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Sonos’ Roam SL drops the mics

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You can live without Alexa in at least one speaker, right?

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Image: Sonos

Last year the Sonos Roam arrived as a portable smart speaker option that not only provided quality sound you could take with you, but also access to assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It was initially priced at $169, but Sonos cited the global chip shortage as a reason for bumping the price up to $179 last fall. If you were interested in the product but want to save a few bucks, Sonos is now introducing the Roam SL, a mic-less version that costs $159, and mimics the similarly mic-less One SL it released two years ago.

According to the FAQ, losing the microphone doesn’t just cut out support for either voice assistant. It also means no automated Trueplay sound tuning, and living without the Sound Swap feature that lets you pass off audio from the Roam to a nearby Sonos speaker by holding down the play button.

Image: Sonos

While the Roam doesn’t support pairing over Bluetooth, the Roam SL supports stereo pairing with another Roam SL or the original Roam speaker when you’re streaming music via Wi-Fi. That could come in handy if you just don’t need to talk to a voice assistant while playing music at the beach or by the pool this summer, or if you’re simply purchasing a second speaker to pair with your original one. It’s also still compatible with the optional $49 wireless charger Sonos sells, or any Qi-certified wireless charging pad.

Everything else appears to be the same for a compact speaker that we enjoyed despite some limitations when we reviewed it last spring. It still has an 18WH battery with 10 hours of continuous playback, a quad-core 1.4GHz CPU, IP67 waterproof certification, and Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility. Preorders are available now from Sonos, with shipments scheduled to begin on March 15th.