The Sonos Move is More than a Portable Speaker
My speaker system was a mess, but when Sonos released its portable Move speaker, I was comforted. You see, not only do I have some high-end legacy gear that I refuse to part with, but I was also an early smart-speaker adopter (perhaps too early) and most recently, a Sonos owner. I've adjusted and learned which system works best for certain situations. Of course, no one was happier than I was when Sonos rolled out Alexa- and Google Assistant-enabled speakers. As great as my digital assistants are, my Sonos speakers simply sound better to me, their music controls and integrations are stellar-and my digital assistants have numerous advantages of their own, as covered by virtually every tech blog known to man. So, thanks to a convergence of technologies, I am one step closer to unifying my in-home music experience.
Now I can tackle an often-overlooked problem: my outdoor music. With the Move, my portable speaker can now feel connected to my in-home setup. If I'm listening to a podcast in my backyard or garage, I can head indoors for a few minutes without missing a beat or lugging a speaker back and forth. From the Sonos app, I can simply choose where to play my music and at what volume, something that isn't plausible with my outdoor Bluetooth-enabled boombox. Furthermore, I can now take my digital assistant with me. Sure, I can simply use a digital assistant-enabled speaker outdoors, but I'd need a portable power source and I prefer something that can survive the elements and provide plenty of volume along the way. Keep in mind that Wi-Fi connectivity is necessary for using the speaker's digital assistant capabilities. Thankfully, the Move has 802.11 b/g/n on board. The Move supports Apple's AirPlay 2 built-in via Wi-Fi, so I can easily stream music from my compatible Apple devices.
More than Just a Portable Speaker
The Move doesn't look like your typical portable outdoor speaker. In fact, it looks very Sonos, which is a good thing for fans of the brand. Sonos speakers sport a recognizable minimalist design that's sleek and modern without being boring, and the Move is no different. Controls are well placed and there's a sturdy handle built in, on the rear of the speaker, for mobility. With a weight of approximately 6.6 pounds, hopefully you won't have to carry it around much. The Move is IP56-rated, which means it'll survive a little rain or a trip to the beach, and its integrated battery is estimated to last 10 hours. Although I wasn't brave enough to test it, the Move is also drop-resistant-within reason. Let's face it, you're buying the Move to take outdoors, so surviving the elements and an afternoon untethered to a charger is essential. As expected, charging the Move is easy. Not only is there a USB Type-C port on the rear of the speaker, but a low-profile AC-powered base is also included. The cradle doubles as a dock when the speaker is used indoors.
As noted above, the Move features 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity for its digital assistant, Sonos Ecosystem, and AirPlay 2 connectivity options, but if you're out of network range you can easily switch to Bluetooth, making it compatible with audio sources such as smartphones. Of course, Bluetooth temporarily disconnects the speaker from your Sonos ecosystem. At the top of the Move you'll find a microphone array for "auto TruePlay" audio calibration and interacting with the built-in digital assistant when connected to Wi-Fi. If you're concerned about privacy, the microphone can be disabled with the touch of a button. Auto TruePlay is a technology that shows just how serious Sonos is about extracting the best audio possible from your speaker. In just a few steps, it uses those onboard microphones to analyze the speaker's acoustic environment and optimize the speaker's sound, based on those environmental conditions.
So, How Does it Perform?
When I first unboxed the Move and saw its build quality and weight, I said aloud, "It better sound good"-and yup, it sure does. This speaker sports a down-firing tweeter and one mid-range woofer that work together to deliver balanced sound in multiple directions. Bass reproduction was better than expected, with a tight delivery that wasn't bloated or distorted at moderate to high volume levels. As I suspected, the sound profile changes a bit when it's removed from the cradle, but the soundstage doesn't suffer; to my ears it opened up even more. Like the speaker's design, the sound is very Sonos-like with its dual class-D-amplifier design.
On the wireless connectivity side of things, my connections were consistently solid. I use a tri-band, 3 node Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System, which covers my moderately sized home, backyard, and porch quite nicely, so I wasn't expecting any Wi-Fi connection issues in and around my home and, thankfully, there were none. Similarly, when I needed it, Bluetooth connections were also reliable.
I realize I haven't written much about setup, but that's not an omission. Thankfully, there wasn't much to it. Sonos excels at ease of use, and adding the Move to my system via the intuitive and thoughtfully designed app was simple and painless. It even walked me through a firmware update when it completed. If you have a Sonos system already, you've come to expect a seamless setup process; if you're new to Sonos, you'll be comforted by how easy it is to get your new system up and running.
A Worthy Addition
The Sonos Move speaker fits nicely in its lineup and it integrates well into existing ecosystems. Whether you're an Alexa or Google Assistant loyalist, Sonos isn't going to make you choose, and if sound quality is of the utmost importance, it has your covered there, as well. I'm bummed that the weather has turned so abruptly because I'm finding excuses to use the Move more and I'm especially looking forward to next spring and summer, where the speaker will no doubt accompany me outdoors. When a company does something "new," end users sometimes feel like beta testers and a product doesn't feel quite complete, but that's definitely not the case here. Sonos took what it already did very well and just made it mobile, a simple but effective approach.
I'm stubborn when it comes to audio and gear, but as I slowly make the conversion to an all-Sonos system, I'm comforted that the brand aims to deliver an enjoyable experience for my music, home theater, and now mobile audio needs. In regard to my legacy gear, I have the Sonos Port on my wish list and can't wait to take it for test drive.
Are you adding the Sonos Move to your system music or digital assistant system? Tell us about it, below.