The Sonos Move Speaker Will Blow Your Mind (And Weigh Down Your Beach Bag)
Sonos' first portable speaker sounds like a dream, even when shoved in a cupboard.
If you’ve ever been to a crowded beach or park in summer, you’ll know that there is nothing more infuriating in the world than having to listen to dance tracks blasting from someone’s shitty bluetooth speakers.
And yes, it’s the person’s fault for making everyone listen to the Chainsmokers — but it’s not helped by the fact that most bluetooth speakers leave a lot to be desired in terms of sound. Which is understandable: they’re meant to be slipped into your bag to whip out at a moment’s notice, they’re not going to have the greatest audio balance.
So when Sonos announced last year that it would be soon be releasing the company’s first ever bluetooth speaker, the hype was feverish. For years, Sonos has been leading the game in home sound systems, but the Californian company has steadfastly remained committed to Wi-Fi-only connections; the Sonos Move is its first foray away from the router.
This Thing Has Some Girth
Like most Sonos speakers, the Move is slick. It’s black and sleek, and will easily sit alongside your jungle of house plants and not look completely out of place. It looks much the same as the rest of the Sonos range, although at 24 centimetres in height it’s more imposing than something like the rest of the range. The back of the speaker is carved elegantly into a handle, making it easy enough to grip and lug around your house.
Lug is the operative word here, because if there’s one instantly noticeable feature of the Move, its how goddamn heavy it is. At 3kg, this is not your casual throw-in-your-bag speaker, unless you wanted to do some weighted lunges while listening to a podcast. If you’re used to something like the UE Boom, then the Sonos Move is going to make your arm ache.
The size difference is apparently due to the battery, which will last you up to 10 hours on a single charge. The charger itself is a circular cradle, featuring two contact points that line up with the back of speaker when you dock it — and if you do take the Move out of the house, you can use a compatible USB-C travel charger.
It’s meant to be a bit of a tank: the Move is built to withstand “falls, bumps, rain, and moisture”, which I tentatively tested by splashing it with some water and dropping it down my stairs, which had little effect. The press photos hilariously seem to suggest you can leave it under the shower, which, you know, I probably wouldn’t advise (the official comms from Sonos don’t mention anything about showers either, so perhaps it was just an overzealous photographer). Still, it would happily sit by the pool while you splash around and be perfectly okay.
Having dealt with a few Sonos’ speakers over the years, I thought setting it up through the app would be fairly easy. I was…very wrong. Having already registered it to another person’s account in the office when we first unboxed it (and blasted out the floor above, apologies), I ended up in a Kafka maze of restoring it to factory settings, creating other accounts, and generally threatening to throw the whole thing out the window before I finally hit on the magic combination and had it linked to my own account.
Switching between Wi-Fi and bluetooth is done by hitting a button on the back of the speaker — but bear in mind that if you use bluetooth you won’t be able to use Move features like Trueplay, where the speaker automatically adjusts its sound to fit the environment its in. You also can’t use the Sonos app over bluetooth, which really isn’t a problem — just go through Spotify or Apple Music or whatever you use.
If you’re on Wi-Fi, you’ll also be able to access Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, which are built in. And, obviously, you can connect the Move to the rest of your Sonos system if you have one.
Alright, Alright, But What About The Sound?
Sonos has a reputation for delivering incredible sound, and the Move is no exception. It sounds fantastic — the punchy, forward-firing mid-woofer, and the downward-firing tweeter create a 360-sound that quickly envelops any room, regardless of the volume.
And boy, does it have some volume. When cranked to its limit, the windows in my room trembled nervously — as did my neighbours, who looked out of their windows to see who the fuck was playing ‘Mr Saxobeat’ at ear-splitting levels on a Monday afternoon. I wouldn’t advise blasting it at full volume, as some of the warmness is lost as the mid-woofer completely takes over.
I cycled through a few genres: BENEE’s light pop track ‘Glitter’ sounds just as good as Jack Ü’s dancefloor stomper ‘Where Are Ü Now’, and the aforementioned ‘Mr Saxobeat’. The best sound balance happens around the 75 percent volume mark — the bass doesn’t overpower the mid-range frequencies, and the vocals are still crystal clear. The sound doesn’t change whether you’re listening on battery charge or plugged in.
One downside of that nifty ergonomic handle on the back was that I accidentally turned the music off every time I picked up the speaker to move it around, as the power button is positioned right where you finger would naturally sit. How dare it interrupt ‘Mr Saxobeat’?
In your usual Sonos speaker, the Trueplay technology — where the sound adjusts to suit the environment — is enabled by waving your phone around in front of the device. Obviously this wasn’t going to work with the Move, as you’d have to tune it every bloody time you shift it around the house. And so, automatic Trueplay was born.
Reviewers have been testing it out by shoving the Move in various ridiculous spaces — cupboards, under beds, car boots — which is obviously exactly what I did. With The Jezabels’ ‘Endless Summer’ thundering on, I opened my wardrobe, popped the speaker on a shelf, and shut the door.
I was highly sceptical, but sure enough about 30 seconds after I shut the door, the bass quit rattling the wood, and the vocals streamed through more strongly than before. It pretty much sounded as if I’d shoved Hayley Mary in my cupboard. For the rest of the night I walked around the house placing it in various positions, listening to the tiny adjustments in sound.
With a price tag of AUD $649, the Move isn’t an impulse buy — it’s nearly $200 more expensive than Apple’s Homepod, which is a comparable product. And yes, while the Move is definitely portable, this isn’t the kind of speaker you’re going to stick into the sand or throw around in the dirt. That said, if you’re just looking for a kick ass speaker to exist in any room of your house, the Move is pretty hard to beat.
You can check out the Sonos Move more over here.