Sonos Move (2019) review
Should I buy the Sonos Move?
If you’re after a Sonos that’ll work over Bluetooth or one that you can pick up and carry around your house, the Move is exactly that.
However, for all this newfound utility, the design and experience offered by first mobile speaker in the Sonos ecosystem still manages to come across as a somewhat-unpolished for the brand. The Sonos Move feels like a first effort begging to built upon.
What’s more, since it weighs just under 3kgs, the Move is just heavy that you won’t want to move it around unless you have to. That being said, there’s something to be said for the possibility of being able to easily migrate an element of your Sonos system around at all.
At the end of the day, the Move is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the first Sonos speaker you can pick up and move without worrying about the wires. Whether or not that core experience works isn’t really the question. Whether or not you’re invested enough in the Sonos ecosystem for it to be worth the comprises is.
For some, it’s probably going to be worth waiting for the almost-inevitable second-gen version of this. However, if you want a Sonos speaker that’s as almost as portable as something from JBL or Ultimate Ears but sounds way better (and you want it now), the Move is an expensive way to go - but it is still the way to go.
Price when reviewed
Sonos One full review
The Sonos Move is the first Sonos speaker you can easily pick up and move around your home without worrying about the wiring involved. It’s also the first Sonos speaker you can use via Bluetooth. The two scenarios sound similar but to the degree to which the Sonos Move succeeds at delivering them varies. This duality is ultimately what defines the Sonos Move.
To look at, the Sonos Move isn’t that far off the shape of the Play 1. And, under the hood, it’s equipped with two Class-D amplifiers, a downward-firing tweeter, a forward-facing mid-woofer and a far-field microphone that’s used for voice assistants. Automatic TruePlay aside, you pretty much get the same software features and setup experience that you do from any recent Sonos speakers like the Beam or Sonos One smart speaker.
Unfortunately, in terms of size, the Move has a lot more heft than most of Sonos’ other speakers. It’s taller, rounder and heavier than the Play:1 in a way that sometimes treads too close for comfort. It wouldn't be unfair to call this thing bulky.
So if you’re after a Sonos that you can carry around your house with ease, this is and isn’t that. There's a convenient handle built into the back of the speaker. However, at just under 3kgs, the Sonos Move is probably heavy enough that you won’t want to move it around unless you absolutely have to.
Honestly, the Move (and its charging cradle) feels a little more unpolished than I’d usually expect from a Sonos product. It feels like a first effort begging to built upon. Still, if you don’t want to wait and like the sound of that wires-free Sonos experience, the Move will give you that - for good or ill.
Price and Availability
In Australia, the Sonos Move retails for a local price-point of $649.
Design and Build
The Sonos Beam is kind-of two products in one. It’s the first Sonos speaker you can pick up and move around your home without worrying about the wires. It’s also the first Sonos speaker you can use via Bluetooth. This duality is ultimately defines - and might even constrain - the degree to which the Move impresses you.
Most consumers are going to be after one scenario more than the other, and the Move isn’t equally adept at both use-cases. But before digging into that, it’s worth talking about what the Move actually is.
To look at, the Sonos Move isn’t that far off the shape and design found in the popular Play 1 and more-recent Sonos One smart speaker. However, in terms of size, it’s noticeably bigger. It’s taller, rounder and heavier in a way that sometimes works against it. Rather than sit within a single-piece shell, the base of the Move is made of a noticeably-rubberized plastic.
There’s a set of pogo pins embedded in this base that are used for charging. There’s also a second USB Type-C port that can be used instead but it feels like Sonos are just covering their bases here. Smart money says you’ll want to use the ring-like charging base that the Move comes bundled with most of the time - which is why it bugs me that this component feels so cheap and plastic to handle. Aligning the ports on the Move and its charger was my least favorite part of reviewing it.
Under the hood, the Sonos Move is equipped with two Class-D amplifiers, a downward-firing tweeter, a forward-firing mid-woofer and a far-field microphone that’s used for voice assistants.
As previously mentioned, the Move has been designed to be portable and there are a few key design choices that visibly play into this.
For one, the Sonos Move also comes with IP56 water resistance, meaning it could potentially survive a few splashes from a nearby pool or a trip to the beach.
Then, the back of the Move has a rudimentary handle moulded into it. This isn’t quite as cute as something like the Bose Portable Home Speaker’s lunchbox-inspired grip but it does make something of a difference. It’s more functional than it is stylish, however. The overall utility of this handle is undercut by the actual heft of the Move.
At just under 3kgs, the Sonos Move is just heavy that you probably won’t want to move it around unless you have to. Still, there’s something to be said for the intrinsic value of being able to easily move any element of your Sonos system around at all. Carrying the Move with me to parts of my home that my Sonos system ordinarily wouldn’t be able to reach was a genuine and unexpected joy.
All up, the Move is good for 10 hours of playback per charge. That isn’t quite as long as the battery life found in some of the cheaper alternatives from JBL and Ultimate Ears but it’s still plenty of time to work with. You can get a solid afternoon or evening of tunes out of the Move before you need to return it to its charging cradle.
Sound quality and features
In terms of features and functionality, the Sonos Move retains the bulk of what’s been compelling about the Sonos Beam and Sonos One. In fact, as a software experience, it’s the same ghost in a different machine. One small issue (my review unit didn’t seem to have been properly factory reset) aside, adding the Move to my Sonos network was as seamless as any other speaker from the brand.
And, since you’re setting the Move up using the same Sonos app and you’re subject to all the same pros, cons, strengths and limitations.
The Sonos Move will play nice with over sixty different music streaming services and supports both the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and AirPlay 2.0. The Sonos Move also introduces automatic TruePlay tuning. Previously, this feature - which optimises the audio output of a Sonos system for the environment around it - required an iPhone to set up.
Of course, the one thing that the Sonos Move has that the other (Sonos-branded) options don’t is Bluetooth connectivity. This is enabled via a button on the back of the speaker, which sits between the power and Sonos connect buttons. You just hit the button, connect via the Bluetooth section of the settings menu on your device. It's as simple as it sounds, so let's not spend any more time on it.
As for the sound quality, the Sonos Move came across as an audible upgrade over even the venerable Sonos One. Horrorshow's anthemic "Grain by Grain" had greater clarity and a vigorous bite to it. When compared it to Ultimate Ears’ Megaboom 3, I found that the Sonos Move didn't just sound better (and bassier) - it was also more reliable when it came to maintaining a consistent Bluetooth connection over a distance.
Unfortunately, many of the Move’s more advanced capabilities are curtailed when in Bluetooth mode. For example, you can set the Move up as part of a stereo pair over Wi-Fi but not in Bluetooth. Hopefully this is something that Sonos enabled later down the track via software update.
Anecdotally, I suspect the biggest variable here might be the device you're connecting to the Move from rather than the speaker itself. Still, stability aside, it's at a distance that the advantages of this speaker over smaller party speakers of this ilk are at their most apparent.
What it lacks in portability, the Sonos Move makes up for in its ability to project incredible-sounding music over a wider space. Even ten or so meters away, the verve of Caravan Palace's "Miracle" projected surprisingly well and to a degree that confidentially eclipsed what my Megaboom 3 could deliver. I don't know if that's going to be quite enough to justify the premium on the price-tag for everybody but it's not nothing.
The Bottom Line
Fundamentally, there are two kinds of Sonos products. Those designed to invite you inside the Sonos ecosystem and those designed to keep you there.
The Move is unique in that it manages to be both at once. However, regardless of how well it juggles those two ideas at once, whether or not it'’ll be a good investment right now is ultimately going to come down to which cases you - “the consumer” - are looking at.
If you’re after a Sonos that’ll work over Bluetooth, this is that. If you’re after a Sonos that you can carry around your house with ease, it’s that too. However, it’s much better at one than the other and it’s not hard to imagine how both sides of the equation could be refined and improved. As the name suggests, the Move is a Sonos that moves - but I can't shake the idea that it could achieve this in a better way. At times, It feels like a first effort begging to built upon.
A version of the Move that’s lighter and easier to carry, one that allows for more advanced features to be used in Bluetooth mode, one with a nicer charging cradle or one that offers a few more hours of battery life wouldn’t go awry.
Even if the portability of the Move ends up a little undercut by the weight involved, it still up to most of its potential: it’s a Sonos that moves - for good and ill.
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