Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: which smart speaker should you buy?

Sonos has a new range of speakers, called Era. The Era 300 sits below the Sonos Five as a spatial audio-focussed speaker, but the cheaper Era 100 replaces the Sonos One at the other end of Sonos' product range.

So what's the difference between the Era 100 and the One? How much do both speakers cost? And should you opt for the new model over the five-star original? Allow us to answer all these questions and more.

Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: price

Sonos One

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos One launched back in 2017, and the Gen 2 model you can currently buy dates from 2019. Because the Era 100 will replace the One, retailers are discounting the One to get rid of stock – in the UK, you can pick one up for as little as £159.

The Sonos Era 100 is a fair bit pricier, at £249 / $249/ AU$399. Discounts? You'll be lucky. Sonos kit is rarely discounted, especially when new.

**Winner: Sonos One**

Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: design

Wireless speaker: Sonos Era 100

(Image credit: Future)

After the unique design of the Sonos Era 300, the Era 100 looks a little unexciting. Though it has moved on from the Sonos One. Gone is the One's rounded square design, in favour of a more oval shape. The Era 100 is a little bigger (about 2cm taller) and heavier than the One, though it's still compact enough for any shelf, desk or table (providing you have a plug socket nearby).

The change in shape isn't just to make it look different. The larger body accommodates some new drivers – the Era 100 now delivers stereo sound, whereas the One is just mono.

Inside are two angled tweeters with custom waveguides, alongside a woofer that’s 25 per cent bigger than before, all powered by their own Class D amplifier.

The Era 100 comes in a matte black or matte white finish, and the wraparound grille now stretches to the edges more than before for a seamless look.

Like the Era 300, the 100 also has a new control panel on the top, complete with an enhanced volume slider that's recessed like a trough.

The Sonos One looks very similar to the late Play:1 that it replaced, though its touch-sensitive top panel was the main departure. The wraparound grille helps it blend into its surroundings, though again, it looks a little dated – hardly surprising, given that the design is now six years old.

**Winner: Sonos Era 100**

Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: features

Sonos Era 100 in white

(Image credit: Sonos)

While the Sonos Era 300 is focused on spatial audio, the Era 100 is a different proposition entirely. There's no spatial audio onboard – Sonos claims the speaker's smaller dimensions wouldn't do it justice – but it can play in stereo, as opposed to the Sonos One's mono.

Just like the Era 300 it offers both Bluetooth and a USB-C line-in – the Era speakers are Sonos' first to offer both features. The firm has dabbled with these connections before – Bluetooth is found in its portable Roam and Move speakers; line-in comes on the flagship Sonos Five – but it's never offered both in one device before. (Note: you'll need a specific adapter and cable for wired connections, both sold separately; the adapter costs £19 / $19 / AU$35). That makes the Era range more versatile than the firm's other speakers, not to mention the vast majority of those from Apple, Amazon et al.

The Era 100 is more powerful than the Sonos One, and can pair with Sonos's Arc, Ray and Beam Gen 1 and Gen 2 soundbars to work as part of a home cinema set-up. And you can pair two Era 100 speakers to work as a stereo pair.

Like the Era 300, it supports files up to 24-bit/48kHz from Qobuz and Amazon Music, you can control it with your voice, and it works with the Sonos S2 app. It can calibrate its sonic output to your surroundings too using Trueplay for iOS and, for the first time, Android. Impressive.

Basically, the Era 100 does everything the Sonos One does, with the addition of Bluetooth, line-in and stereo pairing.

**Winner: Sonos Era 100**

Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: sound

Wireless speaker: Sonos Era 100

(Image credit: Future)

According to Ryan Moore, product manager at Sonos, the Era 100 is "from an acoustic standpoint, a complete refresh. There's not a single part of Sonos One in the Era 100."

We can believe it. It takes everything we liked about the Sonos One – crisp and detailed, spacious sound, deep bass – and cranks it up a dozen notches. It sounds so much bigger, more spacious, more detailed and deeper in the bass, while still retaining a great handle on timing, dynamics and its even tonal balance.

Its sound dispersion is very impressive – not a patch on the Era 300 of course, but still very expansive for a speaker this size. Bass goes deep and powerful, and never at the expense of detail. 

It’s an impressive step up in performance, offering a new-found openness that allows instruments and voices space to breathe while still delivering each element as part and parcel of a musical whole. 

Push the value too high and things start to get a bit coarse, but the sound is so room-filling that you shouldn't have to crank the volume. The same easy-going character remains when playing songs over Bluetooth, though it's a touch less crisp and clear than when streaming over wi-fi.

The Sonos One produces a smaller, less refined sound, but it's still full-bodied and knits everything together into a satisfying whole. The soundstage is spacious and impressively organised, with vocals given plenty of breathing room, making them instantly more engaging.

Instruments emerge in a way that is sophisticated and natural, with a crisp, clear treble (though the odd harsh edge does creep in). 

**Winner: Sonos Era 100**

Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: verdict

Wireless speaker: Sonos Era 100

(Image credit: Future)

The Sonos One is one of the finest little smart speakers you can buy. But with the Gen 2 model four years old now, a refresh is due. The Era 100 is exactly the update it needs – more power, more versatility, but with the same winning footprint and user-friendliness, and a sound that's upgraded in pretty much every way.

There's never been a more clear-cut answer to which speaker is better. But the One will stay on sale until stock runs out, so there will be some overlap with the Era 100. If you can live without the extra power and improved sound, stereo sound from a single speaker, Bluetooth connection, keep a look out – you could pick up the One for a bargain. 


Read the full Sonos Era 100 review

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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.