It doesn’t come cheap. The Sonos Move is $399, but we shouldn’t throw it into the same bucket as other Bluetooth speakers, as I’ve discovered after a few weeks of testing. Yes, it can play music via Bluetooth, but to me, this feels like a portable Sonos. That’s an important difference.
Let’s dive in.
At just shy of 10 inches tall and weighing in at 6.61 pounds, the Move doesn’t fit the bill of a compact Bluetooth speaker. Sure, it has a handle on the back, but I don’t think this is one you’re going to take with you wherever you go. Rather, it’s meant to be moved around your home and maybe to the patio or backyard.
The built-in handle makes it easy to move it around. You can likely use it for about 10 hours when it’s off the charger, but this depends on how loud you like your music.
If you’ve used a One, a Beam or other Sonos products, you’ll recognize the array of buttons on the front. Like those on other Sonos devices, these buttons are touch-sensitive. You’ll know the input has occurred by the resulting tone. It’s easy enough to use, and it’s really great to see the same style here. There are buttons for volume down and reverse, play or pause, volume up and forward. You have the option to turn the microphone on or off with just a tap, and there’s an LED indicator to tell you if it’s on. The top is also home to an array of far-field microphones used for voice control and True Sense technologies.
The back has a power button, the Sonos pairing button and a Bluetooth pairing button. A set of prongs that connect to the base is near the bottom. The base is a slim circle rim that has two prongs that match with the Move to power and charge it. It will take about three hours to get from close to 0% to a full charge of 100%. That’s decent, especially when you get around 10 hours of battery — but it’s certainly not fast charging.
You can monitor the charging of the Move via hidden and small orange LED indicators on the front. There is a Sonos logo on the front that is stark in white over the entirely black design, which is the only color available.
Comparing the Move with a Bluetooth speaker from the likes of Bose or Ultimate Ears isn’t fair when it comes to sound quality and affordability. The Sonos Move sounds like a portable Sonos and it sits pretty close to the One and far from the Sonos Play:5.
The core difference within the speaker setup of the Move is that it has a downward-firing tweeter designed to push the sound in a multitude of directions. In comparison, the One has a front-firing speaker. Alongside the Move’s tweeter, you’ll find a woofer and two digital amplifiers. All of this works together to produce a wide soundstage.
So how does it sound? Well, pretty darn good. I tried a multitude of songs in a range of genres and from different sources. A classic wall-of-sound example would be “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. The opening has a range of instruments from drums (including a heavy bass) mixed with lighter snares to saxophones, piano and guitar layered on top. Each of these elements came through clearly, notably with a bit of a stronger bass and mid-levels than the One. The vocals came across vibrantly as well, and I tested both the original and remastered versions from streaming services.
A more poppy track like “Paper Rings” by Taylor Swift puts the vocals top and center, across several ranges. You also have a crisp tambourine that lasts throughout and is mixed with real and electronic instruments. A happier track that focuses on higher tones like heavier vocals and strings would be “When I Kiss The Teacher” from the “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” soundtrack. It’s also an enjoyable experience.
Even internet radio from Spotify, Pandora, Beats 1 on Apple Music and Sirius XM was strong. I didn’t find any songs that didn’t sound good, and that’s a benefit with a Sonos experience. There is optimization going on behind the scenes so you don’t need to optimize the Move for your location. Rather Sonos Trueplay, the proprietary technology that customizes the sound for the room, happens automatically.
The microphones built into the Sonos Move aren’t just there for voice control, but also analyze how the sound performs. It can adjust in real time to give you an optimal experience. I’m happy that I don’t have to walk around with the app open on iOS or Android playing that annoying tone that the speaker picks up. It’s nice to have it built in.
More importantly, this updated Trueplay technology puts Sonos on the same level as Apple’s HomePod and other smart speakers that auto-analyze. Hopefully, this will arrive on other Sonos speakers, even the stationary ones.
Move is the first Sonos speaker to have Bluetooth inside. The custom-made Bluetooth antenna works like any other Bluetooth speaker. You simply hold down the pairing button on the back, go into Settings on your device, and connect to the Move. Simple as that.
There is also wireless connectivity that is pretty wide-ranging. It’s the 802.11 b/g/n standard and supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. You should find that it connects just as well to your network, but what was surprising was how well it connected to a Google Wi-Fi and Ubiquiti setup from the backyard. It was impressive, as I’ve had other smart devices, like phones and tablets, that didn’t reach that far.
The Move fully integrates with your current Sonos setup. You can have it play the same music playing on a Sonos One or Beam. Just hold down the play and pause button to have that speaker join the larger group. This is handy when you switch the Move to Wi-Fi (this happens automatically when back in range) and easily lets you join the group.
Setup, choosing your voice assistant (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant), controls and updates happen via the Sonos app for iOS and Android. It’s still easy, but I noticed updates take longer on the Move. That’s not the end of the world, and I haven’t had an update since the prerelease firmware, so this might not happen with future updates. I tested Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and both performed well, but keep in mind, these work only on Wi-Fi. Smart assistants are not supported on Bluetooth.
It’s a full-fledged Sonos that can go anywhere
Bottom line: The Move performs well, but it’s a $399 speaker. At some point, you’ll likely think about the fact that a One costs $199, and ask yourself if it’s worth the $200 difference. But it might be better to think of the Sonos Move as the Sonos that can go anywhere.
I love being able to carry it with me to the garage, the extra bedroom or the porch. This way you don’t have to unplug a corded Sonos speaker and reset it. In that sense, it solves a pain point. It lasts a solid 10 hours and the sound is just as powerful on the go as when it’s on the home base. It works with your current Sonos system. And it gives you the option to use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. So you get a lot for the money, but I wouldn’t buy this just to use a Bluetooth speaker. You’d be better off with a sub-$100 speaker.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.