Sonos Roam overview – CNN Underscored

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Sonos launched its first transportable speaker a couple of years again with the Sonos Transfer, which is fairly nice — aside from the truth that it’s considerably enormous and a whopping $399. When you don’t need to spend that a lot and wish one thing you may really match into your bag or pocket in your option to the seashore, the brand new $169 Sonos Roam might be for you.

Just like the Transfer, the Roam can hook up with Bluetooth to allow you to jam out to your favourite songs on the go, and to Wi-Fi if you’re at house to hook up with the Sonos app and sync up with no matter litany of Sonos units you would possibly have already got. This ends in a extremely versatile sensible speaker that pumps out means greater sound than its tiny body would possibly counsel — so long as you don’t thoughts residing with a number of the quirks that include being within the Sonos ecosystem.

Is the Sonos Roam the brand new transportable sensible speaker to get? Right here’s what we predict after a number of days of listening to music, speaking to Alexa and, sure, even dunking the Roam in a bowl of water.

What it’s: The $169 Sonos Roam is a compact Bluetooth speaker that additionally packs the entire software program smarts that Sonos units are identified for, together with a sturdy companion app, Alexa and Google Assistant assist and the power to sync up with different audio system by way of Wi-Fi.

Who it’s for: The Sonos Roam is for folk who need a high quality Bluetooth speaker that doubles as a wise Wi-Fi speaker and don’t need to shell out for the larger, dearer $399 Sonos Transfer. It’s particularly superb for individuals who already personal Sonos audio system, as its Wi-Fi assist permits it to seamlessly turn into a part of your current ecosystem.

The way it compares: The Roam is exclusive amongst Bluetooth audio system in its worth vary, together with the $129 UE Increase 3 and $179 JBL Cost 4, because of its potential to hook up with Wi-Fi and sync up with different Sonos audio system. If you’d like extra coloration choices and don’t need to spend as a lot, the UE Increase 3 is a popular various. However the Roam wins on sheer versatility.

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The Sonos Roam is the corporate’s smallest and most tasty speaker but, packing Sonos’ signature model right into a extremely transportable gadget that’s concerning the measurement of a small water bottle at about 6.5 inches tall. We love the elegant, understated look of our Lunar White mannequin (there’s additionally a Shadow Black possibility), however a couple of different coloration choices would have been appreciated — particularly in comparison with the rainbow of hues you’ll discover on audio system from rivals like UE and JBL.

At just below a pound, the Roam is straightforward to choose up as soon as it’s time to hit the street, and its easy plastic exterior simply feels good to carry. That’s paired with a agency rubber base on the backside in addition to 4 small rubber legs on the facet, which makes it straightforward to place the Roam both vertically or horizontally relying on the place you’re inserting it.

The Roam is Sonos’ first speaker with bodily controls, and so they all held up properly in our testing. The speaker’s rubberized high panel has buttons for pausing/taking part in, adjusting the quantity and muting the built-in microphone, every of which triggers a satisfying chime each time you press them. The soft-touch buttons had been straightforward to press whereas resistant sufficient to stop unintended inputs, and their distinctive iconography allowed us to inform every button aside by really feel.

Sonos’ newest speaker is properly outfitted for a visit to the seashore or the pool, with an IP67 waterproof score that enables it to be dunked in as much as 3 ft of water for half-hour. We absolutely submerged our Roam in a bowl of water for a couple of minutes, and it saved on pumping out tunes even whereas going underneath. As you would possibly anticipate, the Roam’s sound output was a bit muddied when it was coated in water, however as soon as we dried the speaker off, it saved on rocking as if we simply took it out of the field.

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Like its massive brother within the Sonos Transfer, the Roam is exclusive amongst transportable audio system, because of its potential to hook up with each Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The latter permits the Roam to be managed by the Sonos S2 app in your iPhone or Android gadget, and combine seamlessly with another Sonos units you have already got in your house.

Sonos S2 is the newest model of Sonos’ software program, and it’s required for controlling all of Sonos’ newer merchandise (sure legacy audio system are tied to the older S1 app). It lets you play music from numerous sources and handle your complete system of appropriate Sonos merchandise to maintain the tunes going all through the home. Simply be sure you obtain the precise app — we by accident downloaded Sonos S1 to begin, solely to seek out that it didn’t assist the Roam.

That minor hiccup apart, organising the Roam took just a few minutes. After downloading the app and creating an account, all we needed to do was faucet our cellphone in opposition to the speaker to sync up the 2 after which join the Roam to our Wi-Fi community, and we had been able to get began.

Once you’re utilizing the Roam over Wi-Fi, the Sonos app is basically the speaker’s command heart. The app works with greater than 100 music providers, together with heavy hitters like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Pandora as properly extra area of interest platforms like meditation app Calm and the Plex media library. So as an alternative of utilizing these particular person apps in your cellphone, you’ll use the Sonos app to import your providers of alternative, log in with any consumer accounts you have already got and management your playback from there. Establishing providers reminiscent of Spotify and Apple Music usually took only a few faucets of the display — as soon as you choose a service, you’ll be redirected to that service’s app or login web page for authorization, and then you definitely’ll be good to go.

That is how music playback is dealt with on all Sonos audio system, and it has its professionals and cons. On one hand, you may have all your streaming platforms in a single place, permitting you to look a number of providers without delay for a extra obscure artist or change between the likes of Spotify and Apple Music on the fly. However these providers appear and feel completely different throughout the Sonos app in comparison with their very own apps, which may make issues just a little jarring.

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For instance, whereas the Sonos app model of Spotify surfaced all of our latest artists and playlists, we couldn’t discover a simple option to pull up podcasts. And when combing by Phoebe Bridgers’ discography on Apple Music by way of the Sonos app, we discovered that issues weren’t organized chronologically, making it arduous to seek out her newest album.

Making issues extra complicated is that the Sonos app doesn’t sync up playback with another music apps you might need in your cellphone, so in case you’re utilizing Spotify by Sonos and open up the common Spotify app, you gained’t see your present monitor. Longtime Sonos customers may be used to this, however we personally felt a bit locked in by the Sonos software program and needed to retrain ourselves a bit after being so used to switching between completely different music apps.

Happily, you may circumvent these issues by connecting the Roam to Bluetooth, which you’ll should do anytime you’re taking Sonos’ little speaker out of the home. Pairing the Roam to our cellphone by way of Bluetooth took seconds and was so simple as holding down the facility button and discovering the Roam in our iPhone’s Bluetooth menu. As soon as we had been linked, the Roam labored like another Bluetooth gadget, robotically taking part in any content material we fired up from any app.

Like with the bigger, pricier Sonos Transfer, this added Bluetooth assist provides the Roam rather more versatility than a typical Wi-Fi-based sensible speaker, and in addition turns out to be useful in case you merely don’t need to cope with the Sonos app. It’s additionally value noting that the Wi-Fi vary of the Roam is sort of good in case you want that route, as we had been capable of take the speaker out to our balcony and carry on listening with none interference.

The Roam works with each Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, supplying you with loads of choices for controlling the speaker along with your voice (word that you just’ll have to be on Wi-Fi to make use of these options). Alexa labored properly in our testing, responding precisely once we requested Amazon’s assistant to inform us the climate, set a timer or pause our present music. Alexa additionally performed good with a number of music providers without delay, permitting me to request one artist on Spotify and one other on Apple Music proper after. And in case you don’t need the Roam listening to you, there’s a useful microphone mute button proper on the highest of the speaker.

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Regardless of its tiny body, the Roam pumps out enormous, crisp audio with greater than sufficient quantity to fill our small condo. Critically, this factor will get loud — we might simply hear our tunes from a room over, and after testing it out at full quantity, we rapidly turned issues down out of concern of disturbing our neighbors.

It additionally merely sounds nice, bringing to life each monitor we threw at it with a vivid soundstage that made it straightforward to listen to each single instrument with readability. Within the bouncy pop-punk of “Can’t Wait Endlessly” by Tigers Jaw, the crunchy guitars, clear bass, crackling drums and searing synths all sounded equally shiny and clear, offering loads of room for the vocals to shine with out overpowering them.

On the extra somber indie rock tracks like Julien Baker’s “Flip Out the Lights,” the singer-songwriter’s ethereal vocals had been so vivid that it seemed like she was within the room with us. That remained true even when the massive electrical guitars and background harmonies kicked in, making a wall of sound that by no means acquired muddy or distorted regardless of its many shifting components.

The Roam additionally dealt with the atmospheric hip-hop of Child Cudi’s “Lovin’ Me” properly, giving the spacey vocals, atmospheric strings and plucky guitars all room to breathe whereas holding our heads bobbing together with deep bass and snappy treble popping out of the drums.

The Roam options Sonos’ TruePlay expertise, which makes use of the speaker’s built-in mics to robotically tune the speaker to any setting to offer the absolute best sound. We examined the Roam in numerous settings, together with our massive, open front room, our outside balcony and our small rest room throughout a bathe singing session, and seen persistently clear audio high quality irrespective of the place we used it. We even tucked the speaker into our bookshelf and leisure heart — two areas the place sound can simply turn into muffled and muted — and nonetheless seen crisp, vibrant sound.

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Sonos guarantees 10 hours of steady music playback from the Roam, which appears according to our testing thus far. After two full days of on-and-off use, the speaker lastly ran out of juice the subsequent morning. You possibly can doubtless stretch this even additional in case you’re solely listening a couple of hours a day, as Sonos says the Roam can last as long as 10 days on a cost in sleep mode.

You possibly can cost the Roam utilizing both USB-C or a Qi wi-fi charging mat, and we discovered each strategies to work reliably, with USB charging being a bit sooner. Sonos additionally sells a customized Roam Wi-fi Charger that snaps to the underside of the speaker magnetically and guarantees as much as a 50% cost in two hours. Nevertheless, this add-on prices a whopping $49 further, so that you’re most likely higher off sticking with the included cable or utilizing a cheaper wi-fi charger.

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The Sonos Roam provides nice sound high quality and flexibility for the worth, pumping out wealthy and vigorous audio for all sorts of music whereas serving up a ton of options for each listening at house and on the go.

The Roam’s mixture of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi assist makes it an incredible companion for picnics and pool events in addition to a sturdy sensible speaker for if you need Alexa that can assist you with dinner whilst you hearken to your favourite podcasts. The truth that it appears to be like nice, it’s tremendous compact and it might survive falling into the pool definitely doesn’t damage both.

There’s additionally the Roam’s deep integration with the Sonos ecosystem, which might be each a promoting level and a headache. On one hand, the truth that the Roam can work with different Sonos units is a significant plus. However utilizing providers reminiscent of Spotify and Apple Music on the Sonos app is way extra cumbersome than utilizing their respective apps, and presents a little bit of a studying curve.

On the identical time, in case you’ve been questioning what Sonos audio system are all about, the $169 Roam is your most accessible entry level but. Those that simply need a good Bluetooth speaker they will take to the seashore could need to contemplate less complicated choices such because the $129 UE Increase 3. However if you would like a great-sounding transportable speaker that additionally packs a lot of smarts inside, the Roam provides a complete lot in a small package deal.

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