The Sonos Era 100 ($249) is here to take the place of the Sonos One ($219) — literally. Sonos is going to continue to sell the One until they sell out, and that's it. From then on, the Era 100 is going to be the company's go-to smart speaker. (If you don't need a "smart" speaker and you're looking for a deal, Sonos will continue to sell the One SL for $199.)
If you already have a One or One SL, you might be wondering: should I upgrade to the Era 100? Or maybe you're buying your first Sonos speaker, and debating between grabbing a new Era 100 or one of the existing Ones on the shelf. Well, the truth is, the two speakers are very similar — but there are also some major differences between them.
As a long-time owner of several One and One SL speakers, I've been able to listen to and compare them to the all-new Era 100 for the last week. Here's what you need to know.
The Era 100 clearly sounds better.
When listening to the two speakers side by side and alternating tracks between the two, it's clear that the Era 100 sounds better. It's a slightly bigger speaker — and with speakers, size matters — and that has allowed Sonos to deck it out with an extra tweeter and a 25 percent larger mid-woofer; this helps the Era 100 deliver more of a stereo sound, deliver deeper bass and, honestly, get a bit louder.
Of course, the Era 100 and the One (as well as the One SL) are fairly small speakers, so the difference in sound quality isn't exactly night-and-day. But when comparing tracks like Taylor Swift and Bon Iver's "Exile", Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" or Miley Cyrus's "You," the Era 100's sound is just a bit more spacious and punchy than the One. It's a newer, bigger, better speaker.
The Era 100 can be hooked up to your turntable.
One of the biggest reasons to get the Era 100 rather than the One (or One SL) is its versatility. Specifically, Sonos has integrated with a AUX port (via USB-C) and built-in Bluetooth, both of which allow you to play music on the Era 100 in ways other than standard Wi-Fi. The One and One SL just support streaming over Wi-Fi.
The line-in USB-C port is probably the coolest thing about the Era 100. It allows you to connect the Era 100 directly to a turntable (or even a computer) — although you must buy a special adapter from Sonos — whereas previously the only Sonos speakers which allowed you to do this were the Five and antiquated Play:5. Admittedly, I haven't been to test the Era 100 with my turntable because I don't have Sonos's special adapter, but I trust it works well; I normally have my turntable connected directly to my old Play:5, and it's great.
The inclusion of the line-in USB-C port makes the Era 100 the best cheap way to play vinyl on your Sonos system. (Yes, technically you can stream audio from a Bluetooth turntable to Sonos's Roam or Move, but that feels kind of like a workaround and isn't actually super convenient.)
The Era 100 has built-in Bluetooth, but do you need it?
The Era 100 also has built-in Bluetooth — which the One (and One SL) lacks — and there are a couple niche use-cases why you might use it. It allows you to play music on the Era 100 that you can't great on a music streaming service, such as music you've recorded or music from a YouTube video. It also allows anybody to quickly press the Bluetooth button on the back of the Era 100, connect to it and play music without access to your home's Wi-Fi network. And in theory, that's neat.
I tested the Bluetooth connectivity on the Era 100 and it works really well. You hold down the button, go to Bluetooth settings on your smartphone, connect to the Era 100 and then you're good to go. The nice thing is that when you press the Bluetooth button again, it switches the Era 100 back into Wi-Fi mode, and you can quickly stream music to it as you normally would. The transition between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is pretty much seamless.
(One quick caveat: If you have Era 100 grouped with other Sonos speakers and you switch it to Bluetooth mode, it will then become ungrouped from your other Sonos speakers. You can play Bluetooth audio to the Era 100 and regroup with your other Sonos speakers (via the Sonos app), but it is an extra step.)
Here's the thing: as a longtime Sonos speaker owner, I'm not sure I'd really ever use this built-in Bluetooth connectivity. It's not as easy, secure or as high-resolution as streaming over Wi-Fi, and in all honesty, I'm not sure I'd ever have a friend come over, see the Era 100 and think "I'm going hijack the music" — I'd probably share my Wi-Fi go-codes or just play the music they wanted from my own device. I just don't think it's a big reason to buy the Era 100 over the One (or One SL).
The Era 100 is more Android-friendly...
The Era 100 and the Era 300 are the first Sonos speakers that support a type of Trueplay that Android devices can use. It's called "Quick Tune" and it uses the Era 100's (or Era 300's) built-in microphones to get a sense of its surroundings and then it's able to do some magic and adjust its sound accordingly.
As an iPhone user, I've never really had this issue — as iPhones (and iPads) have supported Sonos's TruePlay for years — but it's been a hindrance for Android users because, well, they knew that if they bought Sonos speakers, they wouldn't sound as great as they could. But the new Era speakers are able to mend that wound.
It should be noted that Trueplay when done on iPhone or iPad is now called "Advanced Tuning," and this is still able to tune Sonos speakers better than Quick Tune on Android. The reason is that Advanced Tuning uses the built-in mics of your iPhone (or iPad) and has you manually wave the device all around the room so it's able to get an even more accurate virtual map of the room. Since Quick Tune relies on the stationary mics in the Era 100 speaker, it's not quite able to paint the same virtual map of the room.
...but the One supports Google Assistant, and the Era 100 does not.
The One and Era 100 are both "smart" speakers, but they aren't equal. That's because while all of Sonos's previous "smart" speakers and soundbars have supported Alexa and Google Assistant (as well as Sonos's own virtual assistant, Sonos Voice Control), the Era 100 and Era 300 don't support Google Assistant. It's a bit odd that you can buy an older Sonos "smart" product, like a One or an Arc, and set it so that it responds to "Hey Google" voice commands, but the newest Era speakers only support "Hey Alexa" or "Hey Sonos" voice commands — but that's the walled garden world we're living in.
The reason why the Era 100 doesn't support Google Assistant is, according to Sonos, because of policy changes that Google has made for third-party companies that want to integrate its voice assistant into their gadgets. It apparently doesn't have anything to do with the ongoing legal battle between the two regarding patented speaker technology. Either way, the bottom line is: the Era 100 is not the best option for people building a Google smart home.
The One has a dumber, cheaper sibling — and that's a good thing.
The nice thing about the One is that it plays well with the One SL. The two are the exact same speakers, except the One SL doesn't support a voice assistant — which a lot of people don't really want. This allows you to create a stereo pair with a One and a One SL, which is a great hack for those looking to save a little money (because if you create a stereo pair, you don't need both to be smart speakers).
The fact that you typically need two of the exact same Sonos speakers to create a stereo pair has been a problem for Sonos enthusiasts for years. For example, you can't create a stereo pair with a Play:1 and One (or a Play:5 and a Five), even though they are basically the same size speakers. The One and One SL are one of the few outliers that deviate from the typical norm for Sonos speakers.
The Era 100, however, needs another Era 100 to create a stereo pair, which is what a lot of music enthusiasts — as well as home theater enthusiasts (as you need two of the same speakers for rear channels with a Sonos soundbar) — want. And that's going to be a more expensive proposition. If you get a One, you can create a cheaper stereo pair with another One or One SL.
The price difference is larger than you might think.
The Era 100 is $30 more expensive than the One, but this doesn't exactly tell the entire story. That's because in late 2021, Sonos raised the prices of the vast majority of its speakers. That includes the One and the One SL, both of which got price hikes of $20. The One went from $199 to $219. And the One SL went from $179 to $199.
Essentially, if you already have a One or One SL, you likely didn't pay the current price for it — you probably paid less. So if you are thinking about upgrading, well, the price is a little steeper than at first glance.
Sonos Era 100 Vs. Sonos One: The Verdict
The Era 100 is the new hotness — and clearly the better all-around speaker. It sounds bigger and better. It's more versatile. You can easily hook it up to your turntable. And it's definitely the better option for Android users.
However, if you're somebody who isn't going to take advantage of the Era 100's more advanced features and abilities, you might be better off saving some dough on the One. It's a decent chunk cheaper and sounds almost as good as the Era 100. It's the better option for a smart home that's built around Google Home. And it also gives you a more affordable way of creating a stereo pair — especially if you pair it with a cheaper One SL.
Basically, if you're not dead-set on Era 100, the One is still an awesome alternative that's also more affordable. But you might have to decide quickly; like I said, Sonos isn't going to sell it much longer.
(Note: Sonos is guaranteed to support all its speakers for at least five years after it stops selling them. That said, it still supports many of its speakers that it stopped selling a decade ago, so there isn't a strict five-year cut off. If you're worried about it ending support for the One — don't. The One supports Sonos's new S2 platform, which powers all its latest Sonos speakers, meaning the One isn't going to be antiquated any time soon.)
The Sonos Era 100 is available for preorder now and starts shipping March 28th.