Best Multi Room Speakers – It wasn’t long ago that a multi-room audio system could break the bank. Buying thousands of dollars worth of speakers, amps, keyboards and switchgear is just the beginning. You then need to hire a technician to run the wires through the wall, make the connections, and adjust the settings to allow all the components to play together nicely.
Today, it’s easier – and doesn’t hurt your budget. You can buy a wireless multi-room speaker system with great performance and unprecedented flexibility for a surprising amount of money. Even better, you can set it up in minutes, right from your smartphone.
Best Multi Room Speakers
Sonos has led the way when it comes to multi-room systems, but other companies have joined in, giving music lovers a variety of options for moderately priced wireless speakers. And if you own a smart speaker from one of the major brands – Amazon Echo, Google Nest or Apple HomePod – you can add other speakers to form a multi-room system that can provide voice-controlled music throughout your home.
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Our high-end multi-room speakers offer not only solid sound but also impressive versatility. If your goal is to do an epic replay and play “Never Gonna Give You Up” perfectly syncopated through 16 speakers on four different levels in your house, go ahead. If your goals are more modest—quietly streaming the 99% Invisible podcast in the kitchen while the kids play “Encanto” in the family room, all controlled by your smartphone—that’s an option, too.
Here are some of the best multi-room speakers in CR ratings. Like everything we review, from printers to pickup trucks, CR buys speakers anonymously through normal retail channels. Our trained testers put each model through a battery of laboratory tests for ease of use, versatility and especially sound quality, which gets extra weight in our evaluation.
Amazon Echo leads the way as the original smart speaker, but despite all the innovation, it doesn’t perform well. Amazon has improved the sonics of its speaker line in recent years, and the Echo Studio is now the best of the bunch.
With deep, punchy bass, clean midrange and smooth treble, the Studio is actually one of the best-sounding smart speakers to come through our lab. When playing Dolby Atmos and 3D audio content, CR testers reported that this model provided a wide “sound field” that could fill a room. But the “Stereo Spatial Enhancement” setting adds some echo, so we recommend turning it off.
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The Studio can be integrated into a multi-room system with other Amazon Echo speakers. But our testers experienced some poor performance when pairing two studios. Some problems arose when we changed the volume, and there was a small synchronization problem between the left and right speakers.
The HomePod Mini is another Apple smart speaker, and unfortunately, it’s not as good as the original HomePod, according to our testers.
Audio for the $99 model is tight in a way similar to the $50 Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini, albeit with fuller bass. This means the Mini can be used for podcasts or background music in a small room but isn’t nearly as good for playing your favorite tunes.
The HomePod Mini works best if you’re immersed in the Apple ecosystem as it offers easy integration with the Apple Music streaming service, including full voice control and multi-room capabilities. The Mini can also control Apple HomeKit smart home products. It allows voice control of other music services, including Pandora and iHeart Radio, and can even be integrated with Apple CarPlay in your vehicle. For example, you can ask the speaker for driving directions while making coffee in the morning and let it send your preferred route to your car.
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If you’re not an Apple fan, note that the Amazon Studio (above) and Sonos One (below) performed better in our sound quality tests.
Audio Pro is a Swedish company that has been making speakers since 1978. Given that history, it’s no surprise that the Audio Pro C10 MKII is near the top of our rating. Our testers reported that it delivered deep and impressive bass despite being a little boomy, while the midrange did a good job with music and dialogue. There’s enough volume to fill a medium-sized room, and you can combine two units in stereo to improve the sound.
Our testers also gave the C10 MkII strong grades in ease of use and our top marks in versatility. Audio Pro’s multi-room capabilities can be accessed and managed via the company’s dedicated smartphone app, which our testers found easy to use on both Android phones and iPhones.
The Denon Home 150 picks up where the company’s Heos line of multi-room speakers left off. Not only does it have more traditional styling than its predecessor – some models in the Heos range resemble luxury bags – but it also delivers satisfying sound and commendable versatility.
Best Multi Room Speakers
Sonically, the 150 delivers impressive but slightly boomy bass, an even midrange and extended high frequencies. Our testers found that pairing two 150s enhanced the illusion that the musicians were right there in the room with you, though adding a second speaker made the bass a little boomier.
The Home 150 provides enough volume for a medium-sized room, but if you need to fill a larger room, you should consider Denon’s larger Home 250 and Home 350 models. Our testers found a strong family resemblance between all three speakers, but the larger model delivered more bass and volume, albeit for more money. All three models can be seamlessly integrated into a multi-room system.
Like the speakers in the Heos line, the Home 150 differs from most models from rival Sonos in that it offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to quickly transfer a playlist or podcast from your smartphone to the speaker. (Although our testers found that selecting Bluetooth inputs had to be done from Denon’s intuitive smartphone app.) For most of your listening, however, you’ll need to use a more robust WiFi connection.
Yes, Ikea sells Symphonic speakers, but they are powered by Sonos and are compatible with Sonos wireless speakers in a whole home system. All that makes it a high performer at a low price.
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Our testers reported that the second-generation model has the same functionality as the previous version (which is $20 cheaper). The new bookshelf speaker also sounds like its Sonos sibling, with clear treble, a balanced and detailed midrange and tonal though not quite deep bass. The Symfonisk’s sound quality falls slightly below the Sonos One (below), but the gap is small enough that most casual listeners won’t notice the difference. Our testers also reported that a stereo pair of Symphony speakers sounded much better than a single unit, especially when it came to capturing the you-are-there factor that works wonders on really good recordings.
IKEA calls this Symphonic model a bookshelf speaker. Literally. It can be mounted horizontally on a wall and used as a shelf, but its limited capacity makes it more suitable for light poetry volumes than Russian novels. (The Symphonic line also includes the more expensive Sonos-powered picture frame speakers.)
The Sonos One smart speaker has two features that make it the best choice for a wireless multi-room system: its small size and its relatively low price. This model fits unobtrusively on the shelf. And while it doesn’t offer the sheer bass response of larger speakers, it delivers impressively detailed sound on vocals and instrumentals.
It also costs less than some competitors, so you can start your system with a pair—say, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom—and expand to other rooms (or better-sounding stereo pairs) as your budget allows. . .
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Sonos One can also integrate with the company’s wireless models, adding smart speaker functionality to existing Sonos systems. Like other Sonos home speakers, this speaker does not have Bluetooth capability. It streams over WiFi and you control it with the company’s smartphone app.
This one is platform-agnostic; It has built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. If you love Apple, you can also stream music to speakers using an iPad or iPhone with Apple AirPlay 2. Sonos recently introduced Sonos Voice Control, which allows you to make choices without using a digital assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant that records your Commands and send it to the company’s server. (Commands to “Hey, Sonos” are processed locally on the device.)
If you don’t need or want smart speaker functionality, the similar-sounding Sonos One SL is essentially a Sonos One without a microphone.
If sound quality is your priority in a multi-room system—and that’s usually a good place to start—check out the Sonos Five.
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It’s the highest-rated and best-sounding multi-room speaker we’ve tested, delivering solid bass and crystal treble that lets you hear every detail of your favorite recordings. And while a single Five offers good sound, two Fives paired in stereo earn our rare top rating for sound quality.
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