The cheapest Sonos Bluetooth speaker has arrived - but there's a catch

the sonos roam sl being held on a hike
(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos has upgraded its best Bluetooth speaker for music lovers that don’t want their devices to listen in on their conversations. 

The new Sonos Roam SL removes the microphones from the original Sonos Roam speaker, which means you won’t be able to control it with your voice or use it to control your other smart home devices

That might sound like a downgrade, but for anyone that’s concerned about privacy, having no microphones built into their portable speaker will come as a relief. The wireless speaker company has done this before, with the Sonos One and the Sonos One SL, with the latter becoming a popular choice for use as rear speakers with the brand's Sonos Arc and Beam soundbars.

The Sonos Roam SL is also slightly cheaper than its predecessor, and is available to preorder now for $159 / £159/ AU$269 - it'll officially go on sale on March 15. 

Compared to the $179 / £179 / AU$299 price of the Sonos Roam, you’re getting a $20 / £20 / AU$30 discount for sacrificing the ability to control the speaker hands-free. 

Is that price cut really worth celebrating?

the sonos roam sl on a beach

(Image credit: Sonos)

That price cut does come with a big caveat, though. When the Sonos Roam first launched in 2020, it cost $169 / £159 / AU$279 - the same as the new SL model (in the UK, at least). However, after Sonos increased the prices of most of its wireless speakers and soundbars last year, that price jumped up, too.

So, in real terms, you’re not really saving any money on the new model - if anything, you’re losing some of the functionality that made the Sonos Roam our top pick for the best Bluetooth speaker you can buy today. Add in the fact that the original Sonos Roam is sometimes on sale for $10 / £10 / AU$20 less than its RRP, the saving associated with the SL model is really quite negligible. 

Still, the Sonos Roam SL could still offer a fantastic option for anyone that wants the very best portable speaker on the market today, but doesn’t want the possible privacy concerns that come with having microphones built-in. 

The SL otherwise retains all of the original Sonos Roam’s best features, including the ability to ‘swap’ music to other Sonos speakers, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, the ability to stereo pair with other Roam or Roam SL speakers, and a 10-hour battery life. 

The build and design of the Sonos Roam SL remain unchanged too, so you’re still getting an easily portable speaker that offers IP67 dust and water resistance, as well as remarkably powerful audio performance. 

It’s a shame that Sonos wasn’t able to shave more off the price for the lack of voice assistant support - after all, that’s a feature that’s still fairly new in the world of Bluetooth speakers, and being able to use the Roam as a smart speaker sets it apart from most of its competitors. 

Sonos’ pricing increases have now had a knock-on effect on its new devices, and that doesn’t give us much hope for future devices, like the rumored Sonos headphones - chances are, they’ll be pretty pricey if they ever materialize.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.