Sonos Era

Review: Sonos Era 300

The Sonos Era 300 is the first Sonos speaker with both Bluetooth connectivity and support for spatial audio. By David Phelan.

With the Era 300, the Sonos range of speakers embraces spatial audio with a vengeance: no longer is it just the preserve of the company’s soundbars. The Era 300 is a curious-looking speaker, an oval lozenge that slopes in to the middle, as though somebody put their belt on way too tight. Its shape reflects the positioning of the six drivers inside, including four tweeters that are configured to fire forward, sideways or upwards – again, to make spatial audio a possibility.

It also introduces a new control mechanic: a recessed capacitive volume slider for your finger to swipe the sound up and down. Sonos has had capacitive sliders before, but they’ve been flush and often gone unnoticed. Here, it’s highly inviting and satisfying to use. Much more functionality is found in the Sonos app.

Sonos has always had a reputation for super-easy set-up, and that’s the case here: plug in the speaker, launch the Sonos smartphone app and follow a few onscreen instructions. The brilliant room-tuning system, TruePlay, works automatically, using built-in microphones. There’s also a fuller version available to users with an iPhone or iPad. Trueplay’s effects can be dramatic and are worth doing. For spatial audio, the company suggests placing the speaker at least 20cm from the wall.

Spatial or stereo?

Sonos says that for its ultimate stereo sound, its bigger and pricier Sonos Five is still the best. But the Era 300 has spatial audio. At launch, this is only compatible with Dolby Atmos music from Amazon Music Unlimited or Apple Music’s spatial audio content. That’s one more service than the HomePod can manage, and this is the first non-Apple speaker to support Apple Music’s spatial audio. However, Tidal’s suitable content is not supported.

By the way, BBC radio enthusiasts will enjoy a slam-dunk benefit over the HomePod with this speaker: listening is as easy as saying, “Alexa, play Radio 4”.

Sonos EraBluetooth at last

Apart from its portable Move and Roam speakers, Sonos has always spurned Bluetooth, saying that streaming over wi-fi offers better sound quality and no interruptions when the connected smartphone rings. The company still believes that, but the addition of Bluetooth here is welcome, and skilfully implemented with near-instant pairing. Spatial audio tracks only work through wi-fi, though, so you can’t stream them except via the Sonos app’s Amazon or Apple channels.

Audio quality

The soundstage here is big, reaching much further than you might imagine from a smallish single speaker like this. Vocals are consistently crystal-clear with mid-notes effective and bass solid but not overpowering. Stereo is better on the Sonos Five but it’s still decent here.

Then there’s the new format, spatial audio. The idea behind spatial is you can hear individually placed instruments or performers, to create a more immersive experience.

And that’s what you get here, again with a sense that the music must be coming from a much bigger speaker, filling a room without being just noise. Not all spatial audio remixes are perfectly done, but when you hit a good one, the results are stunning. Apple Music’s featured spatial playlists are a good place to start, ranging from pop to classical.

Miracle from Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding is beautifully balanced, with the vocals shining through, while Sam Ryder’s latest, Put a Light on Me, is supremely present and immersive.

The Sonos sound is impressive whether it’s an all-around big orchestra you’re listening to, or something smaller. An acoustic solo like October Sky by Yebba is superbly present and almost overwhelming in its simplicity.

Sonos EraHome Cinema

Of course, much Dolby Atmos comes in the form of movie and TV soundtracks. The Sonos Arc soundbar already delivers strong spatial audio, and the company recommends that for your best home cinema surround sound, you really need a compatible soundbar like the Arc plus two, yes, two Era 300 speakers to act as rear speakers, connecting wirelessly to the source. Oh, and a sub-woofer wouldn’t go amiss.

The results, thank goodness, are truly magnificent. In Top Gun Maverick, jet engines screaming overhead really do feel like they’re rushing across your ceiling. Which is all very well, but a set-up like this will cost you £1,700 even before you add the sub. That’s a lot more than a pair of the second-gen HomePods (£600) which won’t be as fully all-enveloping but do a pretty great job, too.


One glance at the Era 300’s curious shape tells you this is going to be something different. Even so, it’s not so strange-looking that it will jar with a home décor. The trademark easy set-up is highly and quickly successful. And the Sonos is Android-compatible, not to mention that it plays nicely with BBC radio.

Stereo is good but where the speaker stands out is blow-your-socks-off spatial audio quality, which is wide, tall and immersive. You can adjust EQ levels but, really, Sonos has done a deft tuning job and the music sounds faithful and realistic. If you don’t plan to listen to spatial audio, the allure is less compelling – but only by a little, and the range of spatial content is growing fast.


The new speaker looks eye-catching, has outstanding sound and the trademark simplicity of set-up and use. Unlike Apple’s HomePod, it works perfectly with Android phones. Great as a pair.


The design could be divisive, and for the full home-cinema experience, the costs mount up quickly.

Verdict: 5/5

The new Sonos looks unlike any other speaker and sounds terrific. The addition of Bluetooth makes it more accessible than ever. If you already have Sonos speakers, this is a great addition to your collection.