Review: Sonos Move is the do-it-all AirPlay 2 speaker you've been looking for

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 18
The Sonos Move is an exceptional speaker that aims its sights high in an attempt to conquer both in and outside the home. AppleInsider jams out to see if lives up to the Sonos name.

Sonos Move
Sonos Move on the patio


AppleInsider got some early hands-on time with the Sonos Move at its launch event in New York, but in the time since we've had substantially more time to try out Sonos' latest offering.

Here's how the Sonos Move stacks up.




Intro and setup

In the box, Sonos includes the Move itself, the docking station, and a travel bag to keep things clean.

Sonos Move has a common control schema
Sonos Move has a common control schema


When we first put our eyes on the Move we were surprised at its rather large stature and heft. While it is portable aided by a comfortable grip, the Move isn't something one will toss in a bag or clip on the side of a backpack.

The design of the Move is simple. The body is largely enveloped by the metal speaker grille that wraps around. A rubberized foot surrounds the bottom and the top is occupied by an array of four microphones and the basic controls.

If you've seen other Sonos speakers the controls will be instantly familiar with Sonos borrowing the same design. There is a play/pause button in the center with additional buttons accompanying it on each side. They are touch-sensitive and the left/right control volume while the center controls playback.

Sonos Move buttons for power, mode, and pairing (top down)
Sonos Move buttons for power, mode, and pairing (from the top down)


If you flip the speaker around there is a power button, the infinity symbol-laden pairing button, and a mode button to alternate between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Essentially all you'll need.

Sonos Move has a USB-C port for on-the-go power
Sonos Move has a USB-C port for on-the-go power


For power, there are two metal contacts at the bottom that will align with the docking station. An additional USB-C port can also be used for power if necessary. It is quite subtle and we even missed it at first glance.

After disposing of the requisite unboxing, setup of the Move is -- again -- very similar to any other Sonos speaker. The Sonos app is launched, a new device is added, and Sonos walks users through the process of connecting to the Wi-Fi network, registering the device, and performing any updates.

Sonos once more uses Bluetooth to facilitate the setup process through Wi-Fi mode will be the default once setup is complete.

In the home

Sonos Move
Sonos Move


One misconception regarding the Move that we've already heard repeatedly, is that this is solely a portable speaker -- one to be used on the go, but not particularly in the home. That couldn't be further from the truth, though.

Sonos Move is every bit an in-home Sonos speaker. It does everything every other Sonos speaker can do.

It can be configured in a stereo pair with a second Move. Grouped with other Sonos speakers for multi-room playback. And, of course, stream content from endless sources direct over Wi-Fi.

Sonos Move can be added to HomeKit
Sonos Move can be added to HomeKit


Once the basic setup process is completed through the Sonos app, users can jump into the Home app and add the Move as a HomeKit AirPlay 2 device.

With the upcoming iOS 13.1 update you will be able to tie AirPlay 2 speakers into scenes and automated based on the time of day, when you come and go, and more. AirPlay 2 also brings multi-room capabilities with any other AirPlay 2 devices, other than Sonos.

AirPlay 2 is our go-to option for playing music, because of how easy it is. We don't have to jump into the Sonos app, we just use Siri on our phone to "play some happy music on the Sonos Move" and it happens. If placed in a room, a similar command can apply to the whole room.

Sonos Move charges on its home dock
Sonos Move charges on its home dock


To help sell the image of an in-home speaker, Sonos developed an oval dock for the Move. In doing research, Sonos found that if a speaker had to be plugged in, more often than not users would simply set the speaker down and not plug it in unless the battery was truly dead. It was simply too much of a burden. Hence, the dock.

By going with an oval, Sonos says the idea is that it makes it easiest to correctly align the contacts on the back with those in the dock. The speaker almost aligns itself as it is placed down.

Sonos Move in its dock
Sonos Move in its dock


In practice, this works. Mostly.

Whenever we placed the Move into the dock, it would align perfectly 100-percent of the time. The drawback is that the dock wasn't sure-footed enough to stay put. We'd place the speaker and the dock would rotate ever so slightly to match the angle of the speaker.

This isn't a huge deal, but we ended up having to rotate the speaker and dock setup almost every time we placed the Move down to charge. Had the base been, say round, this would be a lesser issue as we'd purposefully try to place the speaker and we wouldn't have to move the dock.

We will give Sonos kudos for the lengthy cable that is included with the dock, allowing us much more free placement in the home.

Sonos Move supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Sonos Move supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant


Sonos also brings two virtual assistants to the Move. Users can choose between Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, with Siri still being exclusive to HomePod and Apple products. These assistants use the four-microphone far-field array on the top to hear you even across the room.

We tested this out with Amazon Alexa enabled and it worked great. This makes the Sonos Move an expensive, large, and better sounding Amazon Echo. For those who don't want/need the assistant, they don't need to be enabled and the microphone can be turned off.

With its designated perch, AirPlay 2, choice of virtual assistant, and excellent sound, the Sonos Move is a great home speaker -- just like other Sonos speakers. But that is where it starts to get interesting.

On the go

The Sonos Move can be lifted from its perch and moved about - hence "move" in the name. It can go with you room-to-room, outside to the patio, or in the backyard.

Sonos paid a lot of attention to the antenna placement and we were very impressed with its Wi-Fi performance. We took it all around the outside of our home and continued to get signal until we were far too far removed. This makes it solid for Wi-Fi-based playback, like AirPlay 2, for even outside our home.

When off the dock and not in use, Move will automatically go into a low-power standby mode. It can last for a couple of days in this mode and is instantly available when summoned.

Sonos Move on the go
Sonos Move on the go


This includes AirPlay 2. We let our Move drift off into standby mode and tried sending audio to it over AirPlay 2 and it only took a few moments for the speaker to awake and start playing. This was seriously impressive and greatly improves the usability of the speaker in the real world.

Once you stray away from your home -- be it camping, to the beach, on vacation, etc -- the Move can be flipped to Bluetooth mode with the press of a button.

With Bluetooth, especially with iPhones as they lack AptX support, you do notice a small dip in audio quality, which is good Wi-Fi support is so robust.

The speaker still sounds great on its own so it will still sound better than most Bluetooth speakers out there.

Playback aside, the modern-designed Move is tailor-made for the outdoors. Sonos scrutinized every detail with the outdoors in mind as much as the indoors.

The rubberized feet on the Sonos Move add additional drop protection. It is weather-resistant enough to be left outside in the rain overnight and still be functioning the next morning, though it shouldn't be submerged.

Even the controls can be used while your hands are wet, whether you just got out of the pool or you just set down your condensation-adorned drink.

We've been using the Move in, around, and outside our home for quite a few days. As we ventured out for the weekend to the lake, we trucked the Move along. It was a bit heavier than the speaker we'd normally take -- the Libratone Zipp 2.

Sonos Move has a rugged design
Sonos Move has a rugged design


It lasted us all through the first night and halfway through the following day before we needed to power up again using USB-C. That USB-C port is welcomed and we could easily top it off with our iPad Pro's charger.

One feature we'd have liked to see is a power output for charging our iPhone. The internal battery is quite powerful and we wish we could siphon a bit out to our phone.

When we asked Sonos about the absence of this feature, they say they focused on prolonging the battery life of the Move itself. Problem with that is the speaker is useless if your phone's dead. And yes, that happened to us too at which point the Move became nothing more than a massive paperweight for our euchre scorecards.

Audio prowess

Sonos diehards have been clamoring for a portable Sonos speaker for years, but Sonos put it off until it could do it right. The biggest part of that is making sure it had the audio chops to back it up.



In our opinion, Sonos followed through. We were very impressed with the sound coming from the Move. Quite the accomplishment for an indoor-outdoor speaker.

Sound dissipates quickly outdoors so Sonos needed quite a bit of power behind the Move. The Move is so powerful we found it almost too powerful when indoors. In our small home, cranking the Move up to the max was overwhelming, but a good volume when hanging out by the pool.

We relied, as per usual, quite a bit on our AppleInsider audio testing playlist to test the fidelity of the Move.

Even outdoors, the bass was substantial. It wasn't as overwhelming as HomePod but as we jammed out to Joe Cocker's Come Together we were happy as those guitar riffs kicked in.

The speaker was also well balanced, not feeling bass-heavy or overly shrill. Even at high volume was it able to maintain this.

It's powered by two Class-D digital amplifiers, a single tweeter, and a single mid-woofer which matches that of the Sonos One. While they are the same configuration, everything is customized specifically for the Sonos Move.

When we compared it to our Sonos One, they had very similar profiles though the Move was clearly louder.

Truly, the audio sounded great, especially for a portable speaker.

One feature that is important to audio quality, and one some may consider overkill, is Trueplay. Sonos is debuting Auto Trueplay with the Sonos Move and is exactly as it sounds.

Automatic Trueplay tuning whenever the speaker is moved. It uses an internal gyroscope to detect movement and once it is in its new home, the four microphones on the top automatically listen to the playback to adjust for its surroundings.

Auto Trueplay tuning on Sonos Move
Auto Trueplay tuning debuts with the Move


This is very similar to the HomePod's tuning process and much preferred to the manual Trueplay tuning that involves waving your phone around in the air. Sonos realized that people wouldn't do that with a portable speaker and crowdsourced piles of data from the manual tuning sessions to build Auto Trueplay.

We heard a demo of this from Sonos at the launch event but in the real world, Auto Trueplay is much more subtle. It only kicks in to make drastic changes when the speaker is placed into fringe situations, such as a wooden cubby during the Sonos demo. We moved the speaker frequently and rarely could hear a huge difference when Auto Trueplay kicked in.

Move over competition

Before composing and shooting this review, we asked around the office "what are your impressions of the Move?"




Everyone agreed it was a remarkably capable speaker, but at least one AppleInsider staffer was of the sentiment that the Sonos Move answers a question that no one was asking.

After a lot of pondering and even more time with the Move, indeed, he isn't asking the question because that doesn't suit his use cases. But, just because a speaker has good sound quality, that doesn't mean that there isn't a use-case for it being portable with a battery as well.

The Sonos Move's biggest hangup is that price tag. But looking past that, you have a great sounding speaker that works outside the home as well as it works in the home. It is widely open to different integrations and platforms, it has automation potential with HomeKit, and has multi-room support with other AirPlay 2 speakers.

I don't consider myself someone who needs the best sound. I consider myself someone who wants really good sound. I'd easily fork over around $150 for a solid Bluetooth speaker and $200-300 for a great indoor speaker.

The Sonos Move fills both of those needs with a single product. I don't need the clutter of two speakers and, by keeping the Move on the dock, my portable speaker is always charged and ready to go.

In that way, I can justify the $399 Sonos Move. Those who aren't asking the question put forth above don't need both an indoor or an outdoor speaker and many may already have one or the other in their possession. That makes picking up the Move even more difficult.

However, if you're like me and want that ideal speaker that plays nice with your Apple gear, the Sonos Move is near as good as it gets.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

Sonos Move will be available starting September 24 for $399.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    It's amazing what removing the Apple logo will do for a speaker review. There's never "too much bass" and it's never too expensive.
    hmurchisonlolliverchasm
  • Reply 2 of 20
    "We don't have to jump into the Sonos app, we just use Siri on our phone to "play some happy music on the Sonos Move" and it happens. " I have not been able to use Siri to play anything to my Homekit registered Sonos One speakers. I must explicity open the audio source (Apple Music eg) on my iPhone, and select the Sonos One via Airplay2. The Sonos App is not Siri enabled. I would love to figure out how you managed to get Siri to work with Sonos. Any tips, advice would be appreciated! I have asked Sonos for help, and they indicate to use Alexa or Google for voice, as their app is not setup for Siri. (not even Siri Shortcuts)
    edited September 18
  • Reply 3 of 20
    space2001 said:
    "We don't have to jump into the Sonos app, we just use Siri on our phone to "play some happy music on the Sonos Move" and it happens. " I have not been able to use Siri to play anything to my Homekit registered Sonos One speakers. I must explicity open the audio source (Apple Music eg) on my iPhone, and select the Sonos One via Airplay2. The Sonos App is not Siri enabled. I would love to figure out how you managed to get Siri to work with Sonos. Any tips, advice would be appreciated! I have asked Sonos for help, and they indicate to use Alexa or Google for voice, as their app is not setup for Siri. (not even Siri Shortcuts)
    Have you tried asking Siri to play music in the room you have the Sonos One assigned to in Home? That’s how I get Siri to play music to my AirPort Expresses and it works great. For instance, I have an AE plugged into a stereo that’s hidden in a closet but connected to speakers in my living room. The room the AE is assigned to is the closet so asking Siri “Play this in the closet” results in music being sent to that AE and played in the living room. (I know, I know, I should probably assign the AE to the living room  ;) )
    fastasleep
  • Reply 4 of 20
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 268member, editor
    space2001 said:
    "We don't have to jump into the Sonos app, we just use Siri on our phone to "play some happy music on the Sonos Move" and it happens. " I have not been able to use Siri to play anything to my Homekit registered Sonos One speakers. I must explicity open the audio source (Apple Music eg) on my iPhone, and select the Sonos One via Airplay2. The Sonos App is not Siri enabled. I would love to figure out how you managed to get Siri to work with Sonos. Any tips, advice would be appreciated! I have asked Sonos for help, and they indicate to use Alexa or Google for voice, as their app is not setup for Siri. (not even Siri Shortcuts)
    I have three Sonos speakers in my living room and my go-to phrase is just "play some upbeat music in the living room" and she does it every time. Have you made sure to add the speakers to the Home app?
    fastasleeplolliver
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 268member, editor
    It's amazing what removing the Apple logo will do for a speaker review. There's never "too much bass" and it's never too expensive.
    I love my HomePod. I use it for Siri all the time. BUT -- and I've said it since day 1 -- the bass is overpowering and sloppy. If you try to listen to something with spoken dialogue like an audiobook or as a speaker for the TV the bass is too much that it muddles the words. It is also heavy-handed for action movie explosions. Even minor on-screen actions creates huge bass from HomePod. Living in a townhome, I couldn't even use the HomePod with my TV because it was so bass-heavy. I ended up returning one and using the second in my office for music and Siri.

    To be fair, some people may love that heavy bass. I'm not that person.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Andrew_OSU said: I love my HomePod. I use it for Siri all the time. BUT -- and I've said it since day 1 -- the bass is overpowering and sloppy. If you try to listen to something with spoken dialogue like an audiobook or as a speaker for the TV the bass is too much that it muddles the words. It is also heavy-handed for action movie explosions. 
    Apple never marketed the HomePod as a TV speaker, not even as a minor selling point. I could complain about the relative portability of the ZVOX speaker under my TV, but then it was never marketed as a portable despite the fact that you can technically move it from room to room if you really wanted to. 
    lolliver
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 268member, editor
    Andrew_OSU said: I love my HomePod. I use it for Siri all the time. BUT -- and I've said it since day 1 -- the bass is overpowering and sloppy. If you try to listen to something with spoken dialogue like an audiobook or as a speaker for the TV the bass is too much that it muddles the words. It is also heavy-handed for action movie explosions. 
    Apple never marketed the HomePod as a TV speaker, not even as a minor selling point. I could complain about the relative portability of the ZVOX speaker under my TV, but then it was never marketed as a portable despite the fact that you can technically move it from room to room if you really wanted to. 
    Unlike HomePod, the Sonos speaker sounds fantastic throughout all types of audio. HomePod can do well with some types, but flounders in others. This isn't just me -- it is a commonly held understanding the HomePod is bass-heavy. It can pump out bass-heavy pop tracks but anything else or with prominent vocals gets drowned out. Audiobooks and TV are not crazy things to use a speaker for. 
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Andrew_OSU said: I love my HomePod. I use it for Siri all the time. BUT -- and I've said it since day 1 -- the bass is overpowering and sloppy. If you try to listen to something with spoken dialogue like an audiobook or as a speaker for the TV the bass is too much that it muddles the words. It is also heavy-handed for action movie explosions. 
    Apple never marketed the HomePod as a TV speaker, not even as a minor selling point. I could complain about the relative portability of the ZVOX speaker under my TV, but then it was never marketed as a portable despite the fact that you can technically move it from room to room if you really wanted to. 
    So not as versatile as the Sonos! Got it! 
    CloudTalkin
  • Reply 9 of 20
    xmbxmb Posts: 17member
    This Sonos is too expensive by comparison to the Libratone Zipp 2 speaker.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    xmb said:
    This Sonos is too expensive by comparison to the Libratone Zipp 2 speaker.
    Speaking of which, how does the move compare sound wise to the libratone zipp? It seems the closest comparable speaker in terms of features and portability.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    It's amazing what removing the Apple logo will do for a speaker review. There's never "too much bass" and it's never too expensive.
    I love my HomePod. I use it for Siri all the time. BUT -- and I've said it since day 1 -- the bass is overpowering and sloppy. If you try to listen to something with spoken dialogue like an audiobook or as a speaker for the TV the bass is too much that it muddles the words. It is also heavy-handed for action movie explosions. Even minor on-screen actions creates huge bass from HomePod. Living in a townhome, I couldn't even use the HomePod with my TV because it was so bass-heavy. I ended up returning one and using the second in my office for music and Siri.

    To be fair, some people may love that heavy bass. I'm not that person.
    I use my HP daily. I have never felt it to be sloppy as you put it?  I listen to spoken word stories via Youtube while I work from home quite often or video replays of the sports shows I like and have never thought the words to be muddled? Could there be something that it is sitting on or near it that is causing distortion?  This is not some fanboy defense I am seriously saying the speaker is tight and bass is appropriate in my daily use. Even my GF who doesn't really care about quality has said she is amazed at the volume it can be played without distorting and how solid the bass stays.

    I understand not liking thumping bass ( I live in a townhome as well ) but solid appropriate bass makes what you are listening to sound full and rich.. thin tinny sound hurts my ears.  I will say that if you had these from launch the bass was much more pronounced and sometimes boomy before that first or 2nd update that some folks complained changed the sound of the HP. 

    https://www.cultofmac.com/538615/homepod-owners-claim-software-update-l/

    Most HomePod owners that have posted on the subject remarked bass levels have dropped considerably. To some owners ears, this is a welcome change. Other listeners are demanding Apple bring more bass back.

    Bass-Gate

    “Can definitely hear a dramatic reduction in bass,” said one Reddit user. “Tried playing ‘Big Shot’ from the Black Panther soundtrack. That shit used to bang. Now it doesn’t.”

    foregoneconclusion
  • Reply 12 of 20
    Andrew_OSU said: This isn't just me -- it is a commonly held understanding the HomePod is bass-heavy. It can pump out bass-heavy pop tracks but anything else or with prominent vocals gets drowned out. Audiobooks and TV are not crazy things to use a speaker for. 
    Commonly held...on the internet. Focusing on "bass" with Apple and Beats audio products is an internet meme that never dies. My own experience with HomePod is that bass levels vary according to whether or not the track was engineered to emphasize bass. There is no booming bass that thunders over every genre or artist you choose. I really have no idea where people get that from. 

    As for use with the TV, I can understand people trying that out just to see what happens, but not criticizing the product for something Apple has clearly never even mentioned as a use scenario. It's not like specialized speakers are something unusual. HomePod is intended for music. Apple didn't design it for use as a center channel or part of a surround sound set. If they did, it would have shown up in the marketing. I think if Apple wanted to do home theater speakers, they would design something separately.
    edited September 18 lolliver
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 268member, editor
    jcs2305 said:

    Bass-Gate

    “Can definitely hear a dramatic reduction in bass,” said one Reddit user. “Tried playing ‘Big Shot’ from the Black Panther soundtrack. That shit used to bang. Now it doesn’t.”

    Kind of my point... the bass was a mess and Apple had to go back and reduce it in places. It definitely is better than it was in the past, but I had abandoned using it in the living room for that reason. 
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 268member, editor
    xmb said:
    This Sonos is too expensive by comparison to the Libratone Zipp 2 speaker.
    Speaking of which, how does the move compare sound wise to the libratone zipp? It seems the closest comparable speaker in terms of features and portability.
    Absolutely most comparable!

    I think it is a bit more full and definitely louder than the Zipp 2 which is what I have on hand. The best part about the Move is that it goes into that standby mode and can come right back unlike the Zipp 2.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    It's amazing what removing the Apple logo will do for a speaker review. There's never "too much bass" and it's never too expensive.
    I love my HomePod. I use it for Siri all the time. BUT -- and I've said it since day 1 -- the bass is overpowering and sloppy. If you try to listen to something with spoken dialogue like an audiobook or as a speaker for the TV the bass is too much that it muddles the words.
    Disagree on this. I bought a HP and Sonos Beam soundbar to compare while watching movies with dialog on an Apple TV. The HP was clearer than the Beam. Had friends blind test it and they voted the same. So returned the more expensive Beam and bought a second HP, even better. 

    Just be sure you have the HP’s top unblocked, as that’s the direction the bass emits. If it’s embedded tightly into a very short space (like a DVD/receiver cabinet) the bass will sound muffled. 
    edited September 18 lolliver
  • Reply 16 of 20
    It seems like a nice speaker, but the $399 price...ouch. For that I could get another Play 5 when it hits 20% off again.
  • Reply 17 of 20

    Disagree on this. I bought a HP and Sonos Beam soundbar to compare while watching movies with dialog on an Apple TV. The HP was clearer than the Beam. Had friends blind test it and they voted the same. So returned the more expensive Beam and bought a second HP, even better. 

    Just be sure you have the HP’s top unblocked, as that’s the direction the bass emits. If it’s embedded tightly into a very short space (like a DVD/receiver cabinet) the bass will sound muffled. 
    Really?   I have a Beam and I'm happy with it but I never gave it any thought about how the HomePod might do connected to the TV.   No lip-sync issues with the HP as an output from an Apple TV I'm presuming? 
  • Reply 18 of 20

    Disagree on this. I bought a HP and Sonos Beam soundbar to compare while watching movies with dialog on an Apple TV. The HP was clearer than the Beam. Had friends blind test it and they voted the same. So returned the more expensive Beam and bought a second HP, even better. 

    Just be sure you have the HP’s top unblocked, as that’s the direction the bass emits. If it’s embedded tightly into a very short space (like a DVD/receiver cabinet) the bass will sound muffled. 
    Really?   I have a Beam and I'm happy with it but I never gave it any thought about how the HomePod might do connected to the TV.   No lip-sync issues with the HP as an output from an Apple TV I'm presuming? 
    No lip sync issues, no. 
  • Reply 19 of 20
    "Apple never marketed the HomePod as a TV speaker, not even as a minor selling point. I could complain about the relative portability of the ZVOX speaker under my TV, but then it was never marketed as a portable despite the fact that you can technically move it from room to room if you really wanted to." That's wrong. They do it all the time and have a document on how to do it with the Apple TV. Right here; https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202809
    edited September 19
  • Reply 20 of 20
    KooaKooa Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    First things first Thank you for this great review Much appreciated! Now to my question ...... As the very happy owner of a range of Sonos speakers ( 2xPlay1, plus 2x Play5 and a SoundBase) I’m curious to know if I could use a Sonos Move, with it’s Airplay2 abilities, and then “group” the Sonos Move to my Sonos Play5 speakers, thus giving the “old” play 5 speakers Airplay2 capability from my IPad Pro? There is absolutely nothing wrong with my “older” model Sonos speakers but would love to have the ability to play say.....YouTube video-audio from my Apple IPad Pro to the Play5 speakers Would be fantastic if I could enable Airplay2 to the Play5 speakers, as I’m working on an projector screen for our “outdoors room” which already has the 2x Play5 speakers set up in it. ! And of course I’m supper happy to see Sonos finally offer a portable outdoor grade speaker. fantastic! Will be a great solution for my workshop Or an outdoor adventure!
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