Sonos Roam review: a pint-sized powerhouse

Whether you’re picnicking in the park or barbecuing in the backyard, a great portable speaker is the perfect way to set the mood.

A speaker that’s small enough to slip into your bag is very handy, as we enjoy the last of the gorgeous Autumn weather. Be warned though; some pint-size portable speakers are cheap and nasty, so it pays to hold a few auditions.

The Sonos Roam can stand vertically or lay flat, is protected against the elements and sounds great.

The Sonos Roam can stand vertically or lay flat, is protected against the elements and sounds great.

Sonos is known for its fantastic housebound wireless speakers which can rock your world by playing music in sync throughout your home. Now it’s targeting people who want music on the go with the new Sonos Roam.

Technically, last year’s amazing Sonos Move was Sonos’ first “portable” speaker, but that’s a bit of a stretch considering it tips the scales at 3kg and costs a hefty $649. Meanwhile, the new Roam is a lot more budget- and travel-friendly at $279 and 430g; roughly the bulk of a bottle of water.

You’re still paying a premium compared to similar-sized rival Bluetooth portable speakers but, if you have an ear for quality, the Roam is a winner.

Along with connecting to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth 5.0, the Roam can also connect to your Wi-Fi network. This means when you’re at home you can stream music via apps or AirPlay 2, with a noticeable improvement in sound quality compared to Bluetooth. On Wi-Fi, you can create a stereo pair with a second Roam and even play music in sync with other Sonos speakers.

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Even via Bluetooth, the Roam punches above its weight thanks to impressive bass which pumps out full-bodied sound but isn’t overpowering. It also puts out a surprisingly wide soundstage, so it doesn’t sound like the music is coming from one tiny spot in the corner of the room.

Considering its size, the Roam excels when it comes to fat basslines and gut-punching drum solos. It holds its own in the mid-range and high-end, but the overall sound is understandably not quite as rich as its Sonos brethren.

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