Mac Format

Sonos Era 300

Sonos’ new flagship provides precise sound and Dolby Atmos


A tweeter on top is angled upward to enhance the sense of spatial sound

The cylindrica­l design and £249 price tag of the Sonos Era 100 make it the most obvious rival for Apple’s HomePod, but it’s the top-of-therange Era 300 that stands out from the crowd. Admittedly, the 300 is more expensive, costing £449, but its support for Dolby Atmos, larger design and more powerful sound leave the HomePod looking a little underpower­ed.

Available in black or white, the Era 300 is considerab­ly larger than either the HomePod or the Era 100, with an unusual hour-glass design that is pinched around the middle. It stands 190mm high, 260mm wide and 160mm deep, and weighs almost 4.5kg, so it’ll need a fairly solid shelf to support it. However, the powerful speaker houses six drivers, with one high-frequency tweeter facing directly forward, and both a woofer and a tweeter on each side to provide good stereo separation. There’s one last tweeter on the top of the unit, angled upward to enhance the sense of spatial sound for films or music that support Dolby Atmos.

Making connection­s

The Era 300 supports dual-band Wi-Fi for connecting to your home network, as well as AirPlay 2 for quick and easy streaming with Apple devices. It’s good to see that Sonos has finally added Bluetooth as well – but annoying to find that you have to buy a separate adaptor to provide a wired audio input. A simple adaptor with a 3.5mm audio connector costs £19, or £39 for an adaptor that has both a 3.5mm connector and an Ethernet port for a wired network. That’s annoying, given the high price of the Era 300 – but at least Sonos does give you that option, whereas Apple’s HomePod simply ignores wired connection­s and Bluetooth altogether.

The Sonos app works well, providing access to online music services and radio stations, and the app runs on Macs and Windows PCs as well as iOS and Android devices, making it easy to control the speaker with most types of digital device. But, of course, it’s the sound quality that really matters, and the Era 300 really delivers, with a clear, detailed sound that has plenty of power behind it. Bass can often be a weakness on one-piece speaker systems, but the Era 300 lands the bouncing bass riff on Bad Guy by Billie Eilish with a really taut, firm sound. It handles higher frequencie­s well too, catching the crisp finger snaps with great clarity, and every breathy whisper of Billie’s voice as she declares - “I’m the bad guy – duh!”

We’re not convinced that Dolby Atmos adds much to pop or rock music, but the Era 300 works a treat with the soundtrack of Blade Runner, adding a real sense of movement as the futuristic hover-car zooms across during the dramatic opening sequence. Cliff Joseph

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