Unleash the Roam: Sonos, the Ultimate Bluetooth Speaker for Campervan Adventurers.
"Great design, great colours, excellent quality and all of the important features, but the value for money is questionable - similar sound can be achieved for under half this price."
Hello, Jacob Rose here. Over the last 15 years, I've put just about everything tech-related through its paces, from cutting-edge travel gadgets to rugged camping and climbing gear. I've even cut my teeth in Hewlett Packard labs, exploring the ins and outs of exciting new products. Today, though, I'll be lending my ears and experience to the Sonos Roam – Sonos' portable Bluetooth speaker that everyone seems to be raving about. If there's anyone can put this device through a rigorous field test, I like to think it's yours truly. So let's dive in, get under the Roam's skin, and see if this portable Bluetooth speaker truly justifies its fanfare. No jargon, no hype, only good, honest review. Hang tight. This is going to be interesting.
The Sonos Roam supports music streaming over WiFi and is compatible with the Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2, and Amazon Alexa. It offers Bluetooth capability for portable use. This speaker has a waterproof construction and is lightweight and durable. It provides up to 10 hours of playback, can be recharged using the provided USB-C cable or any Qi wireless charger. It can be integrated with other Sonos speakers to establish a multiroom sound system. The product, built with shock-absorbent materials and holding an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Weight 0.43 kgs Warranty 12 months Battery Life (estimated) 10 hours Waterproof Yes, IP67 Dimensions 168 x 62 x 60 cm Sound Output 10 watts
As a seasoned campervan owner, I found the Sonos Roam to be exceptional in fulfilling my audio needs. The speaker sets up effortlessly, connects seamlessly to my various devices via Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2 and Amazon Alexa, and the sound quality is surprisingly great for its size - the bass is full and the treble is crystal clear. Its petite size and light weight made it a perfect audio companion to easily move from room to room, or even outside my camper. The Roam's portability shines during my frequent, relaxing and affordable holidays throughout UK and Europe.
An added bonus of the Sonos Roam is its solid build and durability, which holds up across varying weather and terrain conditions that we campervan owners often encounter. Thanks to its IP67 dust and water resistance rating, I never have to worry about it getting wet or being exposed to dust. The speaker also comes with an impressive battery life of up to 10 hours, ensuring continuous playtime throughout our journey, and it's easily rechargeable with the included USB-C cable, which is another big convenience for us.
For motorhome aficionados like me who appreciate being surrounded by decent sound, the ability to integrate the Sonos Roam as part of a multiroom sound system elevates every camping experience. The Alexa and Siri control options further enable hands-free music operation, making it an impeccable addition to my Sonos ecosystem at home and on-the-go. Despite a slight standby issue, the speaker's performance is top-notch. Overall, Sonos Roam is a sturdy, practical, and quality audio device that easily enhances the campervan lifestyle.
Is this the best Bluetooth Speaker for you?
Check out our full roundup: Waterproof Bluetooth speakers for campervans and motorhomes
Despite the Sonos Roam's impressive array of features, it has some significant drawbacks. The first issue I encountered was during the setup process. The app failed, forcing me to reset the Sonos and restart, which was a long and tedious process. Once set up, the speaker's performance was disappointing. While the sound quality was respectable at lower volumes, it significantly deteriorated above 50% volume, with a noticeable lack of bass response and unclear mids. The AirPlay 2 feature, while great for connecting to other speakers, was unreliable, often not showing up in the AirPlay list despite the device being connected to the internet. The app also took ages to connect to the speaker and sometimes failed to connect at all, requiring a forced shutdown and restart of the speaker.
The Sonos Roam also has some design flaws that make it less user-friendly. The power button, a narrow, long-shaped multi-function button, is difficult to operate and is inconveniently located on the back of the device. Turning the speaker on and off is almost a lottery, depending on whether you've held the button in too long or not long enough. Additionally, the speaker's battery life is average at best, lasting only a few hours. While it does have wireless charging, this doesn't make up for the short battery life. The speaker also requires connection to the Sonos S2 app to activate Bluetooth, meaning it can only be activated over WiFi, which is not ideal for a portable speaker. Lastly, the speaker is not compatible with the older Sonos S1 app, so if you have older Sonos equipment, you can't use it.
Should You Buy?
To wrap up, as a well-travelled campervan owner, the Sonos Roam has presented a delightful blend of portability, durability, seamless connectivity, and appreciable sound quality that greatly enhance my travel experiences. The battery life and its resistance to dust and water were especially noteworthy. However, the positives do not completely obscure the noticeable drawbacks.
The speaker's initial setup process was disjointed, requiring a system reset which was rather time-consuming. Sound performance, although commendable at low volumes, disappoints at higher levels, evidenced by an evident lack of bass and muddled mids. The functionality of the AIrPlay 2 feature and the connection issue with the app also call for improvement.
From a structural standpoint, the awkward power button placement and activation method is a clear design flaw, limiting user-friendliness. Additionally, the reliance on WiFi connectivity for Bluetooth activation is less than ideal, given the speaker's projected portability. It's worth mentioning, the battery life, whilst satisfactory, could potentially fall short on longer journeys.
Factor in the compatibility problem with the older Sonos S1 app, the Sonos Roam could be seen as having as many negatives as positives. In terms of overall impressions, while its design and quality shine, there's no escaping the point that the sound quality achieved by this speaker can be found for considerably less.
Therefore, whilst there is much to admire about the Sonos Roam, potential buyers should carefully consider whether the positive aspects of the speaker adequately offset its shortcomings and justify the cost. Speaking from my own experience, as much as I appreciate its positive attributes, I believe there's considerable room for enhancements before this device could make it to my 'must-have' list.
(Price When Reviewed: £179.00)