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Of the two Sonos speakers announced earlier this month, the era 100 is much simpler to summarize: it is a replacement for the Sonos One, which was first introduced in 2017. Unlike the Era 300, there’s no need to question the value of spatial audio; THE Era 100 is a relatively simple mono speaker, much like the One and Play:1 before it. Don’t let that simple description fool you, though – the $250 Era 100 is a complete overhaul, inside and out, and the end result is a worthy upgrade and a very versatile speaker. .
At first glance, the Era 100 looks quite similar to the One, but upon closer examination you’ll notice a number of minor but significant changes. It starts with the vertically oriented Sonos logo that you’ll find on most of their other speakers like the Roam and, naturally, the Era 300. The Era 100 is slightly taller and deeper than the One; it is also slightly deeper than wide. But it should fit pretty much anywhere the older speaker did.
- Great sound quality
- Simple but attractive design
- Bluetooth support and line-in
- Easier Trueplay tuning with built-in mics
- Works with just about any music service
- More Google Assistant support
- No real stereo separation
The biggest external change is above the speaker. Here you’ll find a revamped set of touch controls, including dedicated forward and reverse track buttons for the first time. These surround the play/pause button instead of the volume controls you’ll find on the One. Volume has been moved to a touch slider in the center of the touchscreen. Tap either side to increase or decrease the volume, or you can swipe left and right. Using the slider takes a bit of practice, and it’s far too easy to go from silent to deafening, but there’s no doubt that it’s better for quick adjustments than repeatedly pressing a button. occasions. There’s also a place to mute the mic, like on the One.
There are also some major changes on the back of the Era 100. There is no longer an Ethernet socket or a configuration button. Instead, there’s a USB-C port that you can use to plug in the $20 line-in adapter or the $40 line-in/Ethernet combo adapter. On the one hand, it’s annoying to have to shell out extra cash for these adapters – but this is the first time Sonos has offered line-in on a speaker in this price range, so it’s not not a total disappointment.
Along with the USB-C port, you’ll find another switch to disable the mic. Unlike the top button, which simply mutes it with software, this physically disconnects the mic for privacy. Finally, there’s a Bluetooth button that puts the speaker into pairing mode.
As with most Sonos products, the company has done a good job here of marrying a clean and attractive design without compromising functionality. Yes, the loss of the Ethernet jack will bother a small number of users, but for the most part these changes are improvements. I wish they just put a line in straight to the speaker instead of requiring a dongle but I’m happier the functionality is there than I’m annoyed needing to buy a piece of plastic additional.
Setting up and operating the Era 100 is fairly straightforward, even if you don’t already have a Sonos system. You will need to download the Sonos app to your phone and create an account. from there the app will search and see if there are any speakers plugged in that it can add. You’ll also need to connect to your audio services of choice, but after that you should be good to go. Obviously you can find and play music through the Sonos app, but there are also options if you prefer to stick with the music apps you’re used to, like AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect.
Gallery: Sonos Era 100 test photos | 9 Pictures
Gallery: Sonos Era 100 test photos | 9 Pictures
There are, however, a few optional but useful things you can do while you’re setting up the Era 100. The first is Trueplay, a feature that adjusts your speaker’s audio output based on where it’s placed in your room. Trueplay has been around since 2015, but in the past you had to have an iPhone. You would have to walk around your room slowly lifting and lowering the phone while the speakerphone played a test tone.
The Era 100, however, can use its built-in microphones to listen and optimize its output – this process is much simpler and faster than the old technique, and Android users are not left out either. I’ve been extremely happy with the results of Trueplay in the past, so I’d recommend everyone give it a try. That said, I found the old manual tuning process to yield slightly better results.
You can also add a voice assistant to the Era 100. Amazon’s Alexa has been supported since One launched in 2017, and last year Sonos added its own music-focused assistant. Setting up the Sonos Assistant is a little easier than Alexa, as you don’t need to link your Amazon account, but both are pretty straightforward at this point. Unfortunately, where older Sonos speakers supported Google Assistant, the Era 100 doesn’t. This is likely due to ongoing patent battles between Google and Sonos. Personally, I prefer Google Assistant over Alexa, so that’s a bit disappointing.
While new features like easier Trueplay and new controls are important, what I really wanted to know was how the Era 100 compares to the one it replaces. (I’ve also compared it to Apple’s latest HomePod as well as the Era 300.) So far, I’ve been hugely impressed. It’s immediately obvious that the Era 100 is a notable upgrade over the One.
First of all, the Era 100 is strong. Surprisingly – it’s noticeably louder than the One and HomePod, and the Era 300 isn’t much louder. Even a single Era 100 should provide enough volume for just about any room in your home. If you have a large, open floor plan, you’ll probably want a few speakers to cover the space rather than throwing a single relatively small speaker to its limit. But for the vast majority of use cases, an Era 100 should suffice.
Obviously, good sound is about more than volume. The Era 100 significantly improved bass performance over the One, again exceeding what I would expect from a compact speaker. Bass-heavy tracks like Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Dragonette’s “T-shirt” sounded solid without being overwhelming, especially at higher volumes. It doesn’t match the Era 300 or the HomePod, both of which have more dynamic bass performance, but Sonos takes a lot from the Era 100.
While I’m glad the bass has improved, I’m more impressed with the overall clarity of the speaker. The two tweeters definitely help make the higher frequencies more defined. The sound profile is crisper and more dynamic than that of the One. The nuance and sparkle of Chvrches’ “California” and Metric’s “Formentera” came through beautifully, while standard four-piece rock or metal like the eponymous classic from Metallica and Tool’s Animated sounded lively and powerful. I also checked out my favorite movie and game scores from the Lord of the Rings And The last of us, and the complex compositions were complete and well balanced. The One now sounds a little muddy in comparison, with less distinct highs and lows. The Era 300 sounds even clearer, thanks to the many drivers it has on board, but the 100 still does a lot with its relatively limited speaker array.
If you have a larger space or just want to increase the volume and detail, I recommend getting two Era 100s and stereo pairing them. While the Era 100 technically has left and right tweeters, the small size means there’s no real stereo separation to speak of. Combining two of these naturally results in a much wider soundstage and brings out a lot of detail that gets washed out when you smash a stereo mix down to a single channel.
A pair of Era 100s can also be used as rear surround speakers in a setup with any of the Sonos soundbars. I didn’t test this, as I don’t have a large living room setup and was more interested in musical performance, but this feature is worth mentioning. Sonos has long offered the ability to use essentially any of its music speakers as a back surround, and I’m glad they’ve continued with that here.
The Era 100 (and 300) are the first non-portable speakers integrating Bluetooth connectivity. It’s extremely simple: just hold the Bluetooth button on the back of the speaker to put it into pairing mode and it should pop up for your phone or other device to connect to. I had no reason to use Bluetooth, but the quick setup and pairing process could be useful if you have a friend who wants to quickly play a tune on your speaker, for example. It’s not essential, but having more options never hurts.