When considering the sequel to any technology product, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that it is “everything the original should have been.” And as I’ve been testing the new $449 Sonos Move 2 speaker over the past few days, it’s been tempting to trust that narrative. The Move 2 improves on the company’s first portable speaker with better, wider sound (it now has stereo audio output instead of just mono) and big leaps in battery life. It’s also more versatile thanks to the inclusion of line-in and the ability to reverse charge your phone and other devices via the speaker’s USB-C port. The only downside might be that all those improvements come with a $50 price increase.
But in truth, the first Move was never going to be anything like this. It arrived before Sonos figured out how to seamlessly combine Bluetooth audio with music played through its Wi-Fi-based whole-home audio platform; You had to choose one or the other using a button on the back. (Sonos solved that awkward dilemma with its much more compact Roam speaker.) At the time of the Move’s release, the entry-level Sonos One was also limited to mono playback. It wasn’t until the Era 100 that the company squeezed two tweeters into a relatively small single-speaker box. Now, run the same playback with Move 2, giving the product dedicated left and right channels instead of mixing everything together. But time hasn’t benefited the Move 2 in every way: Amid an ongoing legal dispute between Sonos and Google, this smart speaker ships without Google Assistant, which is present on first-generation hardware.
Except for the tweaked controls on top, the look of the Move 2 hasn’t changed much. It still has the same shape. And it’s still pretty tall (9.53 inches) and heavy (6.61 pounds) to be considered very “portable,” but at least it has the built-in handle for carrying it around. Like the first Move, it’s really designed to move around different places inside and outside your home, not so much to accompany you to the beach like a traditional Bluetooth speaker.
In addition to the standard black and white options, Sonos offers a green color of the Move 2, and I really enjoyed the olive hue while reviewing it. It’s not too bold, but it’s elegant and not boring. In the box, you get a wireless charging base station and unlike the first time around, this can be unplugged from your wall socket instead of everything being wired. As before, the Move 2 can also be charged via its USB-C port.
On the back is the power button, Bluetooth pairing button, a physical switch for the Move 2’s built-in microphones, and the USB-C port. In keeping with the original, the Move 2 supports automatic Trueplay, which uses the microphones to analyze the speaker’s surroundings and optimize the sound every time you move it to a new location. Hands-free voice controls are possible with both Sonos Voice Control and Amazon Alexa. There are two ways to disable microphones: You can tap a speech bubble button at the top of the speaker to disable voice assistants while keeping features like automatic Trueplay enabled. If you want to turn off the microphones completely, that’s what the rear switch is for.
But Google Assistant remains absent after first being removed from the Era line. Now that JBL offers a speaker that simultaneously runs Alexa and Assistant, I really hope Sonos and Google can put their legal disputes aside and find a way to get Assistant back into the fold. For a certain group of customers, its absence makes the Move 2 not a viable option.
Another aspect of the Move 2 that disappoints me (although to a lesser extent) is that it cannot serve as a speaker for calls. If it works with Bluetooth and has microphones that I already talk to on a semi-regular basis, why not go all the way, Sonos? Many lower-priced Bluetooth speakers and even Apple’s non-Bluetooth HomePods include this feature, so it’s frustrating to see Sonos omit it yet again.
But there are several ways in which the company has favorably expanded the capabilities of the Move 2. Like the Eras, it supports line input (if you buy $19 Sonos USB-C Adapter) so you can connect any audio source, like a turntable, to the speaker and play that content to the rest of your Sonos system. Anything you listen to via Bluetooth can also be synced between the grouped speakers, which is a convenience the first-generation Move lacked. Sonos continues to support Apple’s AirPlay 2 and you can directly control its speakers with music services like Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and many more.
Another new trick is that the rear USB-C port can be used to charge external devices. It delivers 7.5 watts of power, which isn’t particularly fast, but it’s a good alternative if your phone’s battery is running low when you’re listening to music in the park or on the beach, far from any electrical outlet.
The Move 2’s battery life has more than doubled and Sonos says it can reach up to 24 hours of continuous playback. That big jump can be attributed to two things: There’s a larger 44Wh battery inside, and the company also made power-saving optimizations under the hood. The larger battery is backwards compatible with the original Move, but putting it in that speaker won’t magically give you 24 hours of listening time, as the first-gen Move lacks some of the newer efficiency settings.
“Placing a Move 2 battery in an original Move will increase the Move’s battery life by about 25 percent, yielding about 13.5 hours of battery life,” the Sonos spokeswoman told me via email. , Olivia Singer. “Move 2 has a much more efficient system which contributes to further improvements in playback.” Either way, I really appreciate that the battery is easily replaceable to begin with; This ensures a long life for the Move 2 compared to many consumer speakers where the battery will gradually hold less charge over time.
I’ve said more than once that the original Move became my favorite Sonos product overall due to its portability and powerful sound. Upgrading the Move 2 to stereo isn’t a monumental change (a single-unit speaker has only so much separation it can produce), but you can clearly hear the difference. When playing a test file, I was able to easily distinguish the left and right tweeters inside the Move 2. The main benefit of this stereo arrangement is that you won’t have to worry about the details of a song getting lost in the background, as can happen when everything is mixed to mono.
The overall sound signature is faithful to the original Move, meaning the Move 2 still has a tendency to understate the treble; I’m also currently testing the new Ultimate Ears Epicboom in a similar way, and the UE speaker focuses more on those crisp upper frequencies, while the Sonos takes a more unbiased approach. If you want a higher level, it’s easy to achieve using the EQ sliders in the Sonos app. The bass response was more than adequate for my needs, but I can see some people wanting more oomph from the Move 2 when they really turn up the volume.
Among Sonos’ other speakers, I’d rank the Move 2 below the flagship Sonos Five and the Atmos-oriented Era 300. Basically, you get a wireless Era 100 that you can take anywhere, and that’s a tempting idea. Like any of the company’s speakers, you can stereo pair two Move 2s if you want that wider, more immersive presentation that a single unit can’t achieve on its own. But since this is a device designed to be moved, a stereo pair may not be as practical here as with other Sonos speakers.
In that sense, the Move 2 is by no means as “portable” or easy to pack with luggage as a Roam, but it’s no problem carrying it around the house, taking it to the backyard, or stowing it in the trunk when traveling. If you plan to take it on the road constantly, Sonos sells an extremely expensive $79 carrying case. The original Move came with a cloth carrying bag, but this time it’s gone, and Sonos told me its only goal was to keep the speaker protected during transportation and shipping.
If you already own the original speaker, you’ll no doubt be wondering if it’s worth upgrading. In most cases, assuming you’re happy with what Move has offered up to this point, I’d say the answer is no. The original is still an excellent product, especially if you bought it on sale. But if you’re constantly draining the Move’s battery or already have a use in mind for the Move 2’s line-in feature, then upgrading to the new one starts to make more sense. The stereo sound will be nicer and more faithful to your favorite music, but that alone is not enough to shell out more than $450.
As a complete package, Move 2 is a successful sequel that will only get better when you take into account Sonos’ long-term software support. The company needed to take lessons learned from other products to get here, but anyone who loved the first Move will find even greater value in its successor. with a little luck Google Assistant will eventually return. But even if not, the Move 2 offers plenty of features and good enough sound to make it a standout and unique product in Sonos’ hardware lineup.
Photography by Chris Welch/The Verge