I don't need Sonos' new Dolby Atmos speaker for my TV setup, but I can't resist

Sonos Era 300 in home
(Image credit: Sonos)

I’ve been rocking a couple of Sonos One smart speakers as part of a 5.1.2 surround sound system for a couple of years now. Paired with a Sonos Arc and Sonos Sub, this setup is comfortably the best home theater system I’ve ever owned. And yet, I’d happily ditch my Sonos One speakers in a second. 

You can blame the new Sonos Era 300 for my newfound speaker envy. The Sonos One may be TechRadar’s number one choice as the best wireless speaker for most people, but the Era 300 is set to blow it away as the must-have rear speakers for fans of Sonos surround sound setups.

Unlike the Sonos One and upcoming Sonos Era 100 – which both operate in mono mode when paired with a Sonos soundbar, meaning each pair gives you two channels – the Era 300 operates in side-firing stereo when placed into a home theater system. Pair two Era 300 speakers together with a soundbar and subwoofer, and it means you’re left with the first Sonos home theater 7.1.4 system. And as we noted in our first-impressions Sonos Era 300 review, the effect is… dramatic. My ears are currently tingling with anticipation. Naughty ears.

A brave new Era

At time of writing, a pair of Sonos Era 300 speakers can be pre-ordered from the firm’s official site for an eye-watering $853 / £853 / AU$1,423. Considering I’ve already dropped thousands on my current Sonos surround system, the price of the Era 300 really should make me want to lock away my wallet for the rest of time. Yet in reality, I’m counting the days until I can splurge on them.

TechRadar's Matt Bolton went hands-on (well, ears-on) with the Sonos Era 300, and he was seriously impressed by the company’s first Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker. Based on Matt’s limited time with the Era 300, its powerful and detailed spatial sound could make it “the best bang-for-buck single-unit speaker around”. 

Sonos Era 300 in home theater setup, behind a sofa. A Sonos Arc and TV are visible at the front

(Image credit: Sonos)

Even though the Sonos Arc is one of the best soundbars you can buy, its Dolby Atmos sound lacks height precision compared to some newer soundbars. According to Matt, though, this is one failing that’s immediately sorted by pairing it with a couple of Era 300 speakers. The upfiring speakers of the Era instantly create a pleasingly wide soundscape that also adds real verticality to the listening experience where the sound can be heard moving around above you. 

As someone who’s started to notice his Sonos One speakers sound a little flat, my expectant ears can’t wait for the added weight and dimensionality the Era 300 is set to deliver. 

Not the One and only

While a pair of Sonos One speakers act as very respectable rear speakers in a home theater setup, out of the box, they’re a little underwhelming. For the first few days after I bought them, I had to keep checking if they were actually on. 

Despite being placed only a few inches from either side of my sofa, I wasn’t getting the surround sound experience I’d be craving. It was only when I dived into the Sonos App and bumped up my rear speakers to a +14 noise level that the Ones started to deliver a suitably meaty surround sound effect that could adequately amplify the audio I was getting from the Sonos Arc

Based on Matt’s experience, I doubt such tweaking tricks will be needed with the Sonos Era 300. While I may not be in love with the new speaker’s angular design, its upfiring speakers are set to offer game-changing precision when placed into a Sonos home theater setup. 

As someone who constantly appreciates a surround sound system’s ability to increase my positional awareness in the best PS5 games, I’m beyond ready for the crisp precision the Sonos Era 300 offers. My soon to be shattered bank balance won’t thank me, but for this surround sound-loving cinephile, the Era 300 can’t arouse my ears quickly enough. 

Dave Meikleham

Dave is a freelancer who's been writing about tech and video games since 2006, with bylines across GamesRadar+, Total Film, PC Gamer, and Edge. He's been obsessed with all manner of AV equipment ever since his parents first bought him a hideously garish 13-inch CRT TV (complete with built-in VCR, no less) back in 1998. Over the years he’s owned more plasma and OLED TVs than he can count. On an average day, he spends 30% of his waking existence having mild panic attacks about vertical banding and dead pixels.