We put the top-rated Sonos Move Bluetooth speaker to the test

From design to sound, we put the wifi and Bluetooth connected device through its paces

David RS Taylor@davidrstaylor
Thursday 25 March 2021 17:27
<p>The brand’s opinion of Bluetooth connectivity was that as far as connections go, wifi is the superior option</p>

The brand’s opinion of Bluetooth connectivity was that as far as connections go, wifi is the superior option

There was a time when the idea of Bluetooth was to Sonos as Jerry is to Tom. The brand’s opinion of Bluetooth connectivity was that as far as connections go, wifi is the superior option, and to include Bluetooth in its products would be to degrade their quality.

Even the idea of a portable speaker was unthinkable. This stance has somewhat softened with the introduction of the Move, the first battery-powered Sonos product, and its first attempt to enter the waters of the portable market.

To give Sonos due credit, the brand is right about Bluetooth – audio via this method is of a lesser quality, due to the compression technique it uses to send data. Music via a wifi connection is uncompressed and audibly better to most listeners.

However, for ease and portability, Bluetooth takes the crown. So, why not have both? Sonos has managed this for the Move, one way of making it even more of a portable attraction.

The Sonos DNA runs through the Move’s every element, from sound, to design, to smart capabilities. Does the smart speaker guru’s first portable speaker swallow its audio pride and produce the goods? We tested it (via Bluetooth and wifi, don’t worry) to find out.

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Sonos Move

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Size: 24cm (H) x 16cm (W) x 12.6cm (D)

Weight: 3kg 

Battery life: 11 hours (dependent on volume)

Connectivity: Wifi (2.4gHz and 5gHz), Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa

Design

The Move is unmistakably Sonos. It’s slightly taller and has more of an edge than the Sonos One, but the Move fits seamlessly into the Sonos family. It’s quite a hefty beast, a 3kg portable speaker that’s more suited to being carried from the kitchen to the garden than up Ben Nevis, but with this heft comes sturdiness and a dust and water resistant IP56 rating. The silicone rubber bottom adds to its grip on surfaces, while most of the rest of the body is wrapped in an encouragingly solid metal grille.

In terms of connectivity, you’ll want to stick to wifi for the most part, due to its superior sound quality. This isn’t a problem for the Move, with the connection remaining strong on our home network. Bluetooth connectivity comes in handy when taking the Move a little further afield, either into the garden or on a picnic.

Connecting to the Move isn’t too tricky, bar a little initial fiddling between wifi and Bluetooth, and the Sonos app, once you’re registered, is an easy one stop shop for pretty much every streaming service around. This is particularly useful when you want full access to your music library, with the Sonos app searching each streaming service simultaneously for the track you want. Switching between wifi and Bluetooth is as simple as pressing one of two buttons on the back of the speaker: controls are neat and minimal, as you’ll most likely be using either the app or voice commands, via the ever-listening microphones (although you can switch them off).

The charging dock is a great touch. It makes the process a doddle, fits with the speaker’s sleek aesthetic, and should give the Move around 11 hours of battery life (depending on volume levels). If you’re out for the day, however, you can also handily use the USB-C port. Speaking of charging, the Move’s replaceable battery is a refreshing addition, and marks a nod from Sonos towards a more modular approach to design.

Sound

The Move sticks with the familiar sound profile of the Sonos range – great for background ambience and more concentrated listening, with clarity across all frequencies. The downward-firing tweeter is a welcome development, creating a much more rounded sound from anywhere in the room, and the bass is pleasingly punchy, better than the majority of speakers of its size. The volume it can reach is also impressive for a portable speaker, outgunning many of its competitors with a minimal loss in sound quality at the upper end.

The Move is the first Sonos product to have Trueplay tuning built in, meaning that the speaker automatically analyses your space and adjusts the Move’s sound accordingly to create optimum listening quality. It also means no more frantic waving of your phone around the room like a drunk festival goer to make sure the acoustics are perfect.

It isn’t the best sound on the portable speaker market, with more audio-dedicated speakers offering better all-round sound. However, this is a Jack-of-all-trades in the original sense: it does everything very well, leaving nothing unconsidered, including audio. To offer this quality of sound alongside the Move’s other attractions – aspects that are more likely to be the clincher for any purchase, such as its smart capabilities – is something to be praised.

The verdict: Sonos Move

If you’re in the market for a no-frills Bluetooth speaker, the Move’s £399 price tag might put you off, and with good reason. It sounds great, but there are other Bluetooth speakers that sound as good and cost less. However, the Move is more than just a Bluetooth speaker, offering the best smart speaker specs available in a portable unit. The Move takes everything good about Sonos and puts a handle on the back, a long-awaited development from the brand, and one that doesn’t disappoint.

The sound quality is formidable, the design is sturdy and characteristic of Sonos, and it’s (much) smarter than the average speaker. It’s expensive, but as investments go, if you’re looking for the next step in smart portability, the Move is your best bet, especially as a worthy addition to an already-existing Sonos setup.

Find the best audio device to fit every room with our guide to the best Sonos speakers

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