Sonos Era 100 and Era 300: 5 key takeaways
Sonos has announced the addition of the Era 100 and Era 300 speakers to its range. Here's everything you need to know.
Sonos has announced a new family of devices in its ever-expanding arsenal of speakers. The Era speakers will launch in Australia on 29 March in 2 variants: the Era 100 and the Era 300.
Ahead of the announcement, Finder was present at a Sonos press briefing in Sydney where senior manager Richard O'Carroll was on hand to provide further insights. He described the Era 100 as an evolution of the original Sonos One speaker. The Era 300 was described as a revolution.
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While many of the new features of the 2 devices are shared, the Era 300 brings a new form factor to the Sonos range. It delivers an option for audiophiles interested in spatial sound. As such, it's not considered a replacement for the Sonos Five, which focused on more conventional audio.
Here are my 5 key takeaways from the event.
1. Bigger sound
As the heir to the Sonos One throne, the Era 100 ups the stakes in terms of sound with 3 class-D amplifiers. There's now a second tweeter, upgrading the output from mono to stereo. The bass woofer is also 25% bigger, delivering a deeper and more refined low end. The results from my initial time with the device suggest impressive audio. A very clear and distinct soundscape, with warming depth.
The Era 300 is loaded. You'll find 6 class-D amplifiers inside: 1 forward facing and 1 firing upwards. The left and right sides both get a mid-tweeter and bass woofer, pumping waves through the premium grill.
Walking about the room while listening to music engineered for spatial sound creates the desired effect. No matter where you are, the audio remains consistently clear and empowered. The bass in particular is fantastic.
During the demonstration, a movie was also played – Top Gun: Maverick. A couple of Era 300s behaved as rear speakers, joining the Sonos Sub and the Sonos Arc for a 7.1.4 surround sound set-up. The results were extremely impressive, making good use of Dolby Atmos to deliver a cinema-like experience.
2. More accessibility
I've been critical in the past of the way Sonos forces users to use its app and rely on local Wi-Fi networks to work. The app may provide the optimal experience, but it's not always the most user-friendly. So it's exciting to see Bluetooth 5.0 support arrive for both the Era 100 and Era 300.
This gives important flexibility and opens up the speakers for use with a wider variety of devices. I'm particularly keen to see how a PlayStation 5's 3D audio sounds on the Era 300 when I get more time with the device.
Furthermore, there's now a USB-C port. This isn't used to power the device – you'll need a wall outlet for that. But it's a futureproof line-in option for those who want to connect devices directly. During the event, this was demonstrated via a USB-C-connected turntable playing vinyl.
Voice control support is enabled for both speakers via a far-field microphone. It utilises advanced beamforming and multichannel echo cancellation. It can be deactivated for privacy if desired. And an adaptor can be purchased that allows for an ethernet cable to connect directly to both the Era 100 and Era 300 via USB-C.
3. Android users finally get Sonos Trueplay
One of the strongest features Sonos presents to consumers who commit to their range of speakers is Trueplay. For newcomers, Trueplay is a cloud-driven, AI equalizer that reads not just the space, but the way sound reflects off materials in a room. It can then auto-adjust the sound curves to give you the best listening experience. It's even smart enough to optimise many speakers at once if you have additional Sonos devices as part of a room's set-up.
To date, this feature has been limited to iOS owners. It's only via the iOS app that an accurate measurement of sound can be taken as you move your phone around a room. For the Sonos Era, Android users can get access to this feature. It's not via an app but via a receiver on the device itself.
This isn't quite as accurate as being able to move about the space with an iPhone but it's a lot better than nothing.
4. Sonos and sustainability
I'm not convinced that consumers are making purchasing decisions yet based on a product's sustainability. I wish they were, but I suspect cost of living pressures negate that for many Australians at present. It's still a positive then that so many tech companies continue to invest in more sustainable manufacturing processes and products, Sonos included.
For Sonos, sustainability starts with the packaging, which has next to no plastic. The devices are made from 41% (Era 100) and 48% (Era 300) post-consumer recycled plastic too. Both speakers require less power to run than previous Sonos speakers. And I love the fact they've used screws instead of adhesive to hold it all together. If something breaks, you can get into it and fix it rather than having to replace the whole device.
5. Price and design
Sonos has revealed that the Era 100 costs $399 in Australia and the Era 300 costs $749. This is consistent with what we've seen across the Sonos range to date. By comparison, the Sonos One is $319 at the time of writing and the Sonos Five is $799. I can confirm the Sonos One and One XL will continue to be sold while stocks last.
As for the design, the Sonos Era 100 is slightly taller than the One, but otherwise, there is little difference at a glance. Get closer and a discrete USB-C port can be found on the rear. Meanwhile, on top, a reworked volume control – where you slide your finger up or down a shallow groove – does away with the awkward buttons of previous Sonos models.
The Sonos Era 300 obviously presents the biggest departure in shape, but the look and feel remain very much in line with the broader family of speakers. Think smooth surfaces relatively free of ports, dials or buttons. An elegant grill. A finish that's soft and expensive to the touch. Despite its somewhat awkward shape, the Era 300 is balanced and remains very still even when playing heavy bass.
Neither the Sonos Era 100 or Era 300 have the outdoor weatherproof features of the Roam.
Interested in upgrading your audio? Check out our list of the best speakers in Australia.
How much are the Sonos Era 300 stand?
The stands used for the Sonos Era 300 are unique to that speaker. The Era 300 stand comes in both black and white options. It costs $249 for one, or $449 for two in Australia. In the below image, you can see the bottom of the stand.
When I asked what it had on the bottom of the stand to aid traction, a Sonos representative told me: "The Era 300 stand has padded support at the bottom and a weighted base to enhance stability."