Last month, Sonos dropped its premium ultra-portable speaker in India in the form of the Sonos Roam. Unlike most portable speakers that aim to deliver value, the Sonos Roam has no such aim. The speaker is being touted as a class leader, the best-of-the-best in the ultra-portable segment.
Considering the hype, I was pretty excited to get my hands on the Sonos Roam, simply to see the quality of audio on display here. Apart from the audio experience, the Roam is also touted to be highly intelligent. In our deep dive, we will see if the Sonos Roam can live up to the hype and deliver on its promise of performance.
The Sonos Roam weighs 430 grams and stands 17cm tall, making it portable enough to drop in a bag or hold in your hand. As its name suggests, the Roam isn’t meant to sit in your living room, but for use outdoor scenarios. This is also evident with the speaker’s IP67 rating for water and dust resistance, which can keep the music playing while you are by the pool or out in the rain. Now, although this means that the speaker can be submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes, I’d advise against it.
Build quality aside, the Roam has a nice minimalist design with a triangular shape and a matte finish. The speaker features a Sonos logo and a grille on the front. It also has rubber sides and shock-resistant rubber feet on the bottom. The left side of the speaker has four buttons, which includes a play/pause button, two volume buttons, and a button to mute the microphone. The power button and USB-C charging port are located on the back of the speaker.
We know how the Roam looks, but how does it sound? Well, it is safe to say, pretty damn good! The Roam opts for a dual-driver system with a dedicated subwoofer and tweeter that punches well above its size. The level of volume here is quite high, with the speaker easily able to fill a mid-size room with sound. Even with several people talking in the background, the volume on the Roam was audible without much effort.
And the same can be said in outdoor environments. And because of the light shower earlier this month, I even got a chance to test it in the rain. On a quiet night, the Roam filled half my terrace with sound, which almost amounts to the size of three bedrooms. During the mild showed that took place on the 5th of this month, the Roam stayed audible outside in the rain at 75 percent volume.
When it comes to volume, the Roam doesn’t hold back, but what about the overall quality of the sound? The dual-driver system drives the excellent bass and clear highs and mids. However, I did feel that some detail and clarity did get lost in the heavy bass in some instances. The vocals sound crisps and aren’t affected by high volumes and heavy bass. Stereo separation is also good, while the sound doesn’t lack depth as you’d experience on other portable speakers.
Sonos also offers an Automatic Trueplay feature to further enhance the listening experience. Trueplay automatically optimizes the Roam’s soundstage for your environment. I didn’t find this feature to be quite useful in outdoor settings, but it does make a difference in places or rooms where the sound tends to echo a lot. The Trueplay feature works on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. I have to say that the overall audio experience here is excellent, especially considering just how small the Roam is. It may not be audiophile-grade but comes pretty close.
The Roam comes with a companion app. The Sonos app is pretty reliable that can be used for everything from pairing a couple of Roam speakers together to adjusting EQ settings and everything in between. It only takes a brief couple of minutes to set up the speakers through Wi-Fi using the app. Additionally, you can also stream music on the speaker through Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay.
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support can also be added to the speaker using the app, although this feature isn’t quite accessible to Indian audiences yet, so there was no way to test it. However, having voice assistant support is a major ‘Pro’ in the Roam’s corner. Another great feature available on the Roam is Sound Swap, which can “throw” music to and from a Sonos Roam to another Sonos speaker. I didn’t have another Sonos speaker, so I couldn’t really test this, but it is quite functional.
The Sonos Roam delivers is touted to deliver up to 10 hours of battery life and up to 10 days in sleep mode. I found that the speaker fell slightly short of the mark, offering little under nine hours of battery life while testing the speaker at around 60 percent volume through Bluetooth. Using the speaker on Wi-Fi takes up more battery life, although it wasn’t possible to test battery life with Google Assistant or Alexa switched on.
There’s a USB Type-C cable in the box to power up the speaker. It also supports wireless charging and is compatible with just about any Qi wireless charging pad. I found that the Roam takes a little over an hour and a half to fully charge when using a 30W charging adapter. You can also buy the Sonos Roam Wireless Charging Base for Rs 6,000 separately, but we’d recommend sticking with a regular adapter.
The Sonos Roam does a lot of things very well. The sound quality here is as good as it gets for a portable speaker, while the speaker is also plenty loud on maximum volumes without any distortion to the audio. The high audio levels also allow you to use the Roam in certain outdoor scenarios. Additionally, the companion app and the multitude of features also give it a leg up over the competition. Battery life is pretty decent, although I’d prefer to have an adapter in the box along with the cable.
As far as sound quality goes, this is arguably the most premium-sounding portable speaker you can get in India. While the overall audio experience gets even better if you have other Sonos speakers in your home. However, a starting price of Rs 20,000, also makes the Roam one of the most expensive portable speakers in India. For that amount, you should be able to get a more powerful sounding Bluetooth speaker. But so far as portable Bluetooth speakers go, it really doesn’t get any better than this.