July 13, 2024


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Sonos Move review: Hefty portable speaker brings big Sonos sound to the outdoors

When you first encounter the Move, Sonos’ first portable speaker, be prepared for something big. At 9.44 inches tall and 6.6 pounds (3 kg), it’s significantly larger than the Sonos One and also costs about twice as much at $400 (£399, AU$649). When most people think portable, they think small, but the Move has some serious heft. At first blush it looks almost too nice to be an outdoor speaker.

But an indoor-outdoor speaker it is, complete with a built-in rechargeable battery that’s good for 900 charges or roughly 3 years and is replaceable. It’s Wi-Fi-enabled and can be linked to other Sonos speakers in your home system — Sonos says the Move has the best Wi-Fi connectivity of any of its speakers to date. It also has Bluetooth, so you can take it out of range of your Wi-Fi network and stream directly from your phone or any Bluetooth-enabled audio device.

An integrated handle on the back lets you tote the Move around the house, out to the patio or even to the beach. With the speaker’s IP56 rating, Sonos says the Move’s “tough durable exterior will withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV and extreme temperatures.” We didn’t expose it to those kinds of harsh conditions during my four days of testing, but it does seem sturdy. Its special “shadow black” finish supposedly prevents it from overheating in the sun. It sounds counterintuitive that a darker finish would prevent overheating, but according to Sonos, this particular black does.

While the speaker is dustproof, we noticed that when carrying it around, dirt and other particles found their way into the fine mesh metal grille surrounding the speaker. We had to use a dust blower to get them out, but at least they didn’t end up inside the speaker. 

The Move towers over the One.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Bigger sound too

Since the Move is larger than the Sonos One it’s not surprising that it plays about 25{8c54160eed80eb00ac4f5d74c8785e95142d89daf570f201b81dc7fdc31059f3} louder and produces bigger sound with more robust bass, though it doesn’t play as loud as the Sonos Play: 5. That said, the One is arguably slightly more revealing and agile than the Move — indoors anyway. 

The Move comes across as a smooth, warm speaker that’s pleasant to listen to with a wide variety of music genres. The low-end difference was most obvious with dramatic tracks like Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You, for example. The big-band vamps that punctuate the end of each chorus had more authority and heft on the Move compared to the One.   

With other genres, including rock, the One offered a more exciting sound. With Mclusky’s She Will Only Bring You Happiness, for example, the One better enunciated Andy Falkous’ bitterly funny lyrics and induced more toe tapping despite the speaker’s relative lack of bass. And even though the Move was able to go louder, this song was easier to listen to at maximum volume on the One than the Move.

The Move is designed for outdoor use, so its bigger sound (and bass) is going to play better than the One in an open environment where there are no walls to reflect the sound. Its sound isn’t big enough to power an outdoor dance party, but it will capably fill a patio with music.

You can use two Moves to create a stereo pair. While that’s not an economical proposition at $800, pairing was easy and they performed well as a duo. There wasn’t quite a precise stereo image, but we could tell where the left and right shaker egg were in Dead Can Dance’s Yulunga Spirit Dance. And no, you can’t stereo pair another Sonos speaker with the Move.

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