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Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Why we think you should hold off upgrading

The Sonos Roam 2 in grey being held in two hands in a domestic setting

The new Sonos Roam 2 is here, but while it brings some practical updates, the changes are too minor to warrant upgrading

Despite being over three years old, the original Sonos Roam remains one of our favourite portable speakers. It blew us away during testing, delivering excellent audio performance for its size along with all the smarts we’ve come to expect from the American audio manufacturer. As a result, it received a five-star rating and Best Buy award and was crowned Bluetooth Speaker of the Year at our Tech Product of the Year Awards in 2021.

Sonos recently unveiled its successor, the Sonos Roam 2, alongside its first pair of noise-cancelling headphones, the Sonos Ace. But while there was plenty of excitement in the Expert Reviews office about the Ace and their integration with Sonos’ home audio ecosystem, the update to the Roam was met with less enthusiasm.

We’re yet to get our hands on the Roam 2 so can’t comment on how it performs, but given the second-generation model has been three years in the making, it’s surprisingly light on upgrades. Sonos has made a couple of tweaks here and there but those expecting groundbreaking new features or a radical redesign will be disappointed.

To demonstrate how similar the two models are, we’ve compared them across a few key categories below. If you decide the Roam 2 is worth the upgrade, it’s available to buy now for £179 from Sonos and various other retailers including Amazon, John Lewis and Currys.

Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Price and availability

As noted above, the Sonos Roam 2 costs £179. That’s the same list price as the original Roam, although that went on offer at £159 for a few weeks shortly after launch.

You can still pick up the first-gen model, which currently costs £139 at Amazon, a price that’s likely to fall further now that its successor has been announced.

Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Design and battery life

The Sonos Roam and Roam 2 are virtually identical. Both measure approximately 62 x 60 x 168mm (WDH) in their vertical orientation, weigh 0.43kg and are rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, meaning they can be submerged in shallow water for up to 30 minutes.

They’re both available in a range of colours – the Roam 2 launched in black, white, red, blue and green – but there is a very minor difference concerning branding. Where the original Roam had a white Sonos logo across all of its colourways, the Roam 2 matches the logo’s colour to that of the speaker housing.

Battery life for both devices is estimated at ten hours of continuous audio playback at moderate volume. That’s a reasonable figure for a portable speaker of this size but an extra couple of hours wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The Sonos Roam 2 shown in grey, coral and olive green on a green picnic blanket

Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Controls

Here’s where we see the first meaningful changes to the Roam formula. The Roam 2 has a very similar control layout to its predecessor, with a selection of depressible buttons at one end of its tubular housing. This time around, however, you pair the speaker over Bluetooth using a separate button – the Roam required you to use the power button to do so. While not a particularly glamorous addition, it’s a sensible one and one our Head of Reviews, Jon Bray called for when he reviewed the original model.

Voice assistant support is slightly different, too. While the far-field mic array with beamforming remains unchanged, the Roam 2 follows in the footsteps of the company’s Era 100 and Era 300 wireless speakers by dropping Google Assistant support. You still get Amazon Alexa built-in and Sonos Voice Control but this is a pretty hefty blow to those who favour Google’s smart assistant for voice commands.

Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Connectivity

There’s not a huge amount of deviation in this department either. Both the Roam and Roam 2 support streaming over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but the newer model has received a Bluetooth version upgrade: from 5.0 to 5.2. Sonos hasn’t revealed which Bluetooth codecs are supported but it’s safe to assume the Roam 2 is compatible with the same AAC and SBC standards as its predecessor. AirPlay 2 is still supported too, which is good to see.

One change we’re delighted by enables the Roam 2 to connect to devices without needing to be set up on the Sonos app over Wi-Fi first. This will take a lot of hassle out of the pairing process and is one of the big advantages the Roam 2 has over its predecessor.

They also both house a USB-C port for charging but can be topped up wirelessly using a Qi charging pad if you prefer. You do get a different charging cable in the box, however; the first Roam came with a 1.2m USB-A to USB-C cable, while the Roam 2 comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable instead. Sadly, there’s no power adapter included and Sonos continues to omit a 3.5mm port; two of the minor grumbles we had about the first-gen model.

The Sonos Roam 2 in olive green being on a green quilt with someone playing music through it on a smartphone

Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Audio

Perhaps most disappointingly, the Sonos Roam 2 seems to have received no upgrades to its audio setup. It still uses a single tweeter paired with a mid-woofer and is powered by two Class-H digital amplifiers.

Sonos’ excellent Automatic Trueplay tuning, which optimises the speaker’s EQ on the fly by scanning its surroundings, makes a welcome return, as does Sound Swap, which lets you push audio from the Roam to another compatible Sonos audio product. Should you wish to adjust the EQ manually, you’ll find bass, treble and loudness sliders in the Sonos app.

The original Roam sounds superb, but we’re slightly surprised Sonos hasn’t gone all guns blazing to take its successor’s audio performance to another level.

Sonos Roam 2 vs Sonos Roam: Initial verdict

We’ll have to wait to hear the Sonos Roam 2 in action before making a firm decision about which comes out on top.

Save a disaster on the audio front, the second-gen model looks set to be the superior product thanks to minor yet pragmatic tweaks that should improve the user experience. But there’s no hiding the fact we’d hoped for a bit more in the way of innovation. Given Sonos has always been something of a trailblazer in the wireless home audio sector, it feels like it’s playing things rather safe this time around.

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