Sonos Era 100 – the versatile speaker (AV sound review)

The Sono Era 100 is the logical replacement for the Sonos One. Yet it offers so much more – stereo from a single enclosure, room tuning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Line-in, AirPlay 2, stereo pairing, and rear speakers for the Arc and Beam soundbars.

I was quite surprised at this $399 speaker – real stereo (no downmix) from one enclosure, better sound quality than the Sonos One (which was pretty good), BT/Wi-Fi and Line-in (needs an adapter); it is a step up.

Who is Sonos for?

Now for some philosophy. Sonos speakers are not intended as audiophile speakers – at the price, they could not be. They are well made, have a wide frequency range, neutral sound signature, are easy listening, with extensive streaming options, and are multi-room capable speakers.

Sonos enthusiasts love its products. Think of them as the Lexus car of the speaker world and the future backbone of a whole-of-home Sonos ecosystem.

Australian Review: Sonos Era 100

WebsiteProduct page and Support Page
ColourSonos White or black matte polycarbonate case
PriceSonos One $399 inc free delivery
FromSonos Online, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Videopro
Warranty12-months ACL
Made inUS-designed and made in China.
AboutSonos is an American Audio company based in Santa Barbara, California [Est 2002]. It develops and manufactures smart speakers to play music simultaneously in multiple rooms.
MoreCyberShack Sonos news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression – svelte and smooth – Pass+

It is elegant in matte white or black at 182.5 x 120 x 130.5mm and 2.02kg. There are capacitive touch controls at the top, a front LED, a recessed power plug port at the bottom, Bluetooth/setup, and microphone on/off buttons at the rear. A far-field, four-mic array is quite reasonable to about 8 metres.

While this is more about the insides (electronics), it has a Quad Core [email protected] processor, 2GB DDR4 for the operating system, a streaming buffer, and 8GB eMMC Flash for the OS storage.

Speaker – Pass+

It is a three amplifier, 2.1 speaker – dual angle tweeters (left and right) for stereo and a large woofer for bass. A new 2.1 co-neural processor means no downscale of music to mono (as per the One).

Connection is via Wi-Fi 2.4 and 5Ghz, BT 5 (SBC and AAC codecs) and 3.5mm Line in (pure analogue – no conversion to digital).

It lacks hi-res BT codecs like aptX HD or LDAC, but you can stream Hi-Res 24-bit/192kHz content (Amazon Ultra HD) via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. The Line-in works with turntables with a pre-amp.

Adding rears to the Sonos Arc – Pass+

We have reviewed the Sonos Era 300 as rears to the Sonos Arc – superb Dolby Atmos 7.1.4. It is a 5.0.1 DA speaker in its own right, but when a pair is used for rears, it takes the Arc 5.1.2 (with Sub) to 7.1.4 DA soundbar (a total of four up-firing speakers). The extra speakers reinforce the soundbar and give truly immersive DA 3D height and surround sound.

The key difference is that Era 100 is a 2.1 speaker. Adding a pair to the Arc/Sub combo makes 7.1.2 (these don’t have up-firing speakers). The rears add front firing Left/Right and reinforce the side-firing Left/Right of the Arc.

We have been unable to test this, but it should also play up to 7.1 surround sound content (the Era 300s do).

Placement and TruePlay – Pass+

As a single speaker with dual angled stereo tweeters and a forward-firing woofer, you can place this anywhere there is a convenient power point. It can be near a wall or on a shelf. Be careful of bookshelves, as you need the stereo tweeters to be clear of any side obstructions.

If adding them as rears to an Arc or Beam (or even a Ray) soundbar, keep them about 3 metres back and place them directly behind the viewing area. Again do not obstruct the tweeters, as it will impact surround sound.

iPhone users can still use the phone to room tune. Android users can now use the Era 100 microphone as well. While iPhone remains the most comprehensive and is best for stereo pairs and rears, the built-in room tune is good.

S2 App -Exceed

The Sonos App for Android and iOS is foolproof. If it does not work, its more to do with your Wi-Fi setup. Ensure the smartphone is on a 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi band (or 5 GHz if you use that, but we recommend 2.4Ghz).

Assuming you don’t have Sonos already (and this is the start of your multi-room adventure), open the App and create a Sonos account.

The App will then find the Era 100 and any other Sonos speakers and run you through the setup. It plays a chime to connect to the App.

If you are adding a stereo pair or soundbar rears (or other model Sonos speakers), the App will guide you through those too.

The App has privacy settings, and you can turn personalisation services off. It has an EQ that can fine-tune but calibrate with TruePlay first.

Controls – Pass+

It has a new swipe +/- for volume as well as press:

  • Once: Plays/pauses audio.
  • Hold play/pause button: Adds audio from another room.
  • Fast Forward button: Skips to the next track.
  • Rewind button: Skips to the previous track.
  • Voice Services button: Voice control on/off
  • Hold Bluetooth button: Pairs a new device.
  • Bluetooth button once: Connects to a previously-recognized device.
  • Microphone on/off switch

Voice – Pass

For reasons unknown (probably because Sonos is suing Google for allegedly stealing IP), it does not support OK Google. It does support Alexa and its own ‘Hey Sonos’ voice control. All processing is done on-device – no privacy issues, although you need a Sonos account and App to use this.

It has basic device controls plus

  • Sonos Radio
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • Pandora

There is no Spotify client, but you can use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or AirPlay for that and many other audio and podcast sources. Sadly local radio stations need to be cast to the device.

Build – Pass+

It is primarily plastic (One had a metal grille), and has humidity resistance, so you can use it in a bathroom or undercover outdoor area. The grille acts as a stereo waveguide to create a wider soundstage.


  • Speaker
  • 1.9m power cable

Adapters/Accessories  – Pass

You can buy

  • 3.5mm to USB-C line in $35
  • Ethernet and 3.5mm to USB-C $69
  • Floor stand $219 each
  • Wall mount $119 each

The Wi-Fi connection is usually fine (now supports 2.4 and 5Ghz), but when pairing with the Arc, you need to use Ethernet. The Beam Wi-Fi pairing works fine.

How does the Sonos Era 100 sound? Pass++

We tested with Bluetooth SBC, and we expect that Line-in, Wi-Fi and Ethernet will give an even better result.

The bass starts surprisingly early at 35Hz, builds to high bass (100Hz), and is flat to 20kHz. An excellent neutral sound signature with no overt AI processing. As such, what you play (quality-wise) is what you get.

The stereo sound stage is reasonable – about 2 metres wide and far better than expected from a single speaker. There is not quite the distinct Left/Right separation that you get with discrete speakers. We tested with Dolby Atmos content, but there is no 3D height or increase in the sound stage (as you get with Era 300).

Maximum volume is 85dB (loud) with minimal distortion, but they sound better the more they are pushed (over 70%). Bass gives a good thump but is a bit heavy, so back it off a little in the EQ. Treble is airy and has the feeling of being there.

Best use

We should not forget that these are the backbone of the Sonos Multi-room system replacing the Sonos One. Being stereo in one enclosure means you can use it anywhere, but placement becomes more important. For example, place them where you can appreciate stereo – not in a corner or on a bedside table.

The best use for these is really a stereo pair sitting on a shelf for casual listening. I would like to say that they are good as rears to the Arc (and they are better than the One’s), but once you have heard the Era 300s as rears, you cannot go back.

CyberShack’s view – Sonos Era 100 are the versatile speaker

For my stereo music pleasure, I use a pair of Sonos Five – superb Hi-Fi over Wi-Fi  – big, powerful, six speakers and amps (three woofers give you solid bass-and-mids and three side-angled tweeters fill out the full and satisfying mid-and-high-treble). But these are $899 each ($1798 for the pair), and I expect that to be superb. These are more akin to the Era 300 that I expect will be its replacement.

The Era 100 has three speakers, costs $399 and does a very good job. They don’t have the punch of the Fives, but they certainly have more than the Ones. Had I not been spoiled by Fives, then a pair of these would have been fine for music.

As a replacement for the Sonos One and all that entails, they exceed expectations.

Ratings – Sonos Era 100

Note – not tested as a stereo pair.

  • Features: 90 The loss of Google Assistant is unfortunate, but we may see that again one day. As far as a replacement for the Sonos One, it has 2.1 speakers (versus mono) and Ethernet/Wi-Fi/BT/Line-in.
  • Value: 90 Not cheap (that’s price), but the value is excellent for the flexibility and music quality
  • Performance: 90 – but you get more with the right placement, and don’t hesitate to push them.
  • Ease of use: 90 – The S2 app is bullet-proof
  • Design: 90 – understated and elegant. Love the matte white.