied battery drain in standby, which I felt was less present with Alexa.

It should also be considered that, in general terms, consumption using the Roam in WiFi are significantly greater than those that would be used via Bluetooth and that the wireless multi-room function has a considerable weight on battery management.

Selling price and conclusions

Il Sonos roam will be available in Italy at the introductory price of 179,00 € starting from the next 20th April. And yes, just like all the other products of the company, even the small one Roam is a very high-end device, and should be evaluated as such. This is a device that will compete directly with, for example, the SoundLink II Mini by Bose (which currently has a street price of around 180 euros), but which is significantly lower than Sonos in terms of quality. And not only in terms of audio quality, which on the Roam I found much more balanced at medium / high volumes, but also in terms of advanced features and general dynamism.

Her integration with the Sonos ecosystem and sound quality are probably the main reasons why a person who is already a user of the company will prefer it over any other portable speaker, but it could be the right opportunity to approach the brand even for anyone who has never used a product of the US brand.

È the best compact portable WiFi bluetooth speaker on the market, there is poco to do. But it's not perfect: personally I would have preferred a more balanced management of frequencies at maximum volume and that those of Sonos had thought of including a bag or a case in the package. for transportation.

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