Sonos Era 100 Review: The New Smart Speaker Standard

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I’ve never really admired Sonos’ speakers for their actual sound quality. Sure, the prior Play One and Five series speakers, the company’s soundbarssubwoofer, and even the portable Roam sound perfectly decent. But the main draw of a Sonos speaker is the technology behind the grillBoasting integrations with Alexa, Apple, Google, and virtually every music streaming service worth mentioning, the multiroom-capable system is the most convenient way to listen to everything, everywhere, all at once.

With the new Era 100, Sonos finally wipes the floor with competitors when it comes to sound quality too. With stereo tweeters and a more advanced room tuning feature, this is a single speaker that easily holds its own with everything but more expensive two-speaker systems. If you’re in the market for a compact all-in-one speaker, the Era 100 is easily the best one I have ever heard. I would happily spread them around my home like wildflowers if I was shopping for a way to fill my home with sound.

The Era Era

The Era 100 looks familiar. It matches the second-generation Sonos One and One SL speakers in both size and shape. This makes sense, given that the previous models already had a sleek design that easily blends into most rooms, and given that Sonos is dedicated to keeping its previous products relevant, both visually and technologically, for years and years.

The Sonos Era 300

Photograph: Sonos

Sonos also recently released the Era 300, a new Dolby Atmos speaker that is larger and more expensive. The Era 300 replaces the Sonos Play: 3which was discontinued before this revamp. Those speakers are still supported, but it’s worth noting that the company previously got in a bit of hot water over discontinuing support for other early models. That said, technology for smart speakers has come a long way since those early models Sonos was forced to mothball, and in my experience, the company does its best to keep its products functioning for as long as possible. Later-gen Sonos speakers all still work fantastically together.

The rectangular Era 100 speaker comes in black or white. It has a volume slider on top, as well as a play-pause button, so you don’t have to pull out your phone to do the simple stuff. The slider is a welcome  change that many users reportedly asked for. The speaker has a rubbery foot that means it will stick to nearly any surface you place it on. For those who dislike voice assistants, there’s a switch on the back of the speaker, alongside its USB-C input, that lets you physically disable the built-in microphone.

Pairing and setup are super easy. Pop out your phone, download the Sonos app, and add the speaker to your user profile. You can tell the Sonos app where in your house the Era 100 lives, make groups of multiple speakers, and connect to  all of your favorite streaming apps. I like how easy it is to integrate with Spotify and Alexa (the streaming service and voice assistant I use). The speaker also has shockingly good microphones for voice controls; Amazon Echo Show 8 with the Era 100 in my office, and it picked up my prompts better than Amazon’s own speakers, despite being equally far away.

Like the improved mics, you won’t see many of the best enhancements built into the Era 100, but they’re apparent as soon as you start playing music. Sonos has made the woofers 25 percent larger and added a pair of angled tweeters to create real stereo sound. The previous Sonos speakers of this shape and size only played mono sound. You also get a 47 percent faster processor, which will help preserve this speaker’s ability to receive software updates longer than the last one. Sonos over claims that it -builds the processing in these speakers, so to speak, so that it can accommodate future performance upgrades for as long as possible. I’ve been testing many models of Sonos speakers together for years and have never noticed any lag, but it’s nice to know these have even more wiggle room to get better down the line.

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