Sonos is of course known for its wireless speaker systems, which you can control with an app that is as simple as it is feature-rich. You can also divide the speakers into rooms, so that you can control a specific group of speakers, for example. You can even turn it into a surround setup in combination with your home cinema. What was not yet possible, however, was to pick up a Sonos speaker and take it outside wirelessly. They don’t all have a battery.
That has now changed with the Sonos Move. You can simply use this speaker indoors as part of your Sonos system, while it’s on the charging station and so you don’t have to think about charging, but you can also use it elsewhere in the house or in the garden. In that case, it can still work with WiFi, which produces better sound quality than Bluetooth, because there is less compression as standard. However, if you go to the beach or celebrate your birthday barbecue in the park, you can also take it with you. Then it works on Bluetooth and you simply stream your music to the Move, via your smartphone for example. At the IFA in Berlin we were able to get a first impression of the Move.
Sturdy and spray-resistant housing
The Sonos Move is not Sonos’ smallest. It towers above the One and is also a bit wider than the most popular WiFi speaker in the Pricewatch. It is also a bit heavier than the One and the Play:3. The battery will contribute to that. It is still portable, although most Bluetooth speakers are lighter. You pick up the Move by the notch on the back. This gives a fairly firm grip and we were not afraid to let it fall out of our hands during the hands-on session.
On top of the Move are the usual touch buttons, and they responded well to our touches. The middle button on the back serves to switch between bluetooth and wifi, which is practical. Unfortunately, we were not able to try the pairing ourselves on site.
We have extensively held the Move and the various parts that make it up. These all feel incredibly sturdy, from the grille to the pieces of plastic inside and from the rubber of the bottom to the touch plate at the top. This is of course important for a relatively expensive speaker, which is intended for indoor and outdoor use. The Move is therefore shock-resistant according to Sonos.
If you drop the speaker from about thirty centimeters on a hard material such as stone, it will survive, according to the manufacturer. This was illustrated with a drop test. Here we have to believe Sonos on his blue eyes, because the speaker in the drop test was in a glass box. Also, there is no official certification, such as mil-std-810G. Still, we tend to believe the Move can pack quite a punch, especially since we’ve seen the inside of the device. The materials are thick, sturdy and fit tightly together with no visible weak parts that are likely to break
Fortunately, there is certification for water and dust resistance, because the Move has an IP56 rating. That does not mean that no dust can get into the speaker at all, but that the proper functioning is guaranteed. In terms of water resistance, it means that 100 liters of water per minute can be sprayed on the device at any angle without breaking the Move. Inside the Move are all kinds of water drainage channels, where the water can run out again when it has entered. It has no guarantee against submersion, so if you drop it in the pool, it could die.
Change of philosophy
For Sonos, this speaker has been quite a cultural change. The company focused on speakers that basically stayed in place and initially planned to continue doing so. That was part of the added value of the speakers, because you could tell the app that your One was in the kitchen and the Play: 5 in the living room, for example. If speakers move from their place, it will no longer work if you ask Google Assistant to play a song in a certain room. Nevertheless, Sonos gradually realized that people also need a speaker that you can take with you. The Move is a combination of a fixed speaker and a portable one.
In principle, you simply use the Move as you use any other Sonos speaker, namely in one specific place, the place where the charging station is located. Of course you can plug that into the socket somewhere else, but that’s not the idea. You use the Move indoors as a fully-fledged addition to your Sonos system. According to Sonos, it has partially replaced the Play:3, which no longer rolls out of the factories. Of course, the Move has extra portable functionality, but in terms of price and sound quality, according to the speaker manufacturer, it is between the Sonos Play:5 and the Sonos One.
That is also our experience at first hearing, although it is difficult to judge after a very short listening session. Especially the low tones of the Sonos Move are still a bit chunky, where that is a lot less the case with the Play:5. That’s usually the case with smaller speakers, of course, so we can’t blame the Move too much. Compactness, in principle, accompanies this drawback. Furthermore, the Move sounds fine to us.
Also worth mentioning is the down-firing tweeter. Normally, a tweeter should be placed in the direction of the listener, but with these types of speakers it is intended that it does not have to be placed in a focused position. People may be sitting around it or the speaker is somewhere behind a group of people. Sonos has therefore directed the tweeter downwards and made a recess around it where the sound comes out. This recess has a special, apparently quite arbitrary shape. According to Sonos, this is the result of 64 differently shaped prototypes, which tested how well the high tones can be heard from all sides of the speaker. Our first impression is that this was successful with the final version.
A handy feature for the Move is TruePlay from Sonos. There’s a gyroscope built into the speaker, so it knows when it’s being moved. The speaker will then retune itself when it stops again. Outside, a completely different tuning is needed than inside, where the sound is more reflected. This has a considerable influence on the sound and it is therefore nice that Sonos has built in this feature.
Battery, competition and other functions
The charging station of course already reveals that there is a battery in the Move. Upon inquiry, the capacity appears to be 2500mAh and it should be able to play music for up to ten hours on one full charge. In sleep mode, which it automatically enters after thirty minutes, it can last five days according to Sonos. As soon as you put the Move back on the charging stand, it will start charging again. It can also be charged outdoors or elsewhere with a USB-C charger. As far as we could find out, it can’t charge your smartphone while you listen to music like the Denon Heos 1 HS2 with Go Pack. It is nice that the battery of the Move is interchangeable. Eventually that will probably be necessary. Lithium-ion batteries simply deteriorate and Sonos products are meant to last, longer than smartphones, for example. What is the price of a new battery
The competition is thin on the ground when looking at all aspects of the Move. Of course there are plenty of WiFi speakers that also have Bluetooth, but there are very few that are as easy to take outside as the Move, often simply because it has a plug. The Libratone Zipp is an example of a WiFi speaker with multi-room functionality that can easily be taken outside. However, according to the specifications, this has a considerably shorter battery life and also has no charging station.
There are also smart assistants built into the Move. There is support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. An LED indicator is present to show when the smart assistant is listening. With four far-field microphones, the Move listens to your spoken commands.
There is support for AirPlay 2 and WiFi 802.11b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz). However, the bluetooth version is only 4.2. That is striking since bluetooth 5 has been out for a while and has advantages in terms of range and, in theory, also that of sound quality. When asked, Sonos says about this: “Sonos has built in its own amplifier for the Bluetooth range, so that the range of 4.2 is greater than 5.0 even. And the lower consumption of 5.0 compared to 4.2 is equalized by Sonos itself through the way the software is set up, and hardware is made and wired.” Fine if that is the case, of course, but it remains a bit puzzling that Bluetooth 5 was not chosen, since that seems easier than getting Bluetooth 4.2 as good as Bluetooth 5 yourself through all kinds of detours.
Sonos speakers are luxury products that generally work very nicely and simply, but also have extensive support and a nice app. The price is also to this and that also applies to the Sonos Move. You can buy it from September 24 for 399 euros. That is very pricey. The biggest advantage of this speaker is that we would love to use it indoors, given the excellent audio quality at first hearing. That means you can kill two birds with one stone; for 399 euros you have a nice extension for your Sonos system, but above all a solid and high-quality Bluetooth speaker, which not only comes out of your closet when you sit in the garden or in the park. That makes the Move a potentially efficient purchase, especially if you’re already a Sonos owner.