Wayfarer review: Sonos’ ultra-portable Roam speaker a powerful delight

by James Wilkinson

Sonos is well-known for developing some of the best smart speakers in the world and the latest addition to the range, the Roam, is yet another masterpiece from this brilliant brand.

Where the Sonos Roam excels is in the incredible versatility this lightweight speaker offers – one minute it’s on your kitchen bench connected to the WiFi network and the next it’s on your picnic rug in the park, producing over Bluetooth the brand’s signature, refined and stunning sound.

Weighing in at less than 500 grams, the Sonos Roam is lightweight, stylish, portable and durable. The Roam is dustproof and fully waterproof – it carries a rigorously-tested IP67 rating – and features silicone end caps and physical buttons to protect against drops or bumps.

The stylish and practical design means you can place Roam vertically for a smaller footprint (ideal for small corners in living rooms) or horizontally to provide added stability on uneven surfaces outdoors.

When it comes to the all-important sound quality, the Roam certainly does not disappoint. It is incredibly impressive for its size thanks to the tuning – by industry leaders across the music and film sectors to ensure the speaker reproduces content exactly how the creator intended – you’ll find brilliant sound quality.

“For a small, portable speaker, Roam sounds big and genuine,” says Grammy award-winning mastering engineer and member of the Sonos sound board, Emily Lazar.

“It doesn’t sound forced or artificial and that’s a testament to its technical design. It’s unique in its class because it actually performs like a finely tuned speaker as opposed to a megaphone.”

According to Sonos, “a carefully designed acoustic architecture delivers rich, detailed sound with the clarity, depth, and fullness you’d expect from a larger speaker”.

That’s exactly what you get and what’s quite remarkable with that is whether you are indoors or out, the quality of sound is impeccable, as is the connectivity.

Roam’s ability to have simultaneous connections to both WiFi and Bluetooth means when you’re listening at home, it connects to your system and streams on WiFi, and when you leave Roam intuitively switches to Bluetooth and automatically re-pairs with your mobile device.

Versatility is also the key when it comes to pushing content to the Roam, thanks to its ease-of-connection to more than 100 streaming services, including Sonos Radio, and is easily controlled with the Sonos app, your voice with Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2, or directly from your music service app.

It also has a couple of cool features, including Sound Swap. Simply press and hold the play/pause button on the speaker to switch the music to the nearest speaker in your system, making it easy to move music from room-to-room.

That seamless connectivity also unlocks Bluetooth streaming for your entire system, with the Sonos app allowing you to group any of your Sonos speakers to Roam when streaming with Bluetooth.

Automatic ‘Trueplay’ is also now available when streaming via Bluetooth as well as WiFi, and means Roam is always tuned for the best listening experience in any environment.

Also expect some decent battery life too. Roam has up to 10 hours of continuous playback on a single charge and up to 10 days of battery life when not in use.

To recharge, it is seriously simple too. Roam connects to a custom Sonos magnetic wireless charger (sold separately), any Qi wireless charger, or the USB-C cable included in the box.

“We built Roam to give customers a way to bring the Sonos experience with them wherever they go,” says Sonos CEO, Patrick Spence. “It’s not only our smartest and most versatile speaker, it’s also our most affordable.

“Roam provides the opportunity for millions of new customers to get started with Sonos, and is the right product at the right time as we begin to gather again with friends and family.”

The company also has the environment firmly in mind. The packaging leaves a light footprint, thanks to a structure made of 100% sustainably-sourced paper, minimises the use of inks, and includes no single-use plastics.

Available in shadow black or lunar white, Roam is available now for AU$279 on sonos.com and through participating retailers.