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The $399 Sonos Move is pricey and heavy, but it's a great portable speaker

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
The Sonos Move is the company's first portable, Bluetooth speaker. And while it's expensive, it packs a powerful sonic punch. (Image: Howley)

Sonos (SONO) has finally, after nearly 20 years, introduced a truly portable speaker. Available now, the Move is an in-door/ outdoor speaker that can survive being dropped or sprayed with a hose. Heck, you can cover this thing in ketchup and mustard and it'll keep pumping out your favorite songs without a hiccup.

With a large woofer and downward-firing tweeter with a special sound chamber that pushes sound in all directions, the Wi-Fi and notably Bluetooth-enabled Move is a beefy speaker. But that portability, robust design, and audio quality comes at the hefty price of $399. The Bose SoundLink Revolve+, by comparison, comes in at $299.

For Sonos fans, that price is to be expected. But for the average person looking for a basic portable speaker, it'll likely prove too much to make the move to the Move.

How does it sound?

The Move sounds fantastic. The woofer, which is built into the frame of Move, pumps out an incredible amount of bass. I decided to test the limits of the Move's bass by blasting it in my apartment, and it turns out, my neighbors aren't huge Lil Wayne fans. At least not at 9:30 at night on a Wednesday.

The bass, however, isn't overwhelming. That's because the Move's downward-firing tweeter pushes music into a waveguide that reflects high-frequency audio ensuring a balanced listening experience.

This is the kind of speaker you'd want to take outside in the yard for a barbecue, while lounging by the pool, during a tailgate, or at the beach. But moving from location to location like that will change the way the music you're playings sounds.

To adjust for that, Sonos has included its TruePlay technology in the Move. TruePlay normally uses your smartphone's microphone to listen to the audio quality of your Sonos in a particular location, and then adjusts the speaker's equalizer to ensure you get the best listening experience.

So, say you're listening in a small room, but move to a large room. Your speaker will sound completely different in each location. TruePlay attempts to fix that issue via Sonos's software.

The waveguide inside of the Sonos helps guide high-frequency audio to improve the listening experience outside. (Image: Howley)

The Move's version of TruePlay, however, ditches the need for your smartphone. Instead, the speaker's built-in microphones can determine the quality of the audio you're listening to and adjust the Move's equalizer automatically. It's a helpful feature that ensures no matter where you're listening, you're getting the best possible sound quality from the speaker.

The inclusion of Bluetooth as a connection option for the Sonos is important, as the company usually requires you to connect to its speakers from your smartphone via Wi-Fi. To switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you tap the toggle button on the back of the speaker. When the light on top changes from white to blue, you're in Bluetooth mode.

Unfortunately, you can't control the speaker with the Sonos app in Bluetooth mode. Instead, you control it like you would any other run of the mill speaker, connect via the Bluetooth setting in your phone's menu and then choose the music app of your choice.

Like the Sonos One, the Move is compatible with both Amazon's (AMZN) Alexa and Google's (GOOGGOOGL) Assistant. You'll have to enable one of the voice assistants in the Sonos app, and approve the various permissions they require, but it's relatively easy to get set up.

Built to last

The Move has a series of built-in microphones to take advantage of the company's TruePlay technology, as well as to enable Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration. (Image: Howley)

Since the Move is portable, and pricey, Sonos worked to make sure it can stand up to being taken on trips, left outside overnight in the rain, and generally being mistreated. To that end, the Move is water resistant enough to handle being outside in a storm or sprayed with a hose and it can survive a few drops of water if you’re carrying it.

Sonos says the speaker can also take a beating from dust, heat, cold, and even get covered in ketchup, mustard, heck a slew of condiments without breaking or getting stained. I dropped my review unit on the floor from about waist high and it wasn't affected in the least.

It's important that the Move can take a few bumps and bruises, because while the convenient built-in handle makes it easy to grab, it feels surprisingly heavy even though it’s less than 7 pounds.

The Move's battery is rated to last 10 hours, which is a good amount of time for a speaker that pumps out such loud audio. To charge the Move, you drop it onto its charging ring, which is a novel approach that doesn't require you to plug it directly into the wall.

Should you buy it?

The Move offers wonderful sound quality in a robust package with solid battery life. But it's also $399 — not exactly inexpensive.

There are a slew of other portable speakers that offer top-notch audio without such a high price, including those from Bose, UE, and JBL. But the Move's sound is so good, you'll want to use it as your regular in-home speaker. Pair it with another Move and you've got a serious sound system.

If you can get past the price, and the weight, the Sonos Move may be the best portable speaker around.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go apologize to my neighbors.

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

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