What you need to know
- Sonos has introduced a cheaper version of its Roam portable speaker.
- The Sonos Roam SL retains generally the same hardware specs as the original version, except for the microphone.
- It costs $159/€179, but it doesn't support any digital assistant.
Sonos launched the Sonos Roam (opens in new tab) last year as its cheapest portable speaker yet, complete with a bunch of smart capabilities such as support for voice assistants and automatic tuning. However, the speaker got pricier a few months later after Sonos raised the prices of several of its products (opens in new tab), presumably due to the global chip shortage.
The company has now dropped some of those features to produce a more affordable version (opens in new tab) of one of the best Bluetooth speakers (opens in new tab). The Sonos Roam SL costs $159 (€179), but without the microphone.
Sonos' latest speaker is $20 cheaper than the original model, although it lacks a few smart functionalities, including support for Google Assistant (opens in new tab) or Amazon Alexa.
Those aren't the only compromises you'll have to deal with: the Roam SL also foregoes automatic Trueplay tuning based on your surroundings, as well as the Sound Swap feature for switching audio between Roam and a nearby Sonos speaker.
Apart from those trade-offs, the Roam SL resembles the original model in many ways. It has the same triangular body and matte finish as the Roam, and you can place it upright to save some space or horizontally for stability. Sonos says the speaker provides the "best listening experience" in either position by enabling sound to adapt to the speaker's orientation.
The Roam SL is also IP67 rated for dust resistance and waterproof, with a battery that can last up to 10 hours, depending on usage. It's powered by a quad-core 1.4GHz CPU.
The speaker can also connect to Wi-Fi, making it a part of your Sonos home theater system. Meanwhile, you can take it with you outside and pair it directly with your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Sonos also allows stereo pairing between the Roam SL and two other Roam speakers when you're on Wi-Fi for a wider soundstage.
It's not the first time Sonos has removed the mic from its speakers. The Sonos One SL (opens in new tab) debuted in 2019 without a mic, so it's not surprising that the company has done the same with the Roam.
The Roam SL is available for preorder through Sonos' online store in Shadow Black and Lunar White color variants. Shipping will begin on March 15.
The Sonos Roam SL is a lightweight, outdoor-ready portable speaker that retains the same audio quality as the original model, but for a lower price tag. It also supports stereo pairing with two other Sonos speakers for a wider soundstage.
Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.
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