Sonos Moves Beyond the Front Door with Move Speaker
Rumored for some time, Sonos made official its first product that extends the company’s growing portfolio of audio gear beyond the four walls of consumers’ homes. The Sonos Move breaks tradition but manages to stay true to the Sonos mission, while also fulfilling one of the most frequently requested features by Sonos consumers—portability.
According to Sonos Chief Commercial Officer Matthew Siegel, the launch of the Sonos Move represents the “next logical evolution for Sonos,” and is the first of many “beyond the front door innovations” that the company has in its product pipeline. The move will be available starting September 24 at a price point of $399.
It’s all in the name, right? The Sonos Move is a Bluetooth-enabled speaker that will work beyond the bounds of the in-home WiFi network. In demos during an event in New York City prior to the launch, Sonos displayed just how portable, and durable, the Move speaker really is. Internally, the company focused just as much on the sound technology as they did the strength of the product, which resulted in an IP56 rating. Unique displays showed the speaker covered in sand and dirt, sprayed with water, dropped from a significant height, and under a UV spotlight—all of which were meant to represent different conditions the Move might face while outside of the home. Pair that with the 10-hour battery life, two-hour charge time, and the integrated handle, and you’re looking at one heck of a portable powerhouse. With the press of a button, the Move converts from a traditional Sonos networked speaker into a portable, premium Bluetooth device.
Sonos Chief Commercial Officer Matthew Siegel details the Sonos Move speaker at a press event in New York City.
This isn’t just a standard Sonos speaker with some extra durable casings, though. Product and engineering personnel from Sonos explained that the guts of the Move were meticulously reconfigured dozens of times to not only stand up to the elements, but to sound great while doing so. For example, Sonos built and rebuilt (upwards of 60-some times) a custom down-firing tweeter that would perform at peak levels and to their standards while playing in the tough acoustical environments of the great outdoors. So, anyone expecting to open the Sonos Move up and find a similar layout to, say, the Sonos One, would be sorely disappointed—in a good way.
That said, the Sonos Move brings to the table all of the traditional Sonos magic. It is, at its core, a Sonos speaker, which means the Move can be tied into your broader Sonos speaker environment. There are the same simple pairing methods that Sonos users will be familiar with. Automatic TruePlay is integrated into the speaker, which means the product will automatically detect its placement and correct its sound performance. Additionally, following in the footsteps of the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, the Sonos Move will launch as a voice agnostic device with support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple AirPlay 2.
In our one-on-one time with Siegel at the launch event, we asked what led to the decision for the Sonos Move to be that first entrant into the “outdoor” game for Sonos. To that end, he said a great deal of research and customer feedback was taken into account, and Sonos wanted to develop a product that was highly portable, usable indoors and outdoors, and would satisfy the largest swath of the more than 9 million homes that have a Sonos speaker. And, in the end, the Sonos Move is really a category defining type of product. Outdoor, Bluetooth-enabled speakers exist. But you’d be hard pressed to find something of the caliber that Sonos brings to the table with the Move—from the audio capabilities alone, to the digital assistant functionality, to the durability and portability features.
Two Other Intros
While the Sonos Move was certainly the headline-grabbing announcement, the NYC event saw two other products introduced by Sonos: the Sonos One SL, and the Sonos Port, neither of which ought to be overlooked.
With the One SL, Sonos takes their voice-activated Sonos One and simply removes the microphones from the device. Essentially, you’re looking at the replacement for the Sonos Play:1 that looks exactly like the Sonos One, just without the digital voice assistant functionality.
Looking at the Port, Sonos is positioning the product as the next-gen version of the Sonos Connect. Eventually, as stock of the Connect runs out, this will be the successor, as Principal Product Manager for Architectural Benji Rappaport explained in our time with him at the NYC event. He explained that the Connect has been a valuable product but was sort of the oddball left in Sonos’s portfolio that needed to be updated.
Enter the Port, essentially the little brother to the recently launched Sonos Amp. Port brings AirPlay 2 support and a 12-volt trigger into the mix—something that should feel like a win for the custom installer. Integrating that latter feature into the amp was a “humbling experience,” Rappaport admitted. But he said he came to terms with it by understanding that the “modern is an experience” even if that means having to accomplish that by using “ancient tech” in their new age products. With the Port, Rappaport said the ideal applications would be in traditional AVR experiences, in home automation systems, listening lounges, and commercial environments.
Both the Sonos One SL and Sonos Port will be available on September 12. The One SL will carry a $179 price point while the Port will retail for $399.