Sonos Move Review
Sonos is launching its first smart speaker with a battery and Bluetooth audio with the Sonos Move. So how portable is the Move really, and what can it do in terms of sound?
The American sound company Sonos is considered a pioneer in the multi-room audio sector. With the Sonos One, Sonos had released its first smart speaker with voice control, with the Move Sonos is now also mobile.
Thanks to an integrated rechargeable battery, you can now take the multi-room speaker with you onto the balcony or into the garden. In addition, Sonos has also installed a Bluetooth interface, which means you can enjoy the Sonos sound outside of your WLAN range, i.e., almost anywhere.
However, as the first Bluetooth speaker of its kind, the Move is not featherweight. On the contrary, with a height of 24 cm and a weight of 3 kg, it is quite expansive and surpasses the small stationary Sonos models such as the Sonos One.
We took a closer look at the Sonos Move and compared it to smart speakers like the Sonos One and popular Bluetooth speakers like the JBL Charge 5 or the brand new, much more compact Sonos Roam.
- Great sound
- Battery operation possible
- Multiple language assistants possible
- High quality
- Price intensive
- A bit big and heavy for traveling
Sound: The Sonos Move in the sound test
Whether as a smart or Bluetooth speaker, the focus is on the sound – and the Move inspires it. With a front-firing mid-bass driver and a downward-firing tweeter that distributes sound evenly, the Move is ahead of many of its peers, which often rely on full-range drivers.
The result is a rich sound that reaches deep into the lower frequency range. In addition, there are clear highs and mids, which resound precisely and powerfully from the round speaker column. With the automatic, Sonos-own Trueplay sound optimization, the Move also brings a continuous sound adjustment to the environment for the first time. The Sonos uses sensors to recognize when it is moved and automatically adjusts the sound to the changing environment.
Our audio samples
To feed the sound of the Sonos with reference material, we listen to a few tracks on Sonos’ smart speaker. We begin with the tranquil singer-songwriter Powder Finger by Neil Young. The acoustic guitar, which determines the piece’s sound, comes out of the Move safely and clearly defined. Neil Young’s voice also sounds clear and powerful and proves the strengths of the Move, especially in the mid-range.
In the next piece, Lights Out by the New York band Menahan Street Band, the Sonos proves a powerful yet controlled, clean sound. The classic funk instrumentation comes into its own, and none of the five instrumentalists sounds too thin over the Sonos. What is also striking here is the very strong but not washed-out bass range. The interplay of the kick drum and the deep bassline remains harmonious.
The Move also skilfully brings electronic music with its powerful, oppressive bass to the stage. For example, the piece Lost in Yesterday by the Australian one-person band Tame Impala thrives on a prominent bass line, lots of bright synthesizers, and crisp drums. The Move can reproduce each of these components clearly and well separated from each other. The rhythmic sound is particularly noticeable due to the powerful mids that the Move’s powerful mid-bass driver delivers.
Finally, let’s listen to 24kGoldn’s bass-heavy song Mood on the Move. The Move does very well with the central bass component of the piece. The fine high frequencies of the hi-hats or synthesizers only suffer a little. On the other hand, the vocals find their way past the powerful deep basses.
The Move produces podcasts, audiobooks, and the like just as skillfully as various music genres. However, it is noticeable that the deep mid-range sometimes has too much power in places.
The equalizer in the Sonos app or, for Bluetooth playback, the equalizer in the streaming service can help here (if available). Screw on the lower mids a little, and your favorite podcast or new audiobook will sound in excellent quality from the bulbous Move.
Stereo mode, sound adjustment, and fine adjustments
What sounds better than a Sonos? Exactly, two! As with many other Sonos models, a pair of speakers can play together in stereo mode. But be careful because the stereo pairing only works in WLAN mode. So, unfortunately, you have to do without stereo sound via Bluetooth.
In addition, only the same models can be coupled with each other. However, grouping and playing different Sonos models simultaneously (in WLAN mode) is possible without any problems.We experienced the best stereo sound from Sonosin our test of the Sonos Five. In our test, you can find out what the stationary player can do in terms of sound.
The Sonos-in comparison
Compact, powerful, more or less round, all of these descriptions fit several Sonos speakers simultaneously. But what distinguishes the Sonos Move from its sound colleagues?
A comparison Move vs. Sonos One
The Move towers over the Sonos One in height, width, and depth by a few centimeters and weighs almost twice as much at three kilos. But there is also a large battery hidden inside. It needs additional space and is also the reason for another great difference between the two smart speakers, you cannot – and should not – take the Sonos One to the beach.
It neither has a battery nor is it water and dust-resistant. With its IP56 protection class, the Sonos can easily withstand “damaging amounts of dust” and “strong jets of water.” However, you should not drop it in the pool.
But the Sonos Move also performs better than the Sonos One in terms of sound. Although both are equipped with a tweeter and a mid-bass driver, the tweeter in the Move radiates downwards and distributes your music more evenly in its surroundings.
Incidentally, the music only finds its way to the Sonos One via the Internet. With the Move, you have the advantage of being able to count on Bluetooth as a transmitter.
You can only use the Sonos One (or Sonos Five) as the rear speaker of your Sonossurround system. The Move is unsuitable for this, but it can automatically adapt the sound to its environment.
However, for the sound adjustment called Trueplay, you need your iPad or iPhone for all stationary Sonos speakers. So, if you don’t have a corresponding Apple product, you only benefit from this technology with the Move and the Sonos Roam.
Move vs Sonos Roam
Things are different between the two mobile Bluetooth speakers from Sonos. Both can be fed with music and operated via Bluetooth or WLAN. A fully charged battery will keep you entertained for around 10 hours on the Sonos Roam and an hour more on the Move.
The difference is not greater despite the different dimensions; it can be explained by the fact that a larger battery fits into a larger housing and larger drivers, which in turn need more energy for sound.
The Sonos Roam is also equipped with a tweeter and a mid-bass speaker. These are naturally a bit smaller, and so it’s no wonder that you can’t expect such a powerful performance from the Roam as from the Move or One.
Nevertheless, the Sonos Roam also cuts a fine figure. This is especially concerning its small size, which is its great advantage on the road. At just 430g, it’s a lot easier to take with you than the Move.
If your outdoor party – or the Roam itself – falls through, there’s no need to panic. With IP67, it is even better protected than its big brother. According to Sonos, the small speaker should survive half an hour up to one meter underwater without damage.
Smart functions: Sonos is on two tracks
Even though Sonos is breaking new ground with the Move as the first Bluetooth speaker in their ranks, it’s still a smart speaker first and foremost.
Sonos kills two birds with one stone when it comes to smart speakers. Amazon equips its Echo devices with Alexa; Google exclusively integrates its Google Assistant into its Nest Smart Speakers. So, when setting up the Move, you have a choice, do you prefer Alexa or Google Assistant?
After choosing a voice assistant, the Move gives you the option to add the Sonos to an existing Echo or Nest network. So, for example, if there is already an Echo or a Google Nest in the kitchen or bedroom, the Move joins it but does not support speaker groups or multi-room with an Amazon Echo.
AirPlay and Chromecast
For Apple fans, AirPlay 2 is on board, allowing you to redirect the sound output of any app from any iPhone or iPad on the same WiFi network to the Sonos smart speaker. Unfortunately, Android users have to do without the Google counterpart Google Chromecast.
However, they still have the very good Sonos app and many direct integrations of streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal & Co. If these are activated in your Sonos system, your Sonos speakers are direct in the services’ apps as an output device to choose from. More on that in the next chapter.
Sonos Move – Setting up and operating
To use the Move, you must first set it up with the Sonos app. If you don’t have any other Sonos speakers yet, you must first set up a new Sonos network. Follow the instructions in the app, and your Sonos network will be set up in no time. Sonos manages to make getting started and setting up new devices simple, intuitive, and quick.
We assigned the Move to the living room, even if it can change its location on the fly with its battery. You then choose your streaming services. We’ve set up Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal to have direct access to the libraries through the Sonos app.
Only one thing is missing a language assistant. As already mentioned, you can choose between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa with Sonos speakers. We test both one after the other. A noticeable point is the Move reacts noticeably worse to quiet or distant “Alexa!” or “Ok, Google” calls than “the originals,” i.e., Amazon Echo or Google Nest.
The Move has a touch surface for operation without a voice command. The usual basic volume and play/pause commands are listed below. You switch off the four microphones with the microphone symbol above, and the Move will no longer listen to your voice. You can see at any time whether the microphones are active or not via an LED.
Other controls are on the back – here in the form of buttons. Below each other, we find a power button, the button to switch to Bluetooth mode, and finally, the connection button, which you need when setting up the Move.
The Sonos app
Of course, the Sonos app has a lot more up its sleeve than setting up your Sonos speakers and selecting your voice assistants. It is the heart of the operation of all Sonos speakers and offers you the opportunity to customize your Sonos world to suit your taste. You can install the Sonos app on both iOS and Android devices.
The Sonos app also has functions that you can find in the Alexa or Google Assistant app. Among other things, an alarm clock, (sleep) timer, or an equalizer. Using your Sonos with Alexa or Google, you control the Sonos as part of the Alexa or Google Assistant network via the respective voice assistant app.
The Sonos as a Bluetooth speaker for outdoor use
The Move is not a lightweight. First and foremost, he will probably serve as a companion for the terrace, balcony, or garden or wander between several rooms in the apartment. However, it is still well equipped for use in the park, lake, or vacation.
The battery, which was installed in a Sonos speaker for the first time, has a capacity of 2500 mAh, which gives the Move a full eleven hours of running time. In addition, it can assert itself with a robust, drop-proof housing and protection class IP56. This means that dust and heavy rain cannot harm the loudspeaker column. So, if you are ready to pack the 3 kg giant in your backpack and set off, you will be rewarded with a great performance.
Design of the Sonos: High quality and chic
Sonos has long proven that they place a high priority on the design of their products. It’s no different with the Move. The eye-catching design is joined by Sonos-typical processing at the highest level. The loudspeaker is surrounded by a fine-meshed grille and resonates in all directions, as the design suggests.
The loudspeaker grille is aluminum; the upper side is robust plastic. The lower part and the foot are also made of plastic covered with non-slip rubber. The Move exudes stability and, according to Sonos, should be able to withstand falls without any problems. An important criterion for outdoor use.
The black version was available for our test. Despite its simplicity, it always attracts attention. The rounded shape paired with a high-quality, matt surface and a stylish design of the touch surface makes the Move a real gem. You will also find similar optical advantages with the Sonos-compatible IKEA Symfonisk table lamp.
For use at home and for charging the battery, the Move comes with a practical docking station in the form of an inconspicuous ring. The speaker is charged via a small contact on the back.
In addition, the dock helps the Move with an even more secure stand on the table or shelf. You can also charge the Move via the small USB-C socket on the back as an alternative to the dock.
The Move shoots the bird off several times as a smart speaker and Bluetooth speaker. On the one hand, you can use it with a battery and Bluetooth; on the other hand, it supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. In addition, there is excellent sound performance and first-class quality.