In a move that simultaneously felt like a very natural evolution of their product line as well as (finally?) answering every unrequited request ever made of the company, Sonos today announced Sonos Move, a portable, battery-powered, water resistant, weatherproof, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker.
Sonos Move integrates seamlessly into the existing Sonos ecosystem just as easily as it leaves your house with you to be used at the beach, in your office, on vacation, really… wherever. Move is IP56 rated and they tested the heck out of this thing. Like everything else released by Sonos in recent years, Move also supports AirPlay 2, allowing for easy integration amongst your Apple-device-laden home.
Hands-On For a Minute
Sonos invited us down last week to take a first look at Move, and it was clear the company has spent a lot of time crafting this product to integrate all these features without feeling awkward. I’ve tested similar speakers from other brands in the past, and they all feel a bit “kitchen-sink-like”. Move is different. Its user experience is very natural, especially for this long-time Sonos owner. But I think it would feel equally natural as your first Sonos speaker and, at US$399, it could well be that for a lot of people.
I only got to sample the sound in Sonos’s test environment, so other than saying it sounded good there, I’ll leave any qualitative reports for a deeper review once I get my hands on a unit.
One impressive aspect, though: Sonos went through more than 60 iterations sorting out how to reflect sound from the Move’s tweeter in order to ensure the high-end sound was not just confined to the area right in front of the speaker. Sonos knows people are going to bring this outside, and that means you’ll want to hear in a wide area. Move seems to have about 180-degrees worth of spread with its sound, and that proved especially impressive at an evening cocktail party held outdoors at the demo site last week.
Like the Sonos One and Beam, Move integrates a far-field voice microphone array that can be configured to answer as either Alexa or Google Assistant. Pick your favorite and you’re good to go. Siri support is limited to what you can do with your phone, which means you can ask Siri to play music or podcasts on Move via AirPlay 2.
Move sits on an oval charging base that keeps it powered inside your home. When you want to bring it to a different room, outside, or elsewhere, you simply lift the 6.6-pound speaker up by its integrated handle and Move’s 10-hour battery keeps playing your music so long as you’re in range of your Wi-Fi. Move’s dual-band, 4×4 Wi-Fi radio ensures you have maximum coverage inside and outside your home.
When you take Move elsewhere, you flip a switch from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth 4.2 (complete with SBC and AAC support), and you can then stream your favorite audio from your phone or laptop directly to the speaker, no Wi-Fi or power cables required. Move does have a USB-C port to accommodate on-the-go charging via Power Delivery.
Because Sonos Move is meant to be portable, Sonos spent some time figuring out how to use the far-field voice microphone array to automatically tune Move’s EQ with Sonos Trueplay. With every other Sonos speaker your iPhone is required to tune Trueplay. Move has a motion sensor and, when it realized it has been relocated, it takes about 30 seconds to tune itself and then adjusts for its new surroundings, no manual intervention required.
As I was in NYC last week learning about Move, an interesting thought popped into my head: “This is the speaker Apple should have made.”
Upon reflection that’s not an entirely accurate statement because I think HomePod is the speaker Apple should have made, and move is the speaker Sonos should have made. But it was an interesting thought: Move really encompasses most of the things that people looking for an “all-in-one” speaker would want, packaged into an elegant experience. And that’s something we long-time Apple users find quite familiar.
The reality, though, is that this speaker isn’t either company’s first speaker, and it couldn’t be. Move is the result of everything Sonos has done up to this point: iterative design at its finest. To that end, I think Sonos is the only company that could have made this, and I’m glad they did. I’m very much looking forward to testing it, and lament the fact that test units weren’t available to put through their paces over our recent, gorgeous New England Labor Day weekend.
Pre-orders for Move start now, September 5th, at US$399 and units will be available beginning Tuesday, September 24th. It will be interesting to see how the market responds to Move, and I’m really curious to see the ways–and locations–people find to use this thing. Stay tuned!