The Sonos Move is the American manufacturer’s first portable Bluetooth speaker. Designed to provide a multi-functional solution, it can also be connected via WiFi to access the numerous features of traditional Sonos speakers: multi-room, online music services, DLNA playback, AirPlay 2, voice assistants, etc. Both mains and battery operated (10 hours of battery life), will this €399 Sonos speaker be able to competently combine both portable and at-home listening in a single device?
Sonos Move: the brand
A pioneer of multi-room audio, Sonos was founded in 2002 by John MacFarlane. His goal: to allow music lovers to easily stream any song wirelessly in their home. However, in 2002 very few technologies existed that would allow the brand to achieve this goal. A completely new system had to be designed to transfer sound instantly and wirelessly to several speakers without the user noticing any synchronization errors. John MacFarlane therefore turned to a team of engineers that found a solution in 2003 through mesh networking. At the time, this type of network was mostly used for military purposes and had never been applied in the home, let alone used to provide a solution for music playback. After extensive research on antenna placement and the development of a user-friendly system, Sonos revealed its very first product in January 2005: the Sonos ZP100, a connected amplifier capable of delivering up to 2 x 50 watts in Class D. It was an immediate hit with the world press, who praised its easy installation, design, reliability and sound quality.
In 2007, Apple launched the iPhone and the App Store, starting one of the biggest revolutions in the digital world since the invention of the personal computer. Sonos took advantage of the boom in mobile apps to create its own, giving the user the possibility to turn their smartphone into a remote control. This application was made available to users in 2011 and rapidly became the central element of Sonos systems, so much so that the brand began to progressively phase out physical remote controls in 2012. Its main advantage is that it offers an intuitive system that provides access to numerous online music services such as Deezer, Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal and Google Play Music, as well as thousands of internet radio stations.
In late 2009, Sonos released its first wireless speaker, the Sonos Play:5. This speaker uses the same wireless streaming process as the Sonos ZP100 amplifier, but provides an entirely independent system that integrates both an amplification system and drivers. This speaker was very successful, making Sonos a true pioneer and leader in this domain. Sonos then significantly diversified its catalog to include many more multi-room speakers, smart speakers, soundbars, TV soundbase speakers, wireless home theater systems, as well as many other systems, such as network streamers that make it easy to stream music from a smartphone or tablet. Until now, the American manufacturer had focused solely on domestic WiFi or Ethernet devices. The newly released Sonos Move is a first for the brand, as it is WiFi and Bluetooth compatible and can be powered by its integrated battery or by using a power adapter.
Sonos Move: packaging & accessories
The Sonos Move Bluetooth speaker comes in a cardboard box and is placed inside an elegant fabric pouch that can be used to protect it during storage. There is also a charging base and a quick start guide.
Sonos Move: presentation
As soon as we took it out of the box, we noticed that the Sonos Move speaker has sleek, clean lines inherited from the Sonos One and Sonos One SL. The Sonos Move’s design is heavily inspired by the brand’s iconic multi-room models, but incorporates a few modifications to make it more suitable for mobile use. For instance, it has a thicker polymer plastic chassis and a metallic grille that almost entirely covers the speaker and conceals the acoustic components. This design makes the Sonos Move highly shock-resistant as well as dust and splash-proof, in accordance with the IP56 rating. As a result, it can be used in a bathroom, at the beach or at the pool without any risk of it being damaged. Lastly, the underside of the speaker uses a rubber coating to limit unwanted vibrations when placed on a piece of furniture. This coating also gives the Sonos Move excellent stability. No matter what surface it is placed on, the Sonos Move stays firmly in place.
At the top of its rear panel, the Sonos Move speaker features a recess that is approximately 6cm deep designed to make the speaker easier to carry. Very wide and easily accessible, this handle proved to be pleasant to use and provided a perfect grip. Weighing almost 3kg, the Sonos Move is meant to be carried from one room to another, onto the terrace or into the garden, and can even follow you to the beach or on a picnic. Its relatively compact size (240 x 160 x 126mm) make it easy to slip into a backpack to carry it across long distances.
Sonos Move: 10-hour battery life
Due to the fact it is a portable Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Move features a rechargeable 36W battery that can last up to 10 hours in Bluetooth mode. Sonos’ obsession with ease of use extends to the Move’s charging system. The speaker comes with a separate base with a hole in the center on which you simply place the speaker to recharge the battery or to use it with mains electricity. Charging is handled by two contacts placed on the speaker’s rear panel. Thanks to the charging base’s angled edges, the speaker’s contactors are always perfectly aligned with those of the base.
Conveniently, the Sonos Move speaker also features a USB-C input so that it can be easily recharged when the base isn’t at hand. Consequently, it can be taken on holiday or to a friend’s house, without having to unplug the charging base. It is important to note, however, that recharging via USB requires a charger (not included) capable of providing a minimum of 45 watts.
An extremely rare feature for a portable Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Move’s battery can be easily removed and replaced when it begins to wear out. Sonos states that the battery should last around 900 charging cycles, or approximately three years. After this period, the battery is easily replaced by removing the two screws that are hidden underneath a rubber cover on the bottom of the Sonos Move speaker. Because its battery can be replaced, the Sonos Move is the first truly durable and ecological wireless Bluetooth speaker.
Sonos Move: Bluetooth
The Sonos Move is the American manufacturer’s first speaker to include a Bluetooth controller as well as WiFi connectivity. It is therefore possible to stream music from a smartphone, a tablet or a DAP, without being restricted to the zone covered by the local WiFi network. The WiFi connection is enabled by default. Switching to Bluetooth mode is done manually by pressing a dedicated button on the rear panel of the speaker. However, the Sonos Move’s Bluetooth controller is only compatible with SBC and AAC codecs. While these codecs provide full support for all Bluetooth devices, they do not support high data rates.
Sonos Move: WiFi, streaming and multi-room
When the Sonos Move speaker is connected to the WiFi network, it enjoys the same features as other wireless Sonos speakers. Music playback is controlled via the excellent Sonos Controller app for iOS and Android. The latter lets you play music shared over the local network, access the majority of online music services, such as Deezer, Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music, as well as a plethora of internet radio stations.
The Sonos Move speaker’s WiFi connection also allows it to be connected to several compatible Sonos or AirPlay 2 devices. Consequently, it is possible to enjoy the same music in different rooms or create a stereo pair with a second Sonos Move speaker.
Sonos Move: voice assistants
More than just a portable speaker, the Sonos Move can also be used as a smart speaker as it includes Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This makes using the Sonos speaker incredibly easy. All you have to do is ask it to play a playlist, change tracks, adjust the volume, etc. for the speaker carry out the request. It is also possible to control the various connected objects in your home.
During our various tests, the Sonos Move wireless speaker always performed our requests flawlessly, even when the music was playing at high volume. This is because the speaker uses six highly sensitivity microphones combined with a noise cancelling system to filter out interference. An LED shaped like a microphone and placed above the logo indicates when the voice assistant’s microphones are activated. So that your privacy is respected, it is possible to deactivate the microphones. In this case, the Move can be controlled using the Sonos app (only via WiFi), or using the touch control interface. The latter lets you play and pause the music, skip tracks or change the volume.
Sonos Move: automatic TruePlay calibration
Underneath its robust shell, the Sonos Move speaker features two Class D digital amplifiers tasked with powering a midbass driver and tweeter. The latter is tilted downwards to ensure a wide dispersion of high frequencies. To optimize the drivers, the Sonos Move wireless speaker is equipped with the Auto TruePlay calibration system which lets you adjust the restitution of the speaker according to the acoustic characteristics of its surroundings. It is largely based on the system introduced with the Sonos Play:5, but differs in that it works with the speaker’s microphones rather than the smartphone’s. This calibration works in perfect tandem with an accelerometer that detects when the Sonos Move is moved and automatically adjusts its restitution, without the user having to intervene. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t notice a huge difference in the restitution when we moved it to different areas in our test room. This calibration therefore probably takes into account the size of the room rather than the layout. For a more personalized adjustment, it is possible to manually modify the level of the lows and highs in the Sonos app.
Sonos Move: setup
Like all of the American manufacturer’s products, the Sonos Move speaker is incredibly easy to set up. However, it is important to note that although the speaker provides Bluetooth connectivity, a WiFi connection is still required to configure and activate the Sonos Move for the first time. This only takes a few minutes to do in the Sonos Controller app for iOS and Android. The app guides the user step by step. First, you must activate the Sonos Move’s pairing mode by pressing the dedicated button on the back of the speaker. The app then automatically detects the speaker and configuration begins. The user is then prompted to create a Sonos account or to connect to an existing account. Then, you must select the WiFi network before entering your password for the Sonos Move to be automatically connected. Lastly, the speaker can also be updated.
Once the Sonos Move is connected to the WiFi network and updated, you are directed to the Sonos Controller app’s interface. Via this interface, it is possible to link various online music services, but also to activate voice assistants if you wish to use these features. We chose to activate Google Assistant. The latter is automatically configured on the condition that you already have a Google Assistant account set up on your smartphone. If this isn’t the case, you will need to install the Google Assistant app to finalize the configuration.
Sonos Move: listening impressions
First, we tested the Sonos Move speaker with a WiFi connection to stream music via Qobuz (Sublime+ subscription) and Spotify. On the track Hit That Jive by Gramatik, the Sonos Move impressed us with the power of the lows it delivered. In our test room of approximately 20m², there was plenty of sound, even with the Move’s volume at less than 25%. The lows expanded nicely across the room and packed a punch, as long as the Loudness mode was activated. The acoustic configuration of the Sonos Move speaker provides a very wide soundstage. We tried placing the speaker in different areas of the room and the restitution was very satisfactory each time. Even when we were behind the Move, we could hear the music clearly and only the voices were slightly attenuated. Conveniently, the Sonos Move wireless speaker can be placed on or taken off its base multiple times without interrupting the music. As a result, it can be easily moved from one room to another without missing out on a second of your songs. The WiFi connection proved to be very stable and we didn’t notice any desynchronization. The only drawback is that the battery life lasts about half as long when the speaker is in WiFi mode, which is about five hours compared to 10 in Bluetooth mode. Using the base or a USB-C cable is therefore preferable for long WiFi listening sessions.
Afterwards, we switched to the Sonos Move’s Bluetooth mode to continue our review. If the speaker has already been paired once, it automatically pairs to the source, allowing you to instantly enjoy your music. With Kavinsky’s Roadgame, the Sonos Move speaker demonstrated authoritative lows once again. The restitution had substance and we could feel every impact when we turned the volume up. The synth present throughout the track was excellently reproduced and filled the room. The sound was dynamic and masterfully rhythmed.
Sonos Move: compared to…
Sonos One: sold for €199, the One sounds the same as the Move, with a weighty restitution and powerful bass. The WiFi features are also identical, with support for a wide range of online music services, AirPlay 2 compatibility and the integration of the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants. However, the Sonos One is only compatible with WiFi and must be connected to the mains to work. The Sonos Move is therefore much more flexible as it can be easily carried from one room to another and can even be taken outside.
Harman Kardon Allure Portable: sold for €229, this Harman Kardon speaker is WiFi and Bluetooth compatible and features Amazon Alexa. It can be powered via mains electricity or by its battery. In the latter case, its battery life is identical to that of the Sonos Move and it can be recharged using a separate base or a USB-C cable. However, the Harman Kardon Allure Portable speaker isn’t as flexible or as user-friendly as the Sonos Move. It doesn’t have a control application for smartphones and online music services are only accessible via Amazon Alexa. If you don’t wish to use the voice assistant, the speaker will be restricted to classic Bluetooth streaming.
Klipsch The Three Google: much more imposing, this €249 Klipsch speaker has a much higher amplification power. Concerning sound, the Klipsch model isn’t as generous in the lows, but its overall restitution is more accurate. Connectivity-wise, The Klipsch The Three features Bluetooth and WiFi connections with Google Chromecast built-in to easily stream music from a smartphone or computer. Chromecast also allows you to connect to other compatible multi-room speakers. However, the Klipsch The Three doesn’t feature a battery. Consequently, the Sonos Move comes out on top regarding flexibility and portability.
Bose Portable Home Speaker: also compatible with Bluetooth and WiFi, this Bose speaker launched at €369 takes the lead with its compact size (19 x 191.5 x 104mm) and low weight of 1.0kg. Therefore, it is easier to take out of the house. However, this compact design results in a sound that isn’t quite as powerful. The lows aren’t as strong, but the overall restitution is very pleasant, especially thanks to its 360° system. As a result, it can be placed at the center of a table so that everyone can enjoy the music. The Bose speaker also benefits from a more generous battery life (12 hours compared to 10 hours for the Sonos Move) as well as slightly superior waterproofing. Lastly, when it is connected via WiFi, the Bose speaker provides very similar features: online music services, control via an app, AirPlay 2 and integrated voice assistants.
Sonos Move: conclusion
With the Sonos Move, the American manufacturer wants to provide a versatile solution that can follow the user everywhere they go. At least that’s the idea, because in reality the speaker’s 3 kilograms makes it more suited to be carried from one room to another or onto the terrace. For longer distances, the use of a backpack becomes imperative. Like all of Sonos’ products, the Sonos Move is very intuitive and pleasant to use. All the same, it is better to use the speaker in WiFi mode to fully enjoy the many features provided by this wireless smart speaker. The Bluetooth mode is very convenient for parties in the garden or at a friend’s house.
What we liked:
- The powerful bass
- The ease of use
- The control app
- The replaceable battery
What we would have liked:
- Longer battery life
- For it to have been lighter
- For the control app to have worked in Bluetooth mode
- aptX Bluetooth