Sonos Move Review

Sonos's first attempt at a Bluetooth speaker is impressive, although it isn't without a few foibles

Verdict

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

Pros

  • Big, powerful sound
  • Confident bass performance
  • Can work like any other Sonos speaker
  • Voice assistant and multi-room capability

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not exactly portable

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £399
  • Weight: 3kg
  • Auto Trueplay
  • Apple AirPlay 2
  • Built-in support for Google Assistant & Amazon Alexa

What is the Sonos Move?

The Sonos Move sees the home speaker outfit produce its first ever Bluetooth speaker. For use in the home and outside, the Move also features Sonos’ Auto Trueplay feature to adapt its sound to the environment it’s in.

Sonos is best known for its products for the home, but the new Move speaker represents a shift for the company.

It’s Sonos’s first Bluetooth speaker, a unit the Californian-based brand says can go “wherever you go” – but that acts like any other Sonos speaker when in the home.

That sounds all well and good, but does the Move live up to expectations?

Related: Sonos announces Move Bluetooth and One SL speaker at IFA 2019

Sonos Move build and design – It’s a portable speaker, and a big one at that

Sonos touts the Move as a “portable” speaker, but it’s sizeable for such a unit.

In a market defined by smaller proportions and convenience, the Move’s 240 x 160 x 126mm (HWD) dimensions are significantly more generous than those of the Sonos One. I’d have thought the Move would be a Bluetooth version of the One, closer to the UE Wonderboom 2 or JBL Charge 3. Instead, it’s closer to Marshall’s Tufton, although not as big.

Sonos Move

At 3kg it’s no lightweight either, although it doesn’t feel heavy to lift – the integrated handle on the rear mitigating its weight. It’s an attractive-looking unit; despite its generous proportions, it has a svelte look and shape which makes it easy to position on a shelf or otherwise, unlike B&W’s Formation Wedge.

I’d question whether it’s a speaker you’d want to take out and about, however. It’s fine for taking as far as you garden, but whether you’d want its heft accompanying you on days out I’m not so sure. “Portable” just isn’t the right word for it; an “outdoor” speaker is more suitable.

Build quality is durable. While I wasn’t comfortable dropping the unit from a significant height, letting it go from around 15-20cm was sufficient to prove its sturdiness – although I did manage to chip it. If truth be told, I’d actually be more concerned about the surface onto which the Move falls, rather than the speaker itself.

Sonos Move

One is a portable speaker, and the other is also a portable speaker

Related: Best Bluetooth speakers

An IP56 rating – the highest without submerging it in water – ensures the Move is well-guarded against dust, water, mud or likewise; its sealed design protecting the internals.

It’s available in only one finish, Shadow Black, and that’s because it helps insulate the Move from overheating. In the UK, this is unlikely to be a problem – although it can also survive temperatures down to -10°C.

Sonos Move

Around the rear of the Move you’ll find three buttons: one for power; another for switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and a third “Join” button. When swapping between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth you’ll hear a tone, and in Bluetooth mode the Move will connect to the last known device.

On top is an LED status light: white is Wi-Fi and blue is Bluetooth. Also on the top are built-in far-field microphones for voice control and a touch capacitive start/stop playback button.

Related: Sonos One review

Sonos Move setup and app – A refreshingly easy to use and feature complete app

Plug the Move into its charging base and setup is completed over Wi-Fi. If this is your first Sonos speaker then you’ll need to download the app.

The control app, which is one of the better efforts out there, features Spotify, Tidal and TuneIn integration, along withs support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Sonos Move

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 music apps available, slick and easy-to-use – although it could be more responsive at times.

Related: Google Assistant guide

Sonos Move features – A Sonos speaker for wherever you are

The Sonos Move offers plenty of value for existing Sonos owners.

When indoors, it works like any other Sonos speaker. This means integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant is built-in, and AirPlay 2 is supported, too, with Siri available through an Apple device.

Related: What is Apple AirPlay 2?

Sonos Move

You’ll need to download the Alexa or Google Assistant app if you haven’t already, and sync them to the Sonos app. Note that synching can be fussy at times. Once done, voice control is quick and responsive, whether it’s calling up weather updates, bringing up playlists or upcoming events.

The Move marks the introduction of Sonos’s Auto Trueplay feature. Trueplay tunes a Sonos speaker to its environment; it was only available on iOS. Auto Trueplay democratises the process by removing the app completely.

It listens and adjusts the sound as music is played, with the effect subtle and the process taking not taking much more than a few seconds. Place the Move in an enclosed space and the bass reverts from being boomy to more refined.

Related: What is Sonos Trueplay?

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move and its charging base

The battery in the base of the speaker lasts for 10 hours, and is a replaceable unit. Sonos has said it will send out a replacement battery, tools and instructions on to how to change it if the need arises.

The Move comes with a charging base on which it sits. There’s also a USB-C cable, if 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.

2.4GHz and 5.6GHz wireless bands are supported, but Bluetooth only stretches to 4.2 and not Bluetooth 5.

Related: What is Bluetooth 5?

Sonos Move sound quality – A big performer, although it isn’t quite the best sounding speaker

When Sonos first showed off the Move speaker, it felt like a big-sounding unit with a strong, bassy character, clear vocals and a wide soundstage. It turns out that wasn’t far off the mark.

Next to the Marshall Tufton, the Move displays more detail than its “outdoor” counterpart. It isn’t in the realm of sounding neutral, nor is it overly bassy, but its confidence with low-end frequencies is impressive and malleable, too; it’s capable with tracks that demonstrate tight bass or a more rumbly low-end.

Sonos Move

It’s a big sound, although if indoors it’s best to set the volume somewhere around the middle. Give it more space – outdoors – and you can let it rip. It does lose some composure at high volumes, but if you’re in a big, open space, this won’t be an issue.

There appears to be a slight difference between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with the latter sounding ever so slightly reined in and perhaps lacking in terms of subtlety than Wi-Fi – but that’s nitpicking.

Related: Best multi-room speakers

Sonos Move

The handle on the Move’s rear

It arguably isn’t the clearest, textured or most detailed performer, but the Move is clear enough and an easy listen. The speaker presents sufficient colour and detail from John Legend’s voice in Refuge from the Get Lifted album, and in a Tidal stream of Sting’s It’s Probably Me to make for an enjoyable performance.

Dynamically, it’s reasonably sure-footed. Perhaps the highs aren’t as far-reaching, but the Move is capable enough when listening to the soaring Hope (Xavier’s Theme) via a Spotify stream. There’s an impressive sense of weight to the sound, too, with the Move not afraid to give it some welly.

Sonos Move

A propulsive, clean sound, full of energy and good timing pushes on Justin Hurwitz’s The Landing from his First Man score, to the very energetic Mr Blue Sky from The Electric Light Orchestra.

You want power? The Move’s full-bodied sound 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.

The Sonos Move is a speaker that’s never less than entertaining.

Should I buy the Sonos Move?

It’s size and weight make its portable credentials somewhat questionable, but as as an overall package there’s no denying the Sonos Move’s appeal.

It sounds good, comes with plenty of features, and is simple to use. Short of firing a gun at it, it’s likely to survive most things (even Brexit). In this context, there isn’t much out there like it.

A price of £400 is a steep ask in a “portable speaker” market where £100 is close to the limit.

Nevertheless, for existing Sonos users the Move makes sense. Everyone else is likely to question carefully whether they’re prepared to pay £400 for what is, admittedly, a quality, multi-purpose speaker.

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