To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Sonos Era 100 and Sonos Era 300 hands-on review: Two new smart speakers released by wireless audio giant

Sonos' new smart speakers add more spacious sound and higher price tags

Sonos has launched two new smart speakers – the Era 100 and Era 300 – marking what the company calls a new epoch for its wireless audio range. Of the two products, the Era 300 looks the most interesting and introduces an element of spatial audio for the first time in a non-soundbar Sonos product.

Both speakers are available in black or white to match speakers from the rest of the Sonos range, such as the Sonos Move and soundbars such as the Ray, Beam and Arc, and both support the usual range of Sonos technology, namely the Sonos S2 app, multiroom audio, multiple voice assistants, AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth.

READ NEXT: These are the best smart speakers you can buy right now

Also included is the ability to tune the speaker to your room, either using Sonos’ True Play tech (if you have an iPhone) or Quick Tune, using the system’s embedded microphones to perform a similar feat automatically.

There’s a newly revamped control panel on the top of each speaker, with Sonos adding a horizontal touch-sensitive track for adjusting the volume up and down, in addition to the three buttons – play/pause and dedicated skip buttons – so they should be more intuitive to use than before.

There’s also now a physical off-switch for the microphones at the rear of the speakers and, in a nod to sustainability, Sonos says the new speakers are more repairable than previous products, using screws instead of adhesives. As is becoming increasingly more common with tech products these days, the speakers employ nearly 50% post-consumer recycled materials in their composition.

Sonos Era 300 hands-on review: The sound of surround

It’s the Era 300 that most catches the eye here with its unusual design and outlandish audio architecture.

To my eyes, it looks a bit like a high-tech hourglass-shaped drum, squashed and tipped on its side with a stand mounted underneath. At the front is a large, oval-shaped grille, protecting the speaker’s main driver – a surprisingly small full-range compression driver, with a waveguide making up the rest of the front part.

The business end of the Sonos Era 300 lies at the rear of the speaker housing, beneath the grille that wraps around the flared section. Here, you’ll find a number of drivers that enable Dolby Atmos spatial audio reproduction, a pair of side-firing woofers for bass frequencies, another pair of sideways-firing drivers – this time tweeters – mounted behind waveguides to create broad stereo sound dispersion, and one up-firing tweeter to create a sense of height.

With each of the drivers backed by six class-D amplifiers, the result sounded pretty spectacular. However, it’s worth noting that I’ve only listened to the speaker at a Sonos demo – my opinion may change once I’ve had the speakers installed at home. A Paul McCartney track hosted on Amazon Music’s Dolby Atmos service delivered loads of detail combined with a genuine sense of scale and space.

Even more impressive was the demonstration I was given with two of the Era 300 speakers employed as rear channels in a full 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos home theatre setup. With a Sonos Arc soundbar at the front and a Sonos Sub delivering bass, I was shown scenes from Top Gun: Maverick and A Quiet Place and, in both instances, the sense of the sound enveloping me was palpable.

If that’s your plan, though, be prepared to raid your savings because with the Sonos Era 300 costing £449, the price of such a system quickly adds up. Add a Sonos Arc (£899) and a Sonos Sub gen 3 (£799) and the total hits £2,596.

Sonos Era 100 hands-on review: Big sound, small box

The Sonos Era 100 is the smaller speaker of the pair and has a less ambitious design in terms of both its aesthetics and its sonic architecture. Physically, it’s a little smaller than the Sonos Move and a touch larger than the Sonos One SL. It isn’t battery-powered or water-resistant like the Move, which explains the smaller size, but the sound it kicks out is almost as impressive.

Again, you can’t wholly trust a manufacturer demo, but the sound the Era 100 was able to transmit was rich, detailed and surprisingly bassy. The Era 100 doesn’t have the up-firing drivers of the Era 300, but it does have two angled tweeters flanking its single, front-facing woofer, with the aim of producing a broader soundstage than the Sonos One.

In my demo, the sense of spaciousness wasn’t quite as impressive as on the Era 300 but it did sound remarkably good and, at £249, it’s considerably more affordable than either the new Era 300 or the Sonos Move, although it is £50 pricier than the Sonos One.

READ NEXT: These are the best smart speakers you can buy right now

Sonos Era 100 and 300 hands-on review: Early verdict

Both of Sonos’ new speakers are pricey, then, but if first impressions are anything to go by, Sonos enthusiasts will be keen to lay their hands on them as soon as they’re available. I can’t deliver a final verdict on sound quality just yet but in demos, both sounded pretty darn good and the Era 300 was particularly impressive employed as a rear speaker in a Dolby Atmos setup.

Both speakers will be available from 28 March 2023 in the UK, at £249 for the Era 100 and £449 for the Era 300.

Read more

First Look