Cleaner head self-adjusts to carpet height
Fluff and hair gets stuck in canister
Auto-incline has a learning curve
Doesn’t work on high-pile carpet
Instantly recognizable as part of the Dyson clan, the Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 is the descendant of a short but highly influential line of overachievers and sweeping (get it?) success stories. Since the ’90s, James Dyson and his merry band of engineers have been rustling feathers in the vacuum industry, leaning in on commercial behemoths like Hoover and Bissell. Inspired by the failures of what was on the market—most notably how vacuums would lose suction as their filters became more clogged with dust—Dyson threw everything he had into designing a better vacuum from the ground up. Since inventing the now-ubiquitous bagless vacuum, Dyson has expanded into air purifiers, hair care products, and more. Considering the company captured almost $1.5 billion in annual profits (yes, profits!) in 2018, we’d say the hard work paid off.
For our review, we wanted to see if the Ball Multi Floor 2, sold as a thoughtfully engineered godsend for housekeeping, could pass the ultimate test of an upright vacuum: a very shaggy new rug, three cats, and our stubborn resistance to change.
Setup Process: Don’t skip the instructions
We, like you, are only human—as in, impatient humans, who don’t always immediately read user manuals, warnings, or any of the included literature when we open boxes of new and exciting things like the Ball Multi Floor 2. We just rip open the packages, empty the contents in a heap, and fumble around trying pieces together until it seems like they fit as intended. Just like you. Fortunately, the assembly for this vacuum is almost impatient-human-proof, but Dyson was kind enough to print the assembly instructions in Ikea-simple glyphs in two places, as well as write them out for us in the included literature. For the record, Dyson recommends that you not follow our lead and instead read the safety guidelines in the operating manual before you do anything.
Assembly involves clicking the cleaner head onto the front of the ball, sliding the wand handle into place until it clicks, sliding the extension wand all the way down into the hose (so both align vertically behind the wand), and then snapping the tools in place around the duct. It wasn’t entirely intuitive—there were some fumbles—but we figured it out eventually, and it didn’t explode when we turned it on. Reading the assembly instructions afterward confirmed our work, but you could learn from our mistakes and save yourself some fumbles by looking at the instructions first.
Design: Compact and intuitive
After reviewing many other vacuums, our first thought when we pulled the Multi Floor 2 out of the box was, “Well, that’s different.” There are a lot of imitators out there, and just about everyone has adopted the transparent mounted dirt canister by now, but the cyclone filter, the silver volleyball for a base, the cheerful yellow—it’s all very iconic Dyson.
This particular model is the more pared-down version of the Dyson Ball series, emphasizing weight and maneuverability over attachments and industrial-strength suction. There aren’t even that many choices to make or buttons to push while vacuuming. The cleaner head self-adjusts to floor and carpet height, the handle inclines with pressure instead of a pedal or button, and the locus of suction automatically switches from the cleaner head to the hose when the handle is in the upright position. Many of the vacuums we’ve tried require you to turn handles and knobs for any of those changes to happen, and we really liked this more reflexive approach to operation.
Asthma and allergy sufferers will be happy to know that the Multi Floor 2 is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
The signature Dyson ball is engineered to make corners easily, but it isn’t just a pretty, swiveling face. This is where the motor magic—and the 182 unique Dyson patents—comes in. The Dyson engine is digital instead of electric, which, according to the company, means that it emits none of the carbon dust an electrical engine would. This also means that it is able to spin at 98,000 RPM at half the size and weight. To put that in perspective, jet engines spin at about 17,000 RPM. We aren’t sure about the weight claim—at 15.6 pounds, the Multi Floor 2 still seems average to heavy for an upright—but it does seem like a lot of power packed in a small container.
Asthma and allergy sufferers will be happy to know that the Multi Floor 2 is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The entire machine acts as a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, trapping dust and allergens once they’ve been vacuumed up. Of course, that doesn’t address the issue of releasing them back into the wild when you empty the dirt canister, but it’s a start.
The transparent dirt canister contains Dyson’s signature cyclone assembly (Advanced Radial Root Cyclone technology, to be exact), organized radially around a washable filter. The design directs airflow in a way that maximizes suction and also, importantly, looks like an upturned futuristic bundt cake pan. With regular rinsing and drying, the filter should last for the life of the vacuum (or at least the duration of the five-year parts and labor warranty that Dyson extends with the vacuum).
The accessories—an extension wand, combination crevice and brush tool, and stair tool—fit securely to the vacuum base when not in use. The hose, though plenty long, compresses like a slinky and fits vertically along the back of the handle rather than draping over it and adding bulk. The extension wand is stored down inside the hose when not in use. That’s the most space-efficient spot for it, but the vacuum gets really noisy when it’s in the upright position and the air is flowing through the hose instead of the cleaner head. We suspect the extension wand placement is responsible for at least some of that noise.
Cleaning Performance: Great performance for almost every surface
We tried the Multi Floor 2 out on a variety of surfaces and rug piles and were overall very pleased with the performance and suction. It was great at picking up dust and larger debris like cereal from almost every surface—emphasis on “almost.” If you have a lot of very high-pile carpets, this is not the vacuum for you. The self-adjusting cleaner head just can’t lift high enough to counteract the amount of suction the machine puts out, so the vacuum creates a—um—vacuum with the carpet. That’s not to say that it’s impossible, but it’s a bit like moving through mud. It does help to turn off the brush roller. We will say this: We couldn’t believe how much cat hair we’d harvested from the high-pile carpet, once we muscled through it. The results may have been hard-won, but they’re great results!
It was great at picking up dust and larger debris like cereal from almost every surface—emphasis on ‘almost.’
Though no pet-specific tool is included with the vacuum, the stair tool performed beautifully at the ultimate pet hair challenge—picking up unbelievable amounts of fur from a velvet couch. Here’s the thing about vacuuming up a lot of pet hair with the Multi Ball 2, though: The dirt bin is supposedly 1.89 liters, but the “full” line occurs rather low on the canister. We made it through a few area rugs and a couch before it was stuffed to the gills with carpet fluff, dust, and cat fur.
The filtration system occupies the majority of the dirt canister, so the fluffier things got wedged in between the filter and the wall of the canister and wouldn’t budge. There was barely room to do it, but we had to scoop the fur and fluff out by hand. Ew. To avoid this, keep a very close eye on the level of dirt in the canister while in use.
Size/Portability: Engineered to move
At 15.6 pounds, the Multi Floor 2 isn’t light, but it’s manageable. It helps that it’s bottom-heavy; the majority of the weight is condensed into the ball, so it’s easy to turn with less force, and there’s little risk of it tipping over. You can pick up the machine by the handle on top of the dirt canister—even though this was designed to separate from the rest of the machine, the connection and grip felt secure when we carried it this way.
Noise Level: Not terrible, but not the best
Considering the cleaning power it has, the Multi Floor 2 is reasonably quiet. It would be impossible to silence a furiously spinning brush entirely, but when you turn off the brush (for bare floors or delicate carpets), the suction alone is about the same noise output as a large hairdryer. With the brush noise added in, think more along the lines of a rumbly box fan than an Airbus turbine. The caveat here is that once the handle has been moved to the upright position, the airflow redirects to the hose, and this is actually pretty loud. The air screams through the handle’s slotted airflow cap, so the sound is really directed toward the user, too.
Ease of Use: Expect a little learning curve
There’s a bit of a learning curve with this one. Kudos to James Dyson and his team for not being afraid to reinvent the wheel (or … the ball?), but we the people can be a bit resistant to change, even when it’s logic-based. Though different from other vacuums we’ve used, the motion of the ball joint was a fairly easy transition, as it makes turning objectively easier (and subjectively more fun). The reclining action of the handle, though, was hard to get used to. Like the first few times you drive a car with sensitive brakes, we kept pulling back on the handle a little too hard, assuming the machine would stay upright, only to have the handle release suddenly into the reclining position. There’s no button or pedal to depress to unlock the handle when upright—it just drops back automatically when you exert minimal backward force. It’s a little surprising if you’re used to tipping a vacuum back on its hind legs to roll it to another location. One of the testers disliked this feature so much, he nearly refused to continue using it.
We actually liked using this vacuum, and something that makes you enjoy a chore seems worth $400 to us.
The other learning curve here applies to the dirt cup. The ones we’ve encountered so far have one button that releases it from the rest of the vacuum and another button at the lip of the bottom of the cup that flips open the trap door so you can empty the dirt. The Multi Floor 2 combines these buttons: You push it to release the cup from the handle and push it harder to release the trap door when you’re over a garbage can. We don’t have a guess as to why the Dyson company felt this way was better than two separate buttons. We don’t think it saved any weight, and the first time we tried it, we accidentally released the dirt we’d just vacuumed up onto the floor in front of the trash can. Did we mention you should consider reading the instructions first?
Price: Higher-end, but reasonable
Currently retailing for around $300-$400, the Ball Multi Floor 2 isn’t exactly cheap, but with the amount of engineering that’s gone into it, that price doesn’t feel unreasonable. While not perfect, there are a lot of reasons that we prefer the Dyson to any of the other vacuums we reviewed. Its simplicity is deceptive—everything is refined to be exactly where and what it needs to be, and nothing feels like a burden. Most of all, we actually liked using this vacuum, and something that makes you enjoy a chore seems worth $400 to us.
Competition: Pared-down is not the only way to be
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean Pet Vacuum Cleaner: The Multi Floor 2 is pared-down and designed for maneuverability without the bells and whistles. If it’s bells and whistles you want, though, Dyson has those, too. The Ball Animal 2 Total Clean is made with the pet owner in mind and accessorized to the teeth. The stair tool included with the Multi Floor 2 removed fur amazingly well from all sorts of upholstery textures, but the Total Clean includes other very useful attachments like a bendy multi-angle brush (perfect for the tops of curtain rods, high shelves, and ceiling fan blades) and extraordinarily specific attachments like a dedicated mattress tool (to remove dust and allergens from, yes, mattresses). There are six tools total, and Dyson includes a smart little tool bag to keep them organized without weighing down the actual vacuum when not in use.
Shark APEX DuoClean with Zero-M Self-Cleaning Brushroll Upright Vacuum: Though they definitely have a different approach to marketing and design (less industrial innovation, more QVC), Shark is also a fairly new-to-the-scene vacuum company. The APEX DuoClean’s dirt canister can be detached from the upright base and carried around like a handheld vac, extending your reach and getting it into tight, crowded spots.
Yes, go for it!
On top of the great cleaning performance, Dyson’s Ball Multi Floor 2 was actually a fun vacuum to use, and anything that gets “fun” and “chores” into the same sentence is a resounding yes in our book. You’ll pay a little more for the innovation, but if it’s in the budget, we think the Multi Floor 2 is a very good buy.
- Product Name Ball Multi Floor 2
- Product Brand Dyson
- MPN 227633-01
- Price $399.99
- Weight 15.6 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 15.59 x 13.39 x 41.93 in.
- Dirt Cup Capacity 1.89 L
- Cord Length 31 ft.
- Maximum Reach 40 ft.
- Warranty Five years (parts and labor)
- What’s Included Extension wand, combination tool, stair tool