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(Pocket-lint) - There are numerous speakers within the Sonos portfolio but if you're looking at the smaller end of the range, the choice likely comes down to the Sonos Roam, Roam SL, Sonos One, or One SL. 

You can read how all the Sonos speakers compare in our separate feature, but here we are focusing on the differences between the Sonos Roam, Roam SL and the Sonos One, and One SL, to help you work out which could be the right starting point for you into the Sonos system, or which you should add to an existing one.

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Design

  • Roam/Roam SL: 168 x 62 x 60mm, 430g, IP67, portable
  • One/One SL: 161.5 x 119.7 x 119.7mm, 1.85kg

The Sonos Roam and Roam SL are triangular prism shaped and they come in Shadow Black and Lunar White colour options. They are IP67 water and dust resistant and they are small, light and portable - around the size of a water bottle - so you can pick them up and bring them wherever you go. 

On the top of the Roam, there are tactile controls for microphone, play/pause, skip and rewind, and the Roam can be positioned vertically or horizontally. The Roam SL offers the same but without the microphone button. There is a wireless charger sold separately that the Roam and Roam SL will magnetically attach to, or you can charge them via the USB-C port. 

The One and One SL meanwhile, are a little shorter and fatter than Roam and Roam SL in terms of physical measurements, but the main difference is they are mains-powered devices and not portable - or waterproof. They can also only be positioned vertically.

One comes in black and white colour options and it has capacitive controls on top, with a microphone on/off button, play/pause and skip and rewind. There's a pairing button on the back, next to the power port and an ethernet port. 

The One SL has an almost identical design to the One, but it doesn't have a microphone array or button on its top controls.

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Features

  • Roam: Multi-room audio, stereo pairing, smart assistants, Sound Swap, Auto Trueplay, Bluetooth
  • Roam SL: Multi-room audio, stereo pairing, Bluetooth
  • One: Multi-room audio, stereo pairing, surrounds, smart assistants, Trueplay
  • One SL: Multi-room audio, stereo pairing, surrounds, Trueplay

The Sonos Roam and Sonos One both come with all the features offered by all Sonos speakers, like support for over 100 streaming services, stereo pairing, EQ adjusting through the Sonos app and of course, seamless multi-room audio, among plenty of others.

The Roam and One also both have built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant - meaning they are both smart speakers. You can't have both assistants running at the same time but you can switch between them. Roam SL and One SL doesn't have built-in support for the assistants but they can be controlled via a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device.

Both Roam and One have Trueplay tuning on board, enabling you to tune them according to their surroundings, though Roam does this automatically, whereas Roam SL, One and One SL require you to do it manually with an iOS device.

From here, Roam and Roam SL then take the lead in the feature department compared to the One and One SL. They offer Bluetooth connectivity - automatically switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi - meaning you can use Roam and Roam SL as a traditional Sonos speaker when on Wi-Fi, or as a traditional Bluetooth speaker when you leave the house. 

There's also a feature called Sound Swap on the Sonos Roam (not on the Roam SL though) where you push and hold the play/pause button to send the music playing on Roam to the nearest Sonos speaker. The Sonos One, One SL and Roam SL can receive the music from Roam if they are closest and they will continue playing whatever tunes you were listening to.

The Sonos One and One SL don't have Bluetooth connectivity and they don't offer Sound Swap, but they can both be grouped with a Sonos Arc, Beam, Playbar or Playbase and Sonos SUB to act as surrounds. The Roam nor the Roam SL can be grouped with a Sonos soundbar or the Sonos SUB.

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Hardware

  • Roam: Two Class-H digital amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer, microphones, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth
  • Roam SL: Two Class-H digital amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth
  • One: Two Class-D amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer, microphones, AirPlay 2
  • One SL: Two Class-D amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer, AirPlay 2

The Sonos Roam and Roam SL feature two Class-H digital amplifiers, one tweeter and one mid-woofer under their hoods. There's also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board both models, while the Roam has a far-field microphone array too. 

The Sonos One and One SL have two Class-D amplifiers, a tweeter and a mid-woofer. The One also has a far-field microphone array - the One SL doesn't - and they both have Wi-Fi on board, but no Bluetooth capabilities. 

All four speakers offer Apple AirPlay 2 support

In terms of sound output, the Sonos One delivers a little extra than the Roam and Roam SL, but the Roam is an excellent sounding speaker for its size and all speakers have no problem filling a standard room with sound. They also all sound great so you're unlikey to be disappointed with any of them in this department.

Price

The Sonos Roam SL is the cheapest of the Sonos speakers being compared here, costing £159 in the UK and $159 in the US. The Roam costs £179 in the UK and $179 in the US.

The Sonos One costs £199 in the UK and $199 in the US, while the Sonos One SL is a little more expensive than the Sonos Roam SL but cheaper than the Sonos One at £179 in the UK and $179 in the US.

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Conclusion

The decision between the Sonos Roam, Roam SL, Sonos One and Sonos One SL will come down to what you want your speaker to deliver. 

The Roam offers the best of both worlds, giving you an excellent multi-room Sonos speaker when on Wi-Fi and an excellent Bluetooth speaker when out and about - whether you opt for the Roam or Roam SL. The standard Roam also has some great features, like Sound Swap, automatic Trueplay tuning and Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support. 

The One is a little more expensive and it isn't portable, though it delivers a little extra punch in terms of sound compared to Roam, two can be grouped with a Sonos soundbar and SUB and used as surrounds (which Roam can't) and it still has some great features, like the smart assistant support and manual Trueplay.

The One SL meanwhile, delivers the same sound capabilities as the One, but it isn't a smart speaker and the same goes for the Roam SL in regards to the Roam. You'd pick the One SL if you wanted a small Sonos speaker but you aren't bothered about portability or having Google or Alexa, or if you want two as surrounds to your Beam or Arc. You'd pick the Roam SL if you wanted a small and portable Sonos speaker that sounds great but doesn't have all the features on offer.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.