All products and services featured are independently chosen by editors. However, Billboard may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
A new era of sound.
Sonos unveiled two new speakers, the compact Era 100 speaker and the more robust Era 300, on Tuesday (March 7). Both speakers are available for pre-order and will begin shipping on March 28.
The Era 100 ($249) features “next-gen acoustics” with intuitive touch and voice controls and Trueplay tuning technology that analyzes the acoustics in the room to optimize the speaker’s EQ and deliver an immersive sound experience. The speaker is equipped with two angled tweeters, three class-D digital amplifiers and a single midwoofer to deliver powerful and clear sound while you’re jamming away to Amazon Music, Apple Music and Spotify and other platforms, listening to podcast and more.
Available in black or white, Era 100 has built-in Sonos Voice Control, Alexa and Apple Airplay 2 and hardwire options. And you control it manually or digitally through the Sonos App.
Perfect for smaller spaces, Era 100 is 7.18 inches tall, 4.72 inches wide (5.14 inches in depth) and weighs 4.44 pounds.
The heftier Era 300 ($449) “bridges the gap” by allowing “consumers to hear what creators make in the way they intended,” noted multi-Grammy winning producer and senior vice president of sound experience at Sonos Giles Martin.
Sonos worked with multiple producers and mixing engineers, including Giles, to develop and fine-tune the speakers. Members of the press got a first-hand look (and listen) at Era 100 and Era 300 during a visit to the brand’s headquarters in Santa Barbara, Calif., last month.
Giles was featured in a demo and panel discussion on special audio with fellow producers, engineers and mixers including Grammy-nominated producer and musician, Terrace Martin — whose list of credits include Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock — and mixing engineer Manny Marroquin, a 10-time Grammy winner who has worked with Rihanna, Shakira, P!nk, Ludacris, Tupac Shakur, Whitney Houston and more.
“We’re not bringing the studio to the consumer but to be able to bring something that resembles what we’re listening [to] that’s why it’s an exciting product,” Marroquin told Billboard.
Marroquin also recalled Hancock visiting his studio and experiencing spatial audio. “If an 82-year-old legend can get excited about it imagine the third grader in the room? It could be life altering.”
Unlike the more traditionally cylinder shape of Era 100, Era 300 boasts a cinched hourglass design. The speaker offers a “true representation of what the future is about,” Giles said during the demo.
Era 300 is Sonos’ first speaker with multi-channel surround sound (when paired to use as home theater rears). Although Era 300 is designed to offer massive sound on its own, pairing it with Sonos Arc or Sonos Beam (Gen. 2) broadens the soundscape. Weighing just under 10 pounds, Era 300 is just 6.30 inches tall, 10.24 inches wide and 7.28 inches in depth.
When it comes to music, spacial audio might be the future, but stereo isn’t going anywhere. “We’re not having these talks to disregard stereo. It’s like another tool,” Terrace explained.
“When you go to the studio you have different equipment, different instruments. It may look like all the same keyboards, all the same knobs, but everything does something. Some things are new, some things are older, some things can replace others and some things work better together. [Spacial audio is] like another option, another tool. It’s like a big house and now we’re using all the rooms.”
For fans of the Sonos One, Era 100 is an evolution of the brand’s flagship speaker. “To me, [One] is probably the best speaker that Sonos has because it’s small,” said Marroquin. “You can put it in a corner, you can hide it or display it [and] link it [to other speakers]. In my opinion, [Era 100] is a better version of the One. Now that you can actually play immersive [sound] through it.”
Era 100 and Era 300 speakers are made from 48-percent recycled plastics and feature energy efficient software with eco-friendly packaging.