It's A Brave New World for Sonos

Sonos Move: Everything You Need to Know About Sonos’s First Portable Speaker


September 7, 2019 Tech By
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Sonos just announced the Sonos Move, the company’s first-ever portable speaker. Unlike every other Sonos speaker to date, the Move has both built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, meaning you can use it as a traditional Sonos speaker or as a portable rugged Bluetooth speaker; you can connect it to Wi-Fi and integrate it into a Sonos multi-room system, or you connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth and take it anywhere (like to the beach). When connected to Wi-Fi, it’s also a smart speaker that can be set up with either Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, just like the Sonos One; you can use voice commands to play music, check the news and control smart home devices.

The Sonos Move is only available in one color, an all-new “shadow black” (which is specially designed to handle extreme UV rays and prevent the speaker from overheating), and it costs $399. You can preorder it now and it’ll ship, as well as be available in stores and online, on September 24.

The big thing with the Sonos Move is its versatility. You’ll be able to use it like any previous Sonos speaker that’s connected to Wi-Fi, but then pick it up, move it outdoors, click a button on its back, and then use it as portable Bluetooth speaker. When you come back indoors, you can press another button and it’ll quickly reconnect back to Wi-Fi. To achieve this, Sonos added a handle and a three-button array, located on the Move’s back. There’s the familiar “join” button, an all-new power button (to turn the speaker on/off), and button that toggles between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You’ll know which mode the speaker is in by the color of its LED light located on top of the Move; white is Wi-Fi and blue is Bluetooth.

Being a first-of-its-kind speaker for Sonos, the Move works a little bit differently. Traditional Sonos speakers use TruePlay technology, which takes advantages of your smartphone’s microphones to perfectly tune the speaker for the room that it’s in, but the Move doesn’t – well, not technically. The Move is the first Sonos speaker to have “automatic Trueplay”; instead of using the microphones in your smartphone to calibrate the speaker, automatic Trueplay uses the built-in microphones that are in the Move. The benefit here, other than not needing to wave your smartphone around, is that the Move will automatically calibrate its sound after a few seconds. It doesn’t matter where you pick it up and where you place it down, indoors or outdoors, the Move will automatically tune itself. There’s no need to press a button or open the Sonos app, either.

As far as the overall sound quality, you can expect the Move to fall somewhere in-between Sonos’s One and Play:5 speakers. The Move has two Class-D digital amplifiers paired with a downward-firing tweeter and one mid-woofer. More interestingly, the Move is not a front-driving speaker (like the One, Play:1 and Play:5); Sonos wouldn’t say what degree speaker it was, but it produces a way more omnidirectional sound. The Move can be configured in a stereo pair with another Move speaker, however, this only works when the two speakers are connected to Wi-Fi.

It’s worth emphasizing that the Move is a rugged Bluetooth speaker. Despite its nice Sonos-esque exterior, the Move is durable. Sonos torture tested it in a bunch of extreme conditions – heat, cold, sand and water – and it’s designed to be able to handle them all. It has an IP56 rating and a tougher-than-normal shell, plus a rubberized bottom, so it can survive falls. Basically, if you want to take it to the beach, you can.

The Move has a ten-hour battery life when used as a portable speaker, but Sonos baked a pretty useful trick into the Move to preserve battery life. The Move has an automatic Suspend mode, so if you leave the speaker on and no music is playing, it will turn off after a few minutes, which Sonos claims will reserve the battery for up to five days. The Move can be charged two ways, via a proprietary docking station (included with purchase) or any USB-C charger.

The other interesting thing to note is that since the Move is the first Sonos speaker with a rechargeable battery, that battery will eventually need to be replaced. Sonos claims that the battery is expected to last three years or 900 charges. After that, you’ll have to go through Sonos and replace the battery (it’s unknown how much that will cost right now). If three years go by and the battery is dead, the Move will still work like any other Sonos speaker so long as it’s plugged into the wall.

It’s going to be interesting to see how people, or what kind of people, use the Sonos Move. Right off the bat, it’s likely to become one of the (if not thee) best-sounding portable Bluetooth speakers that people can buy; but at $399, it’s more expensive than pretty much every rugged and portable Bluetooth speaker on the market. There’s also the fact that if you’re not looking to actually move it from room to room, or take it outside the house, a standard One, One SL, Play:1, or even Play:5 definitely probably makes more sense.

What it ultimately comes down to, however, is how seamlessly the Move can switch between a multi-room speaker and a Bluetooth speaker – and then back again. Anybody who owns a Sonos speaker likely loves it because of its sound quality but, more importantly, it’s incredible ease of use. Making the Move more versatile than any other Sonos speaker inevitably also makes it more complicated to use. We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on one, but it’s definitely an exciting prospect.

Key specs

Drivers: downward-firing tweeter, mid-woofer; two Class-D digital amplifiers
Weight: 6.61 pounds
IP Rating: IP56 for protection from dust particles and water spray
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, AirPlay 2
Charging: USB-C, propietary dock
Battery Life: up to 10 hours on a single charge

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