Sonos Period 100 sensible speaker overview: One-upmanship

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When Sonos formally introduced its Period 100 and Period 300 sensible audio system earlier this month, it was simple to fixate on the bigger, shiny, extra modern introduction. And all people did. With native assist for spatial audio constructed right into a futuristic-looking curved design, the $449 Period 300 is undoubtedly an inflection level for the Santa Barbara-based multiroom wi-fi speaker system firm. However loads of individuals desire a extra compact, greater than competent possibility—an elevated entry-level speaker. After fascinated by it, I noticed the $249 Period 100 has much more using on its success because it competes in a way more crowded market. After spending the previous few weeks with it, I imagine the Period 100 delivers sufficient to make good on its title—kicking off a brand new part of Sonos audio system whereas protecting it 100 on the subject of what the corporate does finest.

The construct

For those who noticed the Period 100 from throughout a room, you would possibly mistake it for the Sonos One, the speaker it’ll inevitably substitute. But, in the event you sit these cylinders facet by facet, the variations turn out to be barely extra apparent—the 4.4 lb. Period 100 is barely taller and broader (measuring 7.18 x 4.72 x 5.14 inches HWD), and the curve is extra dramatic. It appears odd to label a speaker as extra mature wanting, however that’s the way in which I really feel: The Period 100, accessible in white or black, is the grown-up model of the One. Sonos calls its new sensible speaker “An icon, remastered.” Let’s have a look at what’s evolution vs. revolution.

Taking a look at it from the highest, you’ll discover the Period 100 has a shallow horizontal effectively scooped out of it. This was executed to make adjusting the quantity—by swiping on that space to the left or proper (although you’ll be able to nonetheless faucet both finish of the capacitive trough to maneuver issues incrementally)—extra intuitive. This transformation makes the Period 100 simpler to make use of once you’re not it, or it’s darkish, since your finger will naturally discover the quantity selector. The remainder of the buttons—play, pause, subsequent monitor, final monitor—are nonetheless touch-sensitive spots with a glyph printed on prime. That is disappointing as a result of having divots for all of them would have elevated the Period 100’s accessibility.

For those who flip the Period 100 round, you’ll see three issues: The pill-shaped perform button that first appeared on the Sonos Roam, a bodily swap that allows and mutes the speaker’s microphone (appropriate with Sonos Voice Management and Amazon Alexa, however not Google Assistant), and a USB-C port that’s used for one thing way more attention-grabbing than powering the speaker (extra on {that a} bit later).

I’m impartial on Sonos’ increasingly-ubiquitous perform button, which requires you to long-press it at variable lengths to get to completely different options. I principally used it to allow the Period 100’s Bluetooth 5.0 mode (with assist for the SBC and AAC codecs). Bluetooth has been within the moveable, rechargeable Transfer and Roam audio system for a couple of years, however that is the primary time Sonos has constructed it into one in all its home-bound sensible audio system, and it’s a welcome characteristic that’s additionally arriving on the Period 300. Your expertise with this button will range, however I’m happy that the speaker will chirp at you when it registers a press and/or adjustments modes.

Equally, the USB-C port on the again of the Period 100 can be utilized to plug in one in all two adapters designed by Sonos. One $39 adapter terminates into an Ethernet jack (plus aux in), so you’ll be able to hardwire it to your own home community with a cable fairly than counting on an over-the-air sign. The wi-fi connection I used throughout my Period 100 testing was rock strong (the speaker helps as much as the Wi-Fi 6 protocol, so you’ll be able to really feel snug futureproofing your router), however that is probably not the case for everyone.

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The second possibility, which provides much less connectivity however will probably be extra relevant to most, is a $19 dongle solely providing a regular 3.5mm line-in jack current on audio gear for many years. This adapter means the Period 100 can accommodate a lifetime of audio codecs—cassette decks, CD gamers, turntables with built-in preamps. I want Sonos has simply constructed the Ethernet and three.5mm jack into the again of the Period 100. Nonetheless, as inelegant as an adapter is, its acknowledgment that music exists exterior of a single digital ecosystem remains to be higher than nothing. By offering wired and wi-fi connectivity choices, Sonos has underscored its dedication to creating audio system you received’t have to switch involuntarily in case your sources shift. These are significant adjustments which are purely additive. You don’t lose any options the Sonos One had; as a substitute, the Period 100 offers you greater than earlier than.

Embracing a common wi-fi normal and connectivity exterior proprietary ecosystems helps {hardware} stave off obsolescence. Sonos’ give attention to usability is complemented by a honest effort to make the Period 100 its most sustainability-focused sensible speaker but. The corporate has improved its packaging by making extra of it sustainably sourced and recyclable, opted to make use of screws as a substitute of glue to make it simpler for restore techs to get behind the polycarbonate grill and resolve points, and designed the speaker (made out of extra PCR plastic) with extra modular components. Hopefully, the variety of instances Sonos should substitute a speaker fully or strip it for components might be decreased. It feels good to assume you’ll be able to put money into a tool to final (doubtlessly) many years.

Sonos Era 100 smart speaker review: One-upmanship
A single USB-C port could be the distinction between eventual obsolescence and considerable longevity.

The setup

For those who’ve picked up a Sonos product prior to now 5 years (as I’ve with One audio system and the Ray soundbar, amongst a number of others), the Period 100’s setup course of might be very acquainted. After plugging it in, I waited for the speaker’s sole LED to start flashing inexperienced, which indicated it was able to be arrange. The remainder of the setup happened within the iOS or Android app, which guides you thru including it to an present system or creating a brand new one and connecting it to your own home community.

My first couple of setup makes an attempt had been unsuccessful—I’ve a number of Sonos methods arrange from years of product testing and was working the beta model of iOS on the preliminary gadget I used to be utilizing to set it up—however creating a brand new Sonos system on a distinct gadget did the trick. The Period 100 instantly downloaded a software program replace upon being arrange and labored flawlessly after that.

Pairing the Period 100 to my gadget over Bluetooth required pushing and holding its perform button down for a couple of seconds whereas ready for the speaker’s LED to blink blue. From there, the method was similar to syncing my iPhone to any Bluetooth gadget. Even with the slight hiccups, it solely took me about quarter-hour to arrange the Period 100; with out them, it might have taken beneath 5. As soon as related, you’ll be able to run the Sonos tuning software program, tweak the EQ (-2 the bass, +3 the treble in the event you assume it’s too boxy out of the field, one thing you’ll be able to’t do with the HomePod), then get able to critique the readability.

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The sound

The Period 100 had a lot to show within the audio division after the nice and cozy reception of the One and the proliferation of sensible audio system like Apple’s HomePod (2nd technology), Amazon’s Echo Studio, and the Bluesound PULSE M. None of those will compete with the $799 Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin in sheer audiophile attract. Nonetheless, the Period 100’s raison d’être is to offer music lovers with one other good sub-$300 possibility or a purpose to improve. Spoiler alert: Sonos succeeded.

The largest distinction between the Period 100 and its predecessor is that this single speaker can play music in stereo because of its three-driver array, which incorporates a pair of angled, outward-facing tweeters atop a single 25% bigger woofer pushed by three class-D amplifiers and optimized by customized waveguides. The effectiveness of the Period 100’s stereo separation depends on the way in which a monitor was combined, the dimensions and form of your room, and the speaker’s distance and positioning from you. Sonos Trueplay, constructed into its app, helps Fast Tune the speaker’s candy spot to your setting. Regardless of all these elements and the truth that you simply’ll all the time get higher stereo separation from a pair of audio system, I used to be impressed by the Period 100’s soundstage. If for no different purpose than the truth that I by no means heard any of the inherent weirdness inherent in listening to stereo music folded all the way down to mono.

The power to play music in stereo can also be useful in the event you sync a pair of Period 100s to a Sonos Sub Mini and Sonos Ray to create a encompass sound system, as that additional soundstage comes into play as motion mounts and orchestral scores swell. I’ve chosen to spotlight entry-level Sonos house theater gear in that state of affairs for the sake of value, however you may actually hook up these audio system to the corporate’s high-end Arc soundbar for even higher sound. (And Sonos produces speaker-specific stands and wall mounts to assist optimize stereo pair and encompass setups.)

My total impression after many listening periods biking via pop, rock, R&B, jazz, and classical—which could be fed from dozens and dozens of companies via the Sonos app, or by way of Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Join—is that that is an extremely musical speaker. What I imply by that’s music all the time sounded pure and free from any synthetic boosting of the bass or treble that can be utilized to cover deficiencies in lesser audio {hardware}. Throughout my listening checks, which had been all performed by listening to Lossless variations of music from the Apple Music streaming library by way of AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth, I used to be all the time very impressed. Don’t get me unsuitable, this isn’t a impartial speaker—Sonos actually employed its digital sign processing, which may’t be fully undone by twiddling EQ settings—however I by no means felt like every tracks had been negatively impacted. The tip result’s a extra open-sounding speaker than the Sonos One, with punchier bass and a fleshy midrange, benefiting vocal presence.

For reference, a majority of my private music preferences focus on albums launched between 1963 and 1980, with jazz from the ’50s, shoegaze and Britpop from the early ’90s, and indie rock from the final 30 or so years combined in for good measure. My fixation with music from the mid-Twentieth century was useful in that I may instantly discern whether or not Sonos had tuned the Period 100 particularly for contemporary music, which is combined and mastered in a selected approach. It hasn’t.

“Sunset” by Gordon Lightfoot sounded very good, and I may pick the music’s bass from the delicate kick drum regardless of them occupying related components of the frequency spectrum. Equally, the background vocals on The Zombies’ “Beechwood Park” by no means obtained misplaced beneath Colin Blunstone’s lead. Leaping forward almost half a century to Norah Jones’ “Good Morning,” the chic opener on 2012’s Little Damaged Hearts, the Period 100 did an ideal job at showcasing each factor of the monitor whereas making a splendidly large soundstage. I by no means misplaced monitor of the acoustic guitar because it went from being essentially the most outstanding instrument on the monitor to enjoying second fiddle to a violin. Letting the album run to trace two, “Say Goodbye,” yielded related outcomes, with the pulsing drum beat driving the music punctuated by tasteful guitar traces.

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Artwork Pepper’s “You’d Be So Good To Come Residence To” begins off easy. Nonetheless, the Period 100’s presentation of his saxophone reveals off its explicit brilliance in authentically capturing the sound of acoustic devices. For those who’re all the time looking for new music, don’t fear, this speaker received’t disappoint you. The 2023 digital monitor “Soda Lake” by Clean Gloss retained its creepy, virtually sinister sound with bass that rumbled the Period 100 with out inflicting it to overmodulate into distortion. On the flipside, the sparse association of “emails i can’t ship” by Sabrina Carpenter didn’t really feel empty.

The Period 100 sounded good at each quantity stage, however I principally stored it at round 50%, ample to fill a 300-square-foot room. Your mileage will range based mostly in your most popular listening stage or style of music, however a single Period 100 might be sufficient for a complete ground of a home with an open ground plan. It wasn’t designed particularly with out of doors use in thoughts, however the Period 100 can provide the soundtrack to yard cookouts all summer season lengthy. Contemplating moving into vinyl and never into the idea of the dongles talked about above, or have a handy alcove to your music assortment however higher seating elsewhere? It’s simple to stream music to this speaker by connecting it to the Victrola Stream Carbon, a wireless-enabled turntable licensed to work with Sonos.

It could not have the ability to play spatial audio tracks natively (take a look at our upcoming Period 300 overview if that’s your fixation), however the Period 100 is a really competent single-speaker stereo audio system. That Sonos may coax this a lot audio high quality out of a speaker of this measurement is fairly spectacular. In actual fact, I couldn’t inform the distinction when listening to music over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which was essentially the most revealing revelation of all of them. It’ll give Apple, Amazon, and plenty of others a benchmark when designing their next-generation gear.

Sonos Era 100 smart speaker review: One-upmanship
The Period 100 stacks up properly in comparison with up to date sensible audio system and may accommodate codecs of the previous.

The conclusion

For those who’ve already purchased into Sonos’ ecosystem, the Period 100 is a no brainer substitute for anywhere you at the moment have a One. The truth that this new speaker can play music in stereo as a substitute of mono makes it well worth the worth of admission by itself, however enhancements to its total construct high quality, sustainability, and total readability push it excessive. The whole lot you want concerning the One stays however is bested by the Period 100, which units the usual for audio system in its measurement class.

You’ll nonetheless need to maintain on to your Play:3 and 5 audio system, as their bigger measurement permits them to characteristic larger drivers and finally higher, louder sound, but it surely’s truthfully a toss-up. Suppose you’re coming from a HomePod or related speaker developed with multidimensional sound in thoughts. In that case, the sound profile might be completely different, which can be good or dangerous relying on what you’re used to listening to. Finally, we will advocate the Sonos Period 100 to anybody who needs to spend lower than $300 on a single sensible speaker that sounds larger than its physique.