Sonos
CNN —  

Today, Sonos announced it has a new speaker — and it’s the most affordable yet. Dubbed Roam ($169.99; sonos.com), the portable speaker not only shakes up the Sonos product line but aims to make a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market.

Staying true to the brand, it harnesses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatibility to seamlessly pair with its companion app and other Sonos devices, cementing its home in the brand’s broader ecosystem of speakers. It’s up for preorder right now from Sonos directly and will start shipping on April 20.

The Sonos Roam is similar to the Move ($399; sonos.com) — the indoor/outdoor speaker from Sonos that launched in 2019, which, as we said in our review, offers bold audio in a modern-day boombox build. By comparison, the Roam is teeny-tiny (6.61 inches tall, 0.95 pounds). Portability is front and center, which means once it’s safe to be outside, you can take the Roam with you. With a waterproof rating of IP67, you can really roam wherever you like (even in the rain, should you so desire). It can handle submersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, so even if it takes a dip in a pool, you’ll be all right.

It’s all housed in a triangular/cylindrical design. The sound is directional out the front, unlike some other Bluetooth speakers that play in every direction. On the top, you’ll find physical control buttons — a first for Sonos, which generally uses touch. Volume up, volume down, play or pause and a microphone mute all live there, along with an LED indicator.

Sonos

The bottom of Roam contains a Qi wireless charging sensor that supports any standard pad or a custom solution by Sonos ($49; sonos.com) — a wireless charging dock that contains magnets to keep the Roam locked in place safely. Disappointingly, though, the custom charging dock isn’t included with the speaker. Sonos does include a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging in the box. The company also promises up to 10 hours of playback.

Sonos Roam features two amplifiers, a midwoofer and a single tweeter. It’s a modest array of audio hardware, though Sonos is saying the sound quality will reach the bar of its other speakers. The big difference will be the volume Roam can push out; as it’s the smallest speaker in the lineup, we don’t have high hopes that it will fill a room. We do expect it to provide a wide soundstage that’ll let you clearly hear all the elements of a track, even ones with little room to spare.

The Roam’s Trueplay Tuning feature is fully automatic and will adjust the mix of audio depending on where the Roam is. We were seriously impressed with Trueplay on Move, as it can adjust the sound for any space. And when you want to control the mix, you can use the companion (and required) Sonos app for Android or iOS to adjust all aspects of the mix.

Sonos

The Roam has an edge over traditional Bluetooth speakers, as it fully integrates within the Sonos ecosystem. You can stream from more than 100 sources via the Sonos app, group it with other speakers and take advantage of Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. The built-in far-field microphones will be able to pick up your requests after you say the respective wake word. Like with the Move, though, you’ll need to be on Wi-Fi for the smart assistant to work.

Those in the Apple ecosystem will be especially happy to see AirPlay 2, which lets you stream right from your Apple device. Sonos supports streaming from many services, including Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, Amazon Music, Apple Music and Sonos Radio. And when using Bluetooth, you can share music from your connected device.

Sonos has a solution for integrating Roam with existing ecosystems as well: Sound Swap. You can simply long-hold the play/pause button on the Roam and it will send the music to the nearest Sonos speaker. It will use onboard sensors and location data to locate the appropriate speaker to send the music to. This way you can easily continue the track or playlist from the portable Roam to a stationary Sonos, like a One or Five, in your home. Within the Sonos app. you can expand the group and have a whole home listening experience. And the Roam does require S2, the latest operating system powering Sonos speakers.

Sonos Roam is up for preorder now at $169.99, and the $49 Sonos custom wireless charger is also up for order. Both start shipping on April 20.