Skip to main content

Bluetooth on Sonos’ new Era speakers isn’t what you think – it’s better

When Sonos recently debuted its two newest wireless speakers — the Era 100 and Era 300 — it broke with years of precedence by adding Bluetooth, a connection option that has never been offered on the company’s non-portable speakers. At the time, I thought Bluetooth on an Era speaker worked the same way as it does on the Sonos Move. I was wrong.

It turns out, the Era speakers use Bluetooth in tandem with their Wi-Fi connections, as opposed to the Move, which treats Bluetooth as a completely separate mode. That has some profound implications for what you can do with one of the new Era speakers within a Sonos system, as well as a few caveats about what you can’t do.

Related Videos

Keep control

Sonos Era 100, close-up on logo.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Using Bluetooth on a Sonos Era speaker is additive — it lets you layer a Bluetooth connection over the speaker’s existing Wi-Fi connection — which means the Sonos app can maintain its link to the Era 100 or 300 even when another device is connected to these speakers using Bluetooth. You can still control every aspect of the Era speaker, just as you would if the speaker was playing from a source within the Sonos app, or via AirPlay from an Apple device.

This mirrors the way other multiroom wireless systems like Bluesound handle Bluetooth, but it’s a radical departure from the way the Sonos Move works. Once you switch the Move into Bluetooth mode, it disconnects from Wi-Fi and the Sonos app can no longer communicate with the speaker.

Unfortunately, despite the persistent connection from the app to the Era speaker over Wi-Fi, the app can’t currently display album or track artwork when audio is playing from a Bluetooth device — only the text is displayed.

Bluetooth as a shared source

When you connect to an Era speaker over Bluetooth, Sonos treats that Bluetooth connection the same way as it treats an AirPlay connection. You can simply play Bluetooth audio to just the Era speaker you’re connected to, or you can jump into the Sonos app and group the Era speaker with as many other Sonos products as you like and each component will play the audio being streamed via Bluetooth to the Era speaker.

One at a time

Sonos Era 300 close-up of Bluetooth button.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Even though an Era speaker can be connected to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth simultaneously, while also supporting AirPlay, there is a pecking order to these connections. First, only a single Bluetooth device can be connected at once. If you’ve paired a second device in the past, and then connect it to the Era speaker, it will disconnect the first paired speaker.

Second, if you’re using an AirPlay session to play music from an Apple device to an Era speaker and then you begin playback from a connected Bluetooth device, it will terminate the AirPlay session instead of just pausing it. To start using AirPlay again, you’ll need to pause the Bluetooth session, reconnect your Apple device to the Era speaker via AirPlay, and then begin playback from the Apple device.

Third, Bluetooth and Sonos app sources have parity when it comes to control. Hitting play on a Bluetooth streaming session will pause any content that the Era speaker had been playing from the Sonos app, and vice versa. Hitting play from the app will pause the Bluetooth source (but won’t disconnect the Bluetooth device).

Stereo yes, surrounds no

Sonos Era 300 used as rear surrounds in a Sonos home theater.

If you set up two matching Era speakers as a stereo pair, you’ll still be able to use Bluetooth streaming as described above. However, if you use those same two speakers as a set of surrounds in a home theater — along with an Arc, Beam, or Ray — Bluetooth won’t be available until you remove the speakers from this arrangement.

Still need Wi-Fi

As with Sonos’ portables, Bluetooth streaming to an Era speaker can only be done once the speaker has been set up and activated via Wi-Fi. Out of the box, there’s no way to use them as Bluetooth speakers.

If you want to be able to manage the Era speakers using the Sonos app when streaming via Bluetooth, you’ll need to be connected to your home Wi-Fi network. However, if you strictly want to use them as Bluetooth speakers — perhaps at a cottage or at a friend’s house — all they need is a power source.

Editor’s note: a previous version of this article suggested that the Sonos Move and Roam treat Bluetooth connections the same way. This has been corrected.

Editors' Recommendations

New Sonos speakers apparently confirmed by accessory company
Rendering of a reportedly unreleased Sonos speaker created by The Verge.

If a document published by accessory maker Sanus is accurate, Sonos' next speakers will be called the Era 100 and Era 300, according to a report from Chris Welch at The Verge. Welch claims that The Verge had already learned from its sources that "Era" will be the public-facing name of the as-yet-unreleased smart speaker that he had previously reported on under the code name "Optimo," and that the Sanus document offers further evidence of this claim.

Sanus is a company that makes a variety of mounting solutions for AV products, including many Sonos models such as the Sonos Beam, Arc, and Sonos One. The discovered document, which was posted to the site, is entitled "Sanus Elite - Adjustable Speaker Wall Mount for Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 Speakers."

Read more
House of Marley is back with its loudest, sustainably-designed Bluetooth speaker
House of Marley Get Together 2 XL Bluetooth speaker.

You've got endless options when it comes to choosing a powerful Bluetooth speaker, but if you want one with a kinder approach to the earth, it's hard to beat House of Marley's (HoM) new Get Together 2 XL, a big, $450 speaker that the company says is its loudest model to date.

In typical fashion for House of Marley, you'll find lots of sustainable materials like the bamboo front face plate, the company's signature Rewind fabric, its Regrind silicone, and easily recycled aluminum. Inside the 12.6-pound body, HoM has packed 60 watts of power split between two one-inch tweeters and two four-inch woofers, and a large, rear-mounted passive radiator. Want even more coverage for your parties? You can extend the sound to other HoM Get Together 2 speakers via party mode or create a stereo pair between two Get Together 2 XL for much better stereo separation.

Read more
LG updates its XBoom 360 speaker with better sound, battery, and water resistance
LG XBoom 360 X03 speaker.

We were pretty impressed by LG's XBoom 360 portable party speaker when we put one to the test earlier in 2022, but despite the good tunes and fun lighting, we noticed a few places where it could improve. Battery life, at just 10 hours seemed meager, and what's a portable Bluetooth speaker without the ability to take a splash or two?

Looks like LG took our comments to heart. The latest addition to the XBoom family is the $300 XBoom 360 X03, a much more robust speaker in every way, that still keeps the original's unique shape, 360 sound, and customizable light effects. LG says it's available to order immediately from LG's website and authorized retailers, but at publication time, we couldn't find any links to do so.

Read more