My house is full of Sonos speakers. I went early on Sonos, way back in the days before the company even made speakers and was instead selling its (pretty revolutionary at the time) ZonePlayers, one of which was designed to add streaming to an existing hi-fi and the other a just-add-speakers affair.
Since then, my collection has grown at an exponential rate. It’s not that I’m immune to the allures of various other brands’ kit: it’s more that Sonos, over the years, has continued to improve its technology, add support for every streaming service imaginable and expand its range into new categories such as soundbars. In short, I’ve not gone elsewhere mostly because I’ve not needed to, because Sonos has always more or less offered what I need when I need it.
(For the record, that isn’t to say that my home contains only Sonos kit – until recently I was also using a Denon AVR and I also use an Arcam SA30 for ‘serious’ listening)
Despite my recent flirtation with a pair of HomePod 2 speakers as an AV system, I’m a big fan of the Sonos Arc soundbar. As a performance-per-pound proposition, it’s almost impossible to fault. Big, bold, dynamic and fairly detailed, it’s super-convenient home cinema done right.
Of course, being a soundbar, the Sonos can’t throw sound at you from the sides or the back of where you’re sitting. You can add wireless speakers such as the Sonos One or even Ikea Symfonisk (as magazine editor Jonny Evans has done) in order to add this genuine surround effect, and that’s certainly worthwhile, but there is a problem with it: while the Sonos Arc has integrated up-firing speakers to generate a tall, three-dimensional Dolby Atmos effect, none of Sonos’ wireless speakers can handle Atmos, and that can leave the rear of the room sounding a little flat compared to the front.
In other words, I’ve been waiting years (since the Arc’s launch in 2020, in fact) for a Dolby Atmos-capable speaker to go with it. That speaker has finally arrived in the form of the Era 300, which appears to be exactly what I’m after – but it’s far too expensive for my needs.
To be absolutely clear, I haven’t heard the Era 300 and I certainly wouldn’t be so bold as to assume that it doesn’t more than justify its price as a dedicated wireless speaker, but that isn’t what I want it for. I want it purely as a surround speaker to partner the Sonos Arc. In fact, I would need two of them, and with each one priced at £449 / $449 / AU$749, that would involve spending more money on Era 300s than on the Arc itself. That just seems like overkill to me.
Perhaps the Era 300 will prove to be so good that it will clearly be worth its asking price even when used only as a surround speaker, but that’s a little hard to imagine. I’ll keep an open mind, of course, but I’m already hoping that Sonos has plans to fill the gap between the Era 300 and the Atmos-less Era 100 with a speaker that still offers Atmos support but at a price that’s more palatable to those of us who are looking to upgrade an Arc-based home cinema. Apple hit a price of £299 / $299 / AU$479 for its Atmos-capable HomePod 2, and that’s a price I think I’d be prepared to pay if Sonos could do the same.
Worth the money? Here's our Sonos Era 300 hands-on
And here's the Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 comparison
Worth the upgrade? Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos one