In 2023, Sonos launched a new set of speakers with the Era line, with the larger Era 300 boasting spatial audio. While the Sonos Era 100 doesn’t feature spatial audio, it’s a major step forward in a different way. It’s similar in size to the Sonos One, but offers a few new key features.
Like the Era 300, this is one of the first home speakers from Sonos to feature Bluetooth connectivity in addition to the typical Wi-Fi. The Era 100 also features stereo playback, making it the first Sonos speaker in this size and form factor to do so.
These new features are certainly interesting, but without spatial audio—the feature that made the Era 300 such an impressive speaker—does the Era 100 make the same impact? Not quite, but it’s still one of the best offerings from Sonos in this form factor to date.
An All-New Design, Rounder Than Ever
- Dimensions: 7.18 × 4.72 × 5.14in (182.5 × 120 × 130.5mm)
- Weight: 4.44lbs (2.02kg)
- Finishes: Matte Black, Matte White
Unlike the hourglass shape of the Era 300, the Sonos Era 100 keeps things subtle when it comes to design. In terms of size, the Era 100 is close to the Sonos One, though it has more of an oval shape than the rounded square shape of the One. This is largely due to needing space for the new stereo drivers.
Regarding the rest of the design, the Era 100 has a similar approach to its larger sibling. There are no buttons on the front of the device, only a single LED and the Sonos logo. The controls are all located either on top or the back of the device.
The power cable connects underneath the speaker and snakes out the back, making it relatively easy to hide. Once you have the speaker set up, you’ll rarely need to use either of the buttons located on the back, so placing them here isn’t a problem.
The Era 100 comes in either matte black or matte white options to seamlessly blend in with your decor.
Connectivity: You May Need a Few Accessories
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2.4GHz/5GHz
- Bluetooth version: 5.0
- Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
Wi-Fi has always been the cornerstone of a typical Sonos system, and that isn’t any different here. The Era 100 supports Wi-Fi 6, and like the Era 300, it also supports Bluetooth 5.0.
There is a difference between supporting Bluetooth and fully embracing it, and it’s clear that Sonos is simply supporting it with just the standard SBC and AAC codecs available. This makes sense, as Wi-Fi offers better sound quality, and Bluetooth support is likely intended to make it easier for your friends to stream music from their devices to your Sonos system.
On the back of the Era 100, you’ll notice a USB-C port, which offers plenty of additional connectivity. To start, you can use any USB-C Ethernet dongle to add wired networking to the speaker, but this isn’t the best part.
While you’ll need a $20 dongle from Sonos to do this, you can also use the USB-C port to connect wired audio devices like turntables to the Era 100. Once connected, the Era can wirelessly play the music throughout your home, just as it would with any other music.
I believe this dongle should be included in the box, but Sonos likely (and correctly) assumes that this is a feature only a few Era 100 buyers will ever use. Still, it would be great to have it available.
Simple Setup, Now For Everyone
Whether you’re adding the Era 100 to an existing Sonos system or it’s your first Sonos product, setup is incredibly easy. All you need to do is plug in the Era 100 and then open the Sonos app (available for iPhone and iPad as well as Android) and follow the instructions to add the speaker to your Sonos account.
While we’re looking at the Era 100 as a standalone speaker, you can integrate them into a Sonos system as you would any other product from the company’s lineup. You can also use two Era 100s together, either as a stereo pair or as rear surround speakers with a soundbar like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) or the Arc.
Most of the setup doesn’t even require you to look at your phone, but one important part takes a little more work, depending on the device you’re using. Sonos TruePlay has long been a key feature of the company’s devices, using the built-in microphone on iPhone and iPad devices to measure the sound of a room and tune the speaker accordingly. For years, TruePlay was an Apple-only feature, but that is no longer the case with the Era 100 and Era 300.
These speakers feature a built-in microphone that the Sonos app can use to tune the speaker to your room. This takes just a few moments and is known as Quick Tune, and works with either iPhone and iPad or Android devices. The old TruePlay is still available, but here it’s known as Advanced Tuning.
If you have a compatible iPhone or iPad, Advanced Tuning is still the way to go. During my listening tests, I noticed that some elements sounded overwhelmingly harsh, but this disappeared after I disabled TruePlay. After running Advanced Tuning using my iPhone, the issue was gone.
Quick Tune works in a pinch, but if you have or can easily borrow an Apple device for Advanced Tuning, it’s well worth it.
Improved Controls and a Great App
The top-mounted controls are all capacitive, so they can be easy to tap accidentally. Sonos addressed this in an interesting way. Instead of the all-flat design of the Sonos One, the Era 100 has a recessed volume slider, making it easy to find without looking or accidentally touching any other buttons.
The rest of the buttons cover the basics, letting you control playback and momentarily disable voice assistant features. If you are especially privacy minded and don’t like the idea of an always-on microphone, you’re in luck, as another switch on the back of the device disables the microphone entirely.
Speaking of voice assistants, you get support for Amazon Alexa, as well as Sonos’s own music-focused voice control. While previous Sonos speakers also supported Google Assistant, the Era 100 doesn’t (at least at the time of writing), thanks to what Sonos describes as a change on Google’s end.
The Sonos app has always been one of the platform’s strengths, and it’s no different here. Aside from helping you set the system up, the app also keeps the Era 100 up to date, lets you specify what room it’s in, and makes it easy to group devices together.
The Sonos app is also where you configure your music services, making it easy to play them throughout multiple rooms.
No Spatial Audio, But Stereo For the First Time
- Amplifiers: Three class D amplifiers
- Drivers: One woofer, two tweeters
Like the older One models of speakers, the Sonos Era 100 features multiple drivers, but since this model is stereo, it features a single woofer alongside a pair of tweeters. Each of these is powered by its own class D amplifier, with the tweeters featuring custom waveguides for better stereo separation.
For my listening, I set the EQ to flat, effectively turning it off. I also turned off the Loudness setting (this is enabled by default) in the Sonos app. It could be situational, but in my testing, I didn’t find a single instance where the Loudness option made for better sound.
“Gila Monster” by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a decidedly old-school sounding metal track, and the Era 100 handles it impressively well. The thundering bass is well represented, especially considering the small size of the speaker. The song does lose a touch of the impact that it has on larger speakers, but not much.
Next up, I opted for a more relaxed song with different sonics in the Flaming Stars instrumental “Who’s Out There?,” though it too has a retro feel. Despite the bass tone in the recording being relatively thin, the song still has plenty of weight on the Era 100.
Supersystem’s “The Lake” makes it clear that Sonos is using significant DSP to enhance the stereo field of the Era 100. There’s an effect on the vocal in the song that the Era seems to interpret as movement in the stereo field, so the vocal slightly pans around in a way that it never does on other speakers. This is the only time I encountered this, and it’s subtle, but worth pointing out.
Speakers that sound great for music can be overkill for the spoken word at times. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with the Sonos Era 100. Both podcasts and audiobooks sounded great, without any of the booming qualities that voiceovers can take on with certain speakers.
While I wasn’t able to test a stereo pair, the ease with which the Era 100 handles voices and music has me thinking that these would work well as rear surround speakers. A stereo pair would also likely sound great for music, though I’m still surprised at how nice the speaker sounds all by itself.
Should You Buy the Sonos Era 100?
The Sonos Era 100 sounds better than the Sonos One, thanks mostly to its new stereo sound, and it’s just as easy to set up and start using as any other Sonos speaker. While I wasn’t able to test this configuration, I’m confident that two Era 100s would make a fantastic set of rear surround speakers for the Beam or Arc soundbars.
That said, while the stereo is great to have, the speaker just doesn’t feel as special without the spatial audio features found in the Era 300. Missing Google Assistant functionality will be a sore point for some, and the need to buy a $20 dongle just to plug in your turntable will put others off as well.
If you already own a One, or you’re using a pair of One SLs for your surround speakers, the Era 100 isn’t an essential upgrade. That said, while it’s pricier, the Era 100 is better than the Sonos One in nearly every way, so if you’re buying your first Sonos speaker, or you don’t own a One, the Era 100 is the one to buy.
Sonos Era 100
- Great sound quality
- Surprisingly good stereo for the small size
- Bluetooth support is a great new feature
- Line-in support lets you stream music from any device
- Microphone cut off for the privacy conscious
- No Google Assistant support
- You need a dongle for the line input