Sonos Bets on Spatial Audio as a Key Brand Differentiator

    Spatial audio has excited the audio market ever since Apple introduced film and TV content material supporting it in iOS 14 on the WWDC occasion in June 2020. Spatial audio basically delivers encompass sound and 3D audio by means of headphones by way of dynamic head monitoring. Typically, it’s not a function present in conventional audio audio system.
    Over the previous 20 years since its founding in 2002, Sonos has constructed an enviable premium audio model for multi-room audio merchandise. Though the sensible speaker market is crowded — even on the excessive finish — Sonos has been in a position to pull off one thing that few manufacturers haven’t succeeded in with options that clients are prepared to pay a premium for and fierce model loyalty.
    With that as a backdrop, Sonos has primarily concentrated its efforts on two product classes over the previous few years: moveable audio system just like the Move and Roam; and dearer house theater merchandise just like the Atmos-capable Arc and Ray soundbars. Sonos One and Sonos Five, the corporate’s major set of music-focused audio system, nonetheless sound terrific however are starting to point out their age.
    Spatial Audio Capability
    The Era 100 and Era 300, Sonos’ two new “better and best” choices, change that dynamic. Priced at $450, the Era 300 is the primary Sonos speaker able to enjoying spatial audio. In comparability, the $250 Era 100 is a completely rebuilt successor to the Sonos One with a number of upgrades over its predecessor.


    You can use a pair of any of them in stereo or as again encompass audio system in a house theater setup, as you’ll be able to with different Sonos audio system. If you’ve got a Sonos Arc or gen-2 Beam and Sub, you’ll be able to have an outrageous 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos expertise by including a pair of Era 300s as your rear surrounds — that’s, so long as you’re ready to cough up $2,600 for that setup.
    Era 300 — The Aaron Judge of the Home Audio Market
    The Era 300, proven above, has a novel look in comparison with different Sonos audio system however adheres to the model’s signature minimalist aesthetic.
    Its barely peculiar knocked-over hourglass design has a sensible objective in that it permits the upward-facing tweeter to fireside at a slight however exact angle, which the producer claims will present extra room-filling reflections for spatial audio.
    There are three extra tweeters: two pointing left and proper, one pointing ahead and lifeless middle. Finally, the speaker has two woofers on both aspect, which ship a whole lot of bass.
    Era 100 — A More Affordable Alternative to Apple’s New HomePod
    The Sonos One is acoustically equivalent to the Sonos Play:1 that was introduced in 2013. The Era 100, however, has extra tangible updates.
    With its $250 value level, the Era 100 is an reasonably priced various to Apple’s newest HomePod, and it represents a major improve over the Sonos Play:1. The Era 100 has a woofer that’s 25% bigger than the One’s and a pair of tweeters offering left and proper stereo channels in a single speaker.

    Era 100 speaker (Image Credit: Sonos)

    Even although it lacks the spatial audio capabilities of the Era 300, it represents a major enchancment over the sooner mannequin.
    Despite their expansive options and value factors, these audio system have a substantial quantity in widespread. With an elective line-in adapter, you’ll be able to join a turntable or different audio tools to each by way of their USB-C connections. This functionality is a distinguished benefit in comparison with Apple’s HomePods (each the most recent mannequin and the HomePod Mini) since each Era 100 and Era 300 may also function exterior PC audio system. However, that utilization mannequin is clearly slim.
    New Enhancements
    Notably, in each the Era 100 and Era 300, Sonos, for the primary time, has included Bluetooth in a non-portable speaker, which is crucial. These audio system additionally embrace newly revised contact controls on prime, so now, you’ll be able to swipe your finger throughout a small ridge along with devoted ahead and again buttons to alter the quantity as an alternative of tapping on both aspect of the play/pause button.
    Moreover, Sonos offered a bodily swap to show off the microphone as an alternative of merely muting the mic by means of software program. This welcome method actively cuts the connection to it for added safety.

    The Era 100 and Era 300’s distinctive Trueplay tuning function, which measures how sound displays off partitions, furnishings, and different surfaces, may also use these mics to boost audio primarily based on the place you set the audio system in your house. Trueplay was introduced by Sonos in 2015, signaling the corporate’s want to optimize audio high quality in numerous house environments.
    As a cell phone app, Trueplay beforehand required an iOS gadget for setup. Android customers have been out of luck as a result of though Sonos has put in built-in microphones in its audio system for a few years, Trueplay was incompatible with Android units.
    Trueplay does make a major distinction, and this new functionality implies that many extra folks, particularly Android customers, will in all probability put it to use.
    Summing Up Sonos’ Era Speakers
    Putting rivals apart, Sonos strongly believes that spatial audio is how music playback will develop sooner or later. The firm’s management has asserted {that a}) the Era 300 would be the definitive technique to hear the finer factors of spatial audio mixes with out requiring a room filled with audio tools and b) that artists and producers are strongly within the format.
    A single speaker can solely ship a lot, no matter how subtle its driver array is. Looking on the streaming audio panorama at a excessive stage, it’s probably that the massive hitters — Spotify, YouTube Music, and different companies — would probably begin supporting spatial audio sooner relatively than later. However, Amazon and Apple at the moment are the one two companies suitable with the Era 300 for spatial music.
    Even when enjoying stereo mixes, the Era 300 must be an impressive speaker. The 300 will probably be a extra specialised providing within the firm’s lineup, just like the wonderful however high-priced Sonos Five speaker. Yet, it is sensible for Sonos to be prepared for the creating spatial audio market development relatively than play catchup if the spatial audio wave is about to take off.


    Initial media experiences of Era 300 point out that it generates a particular sound. Given my expertise with Sonos merchandise, I anticipate the audio high quality will likely be excellent, although I’ll reserve judgment till I get an opportunity to make use of them.
    It must be identified that Sonos first proved its mettle by reproducing customary audio, and in comparison with the Era 100, the 300 has much more quantity, bass, and presence. Given that it prices $200 extra and has twice as many drivers, anticipate the audio high quality to be second to none.
    Closing Thoughts
    The core purpose why Sonos has succeeded within the extremely aggressive house leisure speaker market is that it has taken a no-compromise method to speaker growth.
    While the speaker area has turn into muddled with sub-$100 options which can be usually designed to manage the sensible house, Sonos has spent its assets avoiding that morass to distinguish itself. In that sense, it’s unfair to check the brand new Era 100 and 300 in opposition to the Apple HomePod, as Sonos’ merchandise are unapologetically targeted on delivering a world-class audio expertise — although each new Sonos audio system have built-in Amazon Alexa help.
    All that mentioned, embracing spatial audio is a management alternative for the corporate. One can view the Era 300 as the primary salvo in its efforts to boost the bar within the premium audio area.
    The Era 100 and Era 300 have coloration choices of black or white. Both are estimated to ship on March 28 and can be found for preorder now on the Sonos store.

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