Sonos Move Review
The Sonos Move is an excellent first Bluetooth speaker from the company. It does stretch the definition of a “portable” speaker, but has all the features you’d expect from Sonos, including fine sound.
- Big, powerful sound
- Confident bass performance
- Works like any other Sonos speaker in the home
- Voice assistant and multi-room capability
- Not strictly portable
- Not the sharpest sounding speaker
- IP56 ratingSpeaker is protected against dust, liquids and is splashproof
- Battery SaverPreserves the speaker’s battery when in idle mode
- Auto TrueplayAutomatically tunes the speaker’s sound on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection
Sonos is best known for wireless speakers that operate within the home, but up until a few years ago the portable speaker market is a massive one that Sonos didn’t have any of its hooks in.
The Move represented a shift in the audio brand’s focus; its first Bluetooth speaker after shunning the technology for years, and a portable one that you can take outside but functions like any other Sonos speaker in the home.
It’s since been joined by the Roam and the Roam SL as Sonos casts its vision outside the confines of the home, and though the competition has increased since it first arrived, it remains an excellent wireless speaker.
- UKRRP: £399
- USARRP: $399
- EuropeRRP: €399
- CanadaRRP: CA$499
- AustraliaRRP: AU$649
The Sonos Move was released in 2019 for £399 / $399 / €399 / CAD$499 / AUD$649. Although other speakers in Sonos’ line-up have increased in price, the Move has kept the same price since launch.
- 3kg weight
- Integrated carry handle
- IP56 rating repels dust and liquids
- Replaceable battery
In a market defined by small proportions and convenience, at 240 x 160 x 126mm (HWD) and with a weight of 3kg, the Sonos Move stretches the idea of a ‘portable’ speaker. That said, it isn’t particularly heavy to lift thanks to the integrated handle on its rear, and its svelte shape makes it easy to position on a shelf or otherwise, which lessens the impact of its size.
If you want a Sonos portable speaker that lives up to the idea of portability, the Roam is quite literally the better fit. The Move is best suited to use in a garden or park but for travelling far and wide? I’d feel you’d want something smaller such as the Roam. “Portable” isn’t the right word for it; an “outdoor” speaker sets expectations better.
Build quality is robust. 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 chip it, but the speaker still works fine. The underside of the speaker is where the battery is located and if it becomes damaged or loses charge, Sonos can a replacement along with tools and instructions to repair it.
An IP56 rating – the highest without submersion in water – means the Move is protected against dust, water, mud and whatever else is thrown at it. It’s available in two finishes one – Shadow Black and Lunar White and both finishes protect the Move from overheating, and exposure to chemicals and UV light. 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 automatically connects to its 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.
- Compatible with S1 and S2 apps
- Easy to use and comprehensive app
- Supports Alexa/Google Assistant and Sonos Voice Control indoors
- Auto Trueplay rebalances sound automatically
Plug the Move into its charging base and first-time setup is completed over Wi-Fi. If this is your first Sonos speaker, then you’ll need to download the Sonos S2 app. The app features integration with music streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and TuneIn integration, as well Equalizer options and the ability to set-up two Sonos Moves as a stereo pair.
It’s one of the more complete control apps available: slick and easy-to-use with the S2 app more responsive than the previous S1. The Move is compatible with both S1 and S2 apps, but if you want to use the speaker with recent Sonos products, the S2 app provides better compatibility.
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. 2.4GHz and 5.6GHz wireless bands are supported, but Bluetooth is only version 4.2.
When indoors, the Move works like any other Sonos speaker, with access to built-in Alexa, Google Assistant and Sonos Voice Control. With AirPlay 2 supported, Apple users can use Siri for hands-free assistance. Voice control proves to be quick and responsive, whether it’s asking for weather updates, bringing up playlists or searching for upcoming events.
The Move also supports 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 Android’s varied manufacturers – Auto Trueplay democratises the process by constantly listening and adjusting the music depending on the speaker’s placement. At launch this worked only on a Wi-Fi connection, but Sonos has since enabled it for Bluetooth.
The effect is subtle, but you’ll soon be able to tell the moment when the speaker acclimatizes to its new surroundings, the process takes just a few seconds.
According to Sonos the battery lasts for 11 hours of continuous play at “moderate volumes”. A firmware update boosted it from its initial 10, although this figure is still behind some cheaper alternatives such as the Marshall Tufton’s 20+ hours and the Sony SRS-XG300’s 25.
An hour of streaming on Tidal represented a drop in battery levels of 13% (72 to 59), with volume set at 40. Ten hours seems within reach but 11 requires lowering the volume to lower levels than 40. The Move can be charged via the charging base (available in black or white) or USB-C cable.
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. The Battery Saver feature that’s also present on the Roam preserves battery when the speaker is idle so less charge is lost.
- Big, weighty bass performance
- Not the sharpest sounding speaker
- Suitable for big open spaces
The character of the Move’s sound is one that’s cleaner, more precise and detailed than a number of its outdoor rivals, its tone pitches it in the realms of neutrality.
It’s more detailed than the Tufton is and offers more clarity than the rich-sounding Sony XG300, though it isn’t the sharpest sounding speaker, whether on a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.
It does impress with its powerful low-end frequency output in House of Pain’s Jump Around. The Move’s bass output is varied and happy to deal with tracks of that offer taut, punchy bass (Jazzmela Horn’s Green Eyes) or handle music with a rumbly low-end (DJ Kaboo’s Enta). Those who enjoy bass ought to be satisfied by Move’s depth and extension.
The Sonos Move also produces a big sound, although if you’re indoors it’s best to set the volume at less than 40 – give it an open space and you can let it rip. It can lose its composure at high volumes, its sense of definition becomes muddled, but if you’re in a big, open space, that’s unlikely to be an issue.
There appears to be the slightest of differences between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the latter ever so slightly reined in and lacking in subtlety – but that’s probably a nit-pick.
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. Vocals are always well conveyed by the speaker, emphasised with enough clarity and projected above instruments and beats in a track.
Dynamically, it’s sure-footed. 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.
Its energy propels Justin Hurwitz’s The Landing from his First Man score, and that sense of energy helps with the ELO’s 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.
Should you buy it?
You want to extend the Sonos experience into the garden: Sonos Move is best suited for taking it out to the garden or park, so for existing Sonos users the Move would make sense in taking the Sonos experience out of the house without sacrificing on quality
If you want something truly portable: At 3kg, the Move isn’t really a speaker we’d call portable, but it does suffice as an outdoor for bigger gatherings outside. For longer journeys and those in need for a small speaker, the Roam is the better option.
In short, the Move sounds very good, though arguably some improvements could be found in terms of clarity and sharpness. The combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity makes it an attractive speaker for those who want a wireless speaker that works as well indoors as it does out. Short of launching a missile at it, it’s likely to survive most accidents.
The price of £400 is a steep one but there’s no speaker that can do what the Move does at its price. It was a terrific speaker when it first launched, and little has dented opinion since.
How we test
We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested over several months
Tested with real world use
Battery drain performed
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The speaker’s IP56 rating means the Sonos Move is water resistant but not waterproof and should not be submerged in water.
Yes, the Sonos Move supports a multi-room setup whether with other Sonos devices or with AirPlay 2 speakers.
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Google AssistantA voice assistant which is Google’s take on Amazon’s Alexa.
AlexaAmazon's smart voice assistant
AirPlay 2AirPlay 2 is the second generation of Apple’s proprietary wireless streaming tech, which is built into all of its hardware products (and supported by many others). It’s designed to pass content from your Apple device - music, video and photos - to a compatible receiver over your Wi-Fi network such as a TV, wireless speaker, AV receiver etc.
Multi-room refers to the act of grouping wireless audio systems together to play/control music throughout a home. For example, Multi-room systems can allow for the same piece of music to be played on all connected systems, or different music played on each individual speaker.