Sonos' Era 300 Speaker is Changing How You Listen to Music — Here's How it Works

Hello spatial audio

The Sonos Era 300
(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos is one of the biggest names in luxury home audio, and last year the company introduced the Era 300 — the company’s first speaker designed around spatial audio.

For those unfamiliar with spatial audio, the basics are fairly simple. While audio mastered in stereo delivers sound from two directions (left and right), spatial audio creates a 3D listening experience, making it seem like sound is coming from different directions and distances around you — a new era for the best surround sound systems.

For TV and film, the action is more immersive, with speech seeming to come from the direction it originated from. You might hear rain overhead, and ambient sound all around you.

Music tracks encoded with spatial audio, meanwhile, put you right in the middle of the recording studio, meaning now your Sonos speaker can make it feel like you're surrounded by instruments and able to hear details you may have completely missed before.

Historically, surround sound systems have done this with multiple speakers, but — like the Apple HomePod 2 and Amazon Echo Studio — the Sonos Era 300 does it with just the one, via “sophisticated algorithms, advanced processing techniques, and specialized hardware designed to recreate lifelike soundscapes.

What is the Sonos Era 300?

Sonos Era 300

(Image credit: Sonos)

While the Sonos Era 300 (which we found for the best price at Walmart right now) can play audio recorded in stereo (which is just as well, as most music tracks still are!), it really comes to life with audio encoded in a spatial audio format, like Dolby Atmos.

Its unconventional hourglass shape isn’t just for show, it helps it surround you with audio despite coming from a single speaker. There are six drivers concealed within, capable of firing sound forward, left, right and upwards, with waveguides to try and divide these further.

These sounds bounce off the walls and ceilings, tricking your brain into thinking the sound is coming from beyond the speaker itself. And because each room is different, when you first set it up, the built-in mics will use the Trueplay feature to optimize the speaker to the space it’s set up in.

With Alexa and Sonos Voice Control built in, you can control the Era 300 via your voice, and it also supports Bluetooth and AirPlay. But for spatial audio tracks, you’ll need to use the Sonos app over WiFi.

Is the Sonos Era 300 for music or TV?

The Sonos Era 300

(Image credit: Sonos)

Both, actually.

While you can use a single Sonos Era 300 as a fancy smart speaker purely for music, Sonos also lets you combine two Era 300 speakers with the Sonos Arc or second-generation Beam, one of the best soundbars out there, giving you a full surround sound setup for your TV.

This means that shows and movies encoded with spatial audio will treat these as multi-channel rear speakers, making entertainment more immersive than ever.

Are there any drawbacks?

The main problem is price: a single Sonos Era 300 speaker is $450. This by itself is pricier than other spatial audio-supporting speakers like the Apple HomePod 2 or the Amazon Echo Studio, and only goes upwards if you want a pair with the Sonos Arc, soundbar and Sonos Subwoofer (full price: $2,471 with a bundle discount at

Another problem is the content currently available. To truly benefit from the Era 300, you need to listen to music built for spatial audio. For now, even on streamers that support spatial audio like Amazon Music Unlimited and Apple Music, the majority isn’t.

Worse, while plenty of spatial audio tracks are mindblowingly good, there are some spatial audio remasters that sound worse than the stereo originals due to poor mixing. In both cases, you may find the experience better through a standard stereo speaker, like the $549 Sonos Five.

That said, spatial audio doesn’t appear to be a fad, so it’s a good bet that more music will be available going forward — and it will almost certainly be mastered better in future, now that producers have got a better idea of what fans are looking (or, rather, listening) for.

With that in mind, if you have the funds, the Sonos Era 300 can give you a good taste of what the future of home audio should sound like — especially if you pair it with a Sonos soundbar and subwoofer.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. He often writes for T3 and Tom's Guide. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.