With the Move, the Sonos multiroom specialist finally has a portable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker in its catalogue. This imposing model promises us an unfailing robustness and an exceptional sound quality. Let's see what's going on...
Specializing in sedentary and multiroom loudspeakers, Sonos created a surprise in September 2019 by announcing its first portable wireless loudspeaker. Wireless speakers are popular, but there are still very few models combining Wi-Fi, multiroom and Bluetooth in a portable format (and therefore with battery). So there's a shot to be made for Sonos. The Move also tries to stand out with its heavy-duty design, voice assistant compatibility and automatic TruePlay calibration.
- Very deep and well balanced bass.
- Very accurate and robust design (IP56 certification).
- Easy access to the speaker battery / removable battery.
- Intuitive and pleasant handling, excellent multiroom system.
- Perfectible management of the distortion that prevents the good power reserve from being exploited.
- We would have appreciated better accuracy, even at low volumes, and better definition in the high frequencies.
- No mini-jack input.
- Weak autonomy.
The speaker retains the American brand's aesthetic codes, with a very refined appearance, similar to the One, for example. The quality of manufacture and finishes is truly there. The plastic used on the speaker frame looks particularly strong and thick, as does the grid that protects the reproduction system. The lower part of the enclosure is covered with a non-slip rubber coating. It holds very well in place once placed. Its robustness is verified in practice, with excellent resistance to shocks, small drops and especially to water splashes and dust. The Move is IP56 certified.
Sonos signs here its arrival in mobile audio. However, with its size of 16 x 24 x 13 cm and more than 3 kg on the scale, this speaker is clearly not a paragon of compactness. This is indeed a transportable enclosure. To make it easier to transport, the Move's design includes a very easily accessible handle. For the most careful, a flexible fabric pouch is also available to protect the frame from scratches.
Having already welcomed Sonos products into our labs, we quickly made our mark with the Move. The start-up of the speaker, the light/sound indications and the control possibilities are very similar to models such as the One or the Beam, for example. Neophytes are not left out because the handling is relatively intuitive. The first configuration is also very simple and quick, just follow the steps via the Sonos application. Interaction with the Move is regularly punctuated by audible and luminous alerts, but it is true that we would have appreciated some vocal indications (native, not related to the Alexa or Google Assistant intelligent assistants, both supported by the Sonos system and the Move).
All essential controls (playback, volume management, track navigation) are present directly on the speaker (three touch-sensitive buttons). The controls respond perfectly well. There are also two physical buttons on the back of the speaker. The first one allows you to select the wireless connection mode (Wi-Fi/Bluetooth) and to start pairing. It should also be noted that it is impossible to enjoy Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections at the same time. In Bluetooth, it is therefore necessary to forget about the connected functionalities (multiroom, intelligent voice assistant, TruePlay calibration...). The second button simply turns the speaker on and off: a point that may seem anecdotal, but is new to Sonos.
Sonos promises the Move 10 hours of autonomy. Even if the promise is kept and some direct competitors do not necessarily do better, it is still low compared to most portable Bluetooth speakers. In addition, this data can quickly decrease if you place yourself at a generous listening volume (about 60 to 70% of the maximum volume). However, it should be noted that the speaker can hold 120 hours outside its base when in standby mode. What's more, the battery is relatively easy to access and very easy to remove. All that remains is to wait for Sonos to make batteries available on the market. In any case, this is excellent news for the life of the speaker.
Bluetooth communication latency is slightly above the average of portable speakers. You will be able to perceive a small gap between the sound and the image in this connection mode. In the best case (mobile application automatically applying a certain compensation), you will be able to follow your audio/video content without too many problems, but not in absolute comfort.
Sonos Move review
We are beginning to get to know the current Sonos ecosystem and application, which have not seen any real change since the launch of Sonos One in late 2017. After all, you don't change a winning formula: it is still the best in the world today, both for its comprehensiveness and its remarkable ease of use.
From the initial configuration, a very carefully designed step-by-step guide ensures that a novice can start the system. Thereafter, the management of the multiroom (grouping of speakers, adjustment of individual volumes) is just as intuitive. The only slight concern that can be noted is that in their attempt to simplify the basic interface, the application designers were forced to relegate some useful functionalities (such as bass and treble level adjustment) to submenus. It is certainly not much compared to all the qualities.
Finally, the Sonos system is distinguished by the sheer volume of music streaming services with which it is natively compatible. You can find absolutely all the popular services: Spotify, Deezer, Google Music, Amazon Music, Qobuz, Tidal, and even Apple Music via the AirPlay 2 broadcast protocol. Best of all, the search function integrated into the application is able to produce unified results from all these services. A real pleasure!
Sonos Move speaker
The voice pickup portion of the Sonos Move is provided by an army of 7 microphones that can be seen on the upper part of the speaker. They are only active when the speaker is connected to the local network and in Wi-Fi mode. It is possible to disable them at any time via a dedicated button. As mentioned above, the Sonos system is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. Apart from the difference in power of the detection and analysis algorithms of the assistants, the speaker provides a very satisfactory capture quality with both services.
The microphones pick up voice and requests perfectly in a quiet environment, even several meters away, or even in a neighbouring room. You don't have to speak very loudly to make yourself understood. When the speaker is playing music or in a slightly noisy room, it is important to remember to be in the same room as the speaker, but triggering does not require you to speak particularly loudly. No problem to address the assistant with high listening volume, just get closer and speak aloud and intelligible. That being said, sometimes the triggering is a little more capricious or certain requests have to be repeated more often than with the best models on the market.
Performance and Quality of Audio
The Move is equipped with a midrange/woofer speaker and a tweeter for monophonic sound reproduction. The internal architecture is a little peculiar since the manufacturer has chosen to tilt his tweeter downwards to "ensure a wide diffusion of high frequencies".
It really doesn't jump to mind when you start using the speaker. Indeed, the Move shows above all a great affection for low frequencies. Without direct intervention from the user (who passes through the two-band EQ in the application), the basses are always well forward, giving a very warm sound. That said, balance is required in this region of the spectrum, especially with the activation of automatic TruePlay calibration. The bass is quite well defined, relatively punchy and deep. The extension in the extreme basses is generous since the Move attacks reproduction from 40 Hz. You can feel the impact of the bass and enjoy a nice seat. To improve readability on certain tracks (very rich in sources, with very little dynamics) and obtain a more balanced and clearer overall rendering (especially indoors), do not hesitate to reduce the basses by one or two steps and raise the treble by one step with the application's equalizer. Also remember to disable the "Loudness" mode.
The very warm sound of the Move is mainly due to a wide and marked withdrawal from the high-midrange to the high-frequency extremes. The balance in this region alone is more than correct, but the accuracy is not incredible, especially when you start pushing the volume. This loss of precision is accompanied by a reinforcement of the shiny aspect of the treble, which can also be described as sparkling depending on the tracks played. Moreover, even with the help of EQ, the sound reproduction still lacks a little air and detail in the treble. The increase in power also has an impact on bass accuracy due, again, to a perfectible management of distortion below 150 Hz. This results in more boomy bass and mask effects at higher frequencies.
In view of this, it is not possible to use the power reserve of the Move, however generous it may be in relation to its size. In practice, it is necessary not to exceed 60 to 70% of the volume to maintain good listening quality and limit the harmful effects of distortion. Below this threshold, we are still able to sound a living room of a very correct size (about 20 m²) or an outside, a terrace, about ten meters from the enclosure. The amplitude of the diffusion of the speaker alone is not extraordinary, and this can be felt outdoors. It will be necessary to choose a couple of speakers to hope for a correct immersion in the desired listening area, which will increase the bill.
Let's face it, the Move is not the best model if you're looking for a "classic" transportable Bluetooth speaker. Although it is relatively powerful and very robust, it does not offer any wired connection and its autonomy is far behind that of the best on the market. On the other hand, its connected part (multiroom, AirPlay 2, compatibility with voice assistants...) is the most developed and intuitive to date, thanks to the Sonos system. It is therefore intended for users who want to expand their Sonos fleet and enjoy the benefits of a portable speaker, as well as those who want to discover the joys of the Sonos multiroom without being limited to a sedentary speaker. You can also take a look at the Zipp 2 (more possibilities of wired connections, much less robust...) or the Link 20 (more compact, much softer price, Chromecast only...), which are for the moment the only real direct competitors of this Move.
Sonos Move Speaker