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Sonos Era 300 review: Going spatial

Sonos Era 300 review: Going spatial

Sonos Era 300

The Sonos Era 300 smart speaker focuses on spatial audio, which creates a 3D surround sound with more channels, leading to a more immersive experience than stereo. It's the first Sonos speaker to support spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, but it probably won't be the last. Is the Era 300 the beginning of a new, well, era in sound reproduction? Only time will tell, but it has definitely convinced me.

Quick specs

  • 6 Class-D digital amplifiers (four tweeters and two woofers)
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB-C
  • Far-field microphone array with physical mic switch
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 260mm x 185mm x 160mm; Weight: 4.47kg

The Era 300 resembles an oversized VR headset to me. Sonos says this cinched hourglass design enables the best spatial experience with the Era 300's six drivers. Two tweeter-and-woofer pair at each side, along with a front tweeter, and an upward-firing tweeter. The Era 300 shares many of the same features (Bluetooth, USB-C port, Android Trueplay) as the Era 100. Check that review for the details on those features. Unlike the Apple HomePods, you can't use a pair of Era 300 for TV audio. They can only be used as rear surrounds in a Sonos home theatre setup with Dolby Atmos soundbars (Arc and Beam 2). It also means that you can now create a 7.2.4 Sonos home theatre system using an Arc, two Subs (Gen 3), and two Era 300s.

Sonos Era 300
Makeshift ‘stand' for the Sonos Era 300 as rear surround. The official stands will be available in Singapore in mid-to-end April at S$249 each. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

I tested a pair of Era 300s as rear surrounds with the Beam Gen 2 soundbar, which has virtual Dolby Atmos (no upward-firing drivers), and a Sub (Gen 3). The Era 300s definitely enhanced the Dolby Atmos experience. The crackle of the burning trees in Roma, the car chase sequence in 6 Underground, and just about everything in Dune sounded great in Dolby Atmos. But I did bump up the surround audio setting — the Era 300s seemed too quiet at the default level. As for spatial audio music, you'll need Apple Music or Amazon Music (unavailable in Singapore). And you have to play the spatial audio songs through the Sonos app, not AirPlay or Bluetooth. This can be finicky as finding spatial audio tracks is a chore — you only know it's a spatial audio track when the Dolby Atmos label appears while playing the song.

Sonos Era 300
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

As a standalone speaker, the Era 300 easily fills a room with its wide, immersive sound. You'll probably have to lower the volume to avoid disturbing the neighbours. I would have liked a bit more bass, but that's just nitpicking. While the Era 300 is very capable at playing stereo tracks, the Era 300 truly shines when it comes to spatial audio. The music feels more alive, with a greater presence. If you can afford it, a pair of Era 300s is amazing. It's like being enclosed by a huge sound bubble — it feels inadequate to simply describe this all-encompassing feeling as “immersive”. The caveat here is that spatial audio is still relatively new, and some mixes don't quite work. Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody”, for example, didn't agree with me. But Elton John's “Rocket Man” and the Vienna Philharmonic's “Theme from ‘Jurassic Park'” are superb.

At S$799, the Sonos Era 300 is a premium speaker that excels in spatial audio. While it's also very good for stereo music, the Sonos Five (S$899) is still positioned as Sonos' top speaker overall. The Era 300 is also much more expensive than Apple's spatial audio HomePod speaker (S$429). But the HomePod only works for Apple users, while you can add more speakers for a more expansive home theatre setup with Sonos. Spatial audio, though, may not be your cup of tea. I'll say listen to the Era 300 at a store before deciding. Unless you already have a Sonos home theatre setup — in this case, a pair of Era 300s will definitely be the best rear surrounds you can get, especially for Dolby Atmos content. The Era 300 is now available at Lazada, and TC Acoustic's website.

See Also
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Note: Review unit provided by Sonos.


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Verdict



CAN BUY

Incredibly immersive for spatial audio tracks.

Available at Lazada
Buy it from TC Acoustic

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