Sonos Move full review

After many years of waiting Sonos has finally created a speaker than isn’t restricted by a power socket. The Sonos Move is the first to be both portable and Bluetooth and we love it. Here's our full review.

We, along with many customers, have been pestering Sonos for a speaker than can go outside for what feels like an eternity. Well the company has answered with a powerful, yet compact speaker than can go anywhere with you.

Sonos is no longer a home audio system. 

The Move won our Best in Show award at IFA 2019. Find out what else won awards. Sonos has also announced the One SL which replaces the Play:1.

Price & Availability

The Sonos Move is available now and you can buy it for £399 with the same figure in US dollars and Euros. This means it sits between the Sonos One and Play:5 in the range.

You can buy it from Sonos, John Lewis and Amazon.

It might seem like a lot but really you should be used to how much Sonos costs by now, and this isn't like buying one of the firm's previous devices.

The Move is a portable and Bluetooth speaker in one, and as long as you don't mind moving it from place to place, could serve the same purpose as two Sonos speakers so we think it's pretty good value.

Design & Build

At first glance, this is a typical Sonos speaker with the kind of design we’ve come to both love and expect. It’s modern and stylish and will fit with almost any decor.

Take a closer look at there are various things Sonos has done to ensure the Move is fit for it’s (multi) purpose.

Sonos Move design

For starters, an ergonomic handle is carved into the back so you can pick it up and, well, move it around any time with ease. Here you’ll find the familiar join button as well as a power button - since it’s battery powered and will actually need switching off when not docked - as well as a button to switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modes.

On the top are the usual touch sensitive buttons for controlling playback and volume. There are also six far-field mics so you can use your voice to control music as well as digital assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.

An LED indicates various things such as turning blue when you’re in Bluetooth mode.

What’s interesting is that the Sonos Move is seemingly bomb-proof. The battery is mounted in the bottom section where the base is coated in silicone. This not only provides grip but you can drop the speaker without worry, although don't do it on purpose. Sonos said the drop test it carried out broke the concrete rather than the speaker.

It has an IP56 rating so is fully dust proof and also resistant to water and other liquids. The firm has tested it with everything from sand, to olive oil. If you do spill something on it, the IP rating means you can clean it easily. We've tested it out in the English drizzle and had no issues.

Yes, it weighs a pretty bulky 3kg but we'd rather have something durable with great sound and long battery life than something weedy and smaller.

Sonos Move docking station

The Move might be battery powered but you can still use it plugged in while in the house. A neat docking station means you can just plonk it down and the battery will charge via metal contacts. It’s included but you can buy additional ones if you want them dotted around the house.

A neat trick is that the battery can be removed, so after a few years of use you can easily replace it. We’ll talk about battery life later on.

The Sonos Move only comes in one colour: Shadow Black.

Features & Sound Quality

It’s taken Sonos a while to create the Move, largely because making a speaker that work as well outdoors as it does in is an engineering nightmare. The two environments are so acoustically different that it’s essentially impossible to tune it for both.

However, the Move can tune itself based on its surroundings. This is the first Sonos speaker with Auto Trueplay, an existing feature which normally involves walking round your room with a phone to profile the space.

The Move can do it all by itself though, and will re-tune every time you move it (if you switch it on during setup). It knows when you've picked it up thanks to an accelerometer inside. Note that you can't have the mic array muted for it to work.

Normally, Trueplay takes a while to work but the Move can impressively do it in around 15-20 seconds. 

The mics can also be used for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant so this is also a smart speaker, yet another feather in the Move's cap.

Sonos Move controls

Sonos has made a reasonably beefy speaker for this job as the outside is almost certainly a bigger space to fill with sound than your living room - unless you have a tiny courtyard.

Front and center is a mid-woofer which handles most of the frequency range, including the bass. This is accompanied by a downward facing tweeter which has something called a ‘Waveguide’.

You can’t see it but this curvaceous piece of moulded plastic enures the sound is distributed evenly out the front and sides of the speaker.

The Sonos Move is loud so it can serve well as an outdoor speaker for parties in even large gardens or if you take it to the park. It doesn’t offer a 360 degree soundstage, but the fact that it’s directional should help you avoid annoying neighbours.

Of course, the sound will naturally change as you get further away from the speaker but we could still hear it pretty well at 15m down a garden, without even having the volume very high.

It's hard to comment on the sound profile of a speaker that retunes itself, but what's impressive here is how consistent the Move is no matter where you put it. The sound quality, like the other Sonos products, is excellent with a rich feel that has powerfull bass yet allows plenty of room for the mid and high frequencies to shine.

As usual, you can tweak how the speaker sounds in the app if you want to.

One important thing to note, if you’re wondering, is that the Move can’t function as a rear surround speaker like the Play:1 or One with the Playbar, for example.. Sonos says the fact it can be moved around simply makes this too complicated.

Sonos Move Bluetooth speaker

As mentioned earlier, the Move has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so while you’re in the range of your home network, it will act like any other Sonos speaker. If your Wi-Fi doesn’t quite cover the garden then you can switch to Bluetooth to keep the tunes flowing.

This importantly means you can take it anywhere - the beach, the park, your hotel room on holiday or wherever.

It’s running Bluetooth 4.2 rather than the newer 5.0 standard but Sonos says that it has improved range and power management regardless. Still, you shouldn't have any issues unless you go very far from the speaker. It can handle up to eight Bluetooth pairings and Multipoint with two devices simultaneously.

Sonos Move portable speaker

When it comes to battery life Sonos is quoting 10 hours of playback which is pretty good when you consider how beefy this speaker is. The time will vary depending on how you're using the speaker, including volume. In our testing - over Wi-Fi at medium volume - we found it could last the 10 hours.

As mentioned earlier, there’s a charging dock but you can also charge the Move via USB-C if you need to. This will be a real boon if you, for example, take it on holiday and don’t want to take the dock - or simply forget it.

The battery will last 900 charges, or around three years on average, but it’s replaceable so it won’t become a static speaker once the cell dies. You can put the Move into a suspend mode and it will last 5 days.

Verdict

The Sonos Move is the portable speaker we’ve been hoping the company would make for years and it lives up to our expectations. This isn't just a Sonos One with a battery strapped on.

It might be expensive but this is both a portable and Bluetooth Sonos speaker - two things that everyone has been asking for in one device. Considering this can be used indoors and outdoors, you're paying for a multi-purpose speaker so we think it's good value.

Sonos has carefully thought about the design and audio features the Move needs to be successful. 

We love the way the charging dock makes it easy to top up the battery, while simply making it an indoor speaker. That battery is replaceable so the Move doesn't have a limited lifespan. Then there's the durable design with IP56 rating and the way Auto Trueplay ensures the speaker sounds great no matter where you put it.

We really couldn't have asked for much more and don't think there's anything quite like this on the market.

Specs

Sonos Move: Specs

  • 2x Class-D digital amplifiers
  • 1x mid-woofer
  • 1x downward-firing tweeter
  • Dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Apple AirPlay 2
  • 36Wh battery, 10 hours per charge (replaceable)
  • Charging base
  • USB-C port (for charging)
  • Far field mic array
  • Capacitive touch controls
  • LED
  • IP56
  • 240x160x126mm
  • 3kg