The Sonos Era 300 is the latest high-end speaker from Sonos, which you can use as an independent speaker or for your surround set for your television. The speaker is designed with spatial audio in mind, but does it impress? You can read it in this review of the Sonos Era 300.
Sonos recently launched two new speakers: the Era 100 and the Era 300. The two speakers are an addition to the current Sonos range. In addition, the Era 100 is the more affordable version, which can best be compared to the Sonos One . The considerably more expensive and high-end Era 300, on the other hand, is more comparable to the Sonos Five. But the Era 300 has various advantages and extra options that you will not find on the Sonos Five. At the same time, Sonos also wants to compete with other high-end smart speakers with the Era 300, including Apple’s own HomePod . Did that work? You can read it in this review of the Sonos Era 300.
Sonos Era 300 in brief
These are the most important features of the Sonos Era 300 in short:
- High-end smart speaker from Sonos
- Supports spatial audio playback via Dolby Atmos, including via Apple Music
- Six drivers around the front, sides and top, four tweeters, two woofers
- Sound adapts to environment thanks to Trueplay tuning (fast or advanced)
- Works with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or wired line-in (with an adapter)
- Supports AirPlay 2
- Support for Sonos Voice Control voice control and Amazon Alexa (both in English), no Google Assistant
- Choice of black or white
- Price: €499,-
Design Sonos Era 300
The Sonos Era 300 has a unique appearance without being too noticeable, as we are used to from Sonos. The speaker has a bit of a megaphone shape, with it tapering from the middle. It is actually best compared to a djembe drum lying on its side. The front consists of a grill with all the holes where the sound comes out, as well as the second half of the side. This allows the sound to go in all directions, which contributes to the spatial audio. What we like is that there is no fabric covering for the speaker holes. That was sometimes the case with previous Sonos speakers, such as the first-generation Beam, but Sonos has abandoned that for a while. This also makes it much easier to keep clean.
You place the speaker upright on two beam-shaped rubber feet. It is not the intention that you place the speaker in a different way, as is sometimes possible with other Sonos speakers. There are special stands and wall brackets for sale, but the speaker should always be placed with the convex side forward, with the feet at the bottom. We think the design takes a bit of getting used to. The shape is less traditional than you would expect from a speaker and is somewhat larger in size than, for example, the HomePod . With a size of 26 centimeters wide, 18.5 centimeters deep and 16 centimeters high, it is still fairly compact, especially when you notice how much powerful sound comes out of the speaker. But more on that later.
At the back, plug the 90-degree power cable into the speaker. The advantage of this is that you can place it more easily against a wall. The power cable can be detached and is long enough to hide the speaker, although because of the spatial sound it is not the intention that you put it in a bookcase, for example. It is best to place the speaker freely on a table or cabinet. For a desk, we find the speaker a bit on the large side and also a bit too much of a good thing. We also find a USB-C port at the back (for the adapter for a wired line connection or Ethernet), a Bluetooth button and a switch to disable the microphone by hardware. That gives a nice feeling if you do not use a voice assistant.
The Era 300, like so many Sonos speakers, is available in both white and black. We have tested the white version and it actually works very well, although we can imagine that a black version might be less noticeable. It just depends on what suits your interior and where you put it. If it stands on a dark-colored table or dresser, a dark version might be a bit nicer. Although we also like the contrast between the white speaker and a dark table.
On top you will find touch-sensitive buttons to control the music. In addition, a small notch has been made for the volume buttons, so that you can more easily turn the sound up or down by touch. But honestly, we never use the touch-sensitive buttons on Sonos speakers. You can turn it off when you don’t use it.
Audio quality Sonos Era 300
You will immediately notice that this is a high-end speaker as soon as you play music on it for the first time. We have been fans of the audio quality of Sonos speakers for years and in that respect this Era 300 does not disappoint either. The speaker is equipped with six drivers all around, has four tweeters and two woofers. Thanks to these advanced components, the sound sounds very full and powerful, without losing details. What plays an important role in this is the support for spatial audio. The speaker, like recent TV speakers such as the Sonos Arc, supports spatial audio via Dolby Atmos. In recent years, Dolby Atmos has become increasingly common and we see it returning more often. Not only with your AirPods , but also with the HomePod or even your iPhone ,iPad and Mac . But one Dolby Atmos is not the other, as this Era 300 proves once again.
The spatial audio on the Sonos Era 300 sounds truly amazing. Depending on the music track, you can clearly hear the different directions the music is coming from. This gives an enormous spatial feeling, as if you are standing in the middle of a concert hall or intimately in a small theater (depending on the music). We have never experienced Dolby Atmos in this way before, because you really notice the difference here. You are more immersed in the music, while it never sounds fake or exaggerated. You hear details in music that you didn’t hear before and you sometimes get to know (or even appreciate) certain music tracks in a new way.
But: to be able to benefit from spatial audio at all, you must be a subscriber to a suitable music service. At the time of writing, there are only two: Apple Music and Amazon Music. The former will be the first choice for most users. It’s a shame Spotify isn’t supported, but that’s entirely Spotify’s fault. After all, that service does not support spatial audio or lossless audio at all. Incidentally, you can only play spatial audio if you play music directly on the Sonos Era 300 via the linked music service and not via AirPlay . You will therefore often have to use the Sonos app and we are not always a fan of that.
Comparison with HomePod
You might be wondering, how does the Sonos Era 300 compare to Apple’s own HomePod, that other spatial audio speaker. We can be brief about that: the Era 300 sounds much fuller, more beautiful, more extensive and simply better than the HomePod. What we also noticed is that the sound can be a lot louder with the Era 300, without the sound being disturbed or distorted. You will never use the maximum volume with the Era 300, while that sometimes happens with the HomePod if you really want to go wild. With the Era 300, the maximum volume is simply too loud for most rooms.
It is not surprising that the Era 300 sounds so much better than the HomePod. The price of the Sonos speaker is about € 150 higher than the HomePod and you immediately notice that in the audio quality. The Sonos speaker contains more and more advanced audio components that contribute to better sound quality. Apple does not (yet) have a speaker in this category in its range, so it cannot really be compared.
You can also connect the Era 300 as a stereo pair for extra powerful and full sound. But honestly, we don’t really think that’s necessary if you’re just using it for playing music in a single room. A second copy is recommended if you want to use it as a hi-fi speaker for your entertainment set. You can connect the Era 300 to a Sonos Beam and possibly combine it with a Sonos Sub for extra bass. But in that case it might be wise to opt for two Era 100 speakers from a price point of view. Unfortunately, we have not tested the Era 300 in a stereo setup, but we can imagine that it is a bit exaggerated for the average living room.
Other functions Era 300: voice control, Bluetooth and more
Sonos calls the Era 300 a premium smart speaker, but it’s not really that smart. It does not have its own voice assistant by default. You can add it manually via the Sonos app, but the options are very limited. In the Netherlands you can only opt for the Sonos Voice Control, which is nothing more than voice control for your music. You can therefore only give music-related assignments and that is a pity. The Era 300 also works with Amazon Alexa in countries where it is available, but Dutch is not available there either. Other speakers from Sonos do support the Google Assistant in Dutch, but unfortunately this assistant does not work with the Era 300 (or the Era 100). It is a missed opportunity that the options are so limited, because that makes the speaker a lot less smart.
The main way to connect to the Era 300 is via Wi-Fi. But the speaker also has an option for Bluetooth. This is especially useful for visitors who want to connect quickly, without having to provide the WiFi password. This does not make the Era 300 a wireless speaker, because you do need power via the socket. You can connect to a device via Bluetooth via the button on the back.
In addition, it has a USB-C port. This is not intended to connect your iPhone to it wired, but for, for example, a record player with a 3.5 mm input. The required adapter costs €25 via Sonos. It is a pity that this has to be done via an adapter again, but as Apple users we are actually used to that.
Finally, some attention to the Sonos app. You use the app to link the Era 300 to your account for the first time. That is very simple. The app immediately recognizes the speaker when you are nearby, similar to how Apple does with the HomePod. It is therefore not necessary to scan a chip via NFC or to use other complicated connection methods. After that, we prefer to simply use AirPlay 2 to stream the music, but for Dolby Atmos you have to use the Sonos app to use the linked streaming service directly on the speaker. We find that interface significantly less useful than Apple’s own Music app. We also often received the message that no service is linked to the Sonos. This was easily remedied by restarting the app, but practicality is different.
Trueplay tuning is also available to further optimize the sound. You can now choose two variants: the advanced version where you have to walk through the room with your iPhone upside down and the fast version. The fast version produces slightly less good results, but is a lot more user-friendly. In addition, you can also use Trueplay in combination with an Android device for the first time. The advanced version requires an iPhone or iPad. We have still opted for the usual method, but the extra option is always nice to have.
Conclusion Sonos Era 300 review
The Sonos Era 300 is a great high-end speaker with fantastic sound. Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos really makes the difference with this speaker and lets you discover suitable music in a new way. Unfortunately, not all music has yet been made Dolby Atmos-ready (and the range is still growing), but if you do have the right record, it is a pleasure to listen to it. The speaker also sounds good without Dolby Atmos, with a full and balanced sound, with deep bass sounds as well as high notes and vocals sounding crystal clear.
In terms of design, it takes some getting used to, because not everyone will be charmed by the somewhat unique design. But thanks to the housing, beautiful speaker holes and sleek finish, you really have the idea that you have a high-end speaker in front of you. The size is a bit large for a desk, but for the sound that the speaker produces, it is not too bad for us.
The Era 300 is therefore a great high-end speaker, but Sonos also presents it as a smart speaker. Unfortunately, the speaker is not exactly smart: there is no Dutch voice assistant available for it and the English Sonos Voice Control is only there for music-related assignments. So no general knowledge questions or questions about the weather. That makes the Era 300 not exactly a smart speaker, but one that sounds damn good. The question is whether the suggested retail price of € 499 is not on the high side. If you really care about good music quality and often listen to music at home and are a big enthusiast, we think the price is justified.
- Excellent sound quality, especially thanks to spatial audio and Dolby Atmos
- Relatively compact, especially for this sound quality
- Unique and sleek design of high-quality materials
- Play music via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or wired (via adapter)
- Very limited voice control options
- Wired connection and Ethernet requires adapter
- Dolby Atmos support limited to Apple Music and Amazon Music
- Sonos app slow and clunky at times