Sonos Move – big and bold BT/Wi-Fi portable speaker (review)

In 2019, the Sonos Move was its first entry into the portable Wi-Fi/BT speaker market supporting Google Assistant or Alexa.

Sonos Move is a testament to Sono’s dedication to having a complete range of speakers. Today its main competitor is its little sibling, the Sonos Roam (review 9/10).  

The review reveals that the Sonos ecosystem makes this quite a special speaker.

Sonos Move

WebsiteProduct page
Price $699 with free delivery and a 100-day return policy but shop around
FromSonos and selected professional audio retailers including Harvey Norman (Domayne), JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys and  pro audio/video stores like VideoPro
Warranty1-year ACL If purchased from Sonos online or authorised resellers. Like many other leading global brands, Sonos is a victim of counterfeiting, especially from online marketplaces like Alibaba, Amazon, Kogan, Dick Smith, and eBay.
Country of OriginChina
AboutSonos is an American Audio company based in Santa Barbara, California [Est 2002]. It develops and manufactures smart speakers designed to last for at least five years. Sonos speakers play music simultaneously in multiple rooms.
MoreCyberShack Sonos news and reviews

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, home and room (location) and need to be always on if you summon Google or Alexa.

So the Sono move is more a ‘portable room-to-room’ Wi-Fi speaker with Bluetooth backup.

First impression – bigger and heavier than expected

It is an Oval shaped cylinder 240 x 150 x 126mm x 3kg with an indented carry handle at the back. It sits on a charging base, or you can use USB-C PD.

On top are six far-field microphones and touch controls. At the rear, under the carry handle ident are power, link and Wi-Fi/BT buttons.

The colours are Shadow Black or Lunar White. It is IP56 which means it is heavy rain-resistant, although the thought of leaving a $699 speaker in the rain doesn’t sit well with most.

Limitations of Wi-Fi complicate voice assistant portability too

The Sonos Move uses Wi-Fi N 2.4 or 5Ghz. Even the best home Wi-Fi router struggles to transmit a 30-metre 2.4Ghz signal (let alone a 5Ghz signal) through walls, floors or windows, let alone outside to the garden. We tested to 30m line-of-sight, admittedly with one of the world’s fastest Netgear Nighthawk AX11000 RAX200 tri-band routers. We also tested with Mesh, and it is fine.

Setup – there is an app for that

  • Download the Sonos S2 App (Android and iOS). Here are a few salient points
  • Establish a Sonos account  – it works for all Sonos devices
  • Setup detects the speaker and connects it to the 2.4 or 5Ghz. Select 2.4Ghz as it has a more extended range and all you need for music streaming
  • Each speaker is allocated to a room and given a name for voice access
  • If you have two identical speakers, you can stereo pair
  • You can set up multi-room with its speakers and soundbars
  • The EQ gives you +/-10dB of Bass and Treble and a loudness setting.
  • Trueplay room tuning is automatic (for speakers with mics)
  • It can link to Sonos Radio, Spotify, Apple Music and hundreds of streaming services – more than most.
  • Compression is automatic, or you can set it to uncompressed for higher-res music.

Battery and charging

Sonos claims 11-hour battery life from its 2500mAh battery (50% volume). But you will need higher volumes outdoors, and you can count on 5-7 hours at 75-100%. It has 120-day standby in sleep mode.

Battery charge time using the 18V/2.5A (45W) base is a little over three hours. The USB-C PD port will support up to 20V/2.25A (45W) for similar charge times.

The battery life is about 900 complete charge/discharge cycles – three-plus years of daily discharge! You can get a user-replaceable battery as well.

Volume/Sound

I love the Sonos neutral sound signature. It allows the EQ to change sound profiles from warm and sweet to bright vocal and everything in-between.

It is a mono speaker with dual D-Class amps powering one downward-firing tweeter and front-firing one woofer covering mid and bass. It is a front centric sound – it does not fire to the rear or sides. But you can stereo pair to Moves.

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 sound we expect. Back off to 75dB to fix that.

BT is 4.2 with the SBC and AAC codec.

Sound Signature

All tests are on default settings and music 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.

It has minor distortion and harshness at full blast (85dB). But back off a little, and it is the Sonos sound neutral signature that we appreciate.

  • Deep Bass: 20-5040Hz – none
  • Middle Bass: 50-100Hz – 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

It has strong (but not overbearing bass), mid and elegant treble. You can adjust this nicely with the App EQ.

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.

Far-field mics

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.

Auto Trueplay

Sonos Move can automatically adjust its sound (as it is a front/side-firing speaker) using the inbuilt microphones as you move to different locations on the Wi-Fi network. It also works with BT.

Airplay 2, grouping and stereo

AirPlay 2 is easy via the App. You can also group speakers for multi-room setup and ‘party-mode’ broadcast to all Sonos speakers. You can stereo pair but not with other Sonos models.

CyberShacks’s view – Sonos Move is a room-to-room portable.

Nice try, Sonos, but no amount of marketing can make this $699 speaker a beach party favourite. On the other hand, your $299 Sonos Roam may fit that bill.

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. At IP56, it is one for the bathroom as well.

Sure, you can use BT, but what is the point spending $699 when you can get louder IP68 BT speakers for a lot less.

Sonos Move

$699
8.7

Features

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Performance

9.0/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Design

8.5/10

Pros

  • Good volume, but keep it 80% for authentic Sonos sound
  • Portable to the extent that you can move it around the home Wi-Fi network
  • Sonos neutral sound signature and EQ

Cons

  • 11-hour battery life is more like half that if you push it
  • A little heavy for a portable
  • Voice Assistant portables are an oxymoron
  • BT 4.2 and only SBC and AAC codecs


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