American audio device manufacturer Sonos has officially unveiled its latest pair of smart speakers, the Era 100 and Era 300. With these new speakers, the company is promising “a whole new chapter in sound and design innovation”. Judging from its previous products, we’re inclined to believe it.
Sonos’ new Era starts now
If you’re already a fan of the brand, the Era 100 might look a little familiar. That’s by design – as it is a “remastering” of the company’s popular Sonos One smart speaker. Although this time it’s a little bigger. The One has held a spot in our Top Ten Smart Speakers list for most of its life (and for good reason). We think it’s fair to say public expectations are high.
The Era 100 might look similar on the outside but Sonos has new hardware packed inside. There are three drivers in total, two angled tweeters for mids and highs and a bigger mid-woofer for bass frequencies. Those tweeters are meant to give whatever you listen to greater stereo separation – which is harder to pull off than you might think. Simply having more than one driver usually doesn’t cut it.
With the Era 300, Sonos is flouting its renewed love for Dolby Atmos-flavoured spatial audio. Previously, only the Sonos Arc, Arc SL, and Beam (Gen 2) supported the 3D object-based audio tech. Now the Era 300 joins the list, which partly explains its odd design. It sports six drivers in total, four tweeters (one centre, two sides, one up) and two woofers.
Although Sonos calls this a smart speaker, the Era 300’s new spatial audio support probably performs best when paired with another Era 300 and an Arc or Beam Gen 2 soundbar and used as rear satellites in a home theatre set-up. If you want your music to engulf you, only Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music support that.
We’ve always been sceptical about devices that claim to offer spatial audio support, especially when those devices don’t have multiple drivers to back up the claim. We’re still a little apprehensive here but we’re willing to give Sonos the benefit of the doubt.
Make a connection
Both new devices offer the same set of physical and wireless connection options. You’ll want to ditch the cables with these, but they do support a line-in connection. Although you might have to buy the company’s line-in adapter first (sold separately). Both the 100 and 300 support audio from a range of streaming services and have Amazon Alexa functionality built-in.
We’ll have to reserve judgement on how they sound, and if Sonos has hit the mark with its spatial audio implementation until a review unit shows up. But if you have to get yours as soon as possible, they’re supposed to be available from 28 March from the usual places. The Era 100 will cost R6,500 and the Era 300 will ask R11,000.