sonos roam vs sonos move lead
CNN  — 

With the arrival of the new Sonos Roam ($169;, Sonos now has two fully wireless Bluetooth speakers in its vast lineup of premium audio products. That begs an important question: Do you get the $169 Roam or splurge for the more feature-rich $399 Sonos Move?

The Sonos Roam is a portable Bluetooth speaker you can throw in your bag for a day at the beach, while the Move is a larger device that can fill up just about any room. These two speakers differ pretty significantly in terms of price, sound output and feature set, but they also have some surprising similarities, and can even work together seamlessly to keep the music pumping all throughout your home.

Looking to add one (or both) of Sonos’ wireless speakers to your sound system? Here’s a handy breakdown of how these two smart speakers compare.

Who the Sonos Roam is for

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The new $169 Sonos Roam is for folks looking for a highly portable Bluetooth speaker that packs all of the audio smarts Sonos is known for. It’s the most affordable speaker in Sonos’ lineup, and at 6.6 inches long and weighing just under a pound, it’s the easiest one to toss into a bag or purse once it’s time to enjoy the outdoors.

The Roam is rated for 10 hours of battery life, so it should hold up fairly well for road trips or just a long day by the pool. And just in case it takes a spill into the water, Sonos’ portable speaker carries an IP67 water resistance rating that allows it to be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. It’s also the first Sonos speaker with physical control buttons, which may be a boon for those who don’t want to fiddle with capacitive touch controls.

In terms of audio and specs, the Roam packs all of the features you’d expect from a Sonos speaker. It supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and can automatically switch between the two when you’re moving in and out of your home. The Roam can sync up with other speakers, such as the Move, the $199 Sonos One and the $499 Sonos Five, allowing it to seamlessly integrate into your existing Sonos setup for rich multiroom audio. And it features Sonos’ TruePlay technology, which allows the speaker to automatically tune itself based on its surroundings to deliver the clearest audio possible.

Sonos’ latest wireless speaker has a built-in far-field microphone, which should prove handy for controlling it with your voice via either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The Roam can be controlled via the Sonos S2 app for iOS and Android, and supports more than 100 streaming services, including heavy hitters such as Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Who the Sonos Move is for

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If you’re willing to invest in a bigger, more durable smart speaker for your backyard or patio, the Sonos Move might be more up your alley. Standing more than 9 inches tall and weighing 6.6 pounds, the Move is still portable but is meant to be something you move around your home rather than a speaker that you take on a hike or camping trip.

In terms of software and smarts, the Move and Roam are nearly identical — both speakers can sync up with other Sonos devices, support voice controls, utilize both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and take advantage of TruePlay for perfectly tuned audio. They even come in the same slick pair of color options: Lunar White and Shadow Black. With that in mind, you’re really splurging for bigger, richer audio and slightly better battery life with the Move.

The Move delivered satisfying bass, lively vocals and crisp treble for a variety of tracks in our testing, edging out the still-impressive wired Sonos One speaker. We’re eager to see how the Roam holds up in real-world comparisons, but given the difference in size between these two speakers, you’ll likely enjoy larger overall sound from the Move. The Move also features dual Class-D digital amplifiers inside, which are generally more efficient than the Class-H amplifiers you’ll find inside the Roam. We’ll have a much better idea of what that difference actually means once we have the Roam in our hands.

The Sonos Move has an IP56 rating for protection against dust particles and water splashes. So while it can’t handle taking a dunk in the pool like the Roam can, you can still safely leave it outside in the rain once the elements start acting up. The Move should also last a bit longer on a charge, as it’s rated for 11 hours of endurance compared to 10 hours for the Roam.

How Sonos Roam and Sonos Move work together

Regardless of which Sonos speaker you end up buying, you may end up getting another down the line. That’s because every Sonos speaker can connect to your home Wi-Fi network, allowing you to sync up playback across multiple devices for expansive multiroom audio. Whether you want to fill your entire home with your favorite playlist or still be able to hear a sports game when you move to your kitchen, Sonos’ speakers are designed to work together seamlessly.

And thanks to Sonos’ new Sound Swap feature, you can switch from listening on one speaker to another with the tap of a button. For example, you can be rocking out in the backyard with your Roam and instantly pick up where you left off on your Move once you hit the living room. It’s a nice bonus for those times you don’t need music playing all over the house at the same time.

Bottom line

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If portability and affordability are your priority, check out the $169 Sonos Roam. This Bluetooth speaker is compact and lightweight enough for the road while still packing advanced features such as voice assistant support and full compatibility with any of the Sonos speakers you may already own. It makes for a nice addition to an existing multiroom Sonos setup, thanks to its relatively low price, and also serves as a good starting point for those new to the Sonos ecosystem.

The $399 Sonos Move is certainly a splurge by comparison, but if you’re seeking fuller sound and slightly better battery, it may be worth considering. The Move is ideal for those with bigger households, taking the rich sound output of devices like the Sonos One and giving you the freedom to move from the backyard to the living room to the garage without missing a beat.

The Roam and the Move are far more alike than similar when it comes to software and features, so it really comes down to how big of a speaker you really want — and how much you’re willing to spend.