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Where would we be without portable speakers? From lounging around the house to soundtracking a social gathering, to setting the tone for a large event, we’ve come to depend on the portability and flexibility of portable speakers. However, it hasn’t always been this way. As a matter of fact, the technology is barely more than 15 years old. Sonos, Inc. is largely to thank for popularizing the technology, including the Sonos Move and the Sonos Roam. But which portable Sonos speaker is best between the Sonos Move vs. Roam?

It’s a tough question to answer outright, but it’s one that nevertheless has an answer. It’ll just take some work to get there. We’ll begin by making a side-by-side comparison of the two Sonos portable Bluetooth speakers, then move on to an in-depth discussion of the key differences between the Sonos Move vs. Roam. From there, we’ll overview the company’s history and weigh the pros and cons of the Sonos Move vs Roam. In the end, we’ll ultimately be able to say which portable Bluetooth speaker is best for you. Let’s get right into it.

Side By Side Comparison: Sonos Move vs. Roam

Sonos MoveSonos Roam
ReleasedSeptember 24th, 2019March 9th, 2021
Price$399$179
Size9.44 in. x 6.29 in. x 4.96 in.6.61 in. x 2.44 in. x 2.36 in.
Weight6.6 lbs0.95 lb
Battery Life11 hours10 hours
RAM1 GB1 GB
Storage4 GB4 GB
ColorsShadow Black, Lunar WhiteShadow Black, Lunar White, Sunset, Wave, Olive
Waterproof RatingIP56IP67
Sale
Sonos Move - Battery-Powered Smart Speaker, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with Alexa Built-in - Black​​​​​​​
  • Get brilliant sound anywhere with the weatherproof and drop-resistant Move. Control with your voice, the Sonos app, and Apple AirPlay 2 at home, and stream via Bluetooth when WiFi isn't available.
  • Experience surprisingly deep bass, a wide soundscape, and automatic Trueplay tuning that perfectly balances the sound for where you are and what you're listening to.
  • Stream over WiFi and connect Move to the rest of your Sonos system at home. Switch to Bluetooth when you're away and offline.
  • With an IP56 rating, Move stands up to humidity, rain, snow, dust, salt spray, UV rays, and extreme heat and cold.
  • With an IP56 rating, Move stands up to humidity, rain, snow, dust, salt spray, UV rays, and extreme heat and cold.

Sonos Move vs. Roam: Key Differences

While these specs do an excellent job highlighting the specs of the Sonos Move vs Roam, they don’t say much about what exactly these differences mean. For this reason, we’ll take some time to dive deeper into a few of these key differences. From the price of each speaker to the portability of the two to the kind of battery life you can expect from the Sonos Move vs. Roam, these are the three things that set the Sonos Bluetooth speakers apart the most.

Price

Firstly, there’s the price. When purchasing any sort of consumer electronics, the actual cost of the thing is always going to play an enormous role. Depending on your budget, this could effectively make or break your decision. The Sonos Move costs $399. The Sonos Roam costs less than half the price of the Move, currently priced at $179. While both are drastically more affordable than other Sonos products — namely their home theater and multi-room audio setups — the price difference between the Sonos Move vs. Roam is equally as drastic.

While these two portable speakers are far more affordable than a majority of the Sonos product lineup, they aren’t exactly the cheapest Sonos products. This belongs to the Sonos Roam SL, which is priced at $159 — a good $20 cheaper than the Sonos Roam and a solid $240 cheaper than the Sonos Move. The Sonos Roam is absolutely cheaper than the Sonos Move, but neither one can beat the cheapest price of the Sonos Roam SL. Still, between the Sonos Move vs. Roam, the winner of the price comparison is the Roam.

Portability

Secondly, portability is deserving of our attention. After price, the actual portability of a so-called portable speaker needs to be taken into consideration. This requires looking in a couple of different places: size and weight. The Sonos Move is approximately 9.4 inches high, 6.3 inches wide, and 5 inches long. The Sonos Roam, by comparison, is approximately 6.6 inches high, 2.4 inches wide, and 2.4 inches long. Not only is the Roam cheaper, but it’s also much smaller than the Move by comparison. The same can be said about weight.

The Sonos Move, being the bigger speaker, is naturally the heavier speaker as well. It weighs in at 6.6 pounds — about the weight of a small pumpkin or watermelon. The Roam, on the other hand, weighs in at just under a single pound. That’s comparable to the weight of a shoe or a paperback book. So, think of it this way: the weight of the Sonos Move vs. Roam is akin to the weight of a watermelon vs. a paperback. Which would you rather carry around? The lighter one, which is obviously the more portable one: The Sonos Roam.

Battery Life

Thirdly, and finally, there’s battery life. After all, what good is an affordable and portable speaker if it doesn’t have a battery life worthy of carrying around from place to place? The Sonos Move — with its higher price and heavier weight and larger size — boasts a battery life of 11 hours. The Sonos Roam, for its cheaper price, lighter weight, and smaller size, has a slightly shorter (but still notable) battery life of just 10 hours. With long lives like these, neither one of these speakers is going to run out of battery on you in the middle of a get-together (as long as you stay up on the charging).

Speaking of charging, it’s also worth discussing how long you can expect to spend charging both the Sonos Move vs. Roam. Typically, it takes the Roam about an hour to charge from about 0% to 50% with a USB-C cable. You can double that time to two hours when using the Sonos-branded wireless charger. By comparison, the Move can fully charge from 0% to 100% in around two hours. That makes its charge time at least twice as fast as the Roam on the wireless charger and pretty equitable with the USB cable. This makes sense, considering their battery lives are near-identical.

5 Must-Know Facts About Sonos

  • While it might seem strange considering the streamer’s eventual fate, digital music service Rhapsody singlehandedly helped Sonos become a reality by facilitating their dream of playing music straight from a computer or mobile device to a Sonos speaker.
  • The Sonos Move was the first battery-powered speaker from the company. It kicked off a whole family of wireless, battery-operated speakers for Sonos.
  • Sonos’s Roam soon followed the Move, shrinking the size but retaining many of the alluring features (especially portability and durability).
  • Today, Sonos’s product line stretches from portable speakers to home theater systems to multi-room systems to speaker accessories and more.
  • Audi vehicles rely on Sonos for their audio systems. Starting with the Audi Q4 e-tron, the brands have been partners since early 2021.

The History of Sonos

Sonos founders Trung Mai, Tom Cullen, Craig Shelburne, and John MacFarlane had a different goal in mind when they first developed their multi-room audio products. Originally, McFarlane and crew intended to develop a wireless service for airplanes. However, that never came to fruition. At least, not in the traditional sense. Sonos’s speakers rely on a wireless service of a different sort. Beginning with the first Sonos product — 2005’s ZonePlayer 100 — Sonos became a brand synonymous with wireless speakers.

Sure, Sonos isn’t a wireless service like, say, a mobile phone provider, but it seems fair to say that the company accomplished MacFarlane’s initial goal. We take Bluetooth speakers for granted today, but the truth is that this kind of intricate and wide-ranging wireless connectivity to a network of speakers just didn’t exist at the time of Sonos’s founding in 2002. Drawing from what they knew from working in startups prior to Sonos, the crew was determined to bring this vision into reality: a wireless, multi-room, high-quality speaker system connected to users’ PCs and phones.

It wasn’t enough that state-of-the-art wireless speaker tech didn’t exist yet at this time. Digital music was still in its infancy, as well. Even fewer people had the kind of Internet connection to support digital music streaming in the first place. The next few years saw Mai, Cullen, Shelburne, and MacFarlane revolutionizing not just great speaker tech, but the very way devices communicate with one another over the internet. The first Sonos product, the ZP100, hit stores in January 2005. It was an instant and unprecedented success.

Sonos’s Portable Speaker Lineup

Today, Sonos’s product lineup consists of far more than the ZP100. As a matter of fact, the ZP100 was discontinued way back in 2008. With their newfound and widespread success, it was onto bigger and better things for Sonos. The key to their next steps? Anticipating where technology would head next so that new Sonos products would arrive on shelves just as the necessary tech began to boom. Their first big bet following the success of the ZP100 was excising the PC entirely and focusing solely on mobile. This, as we now know, was a visionary decision.

In November of 2009, following the recent success of the iPod and the subsequent boom in the digital music industry, Sonos released the PLAY:5. It was one of the first — if not the very first — all-in-one smart speakers, and it was a third of the price of the ZP100. These two factors, innovation, and affordability, came together to drive Sonos to even greater heights. It was clear to the Sonos higher-ups that the future was in portable, wireless speakers. They were now confident their decision to develop a portable speaker lineup was the correct one.

Sonos underwent a companywide shift toward software upgrades, improved sound quality, and building relationships with artists and creatives in consulting roles. Today, Sonos has over 100 partners in the music industry (including iHeartRadio, Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music) as well as a whole catalog of speakers — including a line of portable speakers. This line currently consists of the Roam, the Roam SL, the Move, the Adventure Set (two Roams), the Portable Set (a Roam and a Move), the Indoor/Outdoor Set (a Move and a Sonos One), and more.

Sonos Roam - Black
  • Stream music and more over WiFi, and enjoy easy control with the Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.
  • Use Bluetooth when you take this waterproof, lightweight, and durable speaker on the go.
  • Experience astonishingly clear and perfectly balanced sound with automatic Trueplay tuning.
  • Get up to 10 hours of continuous play time, and recharge with the included USB-C cable and any 7.5W (5V / 1.5A or 2.1A) or higher USB power adapter, or any Qi wireless charger.
  • Create a multiroom sound system with other Sonos speakers and enjoy music, TV, and more all around your home.

Sonos Move vs. Roam: Pros and Cons

Pros of Sonos MoveCons of Sonos Move
Seamless integration with other Sonos speakersMuch more expensive than your typical portable speaker
Impressive 11-hour battery lifeLarger than the Sonos Roam
Great waterproof ratingHeavier than the Sonos Roam
Smart assistant support The audio quality is not up to par with the price
Pros of Sonos RoamCons of Sonos Roam
Great audio quality for such a tiny speakerSlightly shorter battery life than the Move
More affordable than the Sonos MoveMore expensive than the Sonos Roam SL
Lighter than the Sonos MoveNot compatible with Sonos Sound Swap
Smaller than the Sonos MovePales in quality to the pricier Sonos sound systems

Sonos Move vs. Roam: Which Is Best?

So, the Sonos Move vs. Roam: Is it clear yet which portable speaker is best? We’ve seen how the two compare to one another specs-wise, and we’ve read about how the two stack up against one another where it matters most (price, portability, and battery life). Also helpful was learning how Sonos came to be and then comparing that to what we know about these Sonos portable speakers. Which Sonos portable speaker best represents the company’s commitment to top quality and optimal convenience? In the end, it has to be the Sonos Roam.

It’s not just that it’s smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the Sonos Move. It also sets itself apart from the Move by offering more colors to choose from, delivering a better waterproof rating, and equipping itself with many of the same internal specs as its larger, heavier, pricier counterpart. The Move just does not have the kind of sound quality or portability to justify its price. The Roam, on the other hand, has advantages that far outshine these downsides of the Move. It’s the deserved winner of the Sonos Move vs. Roam debate.

Last update on 2023-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sonos Move vs. Roam: Which Portable Speaker is Better for You? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Who founded Sonos?

Sonos was founded in 2002 by Trung Mai, Tom Cullen, Craig Shelburne, and John MacFarlane. The group was initially set on developing an innovative new technology for aviation, but soon began working toward revolutionizing speaker tech instead.

How does Sonos work?

Instead of relying on Bluetooth like many other wireless speaker systems, Sonos depends on Wi-Fi to stream music throughout a Sonos system. The Sonos Move was actually the first Sonos speaker to even include Bluetooth capabilities.

Does it cost money to use Sonos?

There are no monthly fees to use Sonos, but the company does offer a streaming service that comes at a cost.

Can you use Sonos without internet?

Sonos speakers can still work without Wi-Fi or internet if they’re wired to a source via HDMI or a digital optical cable.

Will Sonos slow down your internet connection?

Sonos has a low bandwidth, which means it won’t eat up too much of your internet speeds.

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