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Sonos Move hands-on: a first foray into battery-powered speakers for the outdoors

Sonos Move hands-on: a first foray into battery-powered speakers for the outdoors

Sonos is taking its first steps out of the home and into the great outdoors. The Sonos Move is a durable, battery-powered smart speaker for taking your music on the go. As well as being part of the Sonos system on Wi-Fi, it also has Bluetooth. We gave it a listen at an IFA event in Berlin this week.

The Sonos Move is a powerful smart speaker that has been designed to be taken on the go. It's the first Sonos speaker that has been built for both outdoor and indoor use. The market for portable, powerful speakers for taking to the park or the beach and streaming your music is a busy one. Sonos thinks its time to get involved, and its first foray is a successful one.

Design and build quality

When in the home, the Move acts like any other Sonos speaker. I suspect, however, that most people will buy these for taking them outdoors. The Move is Sonos’s first product with Bluetooth audio streaming, making it simple to play audio directly from a phone, tablet, or even a Bluetooth turntable like the Sony PS-LX310BT. This is a bit of a game-changer in my opinion. Up until now, opting for a Sonos system meant committing to the ecosystem. With the Move, the audio company could attract a more casual consumer.

Sonos event Move 2
The Sonos Move, and the parts that make the whole speaker / © Sonos

It's also tough, with a durable exterior that can withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV and extreme temperatures, and features a rating of IP56. Sonos told us that they dropped this thing from such a height that it broke the concrete surface, and the music continued playing. I would not recommend putting this to the test, though.

On the top panel there are capacitive touch controls for volume up/down, previous/next track, play/pause, and microphone status. An LED light indicates speaker status, microphone status, and voice feedback. The whole thing weighs 3kg.

Sonos event Move 3
The brand new Sonos Move, with Bluetooth connectivity / © Sonos

How does it sound?

Loud! I got the chance to listen to the Move both indoors in a large room and outdoors in the open air. The sound is very impressive. The speaker features two Class-D digital amplifiers, one downward-firing tweeter, and one mid-woofer. Sonos said that the tweeter had to be redesigned to account for the fact that there are no walls outside to reflect the sound. There is codec support for both SBC and AAC. Fans of Sonos speakers will be happy to see that the brand's reputation for quality audio has been successfully carried over to the portable market.

Sonos Move 9
Designed to be at home both in and outdoors / © Sonos

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are built right in, so you can play music, check the news, control smart home devices, ask questions, and much more completely hands-free, but only when you are connected to Wi-Fi. Sonos’s platform supports more than 100 streaming services, controllable via the Sonos App. All of this is well-known to fans of the brand, of course, the Move doesn't change any of that.

Battery Life

Move’s battery allows for up to ten hours of continuous playback on a single charge. At home, you can slide the Move on and off the included indoor charging base to connect it.  There's also a suspend mode, which kicks in automatically when nothing has been played for a while or by tapping the power button. In standby mode, the battery can last for up to five days. As with all wireless Bluetooth speakers, things such as volume can have a huge effect on battery life. The Sonos Move is loud, so I expect that ten hours of playback to come down quite a bit if you have this thing cranked.

Price and release date

Sonos Move is available globally on sonos.com and through retailer partners starting September 24. In the UK, the recommended retail price is set at £399. In the U.S., it's quite a lot cheaper with an identical price in US dollars.

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