Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 review: worth the money?

WhatsApp
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Print

Table of Contents

Picture of Ted Kritsonis

Ted Kritsonis

Sonos era 300 and 100 speakers

Sonos is the established frontrunner when it comes to multiroom audio, and it tends to repeatedly update its speakers to last for years. The Era 100 and 300 will surely continue the trend, only they also represent a shift in focus both in how they look and how they play. This review highlights those prospective changes while making the case they may be worth listening to.

Sonos Era 100 and Era 300
4

Summary

Sonos products tend to be built to last. The Era 300 is a small speaker that acts like a big spatial audio speaker, so if you want to be able to crank the volume up, this is the one. The Era 100 is a solid high-quality speaker in its own right, great for small spaces.

Pros

  • High quality
  • Long lasting
  • Compact
  • Great sound

Cons

  • On the pricey side

Sonos Era 100 & Era 300 review

These are two speakers that serve somewhat different purposes. The Era 300 brings spatial audio to the Sonos ecosystem, giving you the chance to listen to audio with a simulated surround sound effect. The Era 100 won’t do spatial audio, but it becomes the best option for an entry-level Sonos speaker or where to start if you want a full-on surround sound setup in mind for your living room or basement.

Both feature re-engineered components, including new outer shells and a commitment to broader connectivity. You lose out on talking to Google Assistant, leaving Amazon Alexa and Sonos’ own limited voice assistant as the only other options. 

There’s a lot to like for either speaker no matter if you’re new to Sonos or looking to replace or expand your existing system.

Design and setup for the Sonos Era 300 and Era 100

Sonos Era 300 front

The Sonos Era 300.

The Era 300 stands out by its very design — a concave body purposefully built to pump sound out in different directions from the six drivers inside. You have tweeters facing forward, left, right and upward to deliver the spatial audio effect, with better woofers to produce thicker bass. In order to hear anything in spatial audio, the content needs to be in Dolby Atmos and from a source supporting it, like Amazon Music and Apple Music. While Tidal offers Dolby Atmos tracks, Sonos has yet to bridge the gap to make them equally compatible.

Sonos Era 100 front

Sonos Era 100.

The Era 100 is essentially the successor to the Sonos One, only with a few major differences. Beyond the cylindrical design, it plays in stereo, not mono, thanks to two tweeters and a midwoofer to take things up a notch. It has no chance of matching the output or volume of the Era 300 unless you buy two and stereo pair them together for distinct left and right channels. Go even further by pairing those with a Sonos Arc or Beam soundbar and you have a surround sound setup for your TV. 

Setting these speakers up isn’t hard, even if you’ve never done it before. Once you’re up and running by connecting either one to your home Wi-Fi network, you can then customize certain things. Use Trueplay on the Sonos app to tune the speaker, which is easy on an iPhone because you can wave it around a room where the phone’s microphone will pick up tones bouncing back from the walls and ceiling to measure the acoustics. It’s not possible to do this with an Android phone, but Sonos added a built-in Trueplay feature that automatically makes adjustments based on playback within a room. The phone method is more precise, but in lieu of borrowing a friend’s iPhone to do it, the built-in mode is the next best thing.

 

Staying connected

Sonos Era 300 back ports

Sonos is finally embracing Bluetooth as an alternative, so if you’re looking to stream audio to either speaker without Wi-Fi, it’s easy to do here. The USB-C port in the rear (of both speakers) works with a Sonos adapter to enable Ethernet or Aux-In ports, so when you plug it in, you can also play music from a wired connection.

With Wi-Fi on, AirPlay 2 makes things easy for iOS and Mac users, while top music streaming apps also recognize these speakers for quick playback. Given Sonos’ legal issues with Google, you lose out on Google Assistant access. Technically, both speakers have the components necessary to run it, but until the two resolve their differences, you won’t be able to ask Google anything. I should note that the legal issues don’t affect Sonos speakers that previously supported the voice assistant.

Instead, you get Alexa, which works like it always has, along with Sonos’ own voice assistant, where you’re limited to few commands controlling playback. The onboard microphones are excellent in hearing you clearly from a reasonable distance, so there are no major functional issues there apart from the one missing choice among them.

How do they sound?

Sonos Era top 300

Sonos generally delivers on promises of good sound, and that’s no exception with these two. The Era 100, in particular, is an audible upgrade over the Sonos One, not just because of the stereo architecture, but also because it produces a more vibrant sound. You don’t even have to go that loud to notice it. That’s why if you’re looking to upgrade from the One, you won’t go wrong with the Era 100. If you have two Sonos Ones as rear speakers for a surround system, I would also consider making the move to these. If money is no object, you can also do the same by putting two Era 300s back there.

But the Era 300 really shines on its own too. It’s loud, clear and consistent, holding off distortion at louder volumes. Not that you need to blast it because it has significant juice anyway, but the beauty of it is it plays any musical genre with real verve. You can make adjustments using the equalizer in the Sonos app if you feel it needs something extra, giving you some flexibility in tailoring the sound the way you want. 

I do recommend using the speaker to listen to hi-res audio as well, like the HiFi or mastered tracks you see in Apple Music, Tidal HiFi, Amazon Music and Qobuz. These higher quality streams sound great with the Era 300, though it’s important to remember that hi-res audio is separate from spatial audio. Hi-res tracks play in stereo.

As far as spatial audio goes, the pickings are a bit slim at the time of this review, simply because the platforms supporting it don’t have a lot of tracks coded in Dolby Atmos. That’s likely to change over time, but it’s a key consideration if you’re looking to buy the speaker for that primary reason.

The verdict: Sonos Era 300 and Era 100 review

Sonos’ products tend to last for years, so there’s not much to worry about as far as the viability of these speakers goes. The Era 300 doesn’t replace any particular speaker in the company’s lineup since there’s nothing quite like it, unless you’re looking to upgrade from another speaker for your living room, basement or any room where you want to entertain and be entertained. It’s not worth getting it if you can’t at least raise the volume a little to feel its presence, regardless of whether it’s stereo or spatial audio. 

The Era 100 is an excellent speaker in its own right, and may be the one you go with if you want some music in the bedroom or kitchen, though it can be perfectly fine in any other room, especially if you live in a tighter space. It’s the kind of speaker that fits right in, say, in a condo or apartment with a small living room. 

Shop Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 from Sonos, Best Buy or Amazon.


Leave a Comment





Author's Recommendation

Ring Alarm Pro
Smart Home
Erin Lawrence

Ring Alarm PRO in-home review

We’ve reviewed a lot of Ring products in the past, and this time, we tried to full 8-piece Ring Alarm Pro system and plan. See our review here.

Read More »
A Trusted Source for Technology Reviews

What We Do

We share honest, 100% hands-on reviews, and we’ve been around since 2013. 

No jargon, no specs or speed tests. Our reviews are written for REAL people just like you.

Our only goal is to help you make savvy buying decisions.

How We Review

  • Test in real homes
  • Hands-on testing 6-12 hours over 1-2 weeks
  • We are fair & balanced; sharing pros AND cons
  • We answer the questions you have
  • Giving you the info you need to make your own choice

Expert Reviews of

  • 1,000+ total devices
  • 69+ vacuums & robot vacuums
  • 50+ speakers
  • 30+ health & beauty devices
  • 15+ sound bars
  • 60+ TVs & streaming gadgets
  • 25+ smartphones
  • 55+ headphones/earbuds

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve published content on over 1,200 topics including over a thousand product reviews. We do only hands on testing with 100% of the gadgets. We give you the truth about tech, and any time we are paid to publish content we are 100% transparent and let you know it. Plus we only accept sponsorship for gadgets we’ve tried or believe in—and believe YOU’D find useful too.

With over 80,000 YouTube Subscribers to our video reviews, we are a trusted resource you can often find in YouTube’s Recommended Videos.

Join my newsletter for gadget news and Giveaways!