Sonos Move vs JBL Boombox (2020): Choosing A Powerful Portable Speaker

When it comes to power in portable speakers, size truly matters. With the extra heft, larger speakers will definitely be louder and more suited for larger parties or gatherings, whether indoors or outdoors. Battery life is, as expected, longer too. It’s this power in performance that helps the Sonos Move and JBL Boombox standout against a sea of other portable speakers. But which one is the better choice?

Sonos Move vs JBL Boombox Comparison Chart

ModelSonos MoveJBL Boombox
Sonos Move - Battery-powered Smart Speaker, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with Alexa built-in -...JBL Boombox - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Battery Life10 hours playback time24 hours playback time
ChargingCharging base, USB-C Cable, USB /AC Power Adaptor (3 hours)AC Power Adaptor (6.5 hours)
Weather ResistantIPX56 dust-proof and water-resistantIPX7 waterproof up to 3 feet for 30 minutes
USBYesYes
BluetoothYesYes
WifiNoNo
Voice AssistantOnly through smartphone integrationBuilt-in Alexa Amazon and Google Assistant
ColorsBlackBlack and Green
Dimensions9.45″ X 6.30″ x 4.96″10.02″ X 19.49″ x 7.70″
Weight6.61 lb11.57 lb

Design

The Sonos Move brandishes a sleek, minimalist design while the JBL Boombox takes inspiration from the Boombox of the 80s and 90s with its muscular body and built-in handle.

Sonos Move vs JBL Boombox
The side profile of the Sonos Move (left) is framed by streamlined lines while the Forest Green variant of the JBL Boombox (right) evokes the feel of the outdoors.

Both the Move and Boombox are relatively large, portable speakers. Nevertheless, the JBL Boombox, which weighs a little over 11 pounds, is easier to carry with its built-in handle. The Boombox also looks like a sturdy mini-barrel that’s perfectly suited for the outdoors. In contrast, the Sonos Move revels in its minimalist aesthetic. Its seamless cylindrical shape and eggshell-like finish allows it to effortlessly blend in any location. It’s also lighter at just under 7 pounds.

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The Boombox’s durable waterproof fabric translates to an IPX7-rating. It’s definitely great for pool parties or beachside events, and worry-proof in case you forget it outside in the rain. On the other hand, the Sonos Move comes with an IPX56 rating, making it resistant to water, dust, and other elements. Although it can handle water splashes here and there, it’s definitely not a speaker you’d want submerged in water. Both the Move and the Boombox, however, will handle bumps and falls fairly well.

Because of the sleek aesthetic the Move aims for, the speaker features top-panel touch-capacitive controls. It leaves the top of the device with a smooth and clean look, with the three buttons for the Bluetooth/Wifi, Join, and Power cleverly hidden at the back. The Boombox, on the other hand, houses the controls on the front face of the speaker, including the Connect+ button to pair with other JBL Bluetooth speakers. The rest of the connections are in a panel are housed in the back.

Sound Performance

The Sonos Move’s mono speaker and sculpted sound signature boasts a robust audio performance. On the other hand, the JBL Boombox delivers booming bass and expansive sound for the outdoors. 

A closer inspection shows the discreet touch-capacitative controls for the Move (left) and the user control panel on the front-face of the Boombox (right). 

Just like the boomboxes of earlier decades, the JBL banks on power and a booming bass. This full-range sound is achieved through two forward firing 0.75” tweeters, flanked on both sides by 4” woofers that are powered by 60W (AC mode) or 40W (Battery mode) amplifiers. The result is powerful audio performance that offers deep bass when indoors, and a more expansive sound outdoors. It definitely packs a punch when it comes to the bass, and boosts it where it can. True to JBL’s signature sound, however, the Boombox can still deliver an overall balanced audio performance that keeps the mids and highs crisp.

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The Move delivers an equally robust audio performance, following Sono’s signature, mono and sculpted sound. Two Class D-amplifiers power the Move’s single down-firing tweeter and mid-woofer driver, all stealthily hidden behind the speaker grille that makes much of the device’s body. The setup ensures fidelity for mid-range vocal frequencies, and an impressive performance at high volume levels. Noticeable in both the Boombox and the Move, however, is the use of DSP to thin out the bass levels at the top of the volume levels.

Connectivity

The Sonos Move includes WiFi connectivity while the JBL Boombox counts on Bluetooth-enabled devices to stream music. 

Sonos Move vs JBL Boombox
The back view of the two speakers display streamlined power buttons and discreetly tucked USB ports.

Unlike the JBL Boombox, the Sonos Move brands itself as a Smart speaker. True to the form, the Move comes with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. Beyond controlling music, these voice assistants afford users hands-free control to carry out tasks like setting alarms, asking for weather or traffic updates, and controlling smart home devices.

JBL’s Boombox can also carry out hands-free communication but only when paired to a smartphone. Both speakers come with their respective apps: the Sonos Controller App, and the JBL Connect app, available in Android and iOS.

The Move is also capable of connecting to a WiFi Wireless Network, allowing users to bring music anywhere in the house wirelessly. In network mode, the Sonos Move can also access a range of online music services and libraries, making the playlist you want from Spotify, Apple Music, or Soundcloud readily accessible. The JBL Boombox, on the other hand, will only stream music from your Bluetooth-enabled devices.

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Battery Life

The Boombox delivers a full-day of playback time on a single charge while the Move offers a more modest 10 hour performance.

Here’s a look at the side profiles of the Sonos Move (left) and the JBL Boombox (right).

Since they are larger than most portable speakers, the Sonos Move and JBL Boombox boast of longer battery life. Thanks to its massive 20,000mAh battery, the Boombox can provide 24 hours of playback time on a single charge (6.5 hours). The speaker’s dual USB-A port also means you can charge two external devices, perfect for times you don’t have a power bank or cannot connect to a socket outdoors.

Sonos Move delivers a more modest 10 hours of playback time, with a battery that can easily be recharged by simply docking the device into a futuristic, oval charging base—no wires needed. Charging the Move takes about 3 hours.

Verdict

The Sonos Move is ideal for users looking for a portable smart speaker they can move inside the house while the JBL Boombox is the perfect companion for audiophiles looking to take their music anywhere. 

Although the Sonos Move can withstand water splashes, and extreme heat and cold, it’s definitely not the portable speaker you pack in your bag and bring to rugged terrain. For the more adventurous music lover, the JBL Boombox rugged build makes it more water and weatherproof. The Boombox also boasts of a 24 hour playback time on a single charge, perfect if you’ll be isolated in a campsite or by the beach without easy access to electricity.

The Sonos Move, however, will appeal to users who need a smart speaker capable enough for casual indoor and outdoor use. Its sleek, minimalist design makes it easy to carry around inside the home, and outside—to the garden, patio, or poolside. Plus, its built-in voice assistants makes it a practical, household appliance for people who prefer hands-free control to carry out non-music tasks.

For the casual listener, the Move and the Boombox both deliver impressive audio performance. If you’re willing to spend an extra $100 for a sturdy device you can use for outdoor events or out-of-town travel, opt for the Boombox. If you’re a homebody looking for a portable speaker with smart features, then the Sonos Move should please even with the shorter battery life.

Last update on 2020-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mari Bassig
Mari Bassig