This is a testament to Sonos’ philosophy for the Roam, which is to make it easy to use both at home and outdoors. The Bluetooth-only speaker market is already quite crowded, ”said Maxime Bouvat-Merlin, the company’s senior vice president of hardware development, in an interview leading up to the company’s launch. “For us, to enter this specific market, we needed to do more than just integrate Bluetooth and great sound into these products. We’ve really thought about how to bring the Sonos experience from home to outside of the home. “
This is the inspiration behind things like the new “Sound Swap” feature. If you’re listening to music on the Roam and want to send it back to another Sonos speaker, press and hold the play button to find the nearest speaker and send the music to it. The idea is to keep the music flowing from outside the house to the house.
Sound Swap uses intriguing technology. “Pressing and holding the play / pause button tells other players to play ultra high frequency audio that only Roam can hear,” said Hadley Simmons, product marketing manager at Sonos. “Roam can pick up those tweets with their microphones and detect the nearest speaker. It’s basically an easier way to move music around your house without having to go back to the Sonos app and sort through. your different rooms. ”Similarly, if the Roam is playing music through Bluetooth, you can press and hold the play button and it will automatically stream that music to other Sonos speakers, turning the Roam into a Bluetooth input for the rest of your system.
Sound Swap’s technology originated from the Sonos Advanced Technology Group, a team that has come together in recent years. “In the past we tried to innovate in the product development process, but this is the worst place to try to do it when you have a specific timeline and deadlines in front of you,” Bouvat-Merlin said. “So I created a special and autonomous group that works on things for two, three, four years later.”
All of these features don’t make sense if people don’t want to take the Roam with them, which means its physical design is probably more important here than with standard home speakers. From what we’ve seen so far, the Roam seems compact and easy to move around. It weighs less than a pound, and Sonos described it as roughly the same size as a water bottle. The idea is that it’s small and light enough that you don’t have to think about taking it with you; it just becomes a habit. I haven’t used it yet, but I could certainly imagine that this is the sort of thing I would toss in a bag when I leave home, whether it’s on a quick trip or a cross-country flight (when it is). is doable, anyway).
As usual, there are some smart Sonos flourishes here. The enclosure can be used in vertical or horizontal orientation. It detects which way it is positioned and adjusts the sound accordingly. It’s compatible with all Qi wireless chargers, or you can just use the included USB-C cable. Sonos makes its own magnetic wireless charger, but unfortunately that’s an extra $ 50 rather than an item included in the box.
The Roam is also rated IP67 for its resistance to dust and water. In fact, it can be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes and continue to operate. The Move has superior resistance to temperature fluctuations, but it cannot be soaked in water. Since other companies have speakers that can even float in a swimming pool, the fact that the Roam can survive a trip underwater is crucial.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Roam has to sound good – that’s no small feat, given its small size. I didn’t listen to it, but. Simmons said users should expect sound quality to be comparable to the larger Sonos One speaker, but without the same maximum volume. But the bass presence is said to be much larger than one would expect with such a small speaker. Of course, we’ll have to wait to hear it for ourselves, but given what companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple have done with their own relatively small speakers, I hope Sonos has worked its magic on the little Roam.
As usual with Sonos, the Roam features a number of custom internals, like the so-called “race track” midwoofer. Since a traditional circular design wouldn’t work in the slim, tall Roam, Sonos opted for this oval shape to maximize its size. It also has a dedicated tweeter and two Class H amplifiers. Installing both a mid tweeter and woofer in the Roam rather than using a single versatile driver should make a significant difference in audio quality.
Sonos also included the “Auto Trueplay” speaker tuning technology that it first incorporated into the Move. This means that the speaker will use its built-in microphone array to listen to its output and optimize the sound wherever it is placed. Trueplay has been available for Sonos speakers since 2015, but they require an iOS device to be used to manually tune the device. This is not the case for the Move and the Roam, and the Roam goes even further this time. It will be able to adjust itself even when you are not on WiFi, using profiles built directly into the speaker hardware itself.
The Roam is entering a crowded market, but it is competitively priced, although still more expensive than many Bluetooth-only devices. It offers a host of features if you’re already a Sonos user – but its low price also makes it a gateway drug to the Sonos ecosystem if you’ve never tried their products. We’ll have to listen before we can judge whether Sonos has hit the mark, but from what we know so far, it looks like a compelling option in the ultraportable speaker category. Pre-orders for the Roam are now open on the Sonos website and the speaker will be available on April 20.