After weeks of rumors and leaks, we can reveal that the Sonos Era 300 and Era 100 wireless speakers are finally official.
Sonos Era marks a brand new range for Sonos, consisting of the all-new Era 300 spatial audio-focused smart speaker and the Era 100 (a reinvented Sonos One) smart speaker.
Both speakers share many of the key features: Wi-Fi (specifically Wi-Fi 6) and AirPlay 2 for streaming music, Sonos voice control, and Alexa support. You also get Bluetooth 5.0 in non-portable Sonos speakers for the first time (they support the standard SBC and AAC codecs) and the potential for wired connections using the USB-C line-in connection.
If you want to connect a turntable or other source to the Era speakers, you must purchase the Line-In Adapter and the Sonos Combo Adapter separately. On the plus side, these adapters cost just £19 and come in black or white to match the Era 100 and Era 300.
The new Era models can also be used as stereo pairs, as surround speakers in a home theater setup, and can handle audio files up to 24-bit/48kHz from streaming services Qobuz and Amazon Music.
Both Era speakers have new top-panel interfaces with capacitive touch controls, including a new volume slider or ‘trough’, and both work with the Sonos S2 app for more features. These include multi-room system grouping with other Sonos products, music playback from supported streaming services and Sonos Radio, and Trueplay room correction tuning available for iOS and, for the first time ever, Android users.
In addition, Sonos has put a lot of thought into the durability and longevity of its new products. The Era speakers are easier to repair and fully serviced by Sonos thanks to more screws than glue used in their construction; they’re made with “a high percentage” of post-consumer recycled plastic (more than 40 percent, Sonos claims); and they use less power (less than 2 watts) in idle mode.
Sonos Era 300
Where the models differ is in design, use and price. The Era 300 was specifically designed for spatial audio playback with Dolby Atmos tracks, with Sonos’ chief product manager Ryan Moore stating during our press briefing: “The goal with Era 300 was really to provide the best stand-alone spatial audio experience from a single speaker.”
It has a unique hourglass design that looks different from any other speaker on the market. That’s because of the unusual acoustic architecture it houses. Inside are six drivers (four tweeters, two woofers) with custom waveguides that fire sound forward, upward, left and right to surround you with music. Each of the six drivers is powered by its own Class D amplifier.
The Era 300 can also be used as Dolby Atmos rear speakers in a surround system with the Sonos Arc or Beam Gen 2 soundbars and a Sub – a feature sure to appeal to AV fans.
Oddly, at the time of launch, Sonos states that the Era 300 “only currently supports Dolby Atmos Music through Amazon Music Unlimited”. With Sonos placing such an emphasis on spatial audio with Dolby Atmos playback, we’re sorry it doesn’t support the format of other music streaming services, especially Apple Music or Tidal, at launch.
We hope this will be resolved soon, and in response to our question about this issue, Sonos seemed to confirm: “Today, Era 300 does not support Dolby Atmos Music on Tidal. Over time, we will continue to add more listening choices and partners, but we have no further information today. We will add support for spatial audio through Apple Music soon.”
Sonos era 100
The Era 100, meanwhile, is a completely redesigned Sonos One. Moore claimed during our briefing, “There isn’t any part of Sonos One in the Era 100.” Replacing one of the most popular wireless speakers is no small feat, but with the One Gen 2 released in 2017, it was clearly time for a refresh.
The biggest difference is that the Era 100 now delivers stereo sound (to the One’s mono). Inside the speakers are two angled tweeters with custom waveguides designed to deliver “detailed stereo separation” and a 25 percent larger woofer that promises deeper bass. Three class D amplifiers power the drivers.
Unlike the Era 300, Sonos claims the Era 100’s small form factor doesn’t do justice to spatial audio/Dolby Atmos tracks, so you’ll need to opt for the Era 300 if you want the full spatial audio experience. However, the Era 100 can be used as rear speakers with a wider range of Sonos soundbars: Arc, Beam Gen 1 and Beam Gen 2, and Ray.
Sonos Era prices and availability
Price? Sonos has previously priced the new Era speakers on the premium side compared to current rivals. The Era 300 costs £449 / $449 / €499 / AU$749, while the Era 100 costs £249 / $249 / €279 / AU$399.
That’s higher than closest rivals HomePod 2 (£299 / $299 / AU$479) and the outgoing One (currently £180 / $220 / AU$320) respectively – but whether the Era speakers will live up to their potential remains to be seen yet to be seen. Both models go on sale March 28 and come in black or white finishes.
We’ll be getting samples of both Era speakers in our listening rooms very soon, so stay tuned for full, official reviews in due course.
Read our Sonos Era 300 hands on review for our first impressions
Here is everything you need to know about Sonos
And everything you need to know about spatial audio
Read our Apple HomePod 2 review
And here’s our original Sonos One review
Sonos Era 300 vs Apple HomePod 2: How do these smart speakers compare?
Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: which smart speaker is better?