"I like to (Sonos) MOVE it move it!"
Let me preface this article by stating that I love my Sonos ecosystem. I have eight Sonos Play:1 and One speakers, a Connect Amp, and a Connect in my house. That's literally a Sonos for every room. It's not the best sounding whole-home system, mind you, but it's the most stable and the easiest to use. The sound quality itself is much more than "very good." It's just not "audiophile."
But up until now, there has been no Bluetooth support and/or portability via a battery-operated option. Sure, I could easily unplug one of my Sonos speakers and bring it to the backyard. But that is a multi-step process: unplug from the home setup, plug it in outside, wait for the handshake, unplug it when done, plug it back in, and wait for the handshake again. And when the weather suddenly changes from dry to wet, I have to rush the speaker back inside. It's too much hassle just to be able to listen to tunes for 30 minutes outside each day. Plus, it restricts me to sitting only in the backyard since the front of my house doesn't have a power outlet. There's a reason outdoor portable Bluetooth speakers and garden audio systems are so popular.
Cue the "enter Sonos Move" phrase.
In the pre-sale pictures, the Move looks like an overgrown Sonos One with a replaceable battery bottom and Bluetooth. It has a built-in handle (it doesn't sound like a big deal until you use it), and weatherproof housing. Selling for $499, I received mine, which I purchased a day before the release date.
When I received it, even my Fedex delivery person said, "wow it's huge!" It is huge, indeed. It makes Sonos One seem tiny in comparison. The giant box is actually necessary to prevent the unit from any damage in shipping. My green side, however, found the box-within-a-box inside the already big box to be unnecessary and wasteful.
The Sonos Move (left) compared to the Sonos One, is much larger in size.
As for the unit, the gently curved sides and metal grille are typical Sonos, although the silicone rubber covered section at the bottom that houses the speaker's down-firing tweeter and new wave guide does rather stand out. Both the tweeter and mid-bass driver are brand new designs, custom made for the Sonos Move and set in a bi-amplification configuration making each driver powered by its own respective Class-D amplifier.
The top panel features touch-sensitive controls and a mic button, plus an array of six small pinpricks where the microphones are housed. To be precise, only four of the holes are actually used for the mics - the other two are there for ‘visual balance,' according to Sonos.
Below the rear 'handle' you'll find a row of three buttons. Press and hold the top one and it powers up your speaker; tap it and the Sonos Move goes into suspend mode to preserve battery life. The middle button, meanwhile, switches the Move from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth mode, while the bottom button connects the speaker to your home network during set-up.
Sonos says a full charge provides around 10 hours of playback, and during my testing period, that claim appears to be accurate. I listened at an average of 50% volume and got nearly 10 hours of continuous playback. A one-hour charge restores the battery to around 50%, while three hours is needed for a full re-fuel.
The alternative to plugging a USB-C charging cable directly into the Move is sitting the speaker within the supplied charging ‘ring,' which plugs into the mains and barely expands the Move's footprint. All you need to do is ensure the two contacts on the bottom of the Move match up with those on the edge of the ring.
You wouldn't expect to have to replace the battery inside a $499 portable speaker anytime soon, but Sonos has designed the Move such that the battery pack can be swapped for a replacement when the time comes - which Sonos says should be about three years or 900 charges. Rather than send the speaker back or fork out for a new Move, all you need do is pull a silicone rubber strip away on the underside of the speaker, remove a couple of screws, and swap them out yourself. It's nice to know the option is there to extend the life of the device, something that is often lacking in tech gear today.
A revamped version of TruePlay is also included with Move. With this new Auto TruePlay, it's the Move speaker itself that carries out the measuring and self-calibration. It uses its microphones to measure the frequency response of its surroundings. This means it is triggered whenever the Move is placed in a new location. Moving it from my kitchen to the backyard, once it had about 30 seconds to process its new surroundings, the audio performance was re-calibrated accordingly.
Sonos says it continuously refines the sound when the speaker is stationary, too. The speaker's real-world transformation is audible; the Move never sounds out of place once it reconfigures itself. When outside, there's a definite sense of the Move's sonic presentation opening up while retaining the clarity and balance of its indoor performance. The same is true when I brought my Move back inside the kitchen, or to my very quiet dedicated listening room with merely 32dB floor noise (the room, not the speaker).
You may ask what makes the Move stand out amongst lots of other portable Bluetooth speakers from others brand? While there are more affordable options, I found the Sonos Move's sound quality as a portable, battery powered speaker to be above others in terms of vocal clarity, deepness of bass, and transparency of treble. And the ability for the speaker to be able to re-calibrate itself based on its surroundings is a bonus. Plus, if you're already a Sonos user, the Move can also be used as one of your zone speakers. So although the Sonos ecosystem doesn't rival audiophile quality, Sonos Move is a really great sounding outdoor speaker.
This unit garners must-buy status from me - I just wish Sonos would get rid of the excess packaging. But that aside, I highly recommend this unit to anyone as a great outdoor audio option, whether you're an existing Sonos user or not.