Sonos is reportedly on the verge of releasing a new portable Bluetooth speaker. Ostensibly called the Sonos Roam, the upcoming device has been the subject of rumor since the emergence of an FCC filing (Federal Communications Commission) described a device that uses a wireless charging base, but requires less power than the company’s Move speaker.
Most recently, an “inside source” told the The Verge that the Sonos Roam will be available on April 20 for $169 (around £120 / AU$220) – and with a Sonos launch event coming up on March 9, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to see if these claims are legitimate.
These latest rumors were accompanied by our first images of the Sonos Roam, which do indeed show a portable speaker that’s smaller and more rugged-looking than the brand’s first portable speaker, the Sonos Move.
Like the Sonos Move, the new speaker is said to come with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, suggesting that it too will integrate into the brand’s existing multi-room audio system, as well as being able to play your tunes on the go.
Based on the rumors we’ve heard so far, it seems like there will be a lot of similarities between the new speaker and the Sonos Move, which we’ve crowned the best Bluetooth speaker you can buy for two years running.
However, a few key differences mean that the Sonos Roam could be a more accessible entry point into the Sonos ecosystem, given rumors of a compact design and low price.
While it’s important to note that Sonos is yet to confirm the existence of the Sonos Roam, everything is pointing to a new speaker being launched on March 9 – and in anticipation of that announcement, we’ve used all the rumors and leaks we’ve seen so far to compare the rumored speaker with the Sonos Move, giving you an idea of what you can expect if the Roam is officially made public.
Sonos Roam vs Sonos Move: price and availability
It’s rumored that the Sonos Roam will be released on April 20, 2021, though we’re expecting to hear more about it at the company’s upcoming event on March 9. According to the leaks we’ve seen so far, it will cost $169 (around £120 / AU$220), making it the cheapest Sonos speaker to date – though that’s by no means a low price for a portable speaker.
The Sonos Move launched in September 2019, and is far more expensive at $399 / £399 / AU$649. Again, that’s pricey for a portable speaker – but this isn’t your average Bluetooth boombox, making it difficult to place alongside any direct competition. Few portable speakers, even those with smart assistants built-in, have as rich a feature-list as the Sonos Move, so that higher price tag is more easily justified.
If the rumors are to be believed, the Sonos Roam will be like a smaller version of the Move with similar features, so its own relatively high price tag may be well-justified, too.
Sonos Roam vs Sonos Move: design
The Sonos Roam is said to be a smaller, cheaper version of the Sonos Move, though if recently leaked photos are anything to go by, it looks quite different to its predecessor.
Firstly, it’s set to come with a longer, more cylindrical build than the squatter Sonos Move, a bit like the Ultimate Ears Boom 2. It’s not clear whether the Sonos Roam will come with a wraparound grille like the Boom 2, but it’s possible judging from the leaked images.
On the top of the rumored speaker there seems to be a control panel with buttons to adjust your music playback, which appears to be made from a rubberized material. Though it’s hard to say for sure from the photos alone, this could be another indication that the speaker will come with waterproofing, a feature confirmed by the report in The Verge.
You’ll also find the controls for the Sonos Move on the top of the speaker, and it too comes with waterproofing; the original Sonos Move is IP56 rated, which means it can withstand a coating of sand or dust, as well as a drop into a swimming pool. Whether Sonos upgrades the Roam with a higher rating remains to be seen, but it could make the rumored speaker a serious competitor for waterproof speakers such as the UE Wonderboom 2 and the JBL Flip 5.
As we mentioned, the Sonos Roam is set to be much smaller and lighter than the Sonos Move. According to the report by The Verge, the Sonos Roam measures in at 6.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches and weighs around 1lb / 0.45kg, bearing a slight resemblance to a stage monitor speaker thanks to its rounded, triangular shape.
For comparison, the Sonos Move comes in at close to 3kg / 6.6lb, and while it is possible to lift the current Move speaker with ease, you wouldn’t want to carry it around for too long.
Like all Sonos products, the new Roam is rumored to come in black and white color options.
Sonos Roam vs Sonos Move: audio performance
We don’t know much about the kind of audio specs the Sonos Roam will come with, but we can hazard a few guesses based on the leaked images and FCC filing.
If the Sonos Roam does have a wraparound grille for example, you could reasonably expect it to distribute sound in 360 degrees, which is ideal for an outdoor speaker that might be used for summer parties or around campfires.
As a smaller version of the Sonos Move, we’d expect the Roam to include smaller drivers, too. Inside the Sonos Move are large driver magnets, which make it pretty heavy for a portable speaker – though we found that it’s a fair trade off the audio quality you’re getting.
The Sonos Move doesn’t sound like your average portable speaker. If you’re familiar with the Sonos range for the home, it sits somewhere between the Sonos One and the Play:5, not just in terms of volume, but also fidelity. The mid-range driver offers forceful and space-filling low end, even when competing with the acoustics of a wide open space, while there’s no drop off in vocal clarity that can often occur with lesser portable speakers.
We’re hoping that the brand will continue to live up to its reputation for fantastic audio with the Sonos Roam, though we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on it to find out.
Sonos Roam vs Sonos Move: connectivity
Testing diagrams within the FCC filing show that the Sonos Roam will be accompanied by a wireless charging dock, and will offer Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) connectivity. That means it will be the first Sonos speaker to support Wi-Fi 5.
It will also come with Bluetooth connectivity like the Sonos Move, though we hope the brand upgrades it to the latest wireless streaming standard, as opposed to the Move’s rather outdated Bluetooth 4.2.
Wi-Fi support means the Sonos Roam should be able to form part of a multi-room audio setup, like the Sonos Move.
The Sonos Move works with all manner of connected audio sources, online or stored on a local network. If you want to fire up a playlist on Spotify using Spotify Connect, that’s just as simple in-app as playing something you’ve ripped to a networked storage device yourself. Just fire up the Sonos app, and once set up and connected to the internet all your sources appear over Wi-Fi.
The Sonos Move also comes with top-mounted array of mics that give you access to a choice of either Amazon Alexa of Google Assistant voice assistants: each AI helper is fully compatible with the Sonos Move, giving you the option as to which you want to use to set reminders, control smart home devices, access calendar and act as a voice-powered jukebox.
We’re hoping the Sonos Roam will come with all these smarts too, as well as Google Assistant / Alexa integration, which would allow it to double up as a smart speaker and control your other smart home devices.
Sonos Roam vs Sonos Move: battery life
According to The Verge, the Sonos Roam will last up to 10 hours per charge. When it comes time to charge, the Sonos Roam will come with a charging cable inside the box, but the source claims that there will also be a separate charging dock available to purchase for $49 (around £35 /AU$60) as well.
That battery life matches the Sonos Move, and while we’d love to see an upgrade for the newest speaker, 10 hours of playback is certainly respectable compared to other Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Rather than an upgrade to the Sonos Move, it seems as though the Sonos Roam will be a sort of little sibling to the brand’s first portable speaker, taking some of its best features and shrinking them down to a more easily carry-able size.
That no bad thing though – Apple had great success with the HomePod mini, a smaller, cheaper version of the original HomePod smart speaker.
Price is the important factor here; if Sonos can make a more economically accessible entry point to its multi room audio system, it could gain a lot of fans who may have previously looked to more budget-friendly Bluetooth speaker brands like JBL and Urbanears.
There’s no doubt that Sonos already has a great reputation when it comes to the audio performance of its existing wireless speakers and soundbars, and we’re expecting more of the same from the rumored Sonos Roam.
If the company can still deliver an exceptional audio experience and unbeatable connectivity from a cheaper, more rugged, and more easily portable speaker, the Sonos Roam could comfortably swipe the crown as the best Bluetooth speaker in 2021. Roll on March 9.