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Sonos Era 100 Smart Speaker Replaces the Popular Sonos One

Consumer Reports 3/27/2023 Allen St. John

The new multiroom speaker gives you stereo sound in a single box, along with Bluetooth

© Provided by Consumer Reports

The Era 100 smart speaker replaces the popular Sonos One.

By Allen St. John

As part of a major revamp of its home speaker lineup, Sonos is introducing the Era 100, a new entry-level home smart speaker that features single-box stereo and fuller sound compared with the popular Sonos One it replaces. Sonos is also adding a larger and more expensive Era 300 smart speaker.

The vertically oriented Sonos Era 100 has roughly the same footprint as the Sonos One, though it’s somewhat rounder than the earlier model. It’s also a bit taller, and that makes room for upgraded audio components, including a pair of stereo tweeters and a woofer that’s 25 percent larger than the driver found in the Sonos One.

You can now play vinyl on Sonos’s smallest home speaker. That’s because the Era 100 also has a USB-C aux input, letting you plug in a turntable or other external sources with the optional Sonos Line-in adapter.

The Era 100 is available in black and white, and Sonos says it’s built with post-consumer plastics. And the new Sonos uses screws instead of glue in many places, which means the speaker can be repaired more easily and perhaps even updated. (The One had a midrun upgrade in which the processor and other electronics were improved while the speaker drivers stayed the same.)

Like Sonos’s other smart speakers, the Era 100 is platform agnostic . . . to a point. It’s compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple by way of Airplay 2 as well as Sonos’s own digital assistant Sonos Voice Control. It doesn’t support Google Assistant. The Era 100 will sell for $249 starting on March 28.

We asked Sonos to lend us a sample for an early look at the user experience. When the model is available in stores, we’ll buy one and hand it over to the trained testers in our sound lab so they can compare it with the hundreds of other speakers we’ve tested in that same room, using the same music and the same methodology.

We’ll update this article when the results are available, including ratings for ease of use, versatility, and sound quality.

Using the Sonos Era 100

The Era 100 operates much like Sonos’s other speakers—and that’s a good thing. You set it up using the Sonos app and, if you have an existing Sonos system, that process takes just a couple of minutes. The app finds the speaker and asks you if you’d like to set it up. And then you can, for example, adjust what’s playing on each speaker and how loudly from the app. If you’re starting from scratch, adding music services to your account may take a little longer.

You can tune the Era 100 to your room using a new version of Sonos’s TruePlay smartphone app. The revised app can quickly play a tone for a few seconds to do its work, or you can still use the more advanced version, which requires you to spend about 5 minutes walking around the room waving your smartphone, but it yields a more nuanced result. The latest version of TruePlay works with an Android phone, so there’s no need to borrow someone’s iPhone every time you reposition your speakers.

The Era 100 has Bluetooth pairing, which previously had been restricted to the company’s portable speakers like the Move and the Roam. While you’ll probably use the more robust WiFi connection for most of your listening, Bluetooth is handy for, say, streaming a podcast to your speaker or allowing a friend to share a playlist without logging on to your WiFi.

Sonically, the Era 100 has large shoes to fill. The Sonos One gets the highest sound-quality ratings of any smart speaker in our ratings, with a clean articulate sonic signature that allows you to hear subtle details on a recording while still remaining relaxed enough for long-term listening.

The most obvious sonic difference between the Era 100 and the Sonos One is that the newer speaker is a stereo model while its predecessor is mono. This should improve the sound in a single-speaker setup, which is, according to Sonos, how many consumers listen to the One. Our testers will report back about how well the Era 100 delivers the illusion of musicians being right in your listening room and whether the new one-box stereo configuration negatively affects performance when two Era 100s are paired in stereo.

With its larger enclosure, the Era 100 also may deliver more bass. In my home, I found that the Era 100 seemed to deliver a fuller low end in comparison with the Sonos Ones I already own. But, as expected, there’s not as much grunt or impact as you get from the larger and significantly more expensive Era 300, which I also had available for evaluation.

We’ll leave it to our trained testers to render a verdict on how the low end and the overall sound compare with the Sonos Ones and competing speakers like the Amazon Echo Studio.

Should You Buy the Sonos Era 100?

The Era 100 has most of the features that made the Sonos One so popular. It adds some useful upgrades, including stereo, more extended bass, and Bluetooth, all at a modest increase in price. And if the single-box stereo proves convincing to our testers, the model will be a viable alternative to a pair of Ones.

If you already own Sonos Ones, however, do you need to upgrade? That’s a tougher call. The improvements are real but, on a quick evaluation, seem mostly incremental. If you’re a casual listener, you’ll probably be fine sticking with your Sonos One. And if you’re more serious about your music, you might consider the Era 300, which may offer better sound and spatial audio capability (essentially multichannel stereo on steroids) from a single box for less than a pair of Era 100 speakers.

We’ll have more to say about the sound quality, ease of use, and versatility of the Era 100 when we get the final results from our lab tests.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2023, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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