Sonos has a new range of speakers with its Era series, and while some of the older speakers will eventually be discontinued, the rest will keep going along for the foreseeable future.
As far as we know, the Sonos Five will maintain its position as Sonos’ most expensive wireless speaker, although we suspect in the same way that Era 100 will phase out the Sonos One, that somewhere down the line they’ll likely be a replacement for the Five.
But in the here and now, you’ve got a choice of two speakers to deliver room-filling sound from Sonos. So how do the Era 300 and Five compare with one another?
The Era 300 does Dolby Atmos
The most obvious point of differentiation between the two is how they output sound. The Sonos Five is a stereo speaker, so there’s a left and right side to the soundstage it creates. The Era 300 supports Dolby Atmos, which goes beyond stereo into immersive, 3D sound.
The Era 300 gives the impression of sound coming above the speaker, projected out from its sides and in some cases it can feel as if the sound wraps around the listening position so you can hear it almost tickle your ears. Both speakers can fill a room, but do it in different ways. Another difference is that while the Five will accept pretty much any type of track, to get the best from the Era 300 you will need Atmos music. That means signing up to a service such as Amazon Music or Apple Music.
The Five offers more flexibility with positioning
One of the interesting aspects of the Sonos Five is that you can position it in different configurations. Place it normally and it’ll produce a stereo soundstage. If you decide to place it on its side, then the processor within the speaker will adapt and output music in mono.
This is useful if you purchase two Five speakers, as two mono-channel speakers will create a bigger soundstage (and sweet spot). There is the expense of buying two Fives, although at this moment in time, both the Era 300 and the Five cost around the same.
You can physically connect external devices to both
The Sonos Five has a line-input, so all you need is auxiliary cable to connect it to a laptop/PC, CD player, or turntable.
The Era 300 has switched things up and features a USB-C port. However, if you purchase an adapter it can offer the same functionality by connecting to other devices with the Sonos Line-in Adapter. The adapter isn’t provided in the box, so the big difference here is that you’ll need to pay extra to get that functionality.
Of course, you could sidestep this completely and go wireless. There’s the Works with Sonos program that certifies products that can integrate with the Sonos wireless system (such as the Victrola Stream turntables). The Era 300 supports Bluetooth, which is an easy way of connecting devices to the speaker.