n the continually evolving battle between our twin needs for larger comfort and sound high quality, Sonos has occupied a candy spot. Its audio system are joyously easy to mix collectively as a wi-fi system and at all times ship credible, if not at all times excellent, ranges of sonic aplomb.
Right here, although, the agency has upped the ante, with a premium mannequin that brings spatial audio into the combination. It goals to get the occasion began, both as a standalone speaker, or as a part of an even bigger Sonos setup.
Let’s make no bones about it, the Sonos Period 300 is just not an affordable choice however it’s undoubtedly worth for cash. It presents outstanding sound from a single gadget and goals to beat the brand new AppleHomePod at its spatial audio sport. Earlier than we dive into this contest, it’s necessary to first perceive the character of the battle.
Purchase now £449, Sonos
What’s spatial audio?
Put merely, spatial audio means having greater than two audio channels (i.e. like stereo). This has usually been the protect of dwelling cinema buffs, the place these surround-sound results allow you to take pleasure in, say, the growth of a fighter jet whizzing overhead as you crunch into popcorn throughout High Gun Maverick.
The identical idea has lately expanded into music, the place an immersive audio expertise is promised as a result of the soundstage is unfold extra extensively. To attain this, you want a speaker capable of bounce sound across the room on this approach plus an acceptable supply, usually based mostly on the Dolby Atmos format popularised by dwelling cinema. The Period 300 is the primary (and solely) Sonos speaker to do that — except for its newer soundbars — as soon as fed by the spatial audio tracks discovered on the music-streaming providers from Apple or Amazon. Annoyingly, Sonos doesn’t but play properly with Tidal’s catalogue of spatial tracks.
Feel and appear
The Period 300 retains the identical common styling as Sonos audio system. It is available in two colors, black or white, and like most different Sonos gear, is designed to mix into the background of a room relatively than draw consideration. That mentioned, it has a particular form that tells you upfront to count on one thing totally different.
It’s because the 4 tweeters and two woofers contained in the Period 300 should every level in numerous instructions on the entrance to attain these intelligent spatial results — and to maintain the general chassis dimension down, the rear is smaller. The speaker seems prefer it has a belt strapped round its center to tug issues tighter.
It is noticeably greater than the brand new Apple HomePod, which is unsurprising provided that, at £449, it prices £150 extra. Broadly talking, you get precisely what you’d count on by way of construct high quality — in a great way.
The setup is mercifully easy. Regardless of whether or not you employ it as a standalone speaker, as a stereo pair, or mix it with different Sonos audio system. It’ll mesh with these effortlessly and, not like the HomePod, this speaker is appropriate with Android telephones or iPhones. Actually, Sonos’ software program is its secret weapon.
The built-in microphones cleverly ‘pay attention’ to the room and modify audio appropriately with an auto-tuning function, referred to as Trueplay. There’s additionally a model of this in an app, which requires you to stroll round your room slowly waving a telephone. Each strategies work nicely and you may hear the distinction after doing so.
Sound high quality
As soon as tuned into your room, the Period 300 merely sounds nice, irrespective of whether or not you plonk it subsequent to a sound-absorbing couch or a reflective glass door. The bass is warmly evident however not overpowering, the vocals are punchy and the mid-notes are completely current. A high-end hi-fi system will sound even higher, however the audio high quality is large. It’s approach richer and extra highly effective than anticipated from a single speaker.
The cash shot right here, although, is the brand new wraparound results of spatial audio. That is the place a number of the sound is bounced off the ceiling in order that it seems to have top in addition to breadth, or prefer it’s additionally coming from behind you. In a nutshell, it’s spookily efficient total.
With classical music, equivalent to Stravinsky’s The Ceremony of Spring, devices sound distinctly positioned and clear. Swap to pop and Sam Ryder’s Put a Gentle on Me reveals actual depth and a wider soundstage than you assume potential from a single speaker, with a vastly enveloping impact. Equally, Miracle by Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding has a refined however pleasing steadiness, with Goulding’s voice hovering above the music.
Maybe the best feat right here is how coherent the sound stays, irrespective of how onerous you push it and, boy, does this speaker go loud. The Period 300 is bigger than the Apple HomePod however the sound is greater, too. It’s greater than sufficient to fill even a big room.
Set facet by facet with the second-generation HomePod, the Sonos simply holds its personal — and provided that the Sonos prices extra, so it ought to. It sounds higher than a single HomePod, however lags in contrast with a stereo pair of HomePods. That mentioned, the stereo separation on a single Sonos Period 300 can be spectacular.
Nonetheless, spatial audio is the approaching factor, with large numbers of tracks already out there. If you wish to immerse your self on this new ‘wow’ impact, plump for a pair of Period 300 audio system. Brace your self, although, as for true Dolby Atmos dwelling cinema, you’ll want one other set of those for the rear channels and a spatial-ready soundbar such because the Sonos Arc. On this configuration, the wraparound is outstanding however the associated fee is over £1,700. Consider the cash you’ll save by by no means going out.
The Period 300 is the primary mains-powered Sonos speaker to incorporate Bluetooth in addition to Wi-Fi, which makes it simpler to play again music from any smartphone to it; albeit that playback through Wi-Fi normally presents greater high quality — with no interruptions if the telephone rings. Nonetheless, it’s useful for company decided to share a playlist.
It’s additionally a sensible speaker, with built-in mics that you may simply change off on the rear if this isn’t your factor. You possibly can even hook up a turntable through an adaptor for analogue sources, which, shamefully, prices additional.
There are presently two sources of spatial audio supported by this speaker: Amazon Music Limitless and Apple Music (it’s the primary non-Apple speaker to help Dolby Atmos tracks from Apple Music). It’s price mentioning, too, that BBC Sounds and Tidal are contained in the Sonos management app for simple listening.
When you personal some Sonos merchandise already, or need to dive into spatial audio with out getting into the Apple ecosystem, this can be a good technique to make the leap. Households festooned with Cupertino’s best gizmos could favor the inexpensive HomePod. In fact, there’s a entire world of audio choices — not least the cheaper Sonos merchandise, equivalent to the brand new Period 100, which presents fabulous one-box stereo, despite the fact that it doesn’t help spatial sound.
Nonetheless, many rivals shall be trying aghast on the Sonos Period 300 and pondering: the place will we go from right here? You possibly can nearly hear the sound of the bar being raised.
Purchase now £449, Sonos