Speakers in 2023 shouldn’t just sound good. It should have a beautiful design and, preferably, in harmony with the interior. It also has to be usable wirelessly, whether it’s mobile control or the speaker itself is completely cable-free – in other words, portable.
It should also be “smart” in the sense that it has a built-in voice assistant that can help you with everything from sending messages to checking the weather forecast or turning smart lights on and off at home. It also helps if you’re not a hi-fi expert to play music or audio.
With a Sonos speaker, you can usually tick most of the points on this list.
They recently launched two new speakers, the Era 100 and Era 300. We tested them both.
IKEA first with this
From one to 100
The first, the Era 100, replaces Sonos’ smallest wired speaker, the Sonos One, which was introduced in 2017. The newcomer looks relatively similar, but is a bit taller and somewhat narrower in circumference.
The most interesting news on the Era 100 is that the speaker has switched from a single speaker element to two, making it capable of delivering stereo sound. The bass elements are also somewhat larger than before, so there is more impact when playing music.
Very distinctive design
On the other hand, the Era 300 is a brand new soundbar from Sonos. It positions itself between the era’s 100 and largest speakers, the Sonos Five.
The most remarkable thing about this is the design. Hourglass shape with two partially conical ends.
This isn’t just for looks, but was done specifically so that the speaker can deliver what’s called “spatial sound,” room-appropriate sound. Also called 3D sound, it means that the sound spreads out in different directions and eventually surrounds you.
Apple uses the same in its audio products, including the latest AirPods and HomePod speakers.
Not exactly cheap
Like most Sonos products, the new speakers are on the more expensive end of the scale.
The Sonos Era 100 has been given a suggested retail price of NOK 2,799 (up from NOK 2,299 in the Sonos One), while the Era 300 will cost NOK 4,999. At the same time, the Sonos Five is slightly more expensive than before, now costing NOK 6,499.
Is it worth paying for? Well, a lot of people pay 13-14-15k for a smartphone, so a speaker for a third of the price might not be too bad all things considered?
Slaughter a new fist
In terms of sound, at least we have nothing to complain about.
The undersigned have Sonos One speakers standing in many rooms of the house for years, including the bathroom, home office, and as part of a home cinema setup with the oldest Sonos soundbar (Playbar) in the living room.
The Era 100 is simply a better alternative. It’s almost surprising how much sound comes out of it – now also in stereo, which makes the sound come through much better. And yes – there is definitely more bass.
On the other hand, the era of 300 is great. It’s a pleasure to listen to, whether it’s driving pop songs from Dagny, sumptuous soundtracks from Hans Zimmer and John Williams or the new Metallica.
The sound spreads through the room, and the sounds come in a completely different way than we have heard before. The dynamics are great, the sound is nice and full, and the bass is nicely balanced. Here we actually dare not go so far as to get the neighbors of the terraced house on their necks.
As far as room-conditioned sound is concerned, the possibilities are currently somewhat limited. Sonos has already put support for spatial audio through Apple Music (which few people in Norway use) and Amazon Music (which no one in Norway uses?).
Unfortunately Spotify does not support this yet.
You’ll also need to play it via the Sonos app—AirPlaying via the Apple Music app won’t work.
Not smart enough
One of the best things about the Sonos speaker is that you can use it with ease regardless of whether you have an iPhone or an Android mobile phone. It supports most music services, so it doesn’t matter if you prefer Spotify, Tidal, or something else.
The Era 100 and 300 both have support for Wi-Fi streaming, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, and USB-C, so the playback possibilities are plenty. Setup is also a simple form.
Admittedly, the Sonos app is flawless. We sometimes struggle to get a gapless boot to work. On side B of Abbey Road, “You Never Give Me Your Money” should get into one, but it stops between tracks. However, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is played continuously.
Sonos also has microphones built into the speakers for voice control via Sonos Voice Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Google Assistant is not in place, as there is an ongoing dispute between Sonos and Google over patents and ownership of the technology.
This is exactly what we think is Sonos’ weak point. We don’t get much from it in terms of smart functionality like the HomePod, for example. With Sonos’ own assistant, we can only control the music, not turn Philips Hue lights on and off, ask about the weather or add items to a shopping list, for example.
We see many people think the Era 100 is the new standard when it comes to smart speakers, but right now we don’t think they’re quite there.
Few manufacturers are still able to charm us like Sonos. Sound, ease of use, design – most of it is taken care of.
– Better than its predecessor with stereo
– the loudest
– easy to use
– A bit expensive
Not perfect as a smart speaker
Era of 100 is a solid sequel to the same. It doesn’t quite reach the HomePod in terms of sound, but then Apple’s speakers also cost a thousand more.
Unique and exciting design
– Great sound
– easy to use
The Era 300 is, quite simply, one of the most exciting things we’ve heard in a while. Sonos speakers cost a little extra, but the ease of use you get with the purchase is something no one else can match.
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