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Sonos Says Roam If U Want 2

While we were all distracted by the company’s first headphones, Sonos quietly slipped in an update to their popular Bluetooth portable speaker.

Sonos Roam 2 in wave light blue color in-hand

Overshadowed by the hullabaloo around Sonos’ first headphones, the Sonos Ace, it was easy to miss the company’s other announcement this week: an updated version of their popular portable wireless speaker, the Roam. The new version is called, unsurprisingly, Roam 2. No points for clever this time. Sorry, Sonos.

I reviewed the original Roam over on Big Picture Big Sound and found a lot to like. The Roam offered solid sound quality, considering its compact form factor, reliable integration within the Sonos whole home network, robust build quality with IP67 waterproof rating, and useful features like built-in Alexa assistant for easy voice controlled operation.

Sonos Roam 2 portable Bluetooth speaker colors
Sonos Roam 2 comes in colors: Olive, White, Wave, Black and Sunset.

Three years later, my original Sonos Roam is still going strong. It joins me in the shower to give me my daily briefing from NPR and hardly ever comments on my extra winter weight. It tells me the weather and plays anything I ask it to from TIDAL or Amazon Music. About my only complaint is that the Roam’s built-in far-field microphone is so sensitive that it frequently answers my mundane questions all the way from the upstairs bathroom even when I ask said questions from the living room (while our actual Amazon speaker – an Echo Show – is just a few feet away). Over-achiever much?

Also, when I forget to turn off the Roam after a listening session, the unit stays on and drains the battery after a few hours if not plugged in. But then I did leave Alexa awake and listening. And robots need their batteries charged or they go to sleep. So I think I can chalk that one up to “user error. “

Roam 2 Has Entered the Chat

Sonos Roam 2 pressing top button

The Roam 2 adheres to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. Specs are virtually identical to the predecessor, size and form factor are the same. The set-up has been simplified – now you can pair the Roam with your phone right out of the box instead of adding the Roam to your Sonos network first. OK, I guess that’s fine. But I think my Sonos speakers would get lonely if they were not in the network. And no one wants a lonely speaker.

Like the Roam before it, the Roam 2 offers up to 10 hours of portable play time, Apple AirPlay, Amazon Alexa and Sonos Voice Control built in. The IP67 waterproof/dustproof rating carries over from its predecessor so the Roam 2 can be completely submerged for brief periods of time. For stereo listening, greater fidelity and more dynamic range, you can pair it with a second Roam 2 in the Sonos app. The Roam 2 offers full integration with the Sonos app and the ability to seamlessly switch between a Bluetooth connection to your phone and a network connection at home. But now, the Roam 2 offers a dedicated Bluetooth button. The previous version required that the power button perform dual functions as a Bluetooth pairing button as well.

Sonos Roam (left) vs. Roam 2 (right) portable Bluetooth speakers in black
Sonos Roam (left) vs. Roam 2 (right) portable Bluetooth speakers in black

The other difference between versions is that the Sonos Roam 2 logo color now matches the main grille color. Previously you could have any logo color you liked, as long as it was white. And that white logo stood out on the black, off-white, green, blue or red (sorry, “Olive,” “Wave,” or “Sunset”) background. Seriously… “Wave” is a color now? Anyhoo, now the logo sort of blends in with the rest of the speaker. And I don’t like that as much. The old white Sonos log set it apart. It shouted out: “Hey, I’m A Sonos! I’m not a JBL! I’m not a Sony! I’m not an Apple” (“hey, apple!“). Apparently individuality has fallen out of favor.

Sonos Roam 2 portable Bluetooth speaker with charging base
Sonos Roam 2 can charge with the included USB-C cable or with an optional magnetic wireless charging base ($49).

The Bottom Line

Sonos unveiled a mild refresh of its Sonos Roam Bluetooth speaker this week, the Roam 2. It features the same performance and functionality as the original version with a simplified set-up process that allows you to take it out on the road without first stopping at your home network. Sure, the color-matched logo may lead to a loss of individuality, but you could also say that the subtlety of the new design is proof that Sonos has graduated from the outsider who craves attention to the alpha dog who has no need of ostentatious displays. After all, it’s what’s inside that counts, right?

Or you could realize that it’s just a portable Bluetooth speaker after all. And a pretty good one at that.

Where to Buy: $179 at Amazon | Sonos (US) | Sonos (Europe)

Tip: If you can do without microphones for voice commands, Sonos Roam SL is on sale for $159 $127 at Sonos.

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