Price (RRP): $599/649
The Sonos Move is its entry into portable Wi-Fi/BT speakers supporting Google Assistant or Alexa.
It’s a growing market including JBL Link 10/20, Bose Portable Home and now third-party battery packs for Google Mini and Home speakers. But thankfully the Sonos Move is more than a Wi-Fi/BT speaker.
At $649 it is not cheap, but nothing Sonos ever is. So, what do you get with the Sonos Move?
Price $649 online with free delivery but available for $595 from major retailers (pick-up).
Portable Voice Assistant speakers – an oxymoron
While I understand the desire to take OK Google or Alexa with you, it simply is not going to happen. Voice Assistants rely on a specific home Wi-Fi setup/password and linked to a voice Assistant, home and room (location). They need to know what other devices are on the network and linked to the assistant.
Please, Sonos – don’t get us wrong – we are not venting at you!
If we needed a ‘portable room-to-room’ speaker, it would be yours as it sounds so good.
But leave true portable the plethora of almost indestructible BT speakers or to JBL Link (Google) or Ultimate Ears (Alexa) with their IP67 rated, virtually indestructible woven PET fabric exteriors, 360° sound and 50-100% longer battery life.
Limitations of Wi-Fi complicates Voice Assistant portability too
The Sonos Move uses either Wi-Fi N 2.4.
Even the best home Wi-Fi router struggles to transmit a 30-metre 2.4Ghz signal through walls, floors or windows, let alone outside to the garden.
So the term portable Voice Assistants should be redefined to ‘within decent Wi-Fi signal reach’. And it’s a pain to set up temporarily to use at another house.
Yes, we know we know about Wi-Fi Mesh and Extenders and that you can use BT when out of reach (no voice assistant).
You appreciate good sound (no it is not high-res, high-bitrate audio but it is still good sound). Owners will likely have some Sonos One (that supports Google and Alexa), may use the Sonos Beam TV soundbar and sub-woofer and may eschew other ‘cheap’ brands.
You eschew because if you need to ask the price – you can’t afford it.
Sonos Move setup – Pass
You must use the Sonos Music app (iOS or Android) to set up the device. You cannot use BT unless you use the app first.
That means creating a Sonos account, the usual privacy provisions (which no one reads) and linking your smartphone to it. The app also handles voice assistant linking.
IP56 means dust and water-resistant – not dust and waterproof – PASSable
Sonos says Move stands up to humidity, rain, snow, dust, salt spray, UV rays, and extreme heat and cold.
Sonos says don’t worry about accidental drops or bumps. A hard-wearing, shock-resistant case protects Move’s components.
Sonos even produced a video.
Segue – The statements remind me of a wealthy friend that bought a $200+K Range Rover to go bush bashing. On his first attempt, he ever so gently scratched the side, and it cost $27,000 to repair!
His wife then bought him a $24K Suzuki 4×4 Jimny and said “Do you darndest” taking the Range Rover for herself. Said friend is chastened but loving the Jimny and does not care if it gets a few scratches.
Well, Sonos Move is dust/water-resistant, it certainly is not MIL-STD and I am certainly not going to take a $649 speaker to the beach or drop it. For that, give me a durable, lower cost, JBL or Ultimate Ears ‘Coke can” style BT speaker with longer battery life.
Sonos sound – PASS
I love Sonos sound, but we need to be careful not to antagonise those damned purist audiophiles (a.k.a. Thomas Bartlett).
It has one downward-firing tweeter and one front-firing woofer covering mid and bass. It is a front centric sound – it does not fire to the rear – 180° at best.
This speaker supports 16-bit/44.1kHz only (not hi-res) – Sonos does not hide this! BT is 4.2 with the SBC codec.
That means MP3/4/ACC/OGG to 320kbps in PCM stereo or mono down mix.
This speaker gets quite loud – 85dB, and it may be capable of a little more depending on the content and source device. But at that level, there is a loss of that tight, bright sound we expect. Back off to 70-75dB to fix that.
Sound Signature – EXCEED
All tests are on default settings, and music streamed over Wi-Fi from Spotify Premium. We also tried over BT and it uses the SBC standard codec. Frankly, both had a similar sound signature.
At full blast (85dB) you can see the divergence between the gold and white lines – in layman’s terms that is all about ‘tightness’ – the closer the curves, the better.
But back off and it gets closer to Sonos sound.
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – building to quite strong
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (that means good)
- Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
- Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
- High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
- Treble:4-6kHz – flat
- High Treble: 6-10kHz – a slight decline (to remove harshness)
- Dog whistle: 10-20 – peak and decline after 18kHz
This is almost a perfect signature music. It has strong (but not overbearing bass) and mid as well as handling the most elegant treble.
Comparing it to the Sonos One – the One is ‘tighter’ with slightly less bass. But the Sonos Move has a better sound stage, more volume and better mids/bass. Note that the Sonos Move cannot pair with other Sonos speakers or the sub.
Far-field mics – PASS
There are six far-field mics good to about six metres and music playing at 75%.
Note that you select either Google Assistant or Alexa in the app. To change – use the app.
Battery – PASSable (update – now 11 hours with software update)
Sonos claims 10-hour battery life from a 2500mAh battery. This is only achievable at 50% volume, and while that is fine for indoors, it is not for outdoor or party use.
Battery charge time using the 18V/2.5A (45W) base was a little over three hours.
But there is also a USB-C port on the back that works as well. Sonos recommends a 20V/2.25A (45W) or larger USB-C PD 2.0 charger. Due to time constraints, we did not do a full charge with this. But it is a nice feature. Regrettably, the USB-C port cannot stream music.
Sonos advise that the battery life is about 900 full charge/discharge cycles – three years of complete daily discharge! The thoughtful Sonos people will sell you a replacement battery so we assume that it is relatively easy to replace.
But be aware – as a voice-assisted speaker is always on and connected to Wi-Fi its standby time is about 120 hours – 5 days.
Auto Trueplay – interesting – PASS
Sonos Move can adjust its sound (as it is a front/side-firing speaker) using the inbuilt microphones. Its called True Play and it automatically re-tunes as you move Sonos Move to different locations on the Wi-Fi network.
BTW – it is not as hard as we suggested to move to a different Wi-Fi network – the app can do that. But it is hard to set up Google Assistant or Alexa again creating a new location.
Airplay 2, grouping and stereo – PASS
We had no issues setting up AirPlay 2 from an iPhone. You can also group speakers for multi-room setups via the app. There is an interesting ‘party-mode’ that will broadcast the same music to all Sonos speakers. You can stereo pair but not with other Sonos models.
GadgetGuy’s take – Sonos Move is a couch potato – leave it at home
Nice try Sonos, but no amount of marketing can make this $599/649 speaker a beach party favourite.
No, it is a speaker for home – one where you carry music around with you as long as you have a Wi-Fi signal. And it is one for a Sonos home – there is no point buying this unless it becomes part of the Sonos ecosystem.
But what is best – Sonos Move or Bose Portable Home speaker?
It is tough to compare because Sonos is really part of the Sonos ecosystem, and I can’t see a lot of non-Sonos owners ripping out and buying it.
Bose is a worthy Voice Assistant competitor, but it is a 360° sound speaker, far more portable (1kg) and about $100 ($499) cheaper.
Sorry, for my money if I wanted a voice assistant, portable speaker I would buy the JBL Link 10/20 (Google) at $229/299 or Ultimate Ears (Alexa) Blast/Megablast at $195/265.
So how do we rate it?
It is big (240 x 160 x 126 mm), heavy (3kg), mono (not stereo), semi-portable speaker albeit that it has a well-designed, integrated carry handle.
So, we are going to review it as a member of the broader Sonos ecosystem that does not have to tether to a powerpoint for use all over the home.