It’s been about a year since Sonos released the Roam, the company’s smallest and least expensive speaker yet. As with most modern Sonos speakers, the Roam has a built-in microphone that lets you use the speaker with Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant. Today, Sonos is releasing a variant of the Roam that omits that microphone, the Roam SL.
Aside from removing the microphone, the $159 Roam SL is identical to the original Roam, which costs $20 more. It's a small speaker that can connect to your WiFi network and be part of a Sonos multi-room audio system. But it also has a built-in battery and Bluetooth capabilities, so you can take it with you and use it away from a WiFi connection. It's also waterproof and dust-resistant (IP67 rated), and the battery is rated for about 10 hours.
Aside from losing voice assistant capability, losing the microphone takes away another feature from the Roam SL. The original Roam features Auto Trueplay, which uses the microphone to tune the speaker to sound better wherever you place it. With no microphone, the Roam SL won't be able to do this, and Sonos confirmed that you won't be able to manually tune the speaker with an iPhone as you can do with most of the company's other speakers. It's not a huge surprise, as the Roam SL is meant to be moved, so a manual tuning process isn't something that'll make sense for most people, but it's still worth knowing if you're choosing between the Roam and the Roam SL.
The Roam's battery life isn't as good as other speakers in its class, but it sounds great and is a relatively inexpensive way to see how the Sonos experience works. As such, we imagine the Roam SL will also be worth checking out for people who don't want a microphone on their speaker. Sonos has tried this before, with the One SL, a mic-less version of the Sonos One, so it's not a huge surprise to see the company offer the Roam without a mic as well. You can pre-order the Roam SL now on the Sonos website, and it'll be available on March 15th.