I have to admit one thing: when I attended the preview of the new ones Sonos Era 300 and Sonos Era 100, the first thing I thought was “I want two era 300 to replace Sonos One in my home theater with Arc and Sub”. It was an almost natural thought, also because with its internal architecture and support for spatial audio, I was immediately convinced that it could be a great generational leap not only for the brand, but for home audio itself.
Sonos Era 300 it's the company's first speaker (not soundbar) to support Dolby Atmos and to feature top and side speakers to create spatial audio, a technology that came into vogue thanks to Apple, but Sonos has been working on since about three years.
But it's not just this. With It was 300 Sonos has fixed some of the limitations that characterized all of its models, such as the absence of Bluetooth, an analog input and the limitation of True Play for Android devices.
All features integrated into the new lineup of smart speakers, but the point is another: how does he feel Sonos Era 300?
Sonos Era 300 review: pros, cons and audio quality
Design and materials
The design of Sonos Era 300 it was born from dozens of initial prototypes, among which three were chosen, all very different from each other. The winner was what has been defined as an "hourglass", which proved rather divisive on social media but which, let me tell you, seen from the vivo it's much nicer than it looks in the various marketing images.
Sonos Era 300 it's a big, heavy, massive speaker. With dimensions equal to 160 x 260 x 185 mm and a weight of about 4.5 kg, it is a product that needs space to be positioned, above all because to make the most of Dolby Atmos, it must have a radius of 20 cm free around itself. Despite its size, however, it fits perfectly into the decor and like all the brand's products, it has an appearance that does not attract much attention to itself.
In short, it changes profoundly compared to any other Sonos product, and introduces several new features also for control and connections. The brand, for example, has totally revolutionized the volume management system which now takes place not only through touches, but which can also be adjusted through a swipe to be done on a hollow surface. It is a winning solution, much easier to manage if the smart speaker is positioned in high areas where there is no visual access to the indicators, and which we also find in the smallest of the family, the Sonos Era 100.
Even later there are many new features. The power cable is positioned in the center of the rear area of the speaker (I must admit, however, that I would have preferred it lower down), above there is a physical switch for deactivating the microphones as well as the Bluetooth pairing button, and a USB-C port has also been integrated, born with a very specific purpose: with an adapter to be purchased separately, through this port it is possible to add an analog input to Sonos Era 300. This is excellent news especially for those who, for example, want to listen to their vinyls with Sonos speakers, which however have a price: for a USB-C / 3.5mm jack adapter, it will cost 25 euros.
On first use, you won't just plug in Sonos Era 300 to the power supply in order to use it. Because as in all the brand's products, the management of the new smart speaker also takes place through the Sonos S2 application, with which it will be possible not only to activate the speaker, but also to manage all its functions, optimize its audio performance with True Play and associate a digital assistant.
But beware: Sonos Era 300 and Era 100 lose support for Google Assistant. Oh yeah, unfortunately following the vicissitudes between the brand and the Mountain View giant, the brand's new products are no longer compatible with Google Assistant, and can only use Alexa or the brand's voice control system. And it's a real shame, also because in the old models (fortunately) Google support continues to be present.
However, the configuration process is extremely intuitive, and is structured in such a way that it can also be completed by those who are totally ignorant of the dynamics of technology. Should you also have a Sonos Sub, or an Arc or whatever It was 300, association with other devices would still be very simple.
App and new Universal True Play
We are familiar with the Sonos S2 app. The evolution of Sonos' first digital speaker controller allows users to fully manage their system and pair with popular music streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited and Sonos Radio.
The most important novelty of the brand's new generation of smart speakers lies in the new True Play which, finally, is no longer limited to iOS devices only. Let me explain better: it is a sound optimization process, thanks to which (through the analysis of the refraction of the sound waves) the system will optimize the reproduction based on the environment in which the speaker is positioned, and to date it is was a feature usable only with an iPhone.
A major limitation, which has been resolved with a simple and functional idea, which has finally eliminated the gap, or at least made it less effective. With Sonos Era 300 it is also possible to take advantage of True Play with Android smartphones, but with a very different optimization process: it is no longer necessary to walk around the room with the smartphone to "pick up" the sound waves, but everything will be managed in total autonomy by the integrated microphones in the diffuser.
And it works. Of course, in my opinion for an optimal result it would always be better to use the old method (which is still available and still works only with iPhone), but once the whole process has been completed, the audio rendering and the spatial effect of Sonos Era 300 they change radically.
The listening test
Because, let's face it: on first start and without True Play the audio initially played with Sonos Era 300 it could seem a bit flat in terms of equalization: the medium frequencies are many, and the high ones are as if they were somewhat sacrificed. But it is precisely by carrying out the TruePlay optimization that Sonos Era 300 changes face, and turns into the best smart speaker in its price range.
Inside theIt was 300 there are as many as six drivers. There are four tweeters firing forward, left, right and up, while a pair of angled woofers handle low frequencies.
Basically Sonos Era 300 is a stereophonic smart speaker, whose internal architecture aims to spread the sound throughout the room regardless of whether the listened track is stereo or spatial. current is stereo or spatial audio.
Thankfully, Sonos won't force virtualized spatial mixes on stereo content and respects whatever original format is played, although it does use the added drivers for more spatiality.
And it is useless to get around it: once the Sonos Era 300, we realize that it is one of those products that make you say "wait, what?" on first use. The basses are deep, the frequencies always well balanced, the volume high and the class D amplifiers together with the excellent dynamics compressor, totally eliminate the presence of distortions even at maximum volume. It's an exceptional speaker with which, perhaps for the first time, saying that “sound fills the room” is totally true.
If you then wanted to associate two Sonos Era 300 to a Sonos Arc and a Sonos Sub, you would get a 7.1.4 surround setup. And the result would be crazy.
In essence, with this configuration the Arc would handle the front centre, left and right channels. Meanwhile, the two It was 300 in the rear they would output the standard rears and work in unison on expanding the left and right channels.
It's an exceptional configuration, but one that would cost exorbitant sums.
There's a problem with spatial audio: 99% of the time audio tracks that currently support this technology are poorly done. Now, at launch, Sonos Era 300 it will support Dolby Atmos audio tracks only from Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited so if, for example, you were a Spotify user you would not be able to make the most of its spatiality.
For those unfamiliar with Dolby Atmos, it is a surround sound technique that is based on up to 128 sound objects, instead of real channels. Basically it manages to reconstruct three-dimensional audio by processing the Dolby TrueHD signal, or Dolby Digital Plus (or Dolby Digital). The differences between the two are substantially in the resolution of the audio: the first is high resolution, and is available only in some types of sources or devices, the other is a compressed format and is the most popular version especially in the various services online audio and video streaming.
Basically, I haven't had the chance to really try the spatial effect, because the pieces that support it and that are made as a work of art are still few. In those very few songs that I have heard however, the spatial tracks have a considerable touch of immersion more than the stereophonic ones, but the producers still have a lot of work to do.
Price and considerations
The selling price of Sonos Era 300 is 499,00 euros, today it is possible to pre-order it while sales will officially begin on March 28, 2023. A decidedly not suitable figure for all budgets, which positions the new smart speaker one step below the Sonos Five (the top model of the brand for Hi-Fi audio).
One thing is certain though: with Sonos you are always on the safe side. Because it will be expensive, it will have a design that "you either hate or love", and it is not yet 100% exploitable because there are still few Dolby Atmos tracks worth investing in these figures for, but with Sonos Era 300 the brand has not only resolved practically all the limitations that have characterized its products over the years, but has produced a truly revolutionary speaker which, apart from spatial audio, rises to the Olympus of smart speakers for its quality and sound which it can reproduce.
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