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Meet Sonos Roam, the ultra-portable smart speaker

Meet Sonos Roam, the ultra-portable smart speaker

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It’s actually worse - that quote above is one of several suggested ways to fix things - it doesn’t work.  So then there is the product removal tool:

“Remove products using the removal tool
Open the Sonos S1 Controller app for iOS or Android.
From the Settings tab, tap System.
Tap System Tools, then tap Remove Products.
Follow the on-screen steps to select and remove your incompatible products.”

It doesn’t work either because the incompatible units make the app unusable and it wants to upgrade first, then fails.

So then you are down to: If Remove Products is grayed out or missing, you can remove any products that are not compatible with S2 by resetting them to their factory settings."  I.e., remove power and repower while holding a play/pause button of the link button.

That’s a pain if any of your units are in difficult to reach places or if you have stereo pairs or if you have eq tuned them or any combination of theses.  And then there’s the Playbase which refuses to reset using the online instructions.

All this for trying out a stupid portable speaker. Jesus!  If you have an S1 system and want to keep it, do not bother with any S2 only products - it’s a mess.

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So I got one.  It only works with S2 and I didn’t want to break my S1 setup, so I thought I’d use is as a separate system - just portable.  And this worked at first and sounded surprisingly good.  The next day, the S2 app couldn’t find my “system”, so I let it “look for it” and it proceeded to, with no warning, update all my S1/S2 components to S2 breaking my setup while also never finding the Roam.  And it looks like I cannot use the software to “downgrade” (repair) the chaos. I’ll probably have to reset and reset up most of my system.

“While we don’t recommend downgrading your products to S1 after updating to S2, it is possible to downgrade cross-compatible products by resetting them and adding them to an existing S1 system.”  - even though the S1 app is telling me to update back to S1, then it errors out. Great.  So reset is probably the only option.

Between this and the annoying nag screen on S1 to update to S2 which won’t work for me and that I have dismissed numerous times it seems like Sonos is hell bent on pushing users to S2 to the point of screwing them over and wrecking the S1 setup.  I’m boxing the Roam up and sending it back.  This entire S1/ to S2 mess is the end of Sonos purchases for me - I’ll just ride out what I have until it becomes obsolete or dies and find whatever has moved in to take its place.

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Genuine question…. Can Echo speakers or Google nest hub’s be used as speakerphones when connected to a laptop?

 

not tried, I have an echo plus I no longer use, might test it

@Hobbit_CZ just as an FYI…..

I tested the echo plus and the answer is no. The speaker can be used, but the microphones are not visible in teams.

 

(Tested on Windows 10)

Odd. Sonos has never sold, nor advertised, that as a feature for their networked home music speaker system. 

Seriously? I should now look if speaker with microphone will work in particular apps? I though I am buying speaker and microphone and they should do, what they are expected to do - hence work as a speaker and microphone. It should not matter if I am playing my favourite song or listening to zoom call. Yes, sound might not be super optimised for voice or music, but I can’t find any excuse why it shouldn’t work as a speaker or microphone. When it essentially is a speaker and microphone. Just quite expensive one (for what it is).

 

While I understand why the assumption is made, perhaps consider some of the potential complications.

  • Device is speaker with microphone
  • Device  can connect to phone via bluetooth
  • Device can connect to WiFi
  • Device can connect to bluetooth and WiFi at the same time.
  • Device can share (group) audio from bluetooth with other speakers in your network
  • Device uses microphone for voice assistant while on WiFi.
  • Device can continue to play bluetooth audio while responding to voice request (I tested to confirm)
  • Sonos app can play/pause bluetooth audio.  Does not need to be on same phone as bluetooth source (I tested to confirm)
  • Device uses microphone for auto trueplay in WiFi or bluetooth mode.
  • From what I’ve seen, when a device is enabled for bluetooth calling, the ‘receiving’ device (speaker) can be use for voice control in the sending device (phone)
  • Roam can be stereo paired while on WiFi, but not if it’s also connected via bluetooth.

Now, considering these features, do you see any problems when you add speaker phone to the mix?  The primary problem is that while you are on a call, someone in a different room can listen in to your call...without you knowing it.  They can also turn off the audio entirely.  The second issue is that it may get rather confusing when using voice assistant.  If on WiFi and Bluetooth, should the command be carried out by Roam or the device it's connected to via Bluetooth?  As far as auto trueplay, I’m not sure how that would work if Roam mic needs to pass audio back to your phone as well as process it for tuning.  Maybe tuning can be off during a phone, but not completely sure if the Roam can know that it’s currently on a phone call.

I’m not saying this issues can’t be worked around, or that Sonos can’t give options to turn off certain features if you want to enable speaker phone use. Just that perhaps it may not be as easy for the Roam to do speaker phone the way a bluetooth only speaker could.  Sonos also tries to keep things simple, and perhaps they felt it was better just to not implement speaker phone feature than add complication to an already complicated device

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Genuine question…. Can Echo speakers or Google nest hub’s be used as speakerphones when connected to a laptop?

 

not tried, I have an echo plus I no longer use, might test it

Odd. Sonos has never sold, nor advertised, that as a feature for their networked home music speaker system. 

Seriously? I should now look if speaker with microphone will work in particular apps? I though I am buying speaker and microphone and they should do, what they are expected to do - hence work as a speaker and microphone. It should not matter if I am playing my favourite song or listening to zoom call. Yes, sound might not be super optimised for voice or music, but I can’t find any excuse why it shouldn’t work as a speaker or microphone. When it essentially is a speaker and microphone. Just quite expensive one (for what it is).

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I just set my first Sonos ever, a Roam.

 

Im not so sure I’m happy with the feature set, though. In today’s world, it is ESSENTIAL to be able to use your speaker as a speakerphone for conferencing on Zoom, Teams, even WhatsApp, Facetime. I find it RIDICULOUS that this isn’t a supported feature.

Speakers that are good for voice conference are usually terrible for music and speakers that are good for music usually are terrible for voice conferences.

 

In Teams you can separate the mic device from the speaker…. I do this all the time and have the best of both.

 

I seem to remember you can do the same in Zoom, not sure about the others though

What particular reason powers this opinion? in my opinion, a good speaker is a good speaker period. The roam has a far field microphone, i don’t see why this would be so hard.

I happen to have a speaker, the Creative iRoar Go (https://us.creative.com/p/speakers/creative-iroar-go), that does this without a problem, and it isn’t even a new design. I don’t particularly find excuses unsupported by science a good explanation.

Well, I can’t quote science.

 

but I have used quite a few speakerphones from plantronics, Cisco, Philips etc

 

I have used Bluetooth speakers from Sony, Jambox, Anker, JBL etc

 

All did their thing in their primary field, but we’re not great in the other field.

 

I spend a lot of time on conference calls and have done for decades….. not saying it can’t be done, just saying I have tried a lot of them and I have not found one that does both well…. YMMV 

I just set my first Sonos ever, a Roam.

 

Im not so sure I’m happy with the feature set, though. In today’s world, it is ESSENTIAL to be able to use your speaker as a speakerphone for conferencing on Zoom, Teams, even WhatsApp, Facetime. I find it RIDICULOUS that this isn’t a supported feature.

Speakers that are good for voice conference are usually terrible for music and speakers that are good for music usually are terrible for voice conferences.

 

In Teams you can separate the mic device from the speaker…. I do this all the time and have the best of both.

 

I seem to remember you can do the same in Zoom, not sure about the others though

What particular reason powers this opinion? in my opinion, a good speaker is a good speaker period. The roam has a far field microphone, i don’t see why this would be so hard.

I happen to have a speaker, the Creative iRoar Go (https://us.creative.com/p/speakers/creative-iroar-go), that does this without a problem, and it isn’t even a new design. I don’t particularly find excuses unsupported by science a good explanation.

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I just set my first Sonos ever, a Roam.

 

Im not so sure I’m happy with the feature set, though. In today’s world, it is ESSENTIAL to be able to use your speaker as a speakerphone for conferencing on Zoom, Teams, even WhatsApp, Facetime. I find it RIDICULOUS that this isn’t a supported feature.

Speakers that are good for voice conference are usually terrible for music and speakers that are good for music usually are terrible for voice conferences.

 

In Teams you can separate the mic device from the speaker…. I do this all the time and have the best of both.

 

I seem to remember you can do the same in Zoom, not sure about the others though

Odd. Sonos has never sold, nor advertised, that as a feature for their networked home music speaker system. 

If you are replying to me, I understand and agree, it has not been offered. Perhaps it is important that they hear from their customers what they actually want, and I want my portable speaker to be able to be used as a speakerphone for my phone and I want it to work transparently on any app that does modern communications: Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, Facetime, Telegram, anything. You have all the hardware you need in the device, it can’t be such a hard thing to do. 

Odd. Sonos has never sold, nor advertised, that as a feature for their networked home music speaker system. 

I just set my first Sonos ever, a Roam.

 

Im not so sure I’m happy with the feature set, though. In today’s world, it is ESSENTIAL to be able to use your speaker as a speakerphone for conferencing on Zoom, Teams, even WhatsApp, Facetime. I find it RIDICULOUS that this isn’t a supported feature.

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 Also if I give up on AirPlay is there any other way how to play from Macbook on Roam?

Bluetooth?

Google yelling at me every time I ask it for something is enough if a reason to return it. Sonos promised change like 2 years ago and nothing. This is simple SW tweak. Also if I give up on AirPlay is there any other way how to play from Macbook on Roam?

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AirPlay from Macbook just doesn’t work. It takes few seconds to start playing (very annoying, because movie is already running), when you pause for like 5 minutes, it won’t start playing at all and you have to switch to internal speakers and back to Sonos. If you play from VLC, many videos will completely loss sync between video and audio.

I think that is more of an issue with airplay on the MacOS end rather than the Sonos end.

 

I had exactly the same issue when trying to use AirPlay on a different speaker too.

 

I gave up with AirPlay for this scenario.

Returning my Sonos Roam today. Google Assistant is shouting like crazy and it is impossible to lower it’s volume and keep volume of movies or music up. AirPlay from Macbook just doesn’t work. It takes few seconds to start playing (very annoying, because movie is already running), when you pause for like 5 minutes, it won’t start playing at all and you have to switch to internal speakers and back to Sonos. If you play from VLC, many videos will completely loss sync between video and audio. Useless. 

3rd party measurements on ASR. 
 

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/sonos-roam-spinorama-and-measurements-more-proof-mainstream-speakers-can-be-real-good.23433/

Just received my Sonos roam. It’s broken such that the sound crackles and suggests it’s blown. I sat on the phone waiting for Sonos for 10 minutes. They asked for a video and said they would send me a case number to upload it. Instead, I received an email that says they are unable to continue, and there is no option given to continue other than starting over with another phone call. So, I have to start the process all over. This is unacceptable customer service and quickly becoming a waste of my time. I am ready to send this broken product back. It’s unreasonable for me to receive a broken product and then have to do all the legwork on my side to get a replacement or a refund. Let’s see if my follow up yields a better customer service result.

Except when you use Google Assistant it would shout at you like crazy and there is no option to put down the assistant volume while keeping the main volume up (because you are playing some Netflix movies which are many times very quiet). Sonos promised change 2 years ago (and it is very simple software adjustment) but delivered nothing.

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Seeing tremendous battery drain with both of my Roam’s.  If I set them down and come back to them a few days later, they are both 0%.

I have tracked this down to the poor UI/UX of the power/wake/sleep button and modes.

If the Roam is not plugged into USB-C, and not sitting on the wireless charger base, it will keep waking up and the battery will discharge.

I have also found the single button being used for power on, power off, sleep mode, bluetooth mode, and full reboot differing only in duration of press and mode of when pressed (different functions based on whether pressed from power off, power on, etc.) it appears flaky and unreliable to consumers, not power users.

Most other portable speakers have at least two buttons - one for power modes, and a second dedicated only to Bluetooth pairing.

Don’t see a quick fix for that, but for the battery discharge problems, I would strongly request that the sleep mode be changed either as a default or with an advanced setting that allows the user to specify that after the Roam goes to sleep, it should then proceed to full power off after xx time (minutes or hours) and not power on again until the power button is pressed.

This should apply if not plugged in to USB-C or sitting on wireless charger. This will then function as users expect - go to sleep if briefly inactive, but go to full power down if not used within a reasonable time of going to sleep.  Roam’s would then not run down their batteries and have a nasty surprise when you “grab and go” a few days later.

 

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Hi @melvimbe,

 

I’ve checked with our engineering team, and they’ve confirmed that this is expected behaviour. Roam Stereo Pairs can be relatively fragile and are more susceptible to be being broken than that of stereo pairs of other players. Additionally, Roam Stereo pairs don't automatically recreate after being broken.

There are three main reasons why a stereo pair of Roams can be broken:

  • If one targets a member of a Roam stereo pair via bluetooth it will break the pair
  • If one member of the Roam stereo pair is physically moved elsewhere it will break the pair
  • If one member of the Roam stereo pair runs out of battery it will break the stereo pair

It seems like you’re hitting point number 2 which explains what you’ve written above. Currently, when a Roam stereo pair is broken, it has to be manually recreated in app. I understand that’s not the experience you’re looking for, and I’ve fed this back to the Product Development team for future consideration. If you have any other questions let me know.

 

Thanks for this James.  That’s a good comprehensive answer.   I think I’ve experienced points 1 and 2.  It also seems like just powering off a speaker breaks the pair, but I suspect perhaps that’s a part of point 2 (or 3).  The result is that one of the speakers just isn’t ‘there’ to pair with, and therefore, the pair is broken.  I would like for the pair to reform when the missing speaker returns, but I can also see why that would be somewhat confusing since that’s not an option for point 1 (bluetooth).  I would guess that in normal everyday use, point 1 is what will break a pair most often...my random testing doesn’t reflect typical use.

While I’m talking about negatives, I also can’t seem to get the speaker swap function to work.  This is most likely is user error, as I’m not sure I’m holding and releasing the play/pause button with the right timing.  I personally would rather have an additional button for speaker swapping, rather than reusing the same buttons.  Same goes for the power/bluetooth mode button.

I really am pretty impressed with the sound quality.  It’s great for small spaces, and I don’t really feel like the bass is missing or doesn’t get loud enough.  Also tried it on my android with both speakers connected via bluetooth (mono) and thought it was pretty impressive,   And I am surprised how much I like it in lunar white.

 

 

 

 

 

Having the paring break because one of the Roam’s battery runs down first is very annoying.  To the casual consumer they didn’t do anything wrong yet their setup keeps getting FUBAR’d.

It would be extremely valuable to have an advanced setting to force the pairing to be restored / never break.  The default could stay as is, but with an advanced setting, everyone could have what they want.

@BMF sorry I mixed my terminology, there’s one Voice account (mine) that has household profiles. It works on the Beam (i.e. “Alexa Switch accounts” works as intended), but not on the Roam

Yes, it seems that switching profiles isn’t available on the Roam at the moment. I also see that the Alexa component on Roam cannot be used to control/enable groups in the Amazon Alexa App too. Hope these things get sorted. 

Interesting, I can’t think of it being a hardware issue seeing as it’s capable of handoff etcetera. Must have been a feature that didn’t make the launch software release or the day1 software release. Glad it’s not me; I still love it, I’ll just train my mum to use her phone/iPad more… or fork out for Apple Music; seeing as I already have to share with my cat who has his own mid-day siesta playlist!

@BMF sorry I mixed my terminology, there’s one Voice account (mine) that has household profiles. It works on the Beam (i.e. “Alexa Switch accounts” works as intended), but not on the Roam

Yes, it seems that switching profiles isn’t available on the Roam at the moment. I also see that the Alexa component on Roam cannot be used to control/enable groups in the Amazon Alexa App too. Hope these things get sorted. 

@BMF sorry I mixed my terminology, there’s one Voice account (mine) that has household profiles. It works on the Beam (i.e. “Alexa Switch accounts” works as intended), but not on the Roam

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I don’t think you can have multiple Alexa profiles on Sonos, at least you couldn’t when I last checked.

 

You can use the Sonos App to use multiple Accounts for the streaming service such as Spotify, but from a voice activation perspective it is always through the one Alexa account…. So will always be played on the Spotify account registered with Alexa.

 

unless things have changed since I last looked at this use case.

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