Sonos will launch its new Roam portable smart speaker onto the Australian market on April 20 at $279, and the company is expecting big things from its smallest-ever device.
While the Roam has obvious appeal to anybody whose home is already wired – or rather unwired – with several Sonos speakers for multi-room audio, Sonos also sees it as providing a 'soft entry' for newcomers due to Roam's relatively low price and high degree of versatility.
At home, it's part of your Sonos WiFi system at home – but it's less likely to be locked to a single room than the familiar Sonos One, for example.
Instead, the compact battery-powered Roam is more likely to serve up your choice of music while relaxing on the deck or by the pool, doing some gardening or even while giving your car that overdue wash and polish.
(There's also a case for it to be used in spaces where you're less likely to spend a lot of time, such as the bathroom or kitchen, although Ikea's $149 Sonos-compatible Symfonisk Bookshelf speaker would also be quite suitable.)
While you're out and about, the Sonos Roam will fall back on Bluetooth for streaming music from your smartphone, with up to ten hours' battery life (the speaker conserves battery life by automatically powering down once the music stops).
That WiFi+Bluetooth combo could make the Sonos Roam the perfect travel speaker, with plenty of ways to use it at home when you're not travelling.
Even at home, Roam can take a streaming Bluetooth audio track and share it with other Sonos speakers; and the new Sound Swap feature, invoked by pressing and holding Roam's play/pause button, moves your music to or from the nearest Sonos speaker.
As expected, the Roam works with voice commands from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and also works with Apple AirPlay 2, while Automatic Trueplay tuning continually adjusts the sound pattern based on the speaker's orientation (it can be placed vertical or horizontal), and location.
Roam isn't the first portable Sonos smart speaker, of course – it follows the brutish Move, which was essentially a very beefed-up Sonos One with a whopping great battery pack to boot. So if the massive 3kg Move was portable, then the little 430 gram Roam is ultraportable.
It's also sealed in a waterproof and dustproof (IP67-rated) case, and can be recharged via the supplied USB-C cable or using wireless Qi charging. Sonos will also sell you a bundle of the Roam and a magnetic made-for-Roam wireless charging dock for $358.
As you'd expect, Sonos is talking up Roam's audio quality and all-new speaker array, which the firm says is powered by two Class-H amplifiers, a mid-woofer and a tweeter.
"For a small, portable speaker, Roam sounds big and genuine," says Emily Lazar, a Grammy award-winning mastering engineer and member of the Sonos sound board.
"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."