Sonos Roam SL Cuts The Mic - And The Price

California-based audio company Sonos is back with another portable speaker option, this one building upon the Roam model we reviewed last year. The new Sonos Roam SL is a slightly cheaper sibling to that portable speaker, though one that comes at a price: it doesn't have a microphone. That's not a big deal for consumers who only use their speakers for listening to music and podcasts, but could be a dealbreaker for those who enjoy personal assistants.

The Sonos Roam SL comes with the same general design as the Roam, offering consumers a small form factor and Bluetooth connectivity for taking music on the road. While at home, Roam SL can be used as part of the wider Sonos ecosystem and connected to Wi-Fi for a more reliable experience. Among other things, Sonos says two Roam SL speakers can be paired for stereo audio, plus the older Roam model is also compatible. The biggest bragging point, however, is the speaker's long battery life.

Cheaper price comes with a compromise

The lack of a microphone means the Roam SL won't provide you with direct access to Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant, but the upside is a drop in price, at least compared to the Roam, at $159. That's not a huge discount, as the Roam is still priced at $179 on Sonos' website, but it does make the loss of the microphone a bit more palatable.

That issue aside, the Roam SL looks like another solid addition to the company's audio line, offering a durable IP67-rated housing that's fully waterproof and dustproof. Users get access to physical buttons on the device, meaning you won't have to pull out your phone every time you want to pause the audio or skip a track. Sonos says its use of tactile, rather than touch, buttons means users aren't as likely to accidentally press one of the controls while transporting the speaker.

Though you can use the speaker at home, portability is obviously the big focus here, which is why it isn't surprising the new model offers up to 10 hours of battery life. That's the same offered by Roam, so don't expect a substantially different experience between the two. Standby time, meanwhile, is lengthy at up to 10 days, and the numbers can be boosted a bit by enabling the Battery Saver mode.

The Sonos Roam SL will be available starting on March 15 for $159. Preorders are now live.