Sonos Move review

Sonos Move review
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Last Updated on by Daniel Osakwe

There is a Sonos smart speaker for every occasion. The Beam soundbar and the Playbase speaker and TV stand combine to enhance your viewing experience. Another excellent smart speaker option is Play:5, which sounds great and packs a punch.

As a result of a recent collaboration with Ikea, the brand now offers bookshelves and lamps. But the brand lacked outdoor speakers for years.

With the launch of the Sonos Move, the company’s first portable Bluetooth speaker, that changed. We’ve ranked it as the best Bluetooth speaker since its launch, and it’s perfect for both indoor and outdoor listening.

The updated Sonos Move has improved battery life with an additional hour of charge to ensure those trips to the beach – or just outside the reach of a plug socket – are packed with quality sound as long as possible. There’s also a new Lunar White version of the Sonos Move that provides a new look to the portable speaker and should provide more variety.

Sonos Move: Design

snose move

Typically, Sonos products come with a high price tag, and the Move is no exception – however, it has been designed to the last inch in order to justify its high price tag.

The style is very similar to previous Sonos models. You get a black speaker with a metal front grille, along with four far-field microphones and capacitive playback controls at the top. The rear of the device has a power button, a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi toggle button, and a multi-room pairing button.

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The Sonos Move features two Class-D digital amplifiers with a downward-firing tweeter for highs and a mid-woofer integrated into the cabinet for mids and bass. The enclosure cutaway has been designed to be resonant and balanced from every angle – after all, the outside world knows no boundaries.

It has been rigorously tested for durability as a portable product. Furthermore, Sonos claims the Move can withstand extreme temperatures, so whether your party is in the desert or in the middle of a snowstorm, you should be fine. The IP56 rating means it can withstand being coated with sand or dust, as well as being dropped in a swimming pool. Water drains through run-off channels within the casing, while Sonos claims that during drop tests a concrete slab broke before the speaker even took a dent.

We’d imagine that’s because of its weight. This portable, but not small, the device measures 240 x 160 x 126 mm. With a weight close to 3kg, you can lift the Sonos Move easily, but you wouldn’t want to carry it around for too long. The large magnets used here make that a necessity, and it’s a fair trade-off for the audio quality achieved. In order to ease the load, the rear of the casing has concave handles to make carrying it around a little easier.

In our testing, the battery should last for the quoted 10 hours, and will fully charge in around 2.5 hours. It is possible to charge the speaker over USB-C, but you will likely use the docking base ring, which charges it whenever it rests in it. Also, the Sonos Move uses a standby mode to conserve power when it senses it hasn’t been used in 30 minutes or so – this lets it last for up to 5 days without charging, but still allows it to be awakened wirelessly.

Also, the eco-credentials are commendable. According to Sonos, batteries will degrade after around 900 charge cycles or roughly three years of day-to-day use. It will instead offer you (for an as-yet-undisclosed fee) a replacement battery, which you can easily install into the speaker.

Sonos Move: Smart features

sonos moves

Despite its long heritage in connected and wireless audio, Sonos isn’t sacrificing any of that functionality just because it’s going portable. The Move works in stereo pairs, or in multi-room groups, just like other Sonos speakers. With Sonos, the Move will play in the garden the same tunes playing elsewhere in your home, without missing a beat.

Any audio source connected to Sonos Move, whether online or local, will work. If you want to play a playlist on Spotify using Spotify Connect, it’s just as easy in-app as playing something you’ve ripped to a networked storage device. The Sonos app makes all your sources available over Wi-Fi once you’ve set it up and connected.

When you are out of range of a Wi-Fi connection, you can rely on Bluetooth. In fact, Sonos says its experience with Bluetooth 4.2 has let it eke out more power-saving and range capabilities from 4.2 than ever before. In both cases, it doesn’t specify range, but it simply states that “if you can hear it, you can control it”. Around the Move’s base are four Wi-Fi antennas, and the Bluetooth module is situated on top to provide the best coverage. Apple-device users can also use AirPlay 2.

The array of mics mounted at the top serves two purposes. It comes with the option of either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice assistants – each is fully compatible with the Sonos Move, so you can choose which to use for setting reminders, controlling smart home devices, navigating your calendar, and playing music.

The pairing of the microphones and smart assistant works perfectly here. It could pick up our requests – even if the responses weren’t always what we expected – even across a chatty office and with The National playing in the background. However, this is the job of Amazon’s and Google’s artificial intelligence, not Sonos’s.

In addition, those mics are also at the heart of the ‘Trueplay’ audio-tweaking system. By analyzing the output of the Sonos Move and its surroundings, they are able to automatically adjust it to bring it closer to the intended studio sound. What’s really cool is that it knows when the Sonos Move has moved – there’s an accelerometer onboard that triggers the TruePlay system’s adjustments when it detects movement.

As with some other Sonos devices, the Move won’t be able to be used as part of a home cinema system’s 5.1 rear channels. According to Sonos, this is caused by sync issues and the possibility of a directional soundtrack losing its focus if a speaker is misplaced in a room. However, it is a shame given the wire-free surround sound potential available here.

Audio performance

Sonos Move doesn’t sound like a portable speaker. If you are familiar with the Sonos family for the home, this would be somewhere between the Sonos One and the Play:5, both in volume and fidelity. Despite competing with the acoustics of wide-open spaces, the midrange driver offers a forceful and space-filling low end, with no drop off in vocal clarity that is common with lesser portable speakers. Thanks to its battery, the Sonos Move is a good match for the Sonos home range.

Sonos Move was put through its paces with a variety of songs, musical styles, and multiple locations.

Kelis’s electro-pop banger ‘Acapella’ shows the Sonos Move to do what no other Bluetooth speaker can: tight and punchy bass, shimmering highs, and a lilting vocal that cuts through all of it with clear precision.

The EQ options of the Sonos app, which lets you adjust the treble and bass settings of songs like ‘Orange Crush’ from R.E.M’s Green album, were put to the test.

 While the lo-fi track favors a sharper top end, increasing the bass in the EQ convincingly gives this track a little more warmth than its neutral recorded sound would suggest.

With its swinging guitars, exposed vocals, and jazzy band accompaniment, Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘Bones’ offered a surprising soundstage from the portable speaker. Kiwanuka’s voice and guitar stand out nicely against a sashaying brushed drumkit, twinkling piano lines, and clean electric guitar stabs. It’s almost like being in the same room with the group.

As we listened to a few cuts from Tame Impala’s Currents album and Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride record, the Sonos Move once again wowed us. The Australian rocker’s psych-filled waves drifted effortlessly and crisply from the Sonos Move, without losing the snap and rhythm of the ‘Let it Happen’ bassline – and at a volume level that did not bother neighbors or cause distortion. It was the same with Vampire Weekend’s bouncy vocals, twanging lead, and wobbly bass of “This Life,” the soundstage sounding surprisingly wide in the multiple environments we heard the Sonos Move in.

As the speaker is likely to be moved around (and outside) the house, in areas with differing acoustics, the TruePlay system kicks in. Furthermore, it is extremely effective at reworking audio output to suit a variety of environments.

During the Sonos Move launch event, this was demonstrated when a Sonos team member put on Billie Eilish’s “bad guy”.

They played the song over a TV stand, which sounded great. After that, they put the speaker into a half-open drawer without stopping the song. In the beginning, it didn’t sound that good – there was an overpowering boom in the bass, showing no sign of the song’s production subtlety, and some drop-off in the clarity of the vocals. However, after about 20 seconds, the Trueplay system had assessed its surroundings using its onboard mic and dialed back the bass a bit, and everything sounded much better again. Certainly impressive.

Even in the great outdoors, the speaker is up to the task. When playing ABBA tracks at impressive volume levels at a local park, we turned some heads. Despite passing cars and sirens, its clarity and low-end punch did not suffer. Due to its size, a Sonos Move owner is unlikely to take it much further than their own yard, but it has enough power to fill a (modest) field.

Pros Cons
On-the-go tunes Cant be used as rear cinema speakers
Can integrate with a home Sonos speaker network Not as feature-rich when using Bluetooth

Verdict

Having waited so long for a Sonos portable speaker, the company had to come up with something special, and that is what it has done. Sonos Move is versatile in terms of how it can be used, from portable playback on the go to multi-room audio in the house. Sadly, Sonos Move isn’t supported as part of a home-cinema surround sound set-up, but overall, we’re impressed.

With its powerful driver and access to Sonos’ full software ecosystem, you’re really getting a portable version of Sonos’ home speaker. Although portability is an afterthought – battery life, carrying handles and durability are important – what really impresses me is the fact that the Sonos Move competes with powered speakers (smart assistants and all) and does not lose out. The Sonos Move may come with a steep price tag, but what it offers more than makes up for that.

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