Sonos is ready for change.
Two changes, to be precise: the Era 100 and Era 300, a pair of home speakers that replace the Sonos One and Play:3 in the company’s line-up.
This is no mere name change though – they’re the first signs of a newer, less stubborn Sonos. One willing to include Bluetooth on its home speakers (even though quality is worse than its preferred Wi-Fi), finally roll Trueplay out on Android, and even allow direct line-in (via a USB-C dongle sold separately, but hey – progress is slow sometimes).
The $249/£249/€279 Era 100 is the simpler of the two speakers. It’s a pretty direct follow-up to the former Sonos One, and an evolution of that speaker’s architecture.
The biggest change has been borrowed from the Sonos Move portable speaker, with the two tweeters now splayed slightly with a wave-guide aperture in front to create a wider dispersion of sound. The idea is to kill the ‘sweet spot’, making it less directional so that the Era 100 sounds just as great from anywhere in the room.
The $449/£429/€499 Era 300 is more of a ground-up redesign – you won’t find much evidence of the old Play:3 in its innards. Designed to support Dolby Atmos from the outset, its back half is tilted ten degrees forward to fire sound up and into the room, creating an unusual hourglass shape in the process.
It’s an impressive effect, capable of creating a wave of sound that washes over the room, masking its actual source. Both speakers sounded predictably excellent in my brief demo, but the real test will be putting them through their paces at home for our reviews.
Eco-friendly design improvements to both include lower power consumption in standby, the use of almost 50% post-consumer recycled plastics, and a shift to screws over glue to improve repairability. Even the layout of the button controls has been tweaked to be a little more intuitive.
Both speakers support the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard, and the not-so-latest Bluetooth 5.0. That means for once you’ll be able to directly stream to the speakers over Bluetooth, something Sonos has refused to include on its home speakers in the past over quality concerns. Now it thinks consumers deserve the option – or is fed up with every Sonos review listing ‘no Bluetooth’ in the list of cons.
Each also has a single USB-C port on the rear. Sonos will separately sell dongles to allow you to connect either a 3.5mm audio-in or an Ethernet cable (or both) via USB-C. It’s a little frustrating to see both these connections reduced to add-ons you have to pay extra for a la Apple, but it does mean there’s flexibility here that didn’t exist before.
The company is also meeting consumers in the middle on Trueplay. In addition to the iPhone-only ‘manual’ Trueplay tech it’s had for years – which allows you to tune your speaker’s sound for the room it’s in – you can now use QuickTune to tune the speaker’s sound using its own microphones.
Sonos describes this as a halfway-house between Trueplay proper and the automatic version it introduced for the Sonos Roam and Move, and it has an important benefit: Android phone owners can use it too. Sadly it won’t be rolled out retroactively, so you’ll need to buy one of the new Eras to take advantage.
As before, the Era 100 and 300 can be combined into stereo pairs or linked up with Sonos soundbars and subs to create surround sound home theatre systems. Both go on sale on 28 March from Sonos and select retailers.
Not sure which Sonos speaker to buy? Check out our best Sonos speakers buying guide.