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Sonos Roam SL Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Mar 31, 2022 at 10:03 am
Sonos Roam SL Picture
6.4
Music
6.3
Videos/Movies
7.6
Podcasts
3.0
Voice Assistant
6.7
Outdoors
Battery Powered
Yes
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes

The Sonos Roam SL is a portable speaker that looks nearly identical to the Sonos Roam, though it doesn't feature a microphone. It's well-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it's dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, so you can take it outdoors without needing to worry about it getting a bit wet. Out-of-the-box, it has a fairly neutral sound profile suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. There are also bass and treble sliders in its companion app to tweak its sound to your liking. Like most speakers its size, it lacks a thumpy and rumbling low-bass. Also, since it lacks a microphone, it doesn't support voice assistants and doesn't come with a room correction feature like the Roam. You also can't swap audio between your speaker and other Sonos products.

Our Verdict

6.4 Music

The Sonos Roam SL is alright for music. It has a neutral sound profile out of the box, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. Its balanced mid-range ensures vocals and lead instruments reproduce clearly and with detail. There's a bit of extra warmth in the high-bass range that adds extra boom to the mix. You can tweak its sound to your liking, thanks to the bass and treble sliders in its companion app. However, like most small portable speakers, it lacks a thumpy and rumbling low-bass. It also needs to be paired to another speaker to play stereo audio and downmixes stereo content to mono when using it on its own, which isn't as immersive.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Wide and spacious soundstage.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
6.3 Videos/Movies

The Sonos Roam SL is passable for watching videos and movies. Its Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices is low enough to watch videos and movies without any syncing issues between the audio you hear and the visuals you see. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may differ. Out-of-the-box, its balanced mid-range ensures voices and dialogue are reproduced clearly and accurately in the mix. However, it lacks low-bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. It also doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present at max volume that affects the quality of your audio at louder volume levels.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Low Apple AirPlay latency.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
7.6 Podcasts

The Sonos Roam SL is good for podcasts. Its balanced mid-range out-of-the-box ensures voices sound clear and present in the mix, making the speaker suitable for listening to dialogue-centric content like audiobooks and podcasts. It's incredibly portable, so you can easily move your favorite podcasts from room to room. It also has good directivity, meaning you can hear your audio clearly from most angles. Unfortunately, though it gets loud enough to fill small rooms like your bedroom, it doesn't get loud enough to fill larger areas with sound.

Pros
  • Incredibly portable.
  • Wide and spacious soundstage.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
3.0 Voice Assistant

The Sonos Roam SL doesn't support voice assistants.

6.7 Outdoors

The Sonos Roam SL is alright for outdoor use. It's incredibly portable, so you can easily bring it with you on the go. It's also well-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance which certifies it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, so you don't need to worry about it getting a bit dirty or wet when bringing it outside with you. It doesn't have the longest battery life and isn't ideal for long listening sessions spent outdoors. It also doesn't get loud enough to fill large outdoor spaces.

Pros
  • IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
  • Incredibly portable.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • 6.4 Music
  • 6.3 Videos/Movies
  • 7.6 Podcasts
  • 3.0 Voice Assistant
  • 6.7 Outdoors
  1. Updated Mar 31, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Mar 23, 2022: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sonos Roam SL comes in two colors: 'Black' and 'White'. This review is for the 'Black' variant; you can see its label here. The 'White' variant will perform similarly. 

Note: The Sonos Roam SL is different from the Sonos Roam, which has a built-in microphone and voice assistants.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update the review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Sonos Roam SL is a small portable Bluetooth speaker with a design nearly identical to that of the Sonos Roam. However, since it lacks a microphone, it doesn't support voice assistants and doesn't come with a room correction feature. You also can't swap your audio between the Roam SL and other Sonos products. This well-built speaker has a fairly neutral sound profile out of the box, making it suitable for listening to different audio content. You can tweak its sound to your liking using the bass and treble sliders in its companion app. Unfortunately, like most small speakers, it doesn't get very loud and lacks a thumpy and rumbling low-bass.

See also our recommendations for the best Sonos speakers, the best portable Bluetooth speakers, and the best smart speakers.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam SL is identical to the Sonos Roam in design. However, since the Roam comes with a built-in microphone, it comes with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It also comes with a room correction feature which is currently only available with iOS devices, and you can swap audio between the speaker and other Sonos products. That said, the SL can get slightly louder with less compression at max volume, so audio quality doesn't degrade as much at louder volumes.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a better speaker than the Sonos Roam SL. The JBL can get a bit louder than the Sonos speaker and can produce a more extended low-bass. It has a longer-lasting battery life, making it better suited for long listening sessions. You can also connect it to two devices at once, which is handy when you quickly need to switch between audio sources. You can even use the speaker's USB-A port to charge your own devices. However, the Sonos is smaller, making it a bit more portable. It's also Wi-Fi-compatible and supports Apple AirPlay.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is a better speaker than the Sonos Roam SL overall. The Ultimate Ears can get a bit louder and produce a more extended low-bass. It offers a wider and more open sounding soundstage and can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. It also has a much longer-lasting battery life of over 17 hours from a single charge, making it better suited for long-listening sessions. Its sound profile is more customizable, thanks to the graphic EQ and presets in its companion app. That said, the Sonos has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. It's also smaller and lighter, making it more portable.

Sonos One SL

The Sonos Roam SL is a better speaker than the Sonos One SL overall. Since the Roam SL is designed to be taken along with you on the go, it's Bluetooth-compatible, battery-powered, and smaller in size. It's also better-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance that certifies it to be dust-tight and immersible in a meter of water for 30 minutes. It gets about as loud as the One SL, though it has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. That said, the One SL is a wired speaker designed to be used at home. It offers a better-balanced sound profile with its room correction feature enabled and can produce a more extended low-bass.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a better speaker than the Sonos Roam SL. With its room correction feature turned on, it can get louder and offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass than the Roam SL. It also offers fantastic voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in and has a longer-lasting battery life making it better suited for long listening sessions. The Roam SL is smaller and easier to bring along with you on the go. It also has lower Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay latency and has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes.

Apple HomePod mini

The Sonos Roam SL is a slightly better speaker than the Apple HomePod mini overall, though they have different strengths. The Sonos is a portable Bluetooth speaker that's better built and is designed to be easy to transport with you on the go. It can get louder than the Apple. It also has a slightly more balanced sound profile out of the box, and you can customize its sound to your liking using the bass and treble sliders in its companion app. The Apple is a wired Wi-Fi speaker designed for use at home and comes with Siri built-in. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it also has better directivity, resulting in a wider and more spacious sounding soundstage.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Sonos Roam SL looks nearly identical to the Sonos Roam. It has a simple, sleek design, and you can place it either vertically or horizontally. You can find it in two colors: 'Black' and 'White'.

9.4
Design
Portability
Volume
39 in³ (632 cm³)
Weight
0.9 lbs (0.4 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Sonos Roam SL is remarkably portable and is identical to the Sonos Roam in size and weight. You can easily bring this lightweight speaker along with you on the go, and you don't need to worry about needing to plug it into a power outlet for it to work since it's battery-powered.

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Yes (IK rating unspecified)
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Sonos Roam SL has amazing build quality. Its body and grille are made of plastic, and there are protective silicone caps on its sides. There are also four small rubber feet to place the speaker horizontally. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, meaning it's certified to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, so you don't need to worry about it getting a bit wet when bringing it outside with you. That said, its plastic body is prone to collecting fingerprints. Also, while the manufacturer says it's drop-resistant, they haven't specified an IK rating.

7.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Sonos Roam SL has a decent selection of controls that are easy to use. You can press and hold the play/pause button to group the speaker with other compatible speakers, though you can't swap audio between your speaker and other Sonos products like you can with the Sonos Roam. You can also triple press it to backtrack and double press it to skip to your next track. To enable Bluetooth pairing mode, press and hold the power button for around two seconds.

The speaker beeps as you increase or decrease the volume and chimes once you reach its maximum volume level. There's also a status light that turns white when the speaker is on, blinks blue when it's in pairing mode, and turns solid blue once paired to a device. It flashes orange if the speaker overheats. There's also a battery light that blinks orange when the speaker's battery is low and turns solid orange when charging. That said, unlike the Sonos Roam, there's no mic mute button since the speaker doesn't feature a microphone.

Design
In The Box

  • Sonos Roam SL speaker
  • USB-C to USB-A charge cable
  • Setup guide

Sound
6.5
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.37
Std. Err.
2.22 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
87.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.5 kHz

The Sonos Roam SL has a fairly neutral sound profile suitable for listening to different audio content. Its balanced mid-range ensures voices and lead instruments reproduce accurately and with detail in the mix. There's also a bit of warmth in the high-bass range that adds a bit of extra boom. Like most small speakers, it lacks low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop. It also doesn't produce bass as extended as that of the Sonos Roam.

Note: Since this speaker doesn't come with a microphone built-in, it doesn't come with a room correction feature like the Sonos Roam. The results for the sound tests in this review represent the sound with its default settings enabled and the speaker placed horizontally.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.1
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
3.45 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The Sonos Roam SL's soundstage is passable. Its directivity is good, meaning you can hear your audio clearly from most angles. You have to pair it to another speaker to get stereo audio. On its own, the speaker downmixes stereo content to mono, which isn't as immersive.

6.3
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
85.6 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.73 dB

The Sonos Roam SL's dynamics performance isn't bad. Though it gets slightly louder than the Sonos Roam, it doesn't get loud enough to fill large rooms or outdoor spaces with sound. Also, though there's less compression present at max volume, there's still enough to affect the quality of your audio when listening at louder volume levels.

Active Features
6.1
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
4.9 hrs
Charge Time
2.5 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C
Battery Powered
Yes

The Sonos Roam SL's battery performance isn't bad. While the manufacturer claims the speaker lasts up to 10 hours from a single charge, it lasted just under five hours in our tests, which is slightly less than the Sonos Roam. However, its charge time is shorter than the Roam's by almost an hour. That said, battery life varies depending on your usage habits and chosen settings like the volume level. You can also program the speaker to either shut off or go to sleep when it's left idle for around 15 minutes via the app.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Speakerphone
No
Siri
No
Voice Assistant
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone
9.3
Active Features
App
App Name
Sonos S2
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Sonos Roam SL's Sonos S2 app is fantastic. It comes with bass and treble sliders to adjust the speaker's sound to your liking. While connected to a Wi-Fi network, you can also connect the speaker to another compatible Sonos speaker to create a stereo pair or when you want to listen to different audio in different rooms of your home at the same time. The manufacturer says you can't connect the speaker to your existing Sonos home theatre setup as surround speakers.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

The Sonos Roam SL doesn't have any wired inputs aside from its USB-C charging port, so you have to pair your devices wirelessly and can't play audio from the speaker through a wired connection.

7.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
132 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
141 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Sonos Roam SL has decent Bluetooth connectivity. Once the speaker is set up using the Sonos S2 app over a Wi-Fi connection, you can connect it to your devices via Bluetooth. It has a fantastic range, so your paired device remains connected to the speaker even from far away. Its latency performance with iOS and Android devices is low enough to watch videos and movies without syncing issues between the audio and visuals. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may vary.

8.2
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Wi-Fi
Yes
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
13 ms
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The Sonos Roam SL is Wi-Fi compatible. It also supports Apple AirPlay and has low latency over this connection, so the visuals you see are in sync with the audio you hear when using it to watch movies and videos.

Discussions