Sonos is one of the WIRED Gear staff’s favourite speaker corporations. In the splintered buy-it-trash-it world of Wi-Fi linked tech, the place nothing appears to attach collectively correctly or final all that lengthy, Sonos audio system all the time sound excellent. They are constructed to final for years, they usually do issues different audio system simply can’t. Sonos audio system can group collectively in any means you want and work with most each streaming music app. You may also management them with both Google Assistant or Alexa voice assistants—a rarity in 2019.
Like a guided missile, Sonos has perfected its line of sensible Wi-Fi audio system for the house, and it’s by no means swayed from that focus on—not even to step onto the again porch. For almost a decade, it has fully ignored the numerous superior Bluetooth audio system in the marketplace.
About a yr in the past, chief product officer Nick Millington hinted that Sonos was making ready to step outside for the primary time. “One of the key transitions that we talk about is from home to everywhere,” he advised me. “The residence is not the one place the place you hearken to music. There are many locations the place you hearken to music.”
And now, a yr later, a Sonos speaker with Bluetooth has lastly arrived. (A yr seems like a very long time, however Sonos releases new merchandise at a extra deliberate tempo than a lot of the tech world.) The Move is the primary Sonos speaker with a battery inside it, and the primary one which additionally works past the confines of Wi-Fi.
It’s a half step—a speaker that sits stationary on a shelf a lot of the time, however may also be carried wherever. It rests on a charging cradle, connecting to Wi-Fi and the Sonos app like some other Sonos speaker. You can sync it together with your Sonos speaker community if in case you have one, however if you find yourself able to jam “out of vary,” it has a deal with on the again and a Bluetooth toggle that permits you to hook up with a telephone or PC. The IP56 splash- and dust-resistant score ought to hold it protected if these adventures embody rain or the seaside too. Just don’t take it for a swim, since it may’t survive a dunking.
There are a number of kinks I’ll go over, and a $399 price ticket that can make a few of you groan, nevertheless it’s laborious to argue that Sonos hasn’t put out one of many extra versatile and best-sounding moveable audio system you should purchase.
The very first thing I seen in regards to the Move was how large it’s. The speaker weighs as a lot as a six pack of 12-ounce beer bottles and is bodily imposing, at 9.5 inches tall and greater than 6 inches large. It doesn’t sink into the background of a room fairly as simply as Sonos’ extra petite One audio system.
It’s as large as two of these Sonos One audio system stacked on their facet—or two UE Megaboom audio system facet by facet, or two 24-ounce beer cans duct-taped collectively. (And until you’re having one helluva rager, it sounds quite a bit higher than duct-taped cans too.)
I hold mentioning alcohol as a result of, properly, this can be a speaker made to celebration. It has the identical model and contact buttons because the One (quantity, play/pause, mute), full with a hoop of microphone holes up prime so you’ll be able to discuss to it with whichever one of many two voice assistants you’d like. Much of the casing is fabricated from black plastic, with a matte-soft rubbery base and a metallic grille. It appears to be like hardy, and supposedly it may stand up to a drop or two, although I’ve been too form to completely take a look at that sturdiness.
That silicone base holds a battery that has been lasting me just a little longer than the marketed 10 hours per cost—your mileage will differ primarily based on how loud you crank it. (The lithium ion battery is detachable as properly. Sonos says it can have replacements prepared if house owners wish to get a brand new battery in a number of years, as soon as the present one begins to fade.) A few metallic connectors on the underside of the speaker additionally let the Move slip proper into its included charging cradle. The cradle features like just a little stand, so it’s a chic method to give your Move a house while you’re not cell, although you may as well cost it through the USB-C port on the again.
What’s totally different is the cavity constructed into the again of the speaker. You can seize it comfortably like a deal with to tote it from place to position. The ergonomics jogged my memory of a extremely cozy indoor mountaineering grip—the sort you’d discover on the simple wall at a health club. You can scoop it proper up with one hand. Despite its six-pound weight, transporting the Move isn’t a chore.
Being a transportable speaker, I anticipated the Move to be crammed with directional drivers that blast music out all sides in an arc, just like the Megaboom and so many different moveable audio system. Instead, it is just a little extra conventional. It has a single downward-firing tweeter that splits off to the left and proper to widen the soundstage for these increased, crisper notes, and an enormous forward-facing mid-woofer smack dab within the heart so it may thump when the beats get low.
I’ve listened to numerous music on the Move this week, and the largest praise I can provide it’s that I simply by no means appear to show it off. The tweeter and woofer do an awesome job projecting sound broadly—maybe as much as 180 levels, relying in your area. The Move crammed up my workplace, lounge, and yard with ease, with much more depth and readability than many audio system its dimension.
Like the Apple Homepod and Google Home Max, it manages to sound so good in every single place as a result of it makes use of its far-field microphones (the identical one that allow you to discuss to Google or Alexa) to always retune itself. Sonos calls this Automatic Trueplay. Set the speaker down someplace, and after about 30 seconds, its sound auto-adjusts to the atmosphere. The adjustments it applies are refined, however noticeable. When I set the Move out within the open, it projected loud and proud, however after I positioned it in, say, a cupboard, the bass calmed all the way down to cease vibrating the wooden round it, and the treble notched up so I may hear the vocals higher.
It appears to sound glorious in every single place. I even set the Move on the passenger-side ground of my automobile and listened to it as a substitute of my stereo on an hour-and-a-half lengthy automobile journey this weekend. I wasn’t anticipating a lot, however after some time I type of forgot I wasn’t utilizing the automobile audio system.
With the tragic loss of life of The Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek, I’ve been revisiting the band’s clear pop-rock precision in hits like “Just What I Needed” and “You Might Think.” If I shut my eyes, typically it seems like I’m proper there within the studio with the band. Like most Sonos audio system I’ve examined, the Move by no means appears to overpower the music it performs. The bass punches when it must, and the vocals are studio-crisp. It’s as balanced because the music calls for.
The Move delivers on most of its moveable promise, however its limitations have often pissed off me all through the week. Though the Bluetooth works properly, you gained’t have the ability to use the Sonos app to play music or management the speaker settings (or EQ) until you’re on your private home Wi-Fi. Straight to the Spotify or Apple Music app, you go.
The Move additionally can’t hook up with a number of telephones or units at a time both, so that you solely get to have one DJ at your celebration. Oh, and although Sonos is understood for its skill to group a number of audio system into ad-hoc zones, this isn’t attainable on Bluetooth. And that is regardless of many competing audio system, like that Megaboom we hold mentioning, being able to daisy-chain collectively.
For now, it is clear that Sonos nonetheless sees Bluetooth as an add-on, not a core focus. Sonos may add extra Bluetooth options sooner or later through app updates (one thing it does incessantly), however the firm’s coronary heart nonetheless lies with Wi-Fi.
If you’re already planning some form of moist and wild Sonos trip, you could wish to mood these expectations proper now. The Move can get moist. I do know as a result of I sprayed it with a hose many occasions. But each time it will get moist up prime, the contact buttons appear to go nuts, pausing, enjoying, altering the amount—very like your “waterproof” telephone does for those who take it underwater. (Please don’t.) You can flip these contact controls off, however solely while you’re on Wi-Fi, so you must suppose forward. So sure, it may get moist, nevertheless it isn’t designed to work as properly when it does.
And whereas I’m complaining, I must also be aware that there are some Alexa Skills and Google Assistant options that will not work with Sonos. I sometimes use Google Assistant for some white noise to assist me hit the zzzzs, however that specific talent will not work on Sonos audio system. Instead, it performs some white noise from Spotify, which … simply is not as simple to go to sleep to.
A New Kind of Sonos
Like the Symfonosk audio system Sonos not too long ago launched with Ikea, the Move is a brand new form of product for Sonos, and we hope it’s simply the beginning of a brand new, wider world for the 17-year-old sensible speaker model.
Widened worldviews don’t come low cost. With a value of $399, the Sonos Move is twice as costly because the Sonos One. It has much more energy and adaptability than the One, although it may’t match the Sonos Play:5 in sheer energy. It’s additionally pricier than most high-end Bluetooth audio system and $100 greater than the Apple Homepod, one in every of its nearest indoor rivals.
If cash had been no object, I’d decide a Sonos Move over most different sensible audio system any day of the week (besides the one close to my mattress). It’s a well-thought-out speaker that works inside and is prepared for a 10-hour jaunt outdoors when the time arrives. In different phrases, it matches my comparatively tame life-style. But with out full waterproofing (or the power to drift), it’s not ready for a canoe journey down the river, and even to sit down on a floatie within the pool.
Whether the Sonos Move is price $399 to you’ll rely the place you’re transferring, and for a way lengthy. The calmer your life, the happier you and your Move will probably be.
(You should purchase the Move from Sonos or Amazon.)