Smart outdoor speaker Roam: Sonos wants to go outside again

There are also great hopes for excursions into nature soon at Sonos: The loudspeaker specialist is adding a second mobile product to its range. Just like the premiere called Move, the new addition Roam can stream either via WLAN or Bluetooth and can be used outdoors thanks to an integrated battery. Despite the more compact dimensions, Sonos promises a powerful and balanced sound at a high quality level.

With a weight of 430 grams, the Roam weighs barely more than a tenth of the Sonos Move. The dimensions of 168 x 62 x 60 millimeters are also much slimmer. Instead of just wearing black, Sonos also dresses the smaller sibling in a white finish. The Roam is also a little more resistant than the first outdoor model. In accordance with protection class IP67, the housing of the new loudspeaker is dustproof and waterproof and can withstand a thirty-minute freshwater immersion bath at a depth of one meter.

Instead of only being in portrait format as with the Move, the Roam can also be operated in a stable side position if required thanks to four discreet feet. The controls on the cover plate for play, pause, forwards, backwards and volume should be just as easy to reach in both cases and should not be triggered accidentally. A light emitting diode signals the operating status, the remaining capacity of the battery and whether the integrated microphones for the smart voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant are receiving.

Inside there is space for a tweeter and a midrange driver. The latter also takes care of the low frequencies. Two class H amplifiers are supposed to drive the manageable setup to maximum performance. Sonos also relies on the radiation effects of the cylindrical housing construction in order to give the mono loudspeaker a little more width.

The Sonos Roam can be used in a standing or lying position. It plays mono sound.

(Image: Sonos)

As with the Sonos Move, the automatic Trueplay software function activated at the factory should provide additional tonal fine-tuning. Microphones listen to the running tracks and the frequencies that the environment reflects. The algorithms then adjust the bass and treble accordingly. The automatic sound calibration starts automatically every time the Sonos Roam changes location. Automatic Trueplay will be used right from the market launch both for streaming via WLAN and in Bluetooth mode. The Sonos Move, which was released in 2019, has so far only mastered this with WLAN connections, but is supposed to learn the Bluetooth sound measurement afterwards using a software update, Sonos explained to heise online.

As with all current speakers from the manufacturer, contact is made via the app called Sonos S2 for iOS and Android. The Sonos Roam receives audio signals from over 100 streaming services or the local music collection via Bluetooth 5 and in the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands from WiFi 5. There is no cable input.

Once paired with Bluetooth and made known to the WLAN home network, users no longer have to switch the Sonos Roam manually, emphasizes Sonos. What is still necessary for the move, a more powerful radio chip should automate the newcomer. According to this, the loudspeaker automatically connects to a known smartphone via Bluetooth when it leaves the WiFi range. When you return home, the Roam automatically switches back to Wi-Fi, according to Sonos.

With the new addition, the drilled out radio technology should even allow a multi-room grouping in mixed operation. Then, according to Sonos, a scenario is possible in which a roam receives audio feed via Bluetooth, while stationary speaker models such as One, Beam, Arc and others stream via WiFi.

The Sonos app and the control buttons on the top plate are not the only ways to control the Roam. The loudspeaker listens to commands from the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants, although only one option may be active at the moment. A parallel operation still does not work. Furthermore, users of Apple devices with iOS 11.4 or later can play on the loudspeaker via AirPlay 2 and thus set up a separate multiroom system.

According to the manufacturer, a built-in rechargeable battery provides up to ten hours of gaming time while on the move. In sleep mode, the energy should last for a maximum of ten days of twilight sleep. The Sonos Roam recharges its batteries with a USB-C cable with up to 15 watts or alternatively with any inductive Qi charging cradle. A corresponding charging cable is included in the scope of delivery, you have to contribute the power supply yourself. If you prefer a visually matching charging cradle with a magnetic contact, you can use the original accessories, for which Sonos, including the power supply unit, charges a surcharge of 50 euros.

Because the manufacturer does not include a wireless charging station in the standard scope of delivery, the retail price of the speaker remains below the psychologically important mark of 200 euros. The Sonos Roam will cost around 180 euros at the market launch on April 20. Like the accessories, they can be pre-ordered in the manufacturer’s online shop, and in the course of the month also from other retailers.

“We are optimistic and believe that people will at least be able to go to the park again soon. And the loudspeaker is of course also suitable for balconies, gardens and terraces,” said Jeff Derderian, Senior Director Product Creation at Sonos, in an interview with heise online . Further hopes are based on the fact that the model, which is relatively affordable by Sonos standards, will not only meet with interest as a supplement for existing customers. “We also see the Roam as a possible start to the Sonos system. Maybe beginners can use it to discover places in their home that they didn’t even know that you could enjoy great music there,” says Derderian.


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