Sonos Roam as Surround Speakers

  • 2 November 2022
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I realise there are previous threads about this, but I can’t find one which has not been closed for further comments, so I’m having to create a new thread to add my voice.

Feature request 

Please enable Sonos Roams to act as rear surround speakers in a home theatre setup (or enable this on a future generation of the product if the current gen does not include necessary internal hardware).

Why?

1. Not everyone wants rear surrounds installed all the time. I only occasionally watch a movie where I want surrounds. It would be much easier for me to repurpose Sonos Roam’s from elsewhere in the house to serve as temporary surrounds for a few hours than it would with any other Sonos speaker. Furthermore, other companies seem to think there is a market for customers who want temporary battery powered surround speakers - e.g. see Philips Fidelio 7.1.2 and JBL Bar 5.1 / 9.1 / 800 / 1000. 

2. Even for those who want surrounds installed all the time, I am expect there are some who would prefer to use speakers the size of the Roams instead of the Ones or Symfonisk speakers. 


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Since you saw other threads, I assume you saw Sonos reasons why the feature isn’t technically feasible.  Also, your examples are of speakers that detach from the sides of the soundbar, not completely separate speakers that you can use as separately controlled speakers whenever you wish. 

I completely see why this would be a desired feature, but I think the technical challenge of a speaker belonging to more than one Sonos room with the ability to switch in a timely manner, bluetooth capability, and handle trueplay tuning effectively is going to make this a rather expense feature to implement in an easy to use manner for customers that want to do this.  The cost may make it to where it makes more sense to use the ikea symfonisk speakers, and just leave them unplugged when you don’t want to use them.

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Since you saw other threads, I assume you saw Sonos reasons why the feature isn’t technically feasible. 

I haven’t seen any official responses from Sonos. Only what seem to be to be assumptions of the reason from community members.

 

I completely see why this would be a desired feature, but I think the technical challenge of a speaker belonging to more than one Sonos room with the ability to switch in a timely manner, bluetooth capability, and handle trueplay tuning effectively is going to make this a rather expense feature to implement in an easy to use manner for customers that want to do this. 

 

Admittedly, I don’t know what the technical challenge is (or if there is one) as I haven’t seen a response from Sonos. At the moment, I’m assuming the reason it isn’t possible could either be technical or it could simply be a non-technical policy decision.

On the “ability to switch in a timely manner” - it would be great if there could be some kind kind of one button linking/unlinking feature. But I don’t think this is crucial at all. It currently only takes a minute to add surrounds, and only 2-3 more minutes if you want to trueplay tune (not everyone will bother).

Why?

1. Not everyone wants rear surrounds installed all the time. I only occasionally watch a movie where I want surrounds.

 

You can turn off / toggle off the surrounds in the home theater settings.

 

Setting Description
Surrounds Tap the switch to toggle surround sound on or off.

 

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4804?language=en_US

Here’s one. 

 

Sure, James did not say that it was not technically, possible, but I think the statement that the Roam can’t be surrounds because it was designed to be moved is a good indicator that Sonos sees portability and surround duty as incompatible features.

Also,  I think most people would find having to take several minutes to change your speaker from it’s own room to surround sound duty as not realistic to do on a regular basis.  Particularly if the lose trueplay tuning and don’t have an iphone handy to reset every time.

I’m wondering exactly what code would have to be written in to the Sonos system to support/deal with one or both surround speakers being “missing”. Right now, it’s just a error condition, but if this concept were supported, there’d likely be an expectation that something specific happens when there’s only one speaker as part of the surround pair, as well as a no speaker option.

And then the complaints about “this person took the portable speaker and didn’t return it to the surround system setup” part of that, too. For instance, your child decides they want a Roam to play on their picnic, while you want to watch a movie with surround sound….

I get the desire, for sure. It’s a Sonos speaker, why shouldn’t it be used for surround duty? But you could then argue the same thing about using their soundbars as surround speakers. Why not use a pair of Beams? 

 

I get the desire, for sure. It’s a Sonos speaker, why shouldn’t it be used for surround duty? But you could then argue the same thing about using their soundbars as surround speakers. Why not use a pair of Beams? 

 

Remember the rumor that the Ray could be used a surround speaker with up firing height speakers?

I do indeed….and I was hopeful, but it did make sense to me when they came out, and that feature was not available.  :)

I do indeed….and I was hopeful, but it did make sense to me when they came out, and that feature was not available.  :)

 

True,   I didn’t quite understand how the speaker angles were going to work out.  And that rumor also didn’t include being able to easily switch from rear surround duty to soundbar duty in a different room.

Effectively removed ‘The Verge’ as a reliable source of information for me. Reinforced by their layout change, which is so jarring to me that I’ve stopped reading them. 

Effectively removed ‘The Verge’ as a reliable source of information for me. Reinforced by their layout change, which is so jarring to me that I’ve stopped reading them. 

 

Apologies to OP for derailing the thread.  I’m convinced that the layout change was made extra busy to disguise the drop in actual useful content.  I like reading comments though, and other sites seem to have fewer, less thoughtful, or no comments at all.  And the authors often seem to just regurgitate what was in the press release.  Not sure what my replacement would be.

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You can turn off / toggle off the surrounds in the home theater settings.

 

 

Yes, I’m aware of this. But for me, its not only about being switched off. Most of the time I don’t want surrounds in situ (regardless of whether they are on/off). Most of the time I’d like to use the speakers elsewhere in the home and only occasionally use them as surrounds for a few hours. For me, roams would be preferable for this use case compared to any other Sonos speaker.

 

Here’s one. 

 

Sure, James did not say that it was not technically, possible, but I think the statement that the Roam can’t be surrounds because it was designed to be moved is a good indicator that Sonos sees portability and surround duty as incompatible features.

Also,  I think most people would find having to take several minutes to change your speaker from it’s own room to surround sound duty as not realistic to do on a regular basis.  Particularly if the lose trueplay tuning and don’t have an iphone handy to reset every time.

 

Unless they directly say that there’s a technical reason preventing the use of Roams as surrounds, personally I wouldn’t be inclined to make the assumption that the decision is based on technical limitations.

On the difficulty argument -  Adding surrounds to a soundbar isn’t really any more difficult than creating a stereo pair, yet creation of a stereo pair is allowed. 

 

I’m wondering exactly what code would have to be written in to the Sonos system to support/deal with one or both surround speakers being “missing”. Right now, it’s just a error condition, but if this concept were supported, there’d likely be an expectation that something specific happens when there’s only one speaker as part of the surround pair, as well as a no speaker option.

And then the complaints about “this person took the portable speaker and didn’t return it to the surround system setup” part of that, too. For instance, your child decides they want a Roam to play on their picnic, while you want to watch a movie with surround sound….

I get the desire, for sure. It’s a Sonos speaker, why shouldn’t it be used for surround duty? But you could then argue the same thing about using their soundbars as surround speakers. Why not use a pair of Beams? 

 

 

I don’t see why the handing would need to be any different to what happens currently. The system can currently cope with either one or both surrounds being without power (i.e. doesn’t cause a crash).

Also doesn’t the issue you mention in your second paragraph already exist when Sonos roams are configured as a stereo pair? I don’t see why the surround use case should be considered any different. Furthermore, for me it would be a complete non-issue because using the roams as surrounds would be the irregular use mode rather than their normal use mode.

 

Here’s one. 

 

Sure, James did not say that it was not technically, possible, but I think the statement that the Roam can’t be surrounds because it was designed to be moved is a good indicator that Sonos sees portability and surround duty as incompatible features.

Also,  I think most people would find having to take several minutes to change your speaker from it’s own room to surround sound duty as not realistic to do on a regular basis.  Particularly if the lose trueplay tuning and don’t have an iphone handy to reset every time.

 

Unless they directly say that there’s a technical reason preventing the use of Roams as surrounds, personally I wouldn’t be inclined to make the assumption that the decision is based on technical limitations.

 

 

Well Sonos is rarely going to give definitive yes/no answers to that sort of thing as they may find away in the future, or do a hardware change.  But I think the statement leans the probability of it being technically feasible to the ‘no’ end of the spectrum.

 

On the difficulty argument -  Adding surrounds to a soundbar isn’t really any more difficult than creating a stereo pair, yet creation of a stereo pair is allowed. 

 

 

Stereo pairing which speakers?   Yes, it’s easy to stereo pair roams, and they speakers have auto trueplay to tune themselves.  It used to be that if one of the speakers were turned off or away from the network, then the other speaker would continue on as single speaker room.  Bringing the other speaker back on WiFi would result in a 2nd room created. I’d have to manually pair the speakers again.  And all of this would cause havoc on the rest of my smart home theatre as well.  I believe they’ve made some changes to this since then, but I don’t recall exactly what they are. And you cannot bond a sub.

Stereo pairing of Sonos Ones for example, is different.  You don’t have autotrueplay, so trueplay is an extra step you might want to take.  If one of the speakers is powered off, the other speaker doesn’t return as it’s own room, it continues playing a single left/right channel till the other returns.  And you can bond a sub.

But regardless, I think the context was about the users difficulty of bonding pairs vs bonding surrounds.  I really don’t want to go through the process on a regular basis for either case, with any speakers.  If Sonos were to do it ‘right’, I’d want to be able to setup stored profiles somehow, so that I could easily switch the configuration of speakers in my home without redoing setups.  And I would want it so that the rest of my smart home doesn’t get all confused with the changes.

 

 

I’m wondering exactly what code would have to be written in to the Sonos system to support/deal with one or both surround speakers being “missing”. Right now, it’s just a error condition, but if this concept were supported, there’d likely be an expectation that something specific happens when there’s only one speaker as part of the surround pair, as well as a no speaker option.

And then the complaints about “this person took the portable speaker and didn’t return it to the surround system setup” part of that, too. For instance, your child decides they want a Roam to play on their picnic, while you want to watch a movie with surround sound….

I get the desire, for sure. It’s a Sonos speaker, why shouldn’t it be used for surround duty? But you could then argue the same thing about using their soundbars as surround speakers. Why not use a pair of Beams? 

 

 

I don’t see why the handing would need to be any different to what happens currently. The system can currently cope with either one or both surrounds being without power (i.e. doesn’t cause a crash).

 

 

It doesn’t cause a crash, but your Arc doesn’t start using the side firing speakers for surround duty, or compensate trueplay, for the missing speakers.

 

Also doesn’t the issue you mention in your second paragraph already exist when Sonos roams are configured as a stereo pair? I don’t see why the surround use case should be considered any different. Furthermore, for me it would be a complete non-issue because using the roams as surrounds would be the irregular use mode rather than their normal use mode.

 

Yes, in a way.  However, if one Roam is removed from a pair, the other speaker can still play on.  If they were used as surrounds, removing one means the other one can’t play at all.  Probably not important distinction to many.  As I mentioned earlier, breaking a stereo pair of Roams is very annoying to me because of it’s impact on the rest of my smart home setups.  It would be even more so if sometimes the speakers are 2 separate rooms, sometimes they are a pair, and sometimes they are surround speakers.   But sure, others are not going to have the same concerns as me.

 

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But regardless, I think the context was about the users difficulty of bonding pairs vs bonding surrounds.  I really don’t want to go through the process on a regular basis for either case, with any speakers.  

 

This is why I don’t buy into the argument that was offered earlier in the thread that people would have difficulty adding roams as surrounds on a repetitive basis. The same issue basically exists for stereo pairing roams (especially roam SLs), and yet stereo pairing is still supported. 

It’s also not possible to add a stereo pair “on the fly” as surrounds. You need to seperate them before you can bond them as surrounds. A rather cumbersome procedure.

 

But regardless, I think the context was about the users difficulty of bonding pairs vs bonding surrounds.  I really don’t want to go through the process on a regular basis for either case, with any speakers.  

 

This is why I don’t buy into the argument that was offered earlier in the thread that people would have difficulty adding roams as surrounds on a repetitive basis. The same issue basically exists for stereo pairing roams (especially roam SLs), and yet stereo pairing is still supported. 

 

I’m not sure how what I said supports your argument.  I do not want to have to pair and unpair (and add as surrounds) on a regular basis.  It is cumbersome.  I don’t think I’m only on this as it’s a common complaint for similar situations.  People have asked Sonos for an easier way to have a sub be used in multiple rooms as they don’t like having to bond/unbond the sub on a regular basis, and want Sonos to make it easier.  People do not have similar complaints, as generally, they don’t try and use a pair of Sonos Ones as a separate stereo pair and surround speakers.  Instead, they want music playback to just come through the surround speakers, not the soundbar.

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I think you’re missing my point. Earlier in the thread you said

 

I think most people would find having to take several minutes to change your speaker from it’s own room to surround sound duty as not realistic to do on a regular basis. 

 

However, exactly the same issue could be raised for creating a stereo pair - this is of equal difficulty/cumbersomeness. Yet sonos allows roams to be used as a stereo pair. If concerns over difficulty was a factor in not allowing roams to be used as surrounds, then the same logic should apply to their use as a stereo pair. The fact that it doesn’t indicates to me that difficulty/cumbersomeness is not an issue (from Sonos’ point of view). 

 

 

 

I think you’re missing my point. Earlier in the thread you said

 

I think most people would find having to take several minutes to change your speaker from it’s own room to surround sound duty as not realistic to do on a regular basis. 

 

However, adding speakers as surrounds is no more difficult/cumbersome than creating a stereo pair, yet sonos allows roams to be used as a stereo pair. If concerns over difficulty was a factor in not allowing roams to be used as surrounds, then the same logic should apply to their use as a stereo pair. The fact that it doesn’t indicates to me that difficulty/cumbersomeness is not an issue (from Sonos’ point of view). 

 

My point is that I find pairing and bonding of speakers, any speakers,  whether they be used for surrounds or stereo pairs, to be cumbersome, and I don’t want to do it on a regular basis.  Based on what I’ve seen here on the forums, that seems to be the general opinion of people.  I understand that stereo pairing of Roams is much simpler than other speakers, maybe because they were designed that way, and maybe because there is no trueplay to be concerned about, or bonding with sub or a soundbar, but I still find it cumbersome and don’t want to do it.  And those simplifications would mostly not be in place if Roam were used as surrounds speakers, since you would be bonding with subs and soundbars, etc.

Honestly, I have a pair of Roams I use in my bathroom, they always remain on, off BT mode, and paired, because I find having to repair them so annoying. I bought them more for form factor then anything else.  I have a 3rd Roam I use for the rare types I want BT, but mostly as a sort of remote/mobile Sonos voice assistant.

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And those simplifications would mostly not be in place if Roam were used as surrounds speakers, since you would be bonding with subs and soundbars, etc.

 

I’m not sure what simplifications are available when creating a stereo pair with roams (the online instructions look the same as for any other sonos speaker). But I really don’t see what’s cumbersome when it comes to either the standard process of creating a stereo pair or the standard process of adding speakers as surrounds. If you want to add speakers as surrounds, you go to the existing home theatre setup and tap ‘set up surrounds’. Then it takes about around a minute to go through the process of choosing the surround speakers. Optionally, a couple more minutes if you want to bother with trueplay.

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I’m joining this conversation late but wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion. I would love if I could use two Roams as temporary surrounds for ‘film night’ or whatever and would absolutely not mind a few minutes to do the set up to bond as surrounds before sitting down (could be done while getting snacks!) and then unbond afterwards.

From everything above it feels like something that would be technically possible, although perhaps difficult, particularly to implement it in a way that doesn’t confuse people with missing speakers etc. Or am I misunderstanding? Obviously the economic argument for Sonos implementing this is a different question as there wouldn’t necessarily be a huge increase in sales as a result! (Although I would purchase another Roam to do just this). 

+1 ;)