Sonos Era 300 as rears to the Sonos Arc – superb Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 soundbar (AV review)

The Sonos Era 300 has had rave reviews as a Dolby Atmos speaker. Still, little has been written about its real raison d’etre – to give Sonos Arc soundbar owners that rear spatial height to complete the Dolby Atmos experience.

The Sonos Arc is a 5.0.2 solution. Adding a pair of Sonos Ones still left it as a 5.0.2 solution, but the rear surrounds became discrete channels, and the Arc (all-in-one) repurposed the Right and Left side firing surrounds to work with the dedicated rears. That meant the Arc did not need psychoacoustics to bounce sounds behind you. And these rears were superb in 5.0 surround (which so much free-to-air and streaming TV is).

But we wanted more 3D spatial mid and rear height as the Arc was a tad front centric relying on psychoacoustics. Enter the Sonos Era 300.

I will give you a spoiler – If I could award 11/10, I would. But you must remember that the Arc is $1499, the Sub Gen 2 is $1299, and a pair of Era 300s are $1498 totalling $4296. You could probably get a home theatre amp and discrete speakers for that money. Still, there is quiet elegance to Arc/Era/Sub solution. You probably should read Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar with optional Sub and surrounds before you read the remainder of this review.

The Sonos Era 300 is a 5.0.1 Dolby speaker in its own right

It has six drivers to fire out sound in all directions – left/right stereo, left/right surround, centre forward firing and up-firing to deliver full Dolby Atmos sound. Technically, a single Era 300 is a 5.0.1 virtual Dolby speaker. When used with stereo content, it is a full 3.0. Or you can use a pair as Dolby Atmos front speakers and pair it with a sub or mini-sub, making that 5.1.2.

To clarify any confusion, adding a pair of Era 300 to the Arc takes it to 7.1.4 (with a sub). This means full Dolby Atmos without any virtualisation.


The Era 300 is a Wi-Fi 6 AX 2.4 and 5GHz capable speaker. We have the world’s most powerful  Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E AX 11000 mesh router, not 2 metres from the Era 300s. They connected on 5Ghz Wi-Fi AX at excellent signal strengths.

Before we get into setup, we will jump back to the Arc. The Arc is Wi-Fi 4 N – 2.4Ghz band only. The Era 300 is perfect as a standalone Wi-Fi 6 speaker (and stereo paired). But they can become quite distorted as rears to an Arc/Sub that use Ethernet to connect the Arc/Sub (as so many do).

We had the same issue with a pair of Sonos Ones, and it was instantly solved by using an Ethernet connection for all devices. Why? Sound metadata comes via HDMI to the ARC. It is distributed via Ethernet to the router/switch and fed to the sub and speakers. Mix Wi-Fi 4, Sonos Mesh, and Wi-Fi 6, which can be a recipe for lag and distortion.

Fortunately, Sonos has a USB-C port and a $69 (each) Sonos Combo Ethernet/3.5mm adapter. We tried other USB-C to Ethernet adapters, but they did not work. When these arrived (promptly, too), the Era 300s paired beautifully with the Arc and Sub without distortion. Lesson: Use Ethernet for Home Theatre.

Next, pair the Era 300s as rear surrounds with the Arc in the S2 app. Easy. Finally, run Trueplay (using an iOS phone or the internal mic), and you are set.

The S2 App allows for further customisations like height, surround rear volume, etc.


The Era 300s are kind of large (compared to the Ones) at 260mm x 185 x 160 (W/H/D) and 4.47kg each. Some say the design is polarising. I don’t mind it.

We placed them behind a two-to-three-seater couch about 3 metres (ideal 65” 4K viewing distance) from the TV/Arc. The questions are how far behind and apart, and if they should be angled towards the listener.

We have been experimenting. While Trueplay can compensate quite well, the speakers are best placed about 700-80cm high, 60cm behind, and at least 30cm beside either end of the couch. They should be angled about 20° toward the listener. Ensure you run Trueplay every time you experiment. We are still playing with placement and will update this review if we find better. I suspect the Sonos Era 300 stand ($449 pair) that is 965mm high may be the answer.

How do they sound?

We run a Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 test for a soundbar with discrete rear forward and up-firing speakers. Of course, these speakers do so much more. Pass means excellent definition.

Arc (7.0)

  • Front Left: Pass
  • Front Right: Pass
  • Front Centre: Pass
  • Left front surround: Pass
  • Right front surround: Pass
  • Front left up-firing: Pass
  • Right Left up-firing: Pass

Era 300 as a pair to the Arc (presents as 2.02)

  • Rear left forward firing: Pass
  • Rear Right forwards-firing: Pass
  • Rear Left up-firing: Pass
  • Rear Right up-firing: Pass

Below is the native sound signature of the Arc/Sub/Era pair. Bass starts at a low 30Hz, and it is flat to 7kHz, where it dips slightly to avoid harshness and is then flat to 20kHz.

Below is the Arc/Sub/Ones. The Era above improves Bass, smooths out any potential clipping or compression, and improves 10-20kHz, where the ‘directionality’ feeling comes from.

OK, we know all the channels are Dolby Atmos compliant.

We tweaked the S2 app slightly to add more front height and the rears to add more surround volume.

The effect was awesome. We had strong 3D spatial height with definite smooth movement overhead – Top Gun Maverick’s plane flying front to rear. Then, to our surprise, Top Gun flew way past the rears, where the Dolby effect usually is lost.

We had exceptionally strong left and right surround, but more than that, we had great front-firing surround sound too. These were effectively mimicking a virtual 9/11.1.4 system. 2D effects like bullets flying past were so realistic, and that long tail echo was so faithfully reproduced.

Let’s just say that the pair of Sonos Ones was nice, and these are bloody amazing. I recently reviewed the Samsung HW-Q990C Q-series soundbar – massive 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos sound, and I felt that the Sonos sound quality and sound signature were better. But we are comparing a $4,296 system to a $1999 Samsung – not fair.

Similarly, the LG S95QR 9.1.5 Dolby Atmos soundbar – ultimate sound for every TV presents DA slightly better than the Sonos Arc/Sub/Ones, BUT it cannot do what the Arc/Era300s/sub can. Although with its discrete centre up-firing channel, it is an excellent choice, especially now at $1399.

Era 300 music

I need more time to test these as single and stereo-pair speakers. Later, this review will be updated and cover Dolby Atmos music content.

I briefly played our test tracks through the Arc/Sub/Era setup, and I can’t fault it in Dolby Atmos, surround mode or music mode. It can reach over 85dB (excellent) but back off to 80dB for pure sound.

Era 300 and Beam 2

When paired with Sonos Beam Gen 2 – quality Dolby Atmos compatible soundbar and a mini-sub (5.1), you get 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos. We have ‘played’ with this and will enhance this segment in the future.

The initial perception is that the Beam (which does not have up-firing speakers) and Era 300 virtualises the 3D height sound stage quite convincingly. But it is rear-to-mid centric, not rear-to-front centric.

CyberShack’s view: Sonos Era 300 as rears to the Sonos Arc for convincing 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos sound

They are excellent when paired with an Arc and Sub. The Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 sound stage is even more expansive than that.

A few reviewers have commented that these no longer support Google Assistant. That is only voice commands using the speaker’s mic (Alexa is built-in). But Google Home sees these as multi-room separate speakers (not a stereo pair as it is a choice of dedicated rears or stereo pairing).

But remember that this configuration costs $4,296. Would I buy them? Absolutely, but then I believe in value, not price, and I am willing to pay for a premium product offering a premium Dolby Atmos experience.

Rating Explanation – Sonos Era 300 as dedicated rears to the Sonos Arc/Sub.

Earlier, I said I would give it 11/10, but our review rating system won’t allow that. And this review needs more (soon) about the speakers as standalone, stereo pair, and high-res music. I know the Era 300s will ace that, but I don’t have the additional time at present (due to extended holidays).

  • Features: 100 – This is unique as a Dolby Atmos 3D spatial speaker in its own right. A bonus is that it can be dedicated rears to an Arc/Sub, Bluetooth or 3.5mm driven.
  • Value: 90 – If you must ask the price, buy the LG or Samsung.
  • Performance: 100 – When Ethernet is connected to the Arc/Sub, it dramatically exceeds the 7.1.4 specification/soundstage, with an enhanced listening area far larger than traditional all-in-one soundbars with discreet rear speakers.
  • Ease of Use: 100 – The S2 app is easy to use and pair. It adds Trueplay room tuning and more.
  • Design: 90 – I like the design and style (especially in white), but you need space for them to work best.

Sonos Era 300 as rear pair to the Arc

$749 each







Ease of Use





  • The sheer ease of connecting these as a dedicated rear pair to an Arc/Sub via the S2 App
  • S2 App flexibility, clear dialogue/night settings and tweaking to suit
  • The unexpectedly wider and more expansive Dolby Atmos sound stage, especially after Trueplay tuning
  • Superb for Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 and PCM/Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound as well
  • Flexible – Bluetooth, Ethernet and 3.5mm inputs (the latter needs a USB-C adapter)


  • As a combo still only supports DTS to 5.1, not the lossless DTS:X
  • Bass/Treble EQ is a little limited.
  • Bluetooth is handy, but latency is around 200ms, so you may have to adjust lip-sync on videos
  • You will likely need Ethernet combo adapters for Arc pairing
  • Rear stands are expensive but p[robably necessary