Sonos now has two high-end wireless speakers in the Five and the Era 300. The Five is the older, larger and more expensive of two, while the Era 300 is optimized for playing immersive sound and supports Dolby Atmos. The two are the best sounding wireless speakers that Sonos offers, but they're also quite a bit different.
If you're wondering if you should buy the Five or the Era 300, it's going to mostly depend on four things.
- How are you going to be using the speaker?
- What are you listening to?
- What devices are you streaming your audio from?
- How much are you willing to spend?
Color: BlackSonos Five Read More
Color: WhiteSonos Five Sonos Read More
Color: BlackSonos Era 300 Read More
Color: WhiteSonos Era 300 Read More
The Five and the Era 300: How Are They Similar?
At the end of the day, the Five and Era 300 are both Sonos speakers — and therefore they work in much the same way and have a lot in common.
• Wi-Fi streaming: All Sonos speakers support wireless streaming over your home's Wi-Fi network. You can stream music from most major music streaming apps — including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Amazon Music and Qobuz — directly to either the Five or Era 300.
• Multi-room grouping: You can group any Sonos speaker with other Sonos speakers so long as they are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. This means you have all your Sonos speakers playing the same audio throughout your entire house.
• Stereo pairing: You can stereo pair any two of the same Sonos speakers — in this case, two Fives or two Era 300s together — so that they play true stereo sound. They need to be the same model of speaker, so you can't create a stereo pair with one Five and one Era 300, for example.
• Rear-channel play: If you have two Fives or two Era 300s, you can designate a pair of either to act as rear-channel speakers in a Sonos home theater system with the company's higher-end soundbars, either the Arc or Beam (second-generation).
• Hi-Fi sound: Both speakers are capable of streaming high-resolution audio at up to 24-bit/48kHz. However, this only works with certain streaming services. Currently, Sonos is capable of playing high-resolution audio from Amazon Music Unlimited and Qobuz. It's expected that support for high-resolution streaming from Apple Music is coming soon, too.
• Line-in connection: Both the Five and Era 300 speakers support line-in connectivity. This means you can hardwire an audio source — like a turntable, CD player, computer or a projector — to the port in the rear of the speaker. However, they differ in that the Five has an AUX port and the Era 300 has a USB-C port, so they require different adapters.
Why Buy the Sonos Era 300?
The Era 300 is optimized for Dolby Atmos.
The Era 300 is Sonos's first standalone speaker with an upward-firing driver. (Sonos's two soundbars that support Dolby Atmos, the Arc and second-generation Beam, also have upward-firing drivers.) When playing Dolby Atmos content, it fires sound upwards to create virtual high-channels and creates the effect that sound is coming from somewhere other than the speaker itself.
There is a catch, however. You have to be a subscriber to Apple Music or Amazon Music Unlimited to listen to music that supports Dolby Atmos on the Era 300. Spotify doesn't currently support Dolby Atmos content.
Two Era 300s make more immersive rear-channel speakers.
If you already have an Arc soundbar and you're looking to create the best Sonos home theater system possible, you want to get two Era 300s and dedicate them as rear-channel speakers. Each speaker has an upward-firing driver that can better take advantage of the Dolby Atmos movies, shows and other content that is widely available. If paired with an Arc soundbar and two Subs, the Era 300s can help you create a 7.1.4 home theater system — it's the best home theater system possible with a Sonos setup.
The Era 300 is a smart speaker.
The Era 300 is a smart speaker that can respond to voice commands via Amazon Alexa or Sonos Voice Control. Unlike Sonos's previous smart speakers, the Era 300 (as well as the Era 100) does not support Google Assistant.
The Era 300 supports Bluetooth.
Bluetooth means anybody can play audio on the Era 300 — just push the Bluetooth button on the top-back of the speaker and pair on your smartphone — without you having to share your Wi-Fi password. It enables you to stream content that's not from a music streaming service, like the audio from a YouTube video or an original recording you have saved on your smartphone.
The Era 300 is the better speaker for Android users.
The Era 300 (and Era 100) is the first Sonos speaker that supports TruePlay for Android, which has been a feature previously only supported for iPhone and iPad users. The Era 300 is able to use its own built-in microphones to calibrate its sound for the space it's in. It's not quite as accurate as TruePlay for Apple users — which use the built-in microphones of the iPhone or iPad and require you to wave/walk the devices around the room — but it's the best solution for Android that Sonos has ever offered.
Why Buy the Sonos Five?
The Five is a better stereo speaker.
The Five is a wireless speaker that's optimized for stereo sound — it has dedicated right, left and center channels and delivers a wider soundstage than the Era 300. Plus, the fact that pretty much any digital music file that you stream is rendered for stereo, you know that the Five is going to sound its best no matter what you play.
The other completely unique thing about the Five is that when you stand it up vertically, it switches from playing stereo to playing a mono sound. This isn't really recommended when you only have one Five speaker, but if you have two stereo-paired Fives, standing both up vertically will turn them into true left- and right-channel speakers — this is the best stereo experience that Sonos offers.
The Five delivers deeper, more powerful bass.
The Five is a bigger speaker than the Era 300. It has more drivers, including three mid-woofers, and is able to deliver substantially more bass. So if you're somebody who loves deep bass and you don't plan on getting one of Sonos's wireless subwoofers — which are expensive — to pair with your Sonos speaker, the Five is going to be your better bet.
The Five is a simpler speaker.
Let's face it: not everyone wants a smart speaker. They don't want it listening in on their conversations. And yes, every one of Sonos's smart speakers has a button that turns its built-in microphone off to prevent this, but it's also really easy to accidentally turn that microphone back on when you don't mean to. With the Five, you don't have to worry about this. It can't work as a smart speaker.