The Sonos Move is an excellent first Bluetooth speaker from the company. It stretches the definition of a "portable" speaker somewhat, but it has all the features you'd expect from a Sonos product, including a fine sound. It isn't cheap, though
- Big, powerful sound
- Confident bass performance
- Can work like any other Sonos speaker
- Voice assistant and multi-room capability
- Big and heavy for a portable speaker
- Review Price: £399
- Weight: 3kg
- Auto Trueplay
- Apple AirPlay 2
- Built-in support for Google Assistant & Amazon Alexa
- Sonos S2 compatible
Sonos is best known for its home audio speakers, but the Move speaker is a shift for the company. It’s Sonos’ first Bluetooth speaker and its portable, meaning you can take it outside, but it can also act like any other Sonos speaker when used in the home.
So, is the Move another brilliant speaker from the company, or has it bitten off more than it can chew?
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
Sonos Move design – Big for a ‘portable’ speaker and nigh-on indestructible
In a market defined by smaller proportions and convenience, but at 240 x 160 x 126mm (HWD) and with a weight of 3kg, the Sonos Move is no shrinking violet. That said, it doesn’t feel particularly heavy to lift thanks to the integrated handle on its rear. It’s svelte shape does makes it easy to position on a shelf or otherwise, which lessens the impact of its size.
Despite it’s attempts at portability, I’m still unsure as to whether it’s a speaker you’d want to take out of the house. It’s fine for taking to the garden, but hefting it out to the park? I’d feel you’d want something smaller. “Portable” isn’t the right word for it; an “outdoor” speaker sets expectations better.
Build quality is best described as durable. While I wouldn’t drop the speaker from a significant height, letting it go from around 15-20cm was sufficient to prove its sturdiness – although in the process I did manage to chip it but the speaker still works fine. Truth be told, I’d be more concerned about the surface onto which the Move falls on, rather than the speaker itself.
An IP56 rating – the highest without submersion in water – means the Move is well-guarded against dust, water, mud or whatever else you feel like throwing at it. It comes in one finish – Shadow Black – and there’s a reason for that. Shadow Black insulates the Move from overheating and while this is unlikely to be a problem in the UK unless we experience a balmy summer. It can also survive temperatures down to -10°C.
Around the rear are three buttons: power; switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and a “Join” button. When swapping between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth you’ll hear a tone, and in Bluetooth mode the Move will automatically connect to the last known device.
On the top plate is an LED status light: white indicates Wi-Fi and blue is for Bluetooth. Also here are built-in far-field microphones for voice control and a touch capacitive button for start/stop playback.
Related: Sonos One review
Sonos Move setup and app – A refreshingly easy to use app
From June 8th a new Sonos app will be available. It’ll only support Sonos’ S2 products, which includes the Move. We’ll update this review further once it’s released, but until then this review will refer to the set-up process on the old control app.
Plug the Move into its charging base and setup will be completed over Wi-Fi. If this is your first Sonos speaker then you’ll need to download the Sonos app. The app is one of the better efforts available, and features Spotify, Tidal and TuneIn integration, along with support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
You can add it to an existing Sonos setup, create a multi-room grouping, search for music, change settings and keep track of battery life. I’d suggest setting updates to “automatic” to ensure music playback isn’t interrupted.
It’s one of the more complete control apps available: slick and easy-to-use – although it could be more responsive at times.
Sonos Move features – A Sonos speaker for wherever you are
When indoors, the Move works like any other Sonos speaker. This allows access to built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, with AirPlay 2 supported which in turn means Apple users can use Siri for hands-free assistance.
You’ll need to download the Alexa or Google Assistant app and sync them to the Sonos app. I found synching to be fussy at time, but once done voice control is quick and responsive, whether it’s asking for weather updates, bringing up playlists or searching for upcoming events.
Related: What is Apple AirPlay 2?
The Move also heralds the introduction of Sonos’ Auto Trueplay feature. Trueplay tunes a Sonos speaker to its environment but as it was only available on iOS – Sonos trusts the quality of the mics in iOS more than it does with Android’s varied manufacturers – Auto Trueplay democratises the process by removing the need for the app completely.
It’s constantly listening and adjusting the music depending on the speaker’s placement. The effect might be subtle at first, but you’ll soon be able to tell the moment when the speaker acclimatizes to its new surroundings, with the process taking not more than a few seconds.
According to Sonos the battery lasts for 10 hours of continuous play, and can be replaced. If the battery becomes damaged or loses its charge, Sonos will send out a replacement along with tools and instructions on to how to get the job done. The battery is charged via a charging base on which it sits. There’s also a USB-C cable in case you don’t have access to a mains power supply.
Tap the power button – a long press turns it off – or leave it for 30 minutes and the unit will switch into low power mode. You can wake it for any tasks or just leave it for up to 120 hours.
For connectivity 2.4GHz and 5.6GHz wireless bands are supported, but Bluetooth is only 4.2.
Related: What is Sonos Trueplay?
Sonos Move sound quality – Huge sound is great for outdoor use
Compared to the Marshall Tufton speaker, the Move has plenty more detail than its “outdoor” counterpart, with a sound that’s cleaner, more precise and after a considerable amount of testing, more in the realms of neutrality. Its confidence with low-end frequencies is impressive and malleable too; able to deal with tracks that demonstrate tight bass or handle music with a more rumbly low-end.
It’s a big sound, although if you’re indoors it’s best to set the volume somewhere around the middle. Give it more space and you can let it rip. It can lose its composure at high volumes, but if you’re in a big, open space, this is unlikely to be an issue.
There appears to be the slightest of differences between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with the latter ever so slightly reined in and perhaps lacking in terms of subtlety compared to Wi-Fi – but in all honestly that’s probably a nit-pick.
It arguably isn’t the clearest, textured or most detailed performer, especially for its £399 price tag, but it’s nevertheless an easy listen. The speaker presents sufficient colour and detail from John Legend’s voice in Refuge from the Get Lifted album, and a Tidal stream of Sting’s It’s Probably Me is an enjoyable performance.
Dynamically, it’s sure-footed. Perhaps the highs aren’t as far-reaching, but the Move shows plenty of reach when listening to the soaring Hope (Xavier’s Theme) via Spotify. There’s an impressive weight to its presentation, as the Move is a speaker that’s not afraid to give it some welly.
It’s energy and good timing pushes Justin Hurwitz’s The Landing from his First Man score, and that sense of propulsion helps with the ELO’s energetic Mr Blue Sky.
You want power? The Move is happy to accommodate with a track such as Linkin Park’s With You or Kanye West’s appropriately named Power delivering plenty of it.
Related: Best multi-room speakers
Should you buy the Sonos Move?
There’s a question mark over its portability, but as an overall package there’s no denying the Move’s appeal.
It sounds very good, has plenty of features and is simple to use. Short of launching a missile at it, it’s likely to survive most accidents. When considered in this context, there’s not anything off the top of my head that’s like it. However, a price of £400 is a steep ask in a portable speaker market.
Nevertheless, if you’re a existing Sonos user the Move would make sense if you’re someone who wants to take their music out of the house without sacrificing on quality. Everyone else is likely to field the question as whether they’re prepared to pay £400 for what is, admittedly, a quality, multi-purpose speaker.
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