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Hands-on: Sonos' new Era 300 and Era 100 smart speakers sound impressive

By Kenny Yeo - 12 Mar 2023

Hands-on: Sonos' new Era 300 and Era 100 smart speakers sound impressive

Note: This feature was first published on 7 March 2023.

Behold, the new Sonos Era 300 on the left and Era 100 on the right.

I don’t remember the last time a product was leaked as badly as Sonos’ new Era 300 and 100 speakers. The leaks were spot on. While it certainly means there’s someone at Sonos who can’t be trusted to keep secrets, knowing the specifications of a product is just half the story – particularly for speakers. We also need to hear it. And that’s exactly what I did a few weeks ago at a special preview event.


The Era 300

The Era 300 has what Sonos calls a "cinched hourglass design."

The Era 300 is the bigger speaker of the two and was designed to be a single speaker capable of delivering spatial audio. To do that, it features six drivers that fire sounds in all directions. There’s a single forward-firing mid-tweeter, two side-firing mid-tweeters, an upward-firing tweeter, and two woofers that handle the bass output.

It’s a medium-sized speaker – neither particularly large nor what you might consider compact. It has what Sonos calls a “cinched hourglass design.” To my eyes, it looks like an oval cylinder placed on its side. Like most of Sonos’ other devices, it’s an elegant unobtrusive-looking thing and shouldn’t look out of place at all in homes. 

As ever, Sonos expects most users to use Wi-Fi to stream music to this speaker and so it supports the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard – but not Wi-Fi 6E. You can stream music over Bluetooth 5.0 too, but note that doing so will reduce audio fidelity since Bluetooth is a lossy means of transmission.

Slide your finger on that horizontal stripe to adjust the volume.

There’s a USB-C port that you can use with a Sonos adapter to either connect to the Era 300 over a traditional 3.5mm connection or an Ethernet cable. Sonos didn’t say if you could output music digitally to the Era 300 over USB-C and I didn’t get to try doing that. Finally, Apple users will be happy to know that the Era 300 supports AirPlay 2.

It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from the way a speaker sounds in an exhibition-like environment and with unfamiliar music, but it’s plain that the Era 300 has a big sound that belies its size. Even in a fairly large room, it sounded clear and authoritative. Bass, in particular, is very strong and punchy. And with spatial audio music, it sounded surprisingly wide and open. It seems the directional tweeters work. 

The Era 300 can also be used as rear surrounds in a home theatre setup and I got the chance to hear them in that capacity paired with an Arc soundbar. Again, the entire setup sounded pretty good. On the Dolby Atmos test track, the setup sounded sufficiently wide and you could easily make out where sounds were coming from.

This should be an easy sell for existing Sonos customers particularly given the increasing focus and emphasis on spatial audio. If you are looking to upgrade from a Sonos One or perhaps thinking of getting something to complement your existing Sonos setup, the Era 300 is certainly worth a good look and listen.


The Era 100

The Era 100 is much more compact speaker and is great for bedrooms or homes with space constraints.

The smaller of the two is the Era 100 and it was designed to replace the old Sonos One. While the old Sonos One had a slightly cuboid form factor, the new Era 100 takes the form of a cylinder. This is a much smaller speaker than the Era 300. The Era 100 only measures around 13cm wide and 18cm tall. Like the Era 300, the Era comes in black and white, and because of its diminutive size, will easily slot into most homes. 

One big upgrade that the Era 100 has over the old Sonos One is that it’s capable of true stereo sound. That’s because it now has two tweeters. They are angled to the sides and are helped by waveguides to “disperse” sound and create a wide soundstage. Lower frequencies are handled by a single mid-woofer.

The horizontal indent at the top makes it easy for users to adjust the volume of the speaker by touch.

The first time you hear the Era 100, you won’t believe it’s coming from a speaker of that size. It sounds like it’s coming from a much larger speaker. What’s more impressive is that I was listening to it in a fairly large hall, and even, it sounded full-bodied and clear with very little distortion. It's ability to fill a room will likely impress many who are looking for a high-quality smart speaker for their homes.

Connectivity is identical to the larger Era 300. There’s support for Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and Apple AirPlay 2, and there’s a USB-C port in which you can plug an adapter to play music over a 3.5mm connection or Ethernet. 

For many who are curious about the popularity of Sonos, the new Era 100 looks like a great place to start. And even if you are not going to invest heavily in a Sonos setup and simply want a smart speaker to pipe tunes in your house, the Era 100 also looks like a decent option given its compact size and ability to fill a house with sound.


Availability and pricing

The Sonos Era 300 and Era 100 are priced at S$799 and S$449 respectively and they will go on sale later this month on 28 March.

You can pre-order them right now at the TC Acoustic online store or at the TC Flagship Store at Adephi. 

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