From pool parties to backyard barbecues, it’s not uncommon for there to be a Sonos supplying the tunes. In late 2019, the wireless audio company branched out from inside the home to the patio with the unveiling of its first on-the-go Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Move. Boasting up to 11 hours of battery life, the Move is ultra-durable and controllable with Alexa and Google Assistant, while still delivering the rich, uncompromised sound that Sonos products are known for.
But there’s a new kid in town now.is the latest in Sonos’ lineup, offering a number of the same features you’ll find with the $400 Move. At $169, the Roam is smaller and significantly cheaper than the Move, but which speaker is the better of the two? We’ve put together this head-to-head to observe the many similarities and differences between both Sonos devices, helping you decide which wireless audio experience is best for you and yours.
Design and battery life
Rugged, weather-resistant, and drop-resistant are three shared traits between both the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move speakers. In terms of overall design though, there are several differences. Measuring 6.61 inches tall, 2.44 inches wide, 2.36 inches deep, and weighing 0.95 pounds, the Sonos Roam is the company’s most lightweight and ergonomic offering. Placing the speaker in the same weight class as wireless speakers like the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 and the Bose SoundLink, Sonos is really pushing for portability and versatility — a concept introduced with the Move, now improved upon.
Physical buttons are relegated to the top of the speaker and include play/pause functions, volume adjustments, skip, and replay, along with a mic mute and, new to the Roam, a Bluetooth pairing button to instantly link the speaker to your favorite mobile devices. An IP67 rating protects the speaker from all dust and debris and allows the Roam to be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, making it ideal for pool and shoreside tunes. The built-in 18Wh battery allows for up to 10 hours of continuous playback. It’s packaged with a USB-C to USB-A cable, so you can connect to any 5V power brick or Qi-certified wireless charger to re-juice the Roam. While charging options are convenient for the Roam, we do miss the dedicated charging dock that comes with the Move. However, you can purchase afor only $49.
The Sonos Move measures 9.44 inches tall, 6.29 inches wide, 4.96 inches deep, and weighs 6.61 pounds. The heftier of Sonos’ two on-the-go devices, the Move can only stand upright. The Roam features rubber feet on its horizontal plane, allowing you to stand the speaker upright and on its side.
The Move’s physical buttons include play/pause, volume adjustments, skip, replay, and a mic mute option. The speaker is IP56 rated, ensuring good (but not perfect) protection against dust and debris, along with blasts of water and bad weather. Unlike the Roam, you don’t want to go submerging your Move in your swimming pool though. The 36Wh battery promises up to 11 hours of playback and includes a dedicated charger (unlike the Roam). Both the Roam and Move are available in black and white finishes.
It’s hard to declare a winner for this category, as some will prefer the lesser real estate of the Roam, while others will be happier with the Move’s bigger profile. While the Roam is submergible, the Move can withstand a dousing, just not a shallow-end dunk in the pool. The Roam is easy to grab and position, but the Move isn’t that cumbersome. Plus, it has a carrying handle. We’re calling this one a tie.
Both the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move feature dual amplifiers, a single tweeter, and a mid-range woofer for mids and low frequencies. The Roam’s two amps are Class-H certified, with the tweeter and woofer positioned for front-firing sound. The Move is powered by two Class-D amps, with the tweeter placed at the bottom of the speaker for down-firing disbursement. Like the Roam, the Move’s woofer is placed behind the speaker grille.
We love what both speakers can do, in terms of both volume output and clarity. The Roam is one of the best small wireless speakers we’ve heard to date. It gets plenty loud for outdoor listening and is clear and well-balanced at volume levels below 75%. After 75% output, bass and mids fall away, leaving higher frequencies to fill out the remaining volume pocket — typical of speakers this size.
That being said, the Move features a stronger audio presence overall. It’s louder, capable of bass-heavy delivery and wider sound-staging, and particularly shines when placed in an outdoor setting.
Both speakers employ far-field mics for Sonos’ Auto TruePlay technology, a great feature that allows the Roam and Move to automatically adjust sound output based on the listening environment. Where the tech was only available for Wi-Fi listening, TruePlay is now available for Bluetooth listening, too (for both speakers).
In terms of overall audio experience, we’re giving this category to the Move. As far as small speakers go, and Sonos products overall, the Roam is a close runner-up.
Like the rest of the Sonos family, both the Roam and Move allow for wireless music streaming over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and casting through Apple’s AirPlay 2. Through the Sonos app (available for iOS and Android devices), you can listen to a multitude of radio stations from all over the world, adjust speaker settings, create custom groups for shared music sources, and more. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be connected to Wi-Fi to take advantage of Sonos’ in-app music services. If you’re using Bluetooth, you’ll have to launch your preferred music streaming app (like Apple Music or Spotify) to send music to both the Roam and Move.
Both speakers are also controllable through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands (Wi-Fi connection required). With both voice assistants, you can play music, check the news, ask questions, and interact with your home’s compatible smart home devices.
Exclusive to the Roam is a feature called Sound Swap, which sends the Roam’s source audio to the closest Sonos speaker in your home. To do so, simply hold the play/pause button on the top of the speaker. You can also enable Sound Swap through the Sonos app.
With a slight leg-up in the features department, the laurel goes to the Sonos Roam.
Price and warranty
This is perhaps one of the largest differences between the devices. The newly released Sonos Roam currently sells for only $169. The Sonos Move goes for $399. Both speakers come with a one-year limited warranty from Sonos. While $399 is a steeper sticker price, the Move seems engineered for both in-home and outdoor listening. The $169 Roam is more on par with competitive Bluetooth speakers around the same price point, but with the added Sonos advantages of Wi-Fi listening, TruePlay, AirPlay 2 casting, and Sound Swap. Based on sheer value alone, the Roam wins in this category.
Frequent travelers, social listeners, and bargain-hunters will likely prefer the extreme portability and value of the Roam. It’s one of the best speakers in its size class and doesn’t hold back on any Sonos tech. In fact, with features like Sound Swap, the Roam offers a bit more than the Move. That being said, devout music enthusiasts may opt for the bigger acoustic housing, fuller sound-staging, and overall output of the Move. Of course, you’ll never see the Move selling for anything close to $169.
Considering performance, features, and value overall, we’re calling it a draw between both mobile Sonos speakers.
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