A good sound in portable speakers
Sonos has recently entered the Indian wireless speaker market with much fanfare. Given that the Sonos Move has already impressed us and won the Digit Zero 1 Award for Best Performing Wireless Speaker of 2021, our expectations were much higher. However, it must be noted that this is only the company’s second attempt at a battery-powered speaker. The brand is otherwise famous for its premium speakers that offer multi-device setup. Priced at Rs 21,999, the Sonos Roam is definitely more expensive than competitors from brands like JBL and Ultimate Ears. However, it is equipped with unique features like Sonos’s multi-room setup. In addition to being Bluetooth powered, the speaker can use Wi-Fi to work with your existing Sonos multi-room audio system. The speaker packs a host of other features that we will discuss in this review. The final question will be answered if Sonos Roam can differentiate itself from the 20K price competition. Find out.
Sonos Roam: Construction and Design
With the Sonos Roam, the company maintains a minimal, high-quality aesthetic presence in previous devices such as Move. However, a major distinguishing factor is that, with Roam, Sonos has focused much more on portability and overall morbidity. The speaker is quite small, weighing only 0.43 kg. In contrast, the Sonos Move, which is a battery-powered Bluetooth / Wi-Fi speaker, also weighs 3 kg. Rome, on the other hand, is easily portable and can be carried in a bag or purse. The speaker boasts a honeycomb grille, however, it doesn’t wrap around the speaker’s body so you won’t get a 360-degree sound.
It has a long, cylindrical shape that can be set straight or horizontally to your liking. If you place it horizontally, the speaker button has a rubber anti-slip grip to keep it stable. The speaker comes with a TruePlay dubbed feature that automatically adjusts the sound based on the speaker’s orientation. We’ll talk more about TruePlay in the features section.
Lightweight build On the one hand, the Sonos ROM has been rated IP67 dust and water-resistant which makes it a viable outdoor speaker, protecting it from debris and rain-like elements. You can even use speakers in the shower without worrying about water loss. The speaker may even survive underwater, according to the company, however, we recommend against trying it.
Control buttons to the left of the speaker (when placed horizontally). It has volume control, a pause / play button and a microphone button The pause / play button has multiple functions and can also be used to search for tracks. The buttons are embossed and sensitive, and we like them more than the touch buttons in the Sonos Move.
Behind the speaker, you have the power button. Pressing and holding this button enables the pair to connect speakers to a source device There is also a USB Type-C charging port under the power button. The speakers are available in two colors – Shadow Black and Lunar White. Like most Sonos devices it looks both exquisite and aesthetically pleasing.
Sonos Roam: Features
The Sonos Room has a fair number of extra features that you don’t usually get with a portable speaker to justify its exorbitant price. One such feature is called Sound Swap. What this feature does is it basically allows you to “throw” music from your Sonos Roam speaker to the nearest Sonos speaker in the area, and vice versa. Now, press and hold the pause / play button for a second, you can connect ROM to other Sonos products and play music on Sonos products at the same time. Basically, you can have a host set of Sonos speakers throughout the house and combine them together to play music around the house at the same time. However, to enable the sound swap feature, you need to hold down the pause / play button for more than a second.
Now, your music will start playing automatically on the nearest Sonos speaker. This feature worked seamlessly in our testing phase. We’ve been able to easily “throw” music from Rome to Move without taking your phone out, and vice versa. If you want to take Sonos Roam music again, press and hold the pause / play button of Roam for more than one second.
The speaker, as mentioned earlier, works on both Bluetooth v5.0 and Wi-Fi. It has an auto-switching feature that automatically connects the speaker to Wi-Fi and reconnects to your phone when Wi-Fi is out of range, smoothing the transition between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modes. The speaker supports Apple AirPlay 2, which is great for iOS users.
The speaker is compatible with the Sonos app, which you need to get started. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can go to Settings> System> Add Product. Follow the on-screen instructions and the speaker should be connected to your Wi-Fi network and your phone. The app also includes a product tour that explains speaker controls and features. When Wi-Fi is turned on, the app includes support for AirPlay2 and other music streaming services, such as Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, Tidal and more.
Now, the speaker is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa in some countries, however, the feature is not yet available in India, which is very disappointing. This is one of the main attractions of the speaker because it basically transforms the ROM into a smart speaker (over Wi-Fi only) capable of controlling itself handsfree, controlling other smart home devices, answering questions via the web and much more. So, it is a shame that Indian users who buy this device will not be able to access this feature for the time being. We expect Sonos to apply this feature to the Indian market as soon as possible, but no clear date has been set yet.
Sonos Roam also comes with a feature called Automatic Trueplay that optimizes the sound for the location or environment in which you place it. According to Sonos, the speaker’s microphone detects the environment and adjusts the periodic tuning to ensure the best possible sound. You must have the microphone turned on to use this feature, so make sure the mic button is turned on. In our experiments, we noticed small tuning differences in different environments, but this is not very clear. Finally, the speaker Qi supports wireless charging and Sonos separately sells a wireless charging dock that will charge the speaker up to 15W. If you have one, you can charge it wirelessly with your existing Qi wireless charger.
Sonos Rome: Performance
Equipped with two Class-H digital amplifiers, a Twitter and a mid-over, the Sonos ROM delivers powerful audio which is amazing due to its compact size. The term is not 360-degree but it easily fills a medium sized room. The Sonos Move, however, offers more room-filled, full-sounding sonic performances. But Rome comes surprisingly close to it.
The alloy reaction is a bit more emphasized but it works well in an open environment because you can still feel the sting. The shaft response is heavy but still controlled enough to avoid excessive auditory masking.
The mids are detailed and clear, however, the lower heights are slightly weaker in the mix so, you will lose some detail in the clap and high-hat. It’s not an audiofile-capable speaker like the Sonos Move, but it’s one of the best sound portable speakers we’ve ever had. The mid-range details and bus height easily beat the competing products of JBL and Ultimate Years, however, those speakers are usually cheaper.
The overall presentation of the music is somewhat biased but we like it in outdoor speakers. If you use speakers inside the house, you can reduce the reaction of the pit slightly to give less shaking inside the house.
As for battery life, the Sonos promises up to 10 hours of wireless play time (moderate volume level). We heard the speaker at about 55-60 percent volume and it lasted about 8.5 hours in our experiment. The speaker can last up to 10 days in sleep mode. Automatically switches to this mode when not in use.
The speaker includes about 50 percent of the charge per hour with the included cable, but when charged wirelessly it takes about 4 hours to fully charge. Overall, battery life is moderate or even weaker compared to some options that provide 16-24 hours of similar footprint.
Sonos Rome: Roy
Priced at Rs 19,999, the Sonos Roam is a luxurious portable speaker that captivates in many ways. Whether it’s a seamless Wi-Fi + Bluetooth connection, powerful audio, or an IP67 rugged build, Sonos Roam justifies the price point, especially for those who have an existing Sonos speaker system at home. Features like automatic TruePlay and sound switching are also welcome additions, but the convenient voice assistant feature is missing in India, which is disappointing. Also, the battery life, 10 hours, is quite low at this price. Overall, the speaker is very impressive in terms of sound, connectivity and build, but the lack of battery life and the voice assistant function are quite significant flaws. Yet, overall, the Sonos Roam is a wonderful offer that should be a wonderful companion both indoors and outdoors.