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Sonos Era 100 review: A brilliant wireless speaker – at a price

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £249
inc VAT

The Sonos Era 100 is fantastically competent but it is a little on the pricey side


  • Superb audio quality
  • Android users can access room tuning now
  • Works beautifully in a multi-room audio system


  • Expensive
  • “Stereo” audio not very convincing

If you’re in the market for a smart multi-room audio system, you’ve probably heard of Sonos. The company has been producing fantastic wireless speakers and systems since the early 2000s and, if the Sonos Era 100 is anything to go by, it will continue to do so for some years to come.

Not only does the Era 100 sound brilliant, it’s also easy to set up, flexible and works beautifully with other Sonos products. It also, unfortunately, comes with a significant hike over the product it’s replacing, costing £249 where the Sonos One was £199. However, there’s certainly plenty to like about the new speaker.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best wireless speakers to buy

See price at John Lewis

Sonos Era 100 review: What do you get for the money?

What exactly does the Sonos Era 100 provide, then, that the Sonos One doesn’t and is it worth the money? First up, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t stereo pair a Sonos One with an Era 100 or mix and match the two speakers in a surround sound home theatre system, so if you already own a Sonos One, you’d be better off getting one more of those while they’re still available to buy.

However, the Sonos Era 100 does have more features – you can Bluetooth stream to it for starters and it supports stereo audio output, too – so if you’re buying to extend your Sonos system to another room, then the Era 100 is the better choice.

Either way, the Era 100 should fit into your home just as nicely as the One and the design, although different, remains as pleasingly minimal as ever. The Sonos Era 100 is shaped as a slightly ovalised tube with a metal grille wrapped around the front. It measures 120 x 131 x 183mm, weighs 2kg and build quality is superlatively solid, while a rubber foot running around most of the base means it’s not shifting, wherever you happen to place it. For those wanting to wall or stand mount it, there’s also a threaded tripod mount.

As for the control scheme, that’s where we begin to see the differences between this speaker and the Sonos One. The most obvious change is the addition of a sunken touch-sensitive track for adjusting the volume, replacing the separate – and rather cryptic – volume buttons of old. This is in addition to a play/pause button, track skip controls and mic toggle.

Look around the rear of the speaker and you’ll find more additions: there’s a physical microphone on/off switch at the rear of the speaker near the base alongside a Bluetooth pairing button at the top. You can also connect an analogue external music source via the speaker’s USB-C port, although you will need an adapter.

And, there’s plenty of new stuff going on beneath the surface as well with twin angled tweeters flanking a central woofer that’s capable of creating stereo audio from a single speaker.

Sonos Era 100 review: How easy is it to set up and use?

Whether you have an existing Sonos set up or not, the Era 100 is as simple to set up and get going with as any other Sonos wireless speaker. You download the Sonos S2 app, sign up for a Sonos account, if you don’t already have one, and the app will then detect the speaker for you and step through the set up procedure.

As with other Sonos speakers, you can take this opportunity to optimise the speaker to your room’s acoustics via Sonos’ Trueplay tech. You have two choices here: Quick Tuning or Advanced Tuning. The quickest to carry out is (unsurprisingly) the former. This plays a quick sweep tone and uses the speaker’s built-in microphones to measure the way the sound waves are reflected off nearby objects and surfaces, tweaking the EQ automatically to ensure a balanced sound.

Quick Tuning is a new addition for the Era 100 and can be used whatever phone you own where previous iterations (aside from the automatic tuning on the Sonos Move, required you to own an iPhone. This is now called Advanced Tuning and Sonos says it is still the most precise way of tuning the Era 100.

This takes a bit more time to complete – around a minute and involves walking around your room waving your phone up and down slowly while the same sweep tone plays from the speaker. The aim is the same – to tweak the EQ to achieve the most balanced sound.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best wireless speakers to buy

I tried the Quick and Advanced tuning methods and, while both improved the sound over a non-tuned speaker, Advanced Tuning delivered a cleaner sound with tighter bass and more spaciousness. In my room, I found the Quick Tuning method delivered a sound profile with slightly tubby mid and upper bass-frequencies. If you don’t own an iPhone and want to make the most of your Sonos Era 100, then, I would suggest you find a friend who does.

If you don’t like the tuning either of the Trueplay options delivers, you can still tweak the EQ yourself, although the controls aren’t particularly granular: you get Bass, Treble and Loudness controls and that’s your lot.

The next part of set up is to add any music services you may be subscribed to. I added Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp and Amazon Music but there’s a huge selection of other supported services, from Tidal to Qobuz. You can also add your own music servers if you have them.

If that doesn’t sound particularly impressive to you, it’s worth knowing that all these services are fully integrated within the Sonos UI so there’s no need to hop around from service to service to find the music you want to listen to. It’s even possible to build playlists within the Sonos app that draw on multiple sources, with songs from, say, Spotify, Amazon Music, Bandcamp and network servers combined.

Finally, you set up which voice assistant you want to use and there’s a choice of three here: Google Assistant, Alexa and Sonos’ own voice assistant. The Sonos voice control (‘Hey Sonos’) is mainly for music search, volume and playback control – you can also use it to search for and play music on Amazon Music but this function isn’t supported on Spotify, so you’ll need to use one of either Google Assistant or Alexa to do that.

Once you’ve set up the speaker, the Sonos’ app is brilliantly easy to use and, in particular, makes it child’s play to play music in multiple rooms simultaneously or move music from one speaker to another. Having all your music and radio services in one place is a godsend and no other multiroom or smart speaker manufacturer does it quite as well. And, if you own a Sonos soundbar, it’s also worth remembering that you can also set up a pair of Era 100 speakers to use as your rear channels for full surround sound.

See price at John Lewis

Sonos Era 100 review: How good is the sound quality?

Audio quality, as we’ve come to expect of Sonos speakers over the years, is beyond reproach. The Sonos Era 100’s bass doesn’t quite go as deep as on the second generation Apple HomePod but there’s a bit more body to mid-range frequencies, more solidity and heft to the upper bass and there’s oodles of crisp detail in the upper reaches.

It’s at home with a wide variety of music genres, too. Six by Seven’s Eat Junk Become Junk was delivered with suitable muscularity, the droning, distorted guitars underpinning a forceful, energetic performance that never veered into harshness.

There was a real authority to the way it belted out the acoustic guitar on Declan Zapala’s Philomena, too, with plenty of timing, attack and impact without missing out on the ambience of the piece.

Orchestral works such as Mozart’s Requiem sounded suitably magisterial and Melody Gardot’s silky vocals on My One And Only Thrill were captured with the richness and texture the song rightly deserves. Push up the volume and the Era 100 remains composed, too.

Despite the speaker’s angled tweeters, however, the Era 100 did not wow particularly with the width of its presentation, despite the presence of left- and right-firing tweeters. Even on tracks with very different left and right channels, such as David Bowie’s Space Oddity or The Gift by The Velvet Underground, I struggled to separate the left and right channels.

See price at John Lewis

Sonos Era 100 review: Should you buy one?

If you’re looking for one smart speaker for your home there are better value options than the Sonos Era 100. The second-generation Amazon Echo Studio is cheaper, for instance, sounds pretty good, although it lacks the control of the Sonos Era 100 at the low end.

For iPhone owners, meanwhile, the second-generation Apple HomePod delivers comparable audio quality but has better integration with other Apple products, including HomeKit and the Apple TV 4K.

However, there’s no denying the elegance with which Sonos brings together multiple music sources in its app, and the flexibility the Sonos Era 100 delivers as part of a larger Sonos system is second to none. That, combined with its support for multiple voice assistants and its superb all-round sound quality, means the Sonos Era 100 is right up there with the best smart speakers around.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best wireless speakers to buy

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