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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sonos Period 100 assessment: the brand new default good speaker

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That is the way you comply with up on what was already product. Over the course of my time reviewing the brand new Period 100 speaker, which succeeds the Sonos One launched in 2017, that’s been my constant takeaway. It’s gone up in value barely — now $249 in comparison with the One’s $219 value (itself a rise over the $199 launch value) — however that enhance wasn’t only for the sake of it. The Period 100 outperforms the One in each class with regards to sound: it’s now able to stereo playback and has improved bass response.

However probably the most thrilling side of the Period 100 is the best way Sonos has broadened its performance. It’s nonetheless a wise speaker that may stream from each music service you’ll be able to consider, helps hands-free voice instructions, and consists of additional options like AirPlay 2. These issues had been all true of the One, however the Period steps as much as one other degree by tacking on Bluetooth playback and line-in audio by way of the rear USB-C port. The previous lets anybody who comes over simply play their very own music on the speaker, whereas the latter permits you to run a turntable or different exterior audio supply by means of your total Sonos system. 

It’s not a flawless report card: the Period 100 now not presents Google Assistant as a voice platform. As a substitute, you’re left with Amazon Alexa and Sonos’ personal music-focused Sonos Voice Management, which is slowly increasing its potential with timers and different capabilities. Basically, that leaves the Period 100 feeling much less “good” than its predecessor when you’re tied into Google’s ecosystem. However in each different manner, the Period 100 is a transparent improve over the Sonos One, which has stood as the corporate’s bestselling product. Inside the firm’s lineup, that is the unassuming speaker which you can put in any nook or room the place you need music. 

The speaker’s design is extra rounded than a squircle this time, although it’s nonetheless not completely round when considered from above. The Period 100 is a hair taller than the Sonos One and ever so barely deeper, but it surely’s not huge by any stretch. It’s typically stunning how a lot sound comes out of the One given its measurement, and the Period isn’t any totally different.

When flanked by the corporate’s transportable audio system, it barely stands above the Roam and is an effective deal shorter than the Transfer. Sonos used a barely hotter shade of white plastic for the 100, which comes by means of in a few of these pictures however is a type of stuff you wouldn’t discover if I hadn’t instructed you.

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The Period 100, at proper, isn’t a lot bigger than the Sonos One it’s changing.

Contained in the speaker hidden from view are repairability enhancements: the corporate has moved away from sticking adhesive all through the product’s inside construction and now makes use of screws wherever potential. That is the case for each Period audio system and can make them simpler to disassemble and repair, although Sonos is stopping short of rolling out a self-repair program for now. We’ll should see how a lot demand arises for that over time. Additionally price noting is that the Period 100 makes use of much less energy than the One when idle and comprises a good quantity of recycled plastic (between 40 to 50 %).

In comparison with its previous audio system, Sonos took a brand new strategy with the highest controls on the Eras. There are devoted monitor controls — no want for swipe gestures anymore — and a separate indented bar that handles quantity. You may slide your finger throughout for fast changes or faucet both facet for extra granular quantity adjustments. It took extra time than I anticipated to retrain myself to this new association, however I acquired there inside a few days.

There are actually devoted monitor controls, which the One lacked.

Behind the highest floor is a button for quickly disabling your chosen voice assistant. If you wish to shut off the built-in microphones altogether, you are able to do so with a brand new toggle swap on the again of the speaker. When it’s flipped down, the Period 100 cuts energy to its microphones. The highest button is supposed extra for briefly pausing voice interactions, whereas the latter is a measure for privateness diehards who need them off off. There’s no “Period 100 SL” in the meanwhile, so the exhausting swap is as shut as you may get.

The opposite new button round again is for Bluetooth pairing: simply press and maintain to pair a brand new machine. The Period 100 is transport with Bluetooth 5.0 and can ultimately be bumped as much as 5.2 with a future firmware replace. There’s nothing notably fancy right here — it’s music over Bluetooth, however till now, it was one thing Sonos reserved for its transportable audio system. You recognize precisely what to anticipate, and it really works and not using a hitch. I recognize the added comfort, and the flexibleness means your visitors received’t should take care of the Sonos cell app simply to play a track or two.

Sonos has additionally added an meant bar for quantity changes.

The Period 100 helps Bluetooth audio playback.

You may disable the built-in microphones with a flick of this swap on the again.

Sonos has added a USB-C port to the again of the Period 100 to permit for line-in connections by way of an elective $19 dongle. The port is for audio solely and never meant for energy to or from the speaker. Plug the dongle into the Period 100, and you’ll run a report participant or one other audio supply by means of it and sync every part throughout your different Sonos audio system. The corporate advises that line-in isn’t match for stay TV since there’s latency to account for. A Sonos soundbar continues to be one of the best ways to play TV audio all through your private home. (Should you’re curious, USB-C-to-3.5mm adapters chances are you’ll have already got are unlikely to work. Sonos does an analog-to-digital conversion as a substitute of the opposite manner round.)

You too can buy a $39 combo adapter that helps each ethernet and line-in. Some longtime Sonos prospects have bemoaned that the Period audio system don’t help SonosNet, a characteristic that created a personal community for the audio system to speak over each time certainly one of them was plugged into ethernet. Sonos appears to imagine the inclusion of extra sturdy Wi-Fi 6 connectivity makes up for that omission. Take into account that when you’re utilizing Sonos audio system as surrounds for any of the corporate’s soundbars, they impart straight over a 5Ghz connection, so that you don’t want to fret about wi-fi interference in that situation. I don’t know many non-techies who’ve run out to improve their routers to Wi-Fi 6, so I can perceive among the frustration. However I’ve but to note any music cutouts or streaming points whereas testing the Period 300 and Period 100.

Regardless of being the same measurement to the Sonos One, the Period 100 actually steps up audio efficiency by transferring from a mono to stereo driver configuration. There are actually two tweeters, enabling correct left and proper channel replica. Sonos caught with a single midwoofer, but it surely’s considerably bigger than earlier than, and in consequence, the Period is more proficient at dealing with bass output. 

It’s straightforward to suit the Period 100 wherever you need to hearken to music.

The Period is a small single-unit speaker, so it’s unrealistic to count on a lot stereo separation or a vastly vast soundstage. However with every monitor I examined, the audio of the 100 was clear, detailed, and full-bodied. You don’t should accept sure devices or vocals being drowned out within the combine, which might occur with the mishmash produced by mono audio system. The sound is wealthy, stays persistently sturdy throughout genres, and there’s simply extra room for every part to breathe. I’ve little doubt there are “audiophiles” who will simply maintain rolling their eyes on the notion of a Sonos speaker sounding excellent, however that is objectively a considerable leveling up in comparison with the Sonos One.

The Period 100 sounds fairly respectable out of the field, however like different Sonos gear, Trueplay can assist it attain most potential. For the primary time, Sonos is supporting its Trueplay tuning characteristic on each iOS and now Android. Android customers can run a brand new “fast tune” process within the Sonos app that makes use of the Period 100’s built-in mics to gauge a room’s acoustics and optimize the sound for that setting. This course of can end inside a matter of seconds, I’ve discovered, though Sonos says it could actually take as much as a minute. Both manner, that’s faster than the superior tuning that is still current on iOS. With the latter, you continue to should stroll across the room waving your iPhone or iPad round and use that microphone for a extra thorough studying of the acoustics. 

Sonos claims that the superior strategy will in the end produce superior outcomes and is finest for bigger areas, however a minimum of Android prospects lastly have some measure of Trueplay help. (iOS customers have the choice to make use of fast tune as effectively in the event that they don’t need to fuss with the longer walkabout model.) One factor I’ve noticed is that Trueplay can produce different-sounding outcomes even when a speaker hasn’t moved. Should you’re not loving the preliminary changes it makes, it’s price making an attempt the method once more (and guaranteeing that your cellphone’s mic holes are clear).

The Period 100 helps hands-free voice instructions with Amazon Alexa or Sonos Voice Management.

Earlier than masking voice, I ought to preface that I’m not huge on voice assistants. Like so many different folks, I largely follow climate inquiries, setting timers, and enjoying a track or playlist on demand. My residence is neither full of good house devices nor deeply wired into Alexa (or Google Assistant for that matter). However throughout the assessment interval, I’ve made an effort to often use each Alexa and Sonos Voice Management to play music and go away my cellphone in my pocket. That have has been Positive, and even at average quantity ranges, the far-field microphones do job of recognizing your voice (and the “Alexa” or “Hey Sonos” hotwords) over no matter music is enjoying. 

However make no mistake: there’ll inevitably be potential consumers disenchanted about Google Assistant being ignored of the occasion. Sonos claims Google has made it extra technically burdensome over the past 12 months to incorporate Assistant on third-party audio system and says this has nothing to do with the continuing authorized battle between each firms. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s shoppers who lose out in the long run. Hopefully, an answer could be reached that brings Assistant again into the equation for individuals who’ve constructed their good houses round it. 

As with the Sonos One, you’ll be able to stereo pair two Period 100s for wider, extra immersive listening or use them as rear surrounds for any Sonos soundbar. Simply remember that every speaker switches over to mono in house theater mode; you’ll get devoted left and proper rear channels however not the multidimensional encompass (with Atmos top results) supplied by the a lot pricier Period 300. You too can pair a Sonos Sub or Sub Mini with the Period 100 if you wish to lend extra energy to its already sufficient bass response.

It improves upon the Sonos One in a number of significant methods.

It’s straightforward to purchase a cheaper good speaker like the Nest Audio, HomePod Mini, or Amazon Echo. Anybody searching for a wise house controller first and music speaker second will nonetheless discover some attraction in these gadgets. 

However with the Period 100, Sonos has succeeded in its purpose of remastering and bettering the Sonos One. It sounds nicer than lower-cost rivals. From mainly any perspective (outdoors of voice assistant choices), this speaker is a winner. It sounds higher and is more true to stereo music than the Sonos One. The onboard controls are extra complete. And Sonos has improved upon the One’s method by including genuinely helpful new options like Bluetooth and line-in.

Even when it could actually’t go head-to-head with the $299 HomePod in audio constancy — Apple’s speaker takes that victory — it’s much more versatile in how one can hearken to music. You’ll get loads of enjoyment out of the Period 100 on day one, which isn’t as straightforward to say concerning the pricey Period 300 and the uneven early exhibiting of spatial audio that Sonos is betting so closely on.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge



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