Despite its (relatively) modest price, you get a lot of bang for your buck here. The Sonos Roam has a sleek appearance that won't seem out of place in your house, and its durable, waterproof, and dustproof construction, as well as a reasonable battery life, make it perfect for listening to music outside. It also has Google Assistant / Alexa integration, allowing you to operate it with only your voice and use it to control your other smart devices.

If the notion of a Bluetooth speaker with built-in microphones makes you uncomfortable, Sonos has recently introduced a version of the Roam without them. The Sonos Roam SL is also slightly cheaper, comparable to the Sonos One and Sonos One SL speakers.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam comes with a slew of fascinating capabilities to make the shift from indoors to outside as easy as possible. Sound Swap is the first of these new functions; simply press and hold the play button, and the Sonos Roam will 'throw' your audio to the nearest other Sonos speaker accessible.

Another feature, Automatic Switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Connections, allows you to come inside your home and the Sonos Roam will automatically connect to your Wi-Fi after being connected with your Bluetooth device. You won't have to set it up or reconnect manually. Finally, the Auto TruePlay function, which was initially introduced with the Sonos Move, has been improved here, allowing the Roam to automatically adapt its soundscape to your surroundings, whether you're connected through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Of course, none of these flashy features would be worth anything if the Sonos Roam didn't sound great – and we're happy to report that, despite its diminutive size, the Roam delivers a powerful sonic performance, complete with surprisingly prominent bass, even if it lacks the rhythmic accuracy you'd expect from an audiophile speaker. If you consider yourself an audiophile, you may find the bass to be rather overbearing - yet those powerful low frequencies perform well outdoors, where there are no walls to bounce sound off of.

The Sonos Roam is our vote for the best portable speaker of 2021, because to its mix of class-leading connection capabilities, robust sound, and outstanding design, however it falls short of the best wireless speaker, the Sonos One, in terms of audio quality. In any event, we believe Sonos has succeeded in making the smartest Sonos speaker to date, and we'd strongly advise purchasing it if you're seeking for a portable speaker that can simply integrate into your existing home music system while also providing songs for a bonfire or at the beach.

Price and availability of Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is available for $179 / £179 / AU$299, which is $20 / £20 / AU$20 higher than its initial launch price in April 2021, after a virtually product-wide price rise announced by Sonos. It is the cheapest Sonos speaker to date in the United States and the United Kingdom, undercutting the Sonos One SL, which costs $179 / £179 (AU$269). It's also less expensive than Sonos' first portable smart speaker, the Move, which sells for $399 / £399 / AU$649 — a price that places it squarely at the upper end of the Bluetooth speaker market, despite its array of Sonos smarts and great music.

However, it's still not cheap; one of our favourite Bluetooth speakers, the UE Boom 3, costs $129.99 / £129.99 / AU$199.95, albeit it lacks Sonos' newest device's smart assistant capabilities. You may save money on the new Sonos Roam SL if you don't want your Roam to have voice assistant features. It's now available for presale for $159 / £159 / AU$269 on Amazon.


While the Sonos Roam maintains the brand's minimalist look, it is nonetheless a significant departure for the audio industry, with a focus on robustness and mobility. It's longer and thinner than the squat Sonos Move, and it's around the same size as a water bottle. It's also much lighter than the Move, only 0.95lbs / 0.43kg, so you can easily carry it in your hand or throw it in a bag when you're out and about.

It's more portable than its predecessor, yet it's tough enough to weather the elements, thanks to its light design and IP67 water-and-dust resistance rating. Sonos claims that it can withstand being three feet underwater for 30 minutes. An embossed white Sonos logo appears on the front of the speaker; above it, an LED displays the speaker's connection status, while an LED on the other end indicates battery life.

When the speaker is put horizontally, the control buttons are on the left end; when the speaker is placed vertically, the buttons are on the top. There are volume up and down controls, as well as a play/pause button and a microphone on/off button. To skip to the next track, double-press the play/pause button, or triple-press it to return to the previous track.

Press and hold the play/pause button to connect the Roam with other Sonos devices; holding the button held for longer activates the aforementioned 'throw' function, which switches your audio to the next adjacent Sonos speaker. The buttons, which are somewhat embossed, are more tactile and simpler to operate than the touch-sensitive buttons on top of the Sonos Move, and they're more accessible for folks with visual impairments.

To connect the Sonos Roam to a Bluetooth device, press and hold the power button on the back of the speaker until you hear the pairing tone. A USB-C port is located beneath the button for charging — a USB-A to USB-C connector is included in the package, but you'll need to use your own adaptor. The speaker's ends are slightly concave, which boosts its drop resistance and helps reduce unintentional button pushes, so you don't accidentally turn up the volume every time you brush past it, according to Sonos.

Sonos describes the buttons as "tactile and slightly embossed," with the raised design making it simple to press play or adjust the volume. They're quite responsive, and there's no lag between pressing a button and the action that follows; the Sonos Move's buttons are touch-sensitive, so anyone with vision difficulties will appreciate the ability to feel the buttons.

The Sonos Roam has a "precision-engineered" honeycomb grille in "Shadow" black and "Lunar" white, but it's not a wraparound grille, so don't expect genuine 360-degree sound. When it comes to positioning the speaker, you have several options: the Roam may be placed horizontally for stability on uneven terrain, or vertically for a smaller footprint, with its triangle design funnelling sound upwards. Small feet on what is, in this position, the bottom of the speaker serve to keep it stable if you lay the Roam horizontally on a flat surface like a table.

You can get a wireless charging station for the Roam for $49 / £44 / AU$79. Simply set the speaker on the stand, and magnets will hold it in place, giving the Roam a permanent home within your house. Overall, we believe the Sonos Roam's design is really appealing. Unlike many portable waterproof speakers, the Roam keeps the clean style of the brand's home speakers, and its light and small design makes it ideal for listening to music on the go. Sonos has achieved its objective of creating a speaker that performs equally well indoors and outside.

Performance of sound

Despite its compact size, the Sonos Roam produces a robust auditory performance with a noticeable bass response. Two class-H amplifiers, a unique racetrack mid-woofer, and a tweeter are housed inside the speaker, together with a high-efficiency motor that, according to Sonos, enhances the power and range of the audio output. While the sound isn't quite as immersive as the bigger Sonos Move, the Roam gets close owing to some creative transducer design decisions.

The transducer converts an electronic signal into wave-shaped variations in air pressure – the sound you hear – and it need both room to move and space within the speaker to pack in as much air as possible. The team managed to keep the size down by making the transducer part of the housing itself, allowing the Sonos Roam to be "smaller, lighter, and still have a really amazing sound," as Sara Morris, Principal Product Manager at Sonos, says. In that aspect, Sonos has been a huge success. Thumping bass rhythms drive the silky synthesisers in Childish Gambino's Feels Like Summer, while the clear and lush falsetto vocals soar above the mix.

If we're being picky, we'd like to hear a bit more clarity from the mids and lower trebles, since some detail is lost amid the strong bass; in fact, if you're using the Roam inside, you might want to alter the EQ settings to raise the treble frequencies. Outside, where there are no walls for the music to bounce off, those strong low frequencies work great, but inside, they can be a little too much.

The whiny synthesisers in Gorillaz' Glitter Freeze sound clear without being unduly harsh, and the thumping bass beats are forceful. Although the Sonos Roam lacks the rhythmic precision and finesse of audiophile speakers, the overall presentation of our music was not disappointing for a speaker of this size. In terms of music services, the Sonos S2 app supports AirPlay 2 on Apple devices running iOS 11.4 and later, as well as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube Music, 7Digital, Sonos Radio, and more.

Swap the sounds

One of the coolest features of the Sonos Roam is Sound Swap, which allows you to 'throw' music from your Roam to the closest Sonos speaker available, and vice versa. Simply hold the play/pause button down until you hear the third tone (one more than if you were pairing two speakers), while keeping the Sonos Roam close to the second speaker. The song should then start playing from the second speaker, or the entire speaker array if you're casting to a Sonos system.

Sound Swap worked well with our home theatre setup, which included a Sonos Arc, two Sonos One SL rear speakers, and the Sonos Sub. It was fantastic to be able to bring the Sonos Roam in from the kitchen and continue listening to our music on a surround sound system without having to fiddle with our phone.

As previously indicated, this capability also works in reverse, so pressing and holding the play/pause button will enable the Roam to take up sounds from another speaker or setup - useful when bringing the Roam outside, for example.


Despite its mobility, the Roam is an integral element of the Sonos ecosystem, allowing you to utilise it as part of a larger multi-room audio setup or to link two speakers for stereo sound. Holding down the play/pause button on the Sonos Roam allows you to pair it with other Sonos speakers.

However, you won't be able to utilise two Sonos Roams as a pair of back channels for your home theatre system. We anticipated this to be the case, as it is with the Sonos Move - the company attributes this to sync concerns and the risk of a directional soundtrack losing focus if a speaker isn't properly positioned in a room.

The Roam is compatible with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5, allowing you to use it at home or on the go. The new Automatic Switching feature makes the transition even easier, with the speaker automatically connecting to your Wi-Fi network when in range and re-pairing with your phone when you're out and about.

To use the Sonos Roam, you'll need to connect it to your Wi-Fi network using the Sonos S2 app – the instructions aren't very clear on this, but you won't be able to pair through Bluetooth until you do this first. It just took us a few minutes to set up the Sonos Roam. To begin, download the Sonos app if you don't already have it, and then go to Settings > System > Add Product.

When you first connect the Sonos Roam to your network, you'll be required to input an 8-digit code found on the bottom of the speaker, which you may either manually enter or have automatically entered using NFC.

After you've done this, you'll hear a chime indicating that the code was successfully input, and the speaker will begin connecting to your Wi-Fi network. If an update is available, you may also have to wait for the Roam to update.

Once connected, you may enable Auto Trueplay, add your preferred voice assistant (Alexa or Google Assistant), and adjust other settings. Within the app, there's also a 'product tour' to help you learn about the Sonos Roam's controls and capabilities - it's a nice addition that makes the setup procedure feel quite simple.

Assistant by voice

You may use your voice assistant of choice to operate the speaker hands-free, control your other smart home devices, check your calendar, ask questions, and more – you must be connected to Wi-Fi to access these function

The Sonos Roam with Google Assistant is simple to set up, with the Sonos app guiding you to the Google Home app to complete the process. Even with music playing at a medium volume, the mics were able to pick up our voice rather clearly. It's a bad you can't use Google Assistant over Bluetooth to call on the voice assistant, but it's not a dealbreaker – and we suppose utilising Google Assistant over Bluetooth would be more bothersome than beneficial.

Life of the battery

The Sonos Roam's advertised battery life is 10 hours, but we found it to be closer to nine hours while playing music at a medium level, and the company claims the speaker can survive for up to 10 days in sleep mode — it'll go into sleep mode automatically when you stop playing music. That battery life is roughly identical to the 11-hour battery life of the Sonos Move and most decent portable speakers on the market.

The Sonos Roam can be charged with any Qi-certified charging device, but if you want to keep it in the family, Sonos provides a specific wireless charging stand with magnets to lock the speaker in place for $49 / £44 / AU$79. A USB-A to USB-C connector is also included in the package, allowing you to use your own adaptor.