This year, Sonos has released its new range of smart speakers that aim to convey bigger, multi-dimensional audio in a smaller and more attractive package. The two models launched in recent months are the Era 100 and Era 300, with the new naming convention of the range marking a new generation of the company’s famed multi-room smart speakers. Softer Volumes captured a closer look at the two models to better understand the design and features of these next-gen home speakers.
Sonos’ previous most popular speaker was the Sonos One, a small bookshelf speaker that was widely regarded as outputting rich audio in a well-designed form-factor. The Era 100 builds on this legacy, keeping almost the same footprint, but with a more tapered grille and a taller body.
The tapering is to help this small speaker output stereo sound, giving the impression of having two speakers, without cluttering the room.
The more premium offering is the Era 300, which is brand new for Sonos. It features a sinched waist that flairs out, as well as a flat speaker grille on the front, which is to facilitate a Dolby Atmos/Spatial Audio effect.
Spatial Audio is the next frontier in sound, and represents the biggest dimensional shift in audio since stereo speakers were invented almost a century ago. Rather than just having sound come from left and right channels, Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos utilises surround sound as well as upward firing channels to better surround the listener and give artists more tools. There aren’t very many Dolby Atmos speakers available that are tuned for music, because most Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers are sound bars, designed for movies and TV. The other mainstream Spatial option is the second-generation Apple HomePod, which came out earlier this year.
The Era 300 can be used by itself, in a stereo pair, or as rear speakers as part of a surround sound system.
Both speakers work with the broader Sonos ecosystem, and can be controlled using the Sonos app for multi-room audio for users that have other Sonos speakers throughout their home. In addition to that, they can be used as Amazon Alexa speakers. New to the Sonos in-home range is Bluetooth and USB-C connectivity, so they can be used with both smartphones and record players through the line-in adapter (sold separately).