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The Sonos Move is the company’s first portable speaker, costs $399

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Sonos (SONO) is known for its high-quality yet pricey speakers including the Sonos BeamSonos One, and Play series. But none of those is built to be taken outside. That’s where the new Sonos Move comes in. An indoor and outdoor speaker, the Move automatically adjusts its audio levels based on where you place it.

What’s more, Sonos says the Move can survive drops, spills, getting blasted with dust, and even being soaked with a hose. The price for that kind of sound quality durability? $399. Pricey. In fact, competing offerings from Bose top out at $349. But based on my brief experience listening to the Move, it may be worth it.

Big sound, big package

The Sonos Move is a portable speaker, but it’s not one of those tiny bluetooth speakers you can throw in your backpack and take to the beach. This is a beefy unit that requires at least one arm to carry. A handle on the rear of the unit makes it a little easier to bring with you, but its bulk is definitely something you want to take into account.

That big size, however, also means the Move has plenty of room to push out serious sound. The unit has a downward-firing tweeter that pushes audio into a specially crafted waveguide that helps more evenly reflect higher frequency sounds. Sonos says that the waveguide ensures that high frequency audio is able to reflect off a surface, making sound clearer for listeners.

The Sonos Move is the company's first portable speaker, and starts at $399. (Image: Howley)

That’s because in outdoor environments there typically aren’t many walls for sound to bounce off of, which can impact overall audio quality and make music sound dull or muted. The waveguide helps overcome that.

Sonos also poured the power on with the Move, allowing it to reach volume levels that sound downright uncomfortable indoors.

Outdoors, though, that extra power can mean the difference between being able to hear songs clearly or having them sound muffled.

Sonos has equipped the Move with the company’s TruePlay technology, but this time around, the feature will automatically adjust the speaker’s audio quality based on its location.

To use TruePlay with Sonos’s other products you normally need to use an iOS device to act as a microphone that can capture the way sound reflects off surfaces in your home.

TruePlay would then create a sound profile for your room that uses the equalizer and filters to ensure you get the best possible sound regardless of where the speaker is placed.

With the Move, however, you don’t need to use your smartphone. Instead, the device uses four built-in microphones to capture the way sound reflects inside and outside, and create an audio profile. In a demonstration, a Sonos representative took a Move playing music on a TV stand and placed it in a cubby.

The Sonos Move has a chamber that guides high-frequency sound waves to improve audio quality. (Image: Howley)

When TruePlay kicked in, the sound automatically adjusted to make for a better listening experience.

Take it with you

In order for the Sonos Move to be considered a portable speaker, Sonos wanted to make sure it could stand up to the rigors of life during a family barbecue or pool party. According to the company, the Move can survive being dropped, covered in dust, sprayed down with water, and covered in everything from ketchup to mustard.

Sonos set up a number of booths during its press briefing demonstrating how the Move can withstand such abuse, and while the drop test was more like a gentle fall test, and the rain test looked more like a sprinkle, they still illustrated their points. Most impressive was the dust test, which saw the Move completely covered in dust and still usable.

The Sonos Move has built-in microphones which are used to automatically adjust the audio quality depending on where you place the speaker. (Image: Howley)

As for battery life, Sonos says the Move can last up to 10 hours on a single charge, which should prove plenty long for even the most dedicated party animals. Recharging the unit takes approximately two hours.

$399 is a lot of money for a portable speaker, but fans of powerful audio will likely look past the price tag and focus more on how the unit sounds. We’ll get a better idea of the Move’s overall quality when we get our hands on a review sample in the coming weeks.

The Move launches globally on Sept. 24.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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