It’s easy for us to like new speakers when the designers clearly differentiate their concepts from existing options — a non-trivial task given that hundreds of companies are churning out speakers these days. Led by the former owner and senior designer of Gear4, a small new developer by the name of NudeAudio has released a set of simple Bluetooth 3 speakers under the “Move” name — Move S ($50), Move M ($70), and Move L ($100) grow in size and speaker power as their prices go up, promising a constant eight-hour battery life. This quick review today looks at all three together.
Move S is the simplest model in the bunch, a rounded near-square shape measuring roughly 3” by 3” by 1.4”, and offered in either light gray/green or dark gray/coral red color combinations. The upper corner arrives with a knotted ring of thick colored rope attached immediately alongside small power, volume, and Bluetooth pairing buttons. A thick silicone ring lines Move S’s side edge and wraps around its back, protecting it against drops but not water intrusion. Although it looks like it could be hung in a shower, it’s really designed to be pocket-safe, with small audio-in and micro-USB holes on its edges.
Move M has the same shape and general design as Move S, but jumps to a 4” by 4” footprint with around the same thickness, corner rope size, controls and ports. Unlike S, which has a very plasticky front speaker grille with varying-sized holes, Move M has a more traditional fine-perforated grille that feels like painted metal, plus a tiny hole on top to let a small microphone breathe through. M is the only model in the series with speakerphone functionality, and comes in the same colors as S, with the same black micro-USB cable for charging. The speakerphone is—like most Bluetooth speakerphones we’ve tested—not quite the equal of the integrated iPhone 5-series noise-canceling system in microphone performance, but entirely acceptable, and a little louder than the speakers built into current iPhones; it can be heard outdoors in light wind, though callers may tell you that you’re a little harder to hear. Audio is bassy and pleasant.
Move L is different from its smaller siblings in a few ways. Measuring around 9” wide by just over 4” tall and 2.7” deep, it has the physical volume of roughly five Move M units placed together, using a molded-in rubber bottom foot to keep the speaker upright. Although the design language isn’t hugely different from Move M’s—same colors, same top buttons, same rope in the corner, and same audio-in port on the left side—the execution makes them very different speakers. Move M could easily dangle from a wire hanger if necessary; Move L would pull it apart. Here, the metallic speaker grille is on both the front and back, contributing to a very heavy and substantial chassis that can easily be gripped and moved around but not really worn on one’s wrist.
This is the only speaker of the bunch that actually features dual front-facing speaker drivers for stereo sound, as well as a bass radiator to enhance low-end performance; the other models are both single-speaker designs with monaural sound. Move L also has a side-mounted full-sized USB port capable of recharging a self-tethered device, though NudeAudio doesn’t specify on its web site how much power you can really expect, and the output is capped at a sub-optimal 0.5-Amp speed. It’s the only model in the bunch to include a wall charger, however, and ships with four international wall blade sets that enable it to travel across the globe; you give up a micro-USB interface to get this feature, though. And finally, lest you think that Move L is entirely bigger and better than M, it notably gives up M’s speakerphone functionality for some reason.
There’s one constant across all three speakers, and that’s general sound signature. Not surprising given the single-driver designs, Move S and M are pretty flat-sounding speakers, perceptually focused on mids and bass unless you hold them upright and point their front grilles directly towards you. Move S only begins to sound stronger in treble when the modestly bassier Move M is placed next to it, but they’re very comparable in peak volume—only for near-field listening, really—and maybe a step better than the speakers you’d hear in FM radios. Both worked fine within the promised Bluetooth 33-foot broadcasting radius.
Move L is similarly mid- and bass-focused, though nowhere near as flat thanks to a dramatically richer bass driver and some—not a lot—of stereo separation. By $100 speaker standards, Move L is actually a pretty good-sounding system, falling short of being able to fill a small room but sounding quite respectable for near-field listening. On the other hand, it’s markedly larger than the leading portables we’ve seen in its class over the last year. Yes, it outperforms the new $180 Jawbone Mini Jambox and its Jambox predecessor in peak amplitude, frequency response and obviously price, but it’s around six times the size, closer to a Big Jambox in physical volume but not in power.
Overall, Move S, Move M, and Move L are all worthy of general recommendations, though Move L is the best of the bunch—apart from its larger size and lack of speakerphone functionality, it would be a good rival to many of the top $80-$100 small speakers we’ve tested recently, and merits a B+. Move S and Move M are smaller and less expensive, but you give up a lot of audio performance with each one to achieve their enhanced portability. Pick M only if speakerphone functionality or a little extra bass matters to you; otherwise you’ll get very similar audio at a higher price. Both are worthy of flat B ratings.
Move S and Move M
Company and Price
Compatible: All Bluetooth-Equipped iPads, iPhones + iPods