Sonos is more than a brand: it’s a Jay-Z line. Jokes aside, not many brands have crossed over into pop culture so successfully and done so in such a unique way. For years name Sonos has been the company to beat when it comes to home audio. Not necessarily because its products were the best, but rather because Sonos products are easy to use, sound good, and—let’s be honest—are just popular. Sonos is the default. But how does that apply once you leave the house? The Sonos Move is the company’s first take on a Bluetooth speaker, but is it worth it?
Editor’s note: This post was updated one June 1st, 2020 to include mention of the new Sonos Arc and to include new information about the speaker.
Who’s it for?
- People who live within a Sonos ecosystem. This should come as no surprise, but if you already have a Sonos ecosystem then the Sonos Move is a solid addition as it can be picked up and brought into the yard whenever you want.
- Anyone with money to blow. The Sonos Move is a good speaker but at $399 it’s hard to recommend to anyone who just wants a good Bluetooth speaker. There are plenty of those that won’t cost you this much. If you’re getting the Sonos Move it’s because you’re not too worried about the price tag.
How is the Sonos Move built?
Sonos isn’t known for making tough speakers, but that changes with the Move. Sonos stepped up the durability factor for the Move speaker: it has an IP56 weatherproof build and the company claims it’s shockproof, too. While I didn’t go around dropping it all over the place to test this, I did accidentally knock it off my bedside table (a three-foot drop), and the speaker still works perfectly fine. That said, I wouldn’t feel comfortable dropping this on something like concrete, since even if it does survive, I’m certain the soft plastic finish will get super scuffed up. Most of the speaker is made up of the grille which wraps around the entire thing, but the top, bottom, and back are all made of plastic. The bottom of the speaker is more of a rubberized plastic, which is nice as it won’t scratch too easily adn provides extra grip.
This Sonos speaker also takes advantage of touch-sensitive controls on top that work very well. I didn’t have any accidental pauses or plays while using the speaker, and even when using the top of the speaker as a platform for my phone, playback wasn’t disturbed by me picking up my phone. The only critique I how it’s difficult to see the playback controls in a sort-of-dark environment. There is a small LED light that provides status information for the speaker, rather than light up the controls. The icons are not my favorite. The play/pause icon is fine, but the volume icons on either side are identical. Not a big deal as I’m sure you know which one will raise the volume, but it’s just a weird choice since + and – signs are universal. Playback is completely controlled by touch: tapping the play symbol does just that, and swiping across all three icons from left to right will skip to the next song, while swiping from right to left will return to a previous song. The only buttons can be found on the back of the speaker. You’ll get the power button, and connect button, and a smaller button in between them to switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The Sonos Move can be moved because of the Bluetooth capabilities, but I didn’t too much moving around while using this speaker. For the most part, it stayed in the included charging bracket throughout the day. I bring it up here because this is my favorite part of the Move. It’s a feature that I wish every Bluetooth came with and it reminds me of how the cases for true wireless earbuds not only store them, but also charge them. Having a minimal charging stand that holds the speaker while it isn’t in use is a great touch that meant I never worried about whether the speaker was charged when taking it to another room. If you’re out and about and don’t have access to the charging cradle, you can also charge it with any USB-C charger which is great.
As far as the portability of the speaker, I found that it’s good enough for use around the house and the yard, but I would definitely hesitate bringing this to the beach or on a hike. Sure, it’s technically weatherproof and shock-resistant, but it’s also pretty heavy at 3,049 grams. While the handle is great for short distances the combination of the weight and awkward shape of the built-in handle makes it less than ideal for longer treks. If you’re looking for a speaker to bring with you on your next adventure you might want to check out the Flip 3 or the UE Boom 3 instead, but if you’re looking for a speaker to use in your living room throughout the day that can transfer seamlessly to the yard this might be for you.
How to connect to the Sonos Move on Android or iOS
While the Sonos Move can connect via Bluetooth, I figure most people will be taking advantage of the Wi-Fi connectivity as that’s what Sonos is known for. Whether you’re adding this speaker to an existing ecosystem or starting with the Move, Sonos is best when you’re on Wi-Fi. The range is much longer than Bluetooth and the speaker doesn’t need to rely on your source device for the audio. Instead, it pulls the audio straight from the internet. To take advantage of this though you’re going to need the Sonos app.
Usually, I avoid using any proprietary app like a plague but the Sonos app is genuinely useful. Not only does it walk you through the process of connecting the speaker to your Wi-Fi step-by-step, but it also integrates with my music streaming service of choice (Spotify) perfectly. Plus, it’s available on both Android and iOS and the process is more or less identical. As someone who switches between iOS and Android all the time, I appreciate the attention that Sonos gives to making sure both apps are fully capable. As soon as you open the app, it prompts you to identify which speaker you would like to set up. It then walks you through the process of connecting to your Wi-Fi. If you have a password-protected Wi-Fi (which you should), make sure you have your password on hand as you’ll need it in order to connect the speaker.
Once you have your speaker properly connected, then you can begin adding your streaming services. As a Spotify user, logging in with my Spotify account gives me complete access to my library, all my playlists, and even the custom playlists made by Spotify. Of course, this works with other services too and I was able to connect not only my Spotify account, but also my Apple Music, YouTube Music, Pocket Casts, and Audible accounts as well.
The app acts as a hub for all my audio content and works perfectly.
If you pay for an audio streaming service of any kind chances are it connects with Sonos. The app acts as a hub for all my audio content and works so perfectly that I’ve found myself opening up the Sonos app more than the dedicated apps in order to access my music or podcasts. The Sonos Move is also AirPlay 2 compatible so if you prefer to use that when you’re in your app of choice you can easily do that. As far as Bluetooth codecs go there isn’t much to see here. You’ll only get SBC which is the standard codec for all Bluetooth devices and AAC which is fine for iOS users but can be an issue for Android users.
Does the Sonos Move have Dolby Atmos?
The Sonos Move unfortunately does not support Dolby Atmos. Sonos is notorious in the home theater community for not having Dolby Atmos compatibility and the Move isn’t any different. That said, if you’re looking for a Sonos product that supports Atmos there is hope as the company just announced the Sonos Arc which is compatible with Dolby Atmos. However, we can’t recommend it at this time as we haven’t had a chance to review it ourselves since it isn’t released just yet.
Can you pair the Sonos Move with a sub?
If you already have a sub and want to connect it with the Sonos Move you’re out of luck. The Sonos Move can not be paired with a subwoofer by itself. That said, if you already have a Sonos 5.1 setup you can group it with that system and take advantage of the existing subwoofer.
What voice services does the Sonos Move support?
Of course, you don’t have to open up an app at all if you don’t want to. You can also connect the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa and control the speaker with your voice. I only connected the Google Assistant in my testing, and found that the microphones on the top of the Sonos Move did a better job at recognizing my voice while music was playing than the actual Google Home speakers do. If you’re not a fan of the speaker constantly using its microphones to listen to the hotword, you can do what I do and just toggle the microphone off when you’re not using it. Then, when I know I’m going to be using it and listening to music, I’ll un-mute the microphones and use it as intended. I was able to skip songs, play albums, set timers, and anything else that Google Home speakers can do.
How long does the battery on the Sonos Move last?
Sonos claims a battery life of 10 hours of constant playback when you’re not docked on the charging cradle. In our testing we got 6 hours and 24 minutes of constant playback which is fine if you don’t plan on being out all day, but not great if what you’re after is a truly portable speaker. We did our testing at a constant output of 75dB at a distance of three feet which is loud enough for most situations but if you play the speaker at max volume it likely won’t last as long. Still, considering that I think most people will use this around the house anyway I don’t see the battery life being too much of a problem. If you’re going out for the day and feel like bringing the Move along with you, it should last long enough for you to get good use out of it before returning home. If you’re after a super long-lasting speaker for your next multi-day hike, then you’re probably not looking at something like the Sonos Move anyway.
How does the Sonos Move sound?
While the Sonos Move can be hooked up with the rest of your speakers if you’re in the Sonos ecosystem I used this speaker more as a portable Bluetooth speaker during testing since that’s what it was made for. If you want dual speakers to complete your surround sound setup you can always just go with the Sonos One or the One SL. The Sonos Move definitely sounds like it was meant more for enjoying music with friends than a movie in your living room.
There’s a slight bump in the low end that gives the bass some extra push which comes in handy when you’re outdoors. The thumping drums and bass throughout the song projector by EDEN have just the right amount of power, though there were times where some vocals were masked due to the lower volume of notes in the mids.
Highs were similarly de-emphasized which meant that there weren’t too many times when the speaker became harsh. That said, this was not my favorite sounding speaker at higher volumes. Music sounds fine at regular listening volumes anywhere between 40-70% volume, but once you max it out the Sonos Move just can’t seem to keep up with the output. In the song So Many Details by Toro y Moi, it sounded almost as if the music was getting louder but further away. Clarity took a nosedive and it was only resolved when the volume was lowered again.
Should you buy the Sonos Move?
The Sonos Move is a great speaker that most people shouldn’t buy. If you want to find your way into the Sonos family, you’re better off going with something like the Sonos One which only costs $150. You can get one of those for the house and still have enough money left over to buy a great Bluetooth speaker. I’m not saying that isn’t a good speaker because it is. It’s just also a very expensive speaker. It sounds good, has an IP56 rating that makes it durable enough for outdoor use, and also has seamless Wi-Fi connectivity so you can use it in the house with your other Sonos speakers. If you already have a Sonos setup and want a speaker that you can pick up from the living room and bring with you into the yard then this speaker might be perfect for you. Plus, it has a solid Bluetooth connection so if you’re going to be away from your home internet you can still listen to music.
That said, as a portable speaker, the Move is just a tad too heavy at 3kg for what I would consider portable. If you’re going to the yard it isn’t a problem but any trip to the beach or somewhere remote is going to be a hassle. Plus, the handle isn’t ergonomic at all; so unless you have a bag or a trunk to throw this in, it’s going to be tough carrying it around. If you’re looking for good sound in a portable speaker, there are plenty of other options you can choose from. None of those other speakers are made by Sonos, which is the big selling point here if we’re being real. The Sonos Move is a great speaker that might not be for you, but if it is then you won’t be disappointed at all.