Both speakers share many of the key features: wi-fi (specifically, wi-fi 6) and AirPlay 2 for streaming music, Sonos voice control and Alexa support. You also get Bluetooth 5.0 for the first time in non-portable Sonos speakers (they support the standard SBC and AAC codecs) and the potential for wired connections using the USB-C line-in connection.
If you did want to hard-wire a turntable or other source to the Era speakers, you'll need to buy the Line-In Adapter and Sonos Combo Adapter separately – on the plus side, these adapters will cost just £19 and are available in black or white to match the Era 100 and Era 300.
Both Era speakers feature new top panel interfaces with touch capacitive controls, including a new volume slider or 'trough', and both work with the Sonos S2 app for more features. These include multi-room system grouping with other Sonos products, music playback from supported streaming services and Sonos Radio, and Trueplay room correction tuning available for iOS and, for the first time ever, Android users.
Additionally, Sonos has put a lot of thought into the sustainability and longevity of its new products. The Era speakers can be more easily repaired and fully serviced by Sonos thanks to more screws than glue used in the construction; they are made with "a high percentage of" post-consumer recycled plastic (more than 40 per cent, claims Sonos); and they use less power (under 2 watts) when in idle mode.
Sonos Era 300
Where the models differ are in design, usage and price. The Era 300 was designed specifically for playback of spatial audio with Dolby Atmos tracks, with Sonos' principal product manager Ryan Moore stating during our press briefing: "The goal with Era 300 was really to create the best standalone spatial audio experience of any single speaker."
It features a unique hourglass cinched design that looks unlike any other speaker on the market. That's because of the unusual acoustic architecture housed within. Inside are six drivers (four tweeters, two woofers) with custom waveguides that fire sound out forwards, upwards, left and right to surround you with music. Each of the six drivers is powered by its own class D amplifier.
Puzzlingly, at the time of launch, Sonos states that the Era 300 "currently supports Dolby Atmos Music via Amazon Music Unlimited" only. With Sonos putting such an emphasis on spatial audio with Dolby Atmos music playback, we think it's a shame that it won't support the format from other music streaming services at launch.
We're hoping this will be resolved soon, and in reply to our question on this matter, Sonos seemed to confirm this: "Today, Era 300 does not support Dolby Atmos Music on Tidal. Over time we will continue to add more listening choices and partners but we don’t have further information to share today. We’ll be adding support for spatial audio via Apple Music soon." And it has been confirmed that Apple Music spatial audio will be supported when Era 300 goes on sale on 28 March.
- Read our first impressions of the Sonos Era 300
- Sonos confirms Apple Music spatial audio support – and not just for its Era 300
Sonos Era 100
The Era 100, meanwhile, is a completely redesigned Sonos One. Moore claimed during our briefing: "There's not a single part of Sonos One in the Era 100.” Replacing one of its most popular wireless speakers is no easy feat, but with the One Gen 2 released in 2017, it was clearly time for a refresh.
The biggest difference is that the Era 100 now delivers stereo sound (to the One's mono). Inside the speakers lie two angled tweeters with custom waveguides that are designed to deliver "detailed stereo separation" and a 25 per cent bigger woofer that promises deeper bass. Three class D amplifiers power the drivers.
Unlike Era 300, Sonos claims the Era 100's small form factor won't do justice to spatial audio/Dolby Atmos tracks, so you'll have to opt for the Era 300 if you want the full spatial audio experience. However, the Era 100 can be used as rear speakers with a wider range of Sonos soundbars: Arc, Beam Gen 1 and Beam Gen 2, and Ray.
Sonos Era pricing and availability
Price? Sonos has priced the new Era speakers rather on the premium side compared with current rivals. The Era 300 is priced at £449 / $449 / €499 / AU$749, while the Era 100 will cost £249 / $249 / €279 / AU$399.
Respectively, that's higher than closest rivals HomePod 2 (£299 / $299 / AU$479) and the outgoing One (currently £180 / $220 / AU$320) – but whether the Era speakers will live up to their potential remains to be seen. Both models go on sale on 28th March, and will be available in black or white finishes.
We'll be getting samples of both Era speakers in our listening rooms very soon, so stay tuned for the full, official reviews in due course.
Read our Sonos Era 300 hands-on review for our first impressions
And everything you need to know about spatial audio
Read our Apple HomePod 2 review
And here's our original Sonos One review
Sonos Era 300 vs Apple HomePod 2: how do these smart speakers compare?
Sonos Era 100 vs Sonos One: which smart speaker is better?