Technology

Sonos Roam will include Auto Trueplay and new ‘Sound Swap’ feature

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On Tuesday, Sonos will introduce its latest product called the Sonos Roam, which The Verge extensively detailed a couple of days ago. Now I’m able to share a bit more about new functionality that will debut first on the tiny, take-everywhere speaker.

My previous report laid out the core specs of the Sonos Roam. Measuring 6.5 inches long and weighing around a pound, the portable speaker will offer up to 10 hours of battery life on a charge. Just like the Move, it will support voice commands for either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Sonos plans to sell it for $169, and the Roam will ship in April.

But now on to the new stuff:

  • The Sonos Roam will include automatic Trueplay.
    Like the pricier, larger Move, Sonos is building its Auto Trueplay audio tuning feature right into the Roam. The speaker will use its built-in microphones to calibrate performance based on its surrounding environment. This can make a real difference in echoey rooms.
  • You can play songs over Bluetooth to your entire Sonos system.
    Sonos has designed the Roam so that it can use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth simultaneously (with the Move, you had to choose one or the other). Connecting to both at once will allow you to play a song from your phone or another device nearby to the Roam over Bluetooth — and that music can then also be played across the rest of your Sonos multi-room system.
  • “Sound Swap” will let you pass off music from the Roam to another Sonos speaker.
    Another new feature that’s exclusive to the Roam is what Sonos will call Sound Swap. If you hold down the play/pause button, the Roam will send the music it’s currently playing to whatever Sonos speaker is nearby. I don’t know the full details on this one, but my guess is that it involves using Bluetooth Low Energy to figure out which speaker is closest.
  • The Roam is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.
    This means it is fully dustproof and waterproof in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. That puts the Roam on equal footing with the popular UE Wonderboom speaker.
  • No, you can’t use it as a surround speaker for the Sonos Arc or Beam.
    The Roam can’t be used as part of a Sonos home theater setup. That’s not altogether surprising, since the same was true of the Move. If you’re looking for cheap surrounds for a Beam or Arc, your best options remain the One SL or the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf speakers.

The photo at the top of this story is another new image that makes for an easy size comparison between the Roam and the larger, more expensive Sonos Move. And here’s what the optional wireless charger looks like:

The biggest question I can’t answer is how this thing sounds. Can Sonos make good on its sound quality track record with a speaker this small? I’m optimistic the answer will be yes — but don’t expect miracles.

Automatic Trueplay could help the Roam set itself apart from many of the Bluetooth speakers it will compete against. A UE Boom or JBL Charge will always sound the same no matter where you place them. But if the Roam can adapt in noticeable ways to its surroundings, that’ll be a differentiator. And that Sound Swap trick sure sounds like it would be useful for an eventual pair of Sonos headphones…

We’ll be covering any other news Sonos has to share on March 9th. Just in case there are still some surprises on the way.


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