Sonos Roam vs Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: which waterproof speaker is best for you?

The Sonos Roam and B&O Beosound Explore are two of the best waterproof speakers, but there are some key differences to know before you buy

Sonos Roam being held in man's hand on the left, sign saying 'versus' in the middle, B&O Explore on the right on sandy beach
(Image credit: Sonos; Bang & Olufsen)

Sonos and Bang & Olufsen’s make two of the best waterproof speakers respectively if size and portability are a focus alongside being liquid-repellent. The Sonos Roam and the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore are rugged dust- and water-proof speakers that pack a powerful audio punch despite their diminutive dimensions. 

If you’re looking for a premium portable speaker they’re both good choices, and rank among the best Bluetooth speakers, but there are some clear differences between them. 

We’ve put each speaker through its paces in separate write-ups – check out our B&O Explore review and our Sonos Roam review – and here are the most important takeaways.

Sonos Roam vs Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: Price

Both speakers sit at the higher end of the small speaker market, with the Sonos Roam costing you £159/$169/AU$279 and the B&O Explore setting you back £169/$199.

For comparison, you can get the waterproof UE Wonderboom 2 for around £90/$100, which is pretty much the same size as the B&O. But both the materials and sound quality are a higher level from the two speakers we're looking at, and the Sonos in particular offers a lot more features.

Sonos Roam in white and black on grey background

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos Roam vs Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: design

The Sonos looks like a squeezed Sonos One, or a tiny and upright Sonos Arc. It’s rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, and it’s drop-resistant so it shouldn’t fall to pieces if you knock it over or it rolls out of your bag. You can have yours in black or white. 

The B&O Explore looks incredibly cool, like a cross between a Dalek and the Capitol Records building in LA. That ribbed design isn’t just for effect: it gives the Explore an aluminium ribcage that makes it extremely solid for taking bumps, but without blocking the sound. We think it’s particularly good-looking in a nice deep green, but it’s great in black or grey too. Like the Sonos Roam, it’s rated IP67 for dust and water. 

The B&O is much heavier than the Sonos, coming in at 631g to the Sonos’s 430g.

Sonos Roam vs Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: features

Both speakers support Bluetooth 5.2, but the Sonos also has Wi-Fi and multi-room audio support so you can use it with your existing Sonos multi-room setup or an AirPlay 2 system, if you have one. That's when it's on Wi-Fi, of course – on Bluetooth, it's just a one-to-one connection.

The Roam promises up to 10 hours between charges, while the B&O offers nearly three times that, with a quoted battery life of up to 27 hours. Both speakers are design to play solo, or can be paired with another the same for stereo.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore on the ground

(Image credit: Future)

Sonos Roam vs Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: sound quality

A lot of the difference here comes down to the kind of music you prefer: if you like big bass and you cannot lie, the Sonos may be the better speaker to soundtrack your outdoor adventures. While we tend to find Sonos speakers a little light at the low end, the Roam doesn't have that issue at all, and the bass here is more impressive than it is in the B&O. 

The B&O is the more dynamic speaker, with particularly good clarity in acoustic and pop tracks, but it lacks the low-end thump you can get from the Sonos.

But the Sonos isn’t perfect either: it can feel a little busy around the middle, with a lack of trebly highs until you turn the volume up: it’s definitely a speaker that wants to be turned up loud. When you compare it to Sonos’s slightly larger One SL speakers, it’s noticeably smaller in terms of the sound it creates. 

Sonos Roam review in black on grey background

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos Roam vs Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: verdict

We think these two speakers are designed for two different kinds of use. The Sonos feels like it’s been designed with occasional outdoor use in mind; the rest of the time it’s likely to be playing in your kitchen or doing its bit in a wider Sonos multi-room setup. The B&O, on the other hand, feels like it’s been designed specifically to live outdoors: the inclusion of a karabiner clip is a telling detail.

We wouldn’t recommend either of these speakers for purely indoor listening – both firms have better indoor speakers that don’t have to compromise in order to be easy to carry around – but they’re both great options for the great outdoors. The Sonos’s battery life means it’s better suited to day trips than really big adventures, while the B&O’s huge battery life makes it a good choice for longer trips.

We might say that the B&O should be the waterproof speaker of choice for those heading into the wilderness for a time, while the Sonos is better if you need something rain- or splash-proof for listening on the patio.

Carrie Marshall
Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).