After a few years of inactivity, both Sonos and Apple refreshed their smart speaker lineup with the Sonos Era 100 and the Apple HomePod 2. When it comes to price, size, features, and performance, both of these speakers are fairly matched, but there are some key differences which may affect your buying decision. Below, we’ll compare the Sonos Era 100 vs the Apple HomePod 2, so you can determine which smart speaker is the best for your home entertainment needs.
The Sonos Era 100 delivers excellent stereo sound, can stream from multitudes of streaming services, and works as an Alexa smart speaker. You can also connect it directly to your turntable. However, it lacks the spatial audio found in the HomePod 2.
- Dual tweeters
- Larger woofer
- Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth support
- USB-C line in for external audio
- Alexa and Sonos Voice enabled
- No Google Assistant support
The Apple HomePod (2nd gen) features 360-degree sound and support for spatial audio. It can also stream from an Apple TV 4K, and has some smart home features built in. However, it can't stream from as many audio sources as the Sonos Era 100.
- Great sound quality
- Integrates well with other Apple products
- Support for Matter
- Temperature, humidity sensors
- More expensive than Era 100
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Sonos Era 100
|Apple HomePod 2
|One woofer, two tweeters
|One woofer, five tweeters
|Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2
|Thread, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2
|7.2 x 4.7 x 5.1 inches
|6.6 inches (height), 5.6 inches (diameter)
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Price
No contest here: The Sonos Era 100 costs $249, while the Apple HomePod 2 costs $299. Moreover, Sonos gives you a little discount if you purchase multiple devices — pick up a pair of Era 100s, and you can save $30 versus buying them separately. Apple offers no such discount.
Both speakers are offered in either white or black. Apple could really do itself a favor here and offer the HomePod 2 in the same variety of colors available with the HomePod mini.
Winner: Sonos Era 100
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Design
One goes for form, while the other goes for function. The Apple HomePod 2 is definitely the more attractive of the two speakers; its acoustically transparent fabric and rounded shape makes it feel more homey than the harder-edged, all-metal Era 100. The HomePod 2 also has a circular touchscreen on top that lights up in a swirl of colors when you say “Hey Siri.” It’s a fun effect.
The Era 100 might have a more workmanlike exterior, but I found its controls much more intuitive. A touch-sensitive groove along the middle of the top lets you increase or decrease the volume by sliding your finger. There are also separate buttons for play/pause, advance, and back, as well as a button to summon Alexa or Sonos’ voice assistant. By comparison, the HomePod 2 has + and - buttons for volume control, and you have to double- or triple-tap to switch tracks. It’s a little bit more to remember.
Winner: Sonos Era 100
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Sound quality
But, which speaker sounds better? Before we get to that, let’s take a look at what each speaker is packing. Inside the Era 100 is a single woofer that’s 25 percent larger than that in the Sonos One, and two tweeters, so that a single Era 100 is capable of producing stereo sound on its own.
The HomePod 2 also has a single woofer, but it’s augmented by five tweeters angled upwards and arrayed in a circle. Not only does this allow the HomePod 2 to support spatial audio tracks, but it also means that music sounds just as good from the rear of the HomePod 2 as it does from the front.
When we listened to music on both the Era 100 and the HomePod, there was a noticeable difference as we walked around both speakers; the HomePod 2 sounded good from just about every direction, while there was a definite drop-off as we moved behind the Era 100.
The HomePod supports spatial audio via Dolby Atmos, but the Sonos Era 100 does not — you’ll have to upgrade to the Sonos Era 300 for that feature.
To see which offered the better audio, we placed a cloth over both speakers, and had three coworkers listen to the same tracks — the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute, Thus Spake Zarathustra (a.k.a. the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), and Eruption by Van Halen — on both speakers. Two of our coworkers preferred the HomePod to the Era 100, noting that Apple’s speaker produced a warmer sound than the Sonos.
I also listened to a number of tracks on both speakers and also came away with a mixed reaction, but ended up leaning towards the HomePod 2.
When I played U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” from the Songs of Surrender album (a Dolby Atmos track), Bono’s voice was in the center, and had a warmer sound on the HomePod than the Sonos. Not surprisingly, the sound was not as expansive on the Era 100, either.
However, when I played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen (another Dolby Atmos track), Freddie Mercury’s voice sounded more watery on the HomePod than on the Era 100. Sonos’ speaker also bested the HomePod on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the Concert for George album; the audio sounded more compressed on the HomePod than the Era 100, and the vocals were tinny. However, Prince’s solo sang out more on Apple’s speaker.
Switching over to “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, Geddy Lee’s voice rang out and the music seemed to radiate out more around the room on the HomePod. Similarly, when playing “Somebody to Love” from Spotify (which was not an Atmos track), the Era 100 felt a little deeper, but Freddie Mercury’s voice felt more centered and present on the HomePod 2.
One last example, before I tire you out: “Get me Away from Here” by Belle and Sebastian was more room-filling with the HomePod, with greater separation between the vocals and the instruments.
Winner: Apple HomePod 2
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Audio features
Both the Era 100 and the HomePod 2 have adaptive audio; that is, they use their microphones to listen for the room’s acoustics, and then tailor the output of their speakers based on pre-existing audio profiles. However, if you have an iPhone, you can create an even more precise audio profile of your room with the Sonos Era 100.
If you want to hook a turntable into your smart speaker, the Era 100 has a USB-C port in the back; purchase a line-in adapter ($19.99, sold separately), and you’re good to go. Sonos also works with far more audio streaming services than the HomePod.
If you have an Apple TV device, you can stream audio from whatever you’re watching through the HomePod 2, which saves you the trouble of needing to purchase a soundbar. You can also connect the Era 100 to your TV via Bluetooth, though.
The Era 100 and HomePod 2 both have Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Wi-Fi, but Sonos’ speaker has Wi-Fi 6, whereas the HomePod has Wi-Fi 5, so the Era 100 is a little more future-proofed in that regard. You can also connect the Era 100 via Ethernet, though this requires an adapter (sold separately).
Winner: Sonos Era 100
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Smart home capabilities
Siri or Alexa? While your choice of voice assistant is probably secondary to audio quality in a smart speaker, choosing between the Era 100 (Alexa) and the HomePod 2 (Siri) could also dictate your smart home setup. It remains to be seen how much Matter will shake things up, but at the moment, far more smart home devices work with Alexa than they do with Siri and HomeKit. However, the HomePod 2 has temperature, humidity, and occupancy sensors, so it can be used as part of your smart home routines.
If Sonos and Google weren’t locked in a legal battle, there’s a good chance that the Era 100 would have worked with Google Assistant, too, as it does on the older Sonos One.
The Era 100 also works with Sonos’ own voice assistant, which is limited to controlling just music. It’s handy if you want to use voice controls but are creeped out by Amazon knowing too much about you. And, if voice assistants in general aren’t your thing, the Era 100 has a physical switch to disable its microphone, something I wish the HomePod had.
Winner: Apple HomePod 2
Sonos Era 100 vs. Apple HomePod 2: Which smart speaker wins?
On a round-by-round basis, the Sonos Era 100 beats the Apple HomePod 2 by three to two; the Era 100 is less expensive, it has a more functional design, and I preferred its audio and streaming features. However, the HomePod 2 has better smart home functionality, and it bested the Era 100 in the area that matters most: sound quality.
That’s not to say the Era 100 is a bad speaker; far from it. In fact, the Sonos speaker is better suited for those who want to connect it to their turntable, want to stream music from a variety of sources, or don’t want to be confined by Apple’s ecosystem.
Ultimately, the choice will be yours as to which of your needs and wants weighs more heavily. Either way, you’re getting a quality smart speaker.
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Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.