A new leak indicates Sonos will release its new Sonos Era 100 and 300 smart speakers in March with a slew of features that challenge Apple’s recently relaunched HomePod.
Of the two new Sonos speakers, the pricier Era 300 features a version of spatial audio. Both support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB-C line-in for versatile connectivity. The Era 100 is likely to replace the much-liked Sonos One, launched in 2017.
Sonos Era 300 and Era 100 try to ‘reset the bar for smart speakers’
The two new speakers should be released together by late March, The Verge reported. It showcased a number of marketing images it acquired from Sonos. The report said Sonos “looks to reset the bar for smart speakers.”
This comes just weeks after Apple rolled out its revamped full-sized HomePod with various improvements, including improved sound and better smart-home integration.
Reviews were largely positive, but not ecstatic. They suggested Cupertino’s original HomePod could have taken a greater leap forward than it did in its new version.
More connectivity = more versatility
However, Apple’s big smart speaker still lacks line-in capability from music players. And you can only use it wirelessly with Apple devices.
Both new Sonos speakers appear to offer more versatility. They can stream over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi from any enabled device, plus receive a signal via line-in for music from turntables and the like.
Both Era speakers will support Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and AirPlay 2. For line-in, neither speaker as a built-in jack. Instead, “Sonos will sell a line-in adapter for USB-C audio and a ‘combo adapter’ for plugging in over ethernet,” The Verge said.
How pricing compares
Projected pricing seems to place the Era 100 more squarely against HomePod, while the Era 300 looks like a more premium option.
While the new HomePod costs $299, the Sonos Era 300 is expected to cost $450 and the Era 100 should go for $250.
The Era 300 is high-end but not a replacement for the flagship Sonos Five ($550), due to be updated. But the Era 100 is apparently meant to replace the popular Sonos One ($219).
Era 300 may not support Dolby Atmos or Google Assistant
The Verge reported that even though Sonos engineered the Era 300 for Spatial Audio, it appears it won’t support Dolby Atmos and therefore won’t capitalize on that sonic benefit in the many thousands of Apple Music tracks mastered for it.
That said, you can incorporate the Era speakers with Sonos soundbars for surround-sound in a home theater situation. In the marketing photo above, a pair of Era 300 speakers are mounted for rear-surround-sound to go with a Dolby Atmos-capable sound bar mounted on the wall under the TV.
As for the lower-specced Era 100, it’s not made for Spatial Audio. It features upward-firing drivers.
And because Sonos is in a legal fight with Google, it seems likely neither speaker will support Google Assistant. Instead, voice assistant options will probably be limited to Sonos Voice Control and Amazon Alexa.