Multi-Room speakers are a newer category relative to bookshelf and computer speakers. In some ways, these are the most exciting category of powered speakers. Setup and control is done through a dedicated app and connection is through wifi. The best advice for those who have not yet joined one of the ecosystems is to buy the cheapest speaker first. If the experience is favorable, start adding more as needed.
The father. The one who started it all. Sonos has built a comprehensive speaker lineup over the years. The Sonos One is its entry level speaker and while sound quality isn’t the most robust due to its smaller size, it will give new users an entry into their ecosystem. Setup is pretty easy with the Sonos app which has been refined through the years. The Sonos One has Amazon Alexa support and is Apple AirPlay 2 compatible. With the Sonos system, music sources such as Spotify and Google Play need Sonos support to operate. Because they are the big player, support is comprehensive. One option for those who have speakers they already like but want the convenience of the Sonos multi-room experience is to get the Sonos Connect. It is more expensive than the One but for those with high end speakers, this could be the best option. One drawback with Sonos speakers is that they don’t have alternative connection options such as RCA or Bluetooth. With the number of sales it has achieved though, many users are fine being in the Sonos system.
Check price for Sonos One.
Check price for Sonos Connect.
Yamaha is a long time audio manufacturer who is a later player in the the multi-room speaker world. The Yamaha MusicCast 20 is the entry level speaker. For those who already have a Yamaha receiver or streamer, this could be the best reason to get the MusicCast. Unlike the Sonos speakers, the Yamaha speakers allow Bluetooth and RCA inputs. Alexa is supported through an Amazon Echo, so a separate device would be needed. Overall, the MusicCast is more versatile than the Sonos speakers and sound quality is also excellent.
Check latest price for the MusicCast 20.
Denon is a well known maker of receivers and has joined the multi-room speaker market with the HEOS line. The Denon HEOS 1 is the entry level speaker and is the least expensive of the competitors. Going up the model is the HEOS 3, HEOS 5 and HEOS 7. The HEOS speakers have Aux in and Bluetooth support, giving it more connection options over the Sonos line. One nice feature is that The HEOS also allows for wire connection via a network cable. Alexa and Google Assistant is supported. In addition, the HEOS 1 also has an optional battery charger for true portability. For audiophile purists, the HEOS line can play 24-bit audio while the Sonos only supports 16-bit.
Check latest price for the HEOS 1.
Check latest price for the HEOS 3.
Check latest price for the HEOS 7.
Bose’s offering in the mult-room market is the SoundTouch line of speakers. The SoundTouch 10 is the entry level model and is the least expensive entry in the category along with Denon HEOS 1. Bluetooth is supported but not Apple Airplay. The SoundTouch 10 includes a remote along with the SoundTouch app support, which makes it unique.
Check the latest price for the SoundTouch 10.
Check the latest price for the SoundTouch 20.
Samsung’s marketing department seemed to have fallen asleep when naming their multi-room line. The R1, R3, and R5 are their three tier speaker lineup. They support Bluetooth as well as Wifi connection like all of the non-Sonos speakers. The R line doesn’t have any physical connections though. Alexa is supported through the Echo like the Yamaha speakers.
Check the latest price for the R1.
Blusound is a Canadian company, eh, that has been popular among audiophiles. They have speakers including the entry level Bluesound PULSE Flex 2i but they are best known for their Node 2i. This device connects to current speakers to make them wireless multi-room enabled. It has a very good 32-bit/192kHz DAC and supports Bluetooth AptX HD and Airplay 2. The BluOS app controls playback. Many users rave about the sound quality from their Node 2i.
Check the latest price for the Node 2i.
The Link series from JBL includes two lines of speakers. The 10, and 20 are their portable speakers while the 300 and 500 are home speakers. They all support Google Assistant and Chromecast Audio. Playback is via Bluetooth or Wifi. There are no physical connections for the speakers other than USB for charging. All the Link speakers play at 24-bit/96kHz and many reviewers laud their sound quality relative to their price. Like their competitors, the Link has few physical controls on their speakers and relies on apps for usage.
Check the latest price for the Link 10.
Check the latest price for the Link 300.
Klipsch has long been popular for their home theater and powered speakers. Their entry into the multi-room speaker category is called the Stream series and features the basic single speaker most the the competitors make abut also soundbars and even amps to pair with any speaker. Their speaker lineup includes the RW-1 and the gorgeous looking “The Three”. All of their speakers can be connected via Wifi, Bluetooth, or a wired connection such as Aux. The Three specifically also has a phono connection for turntables. Klipsch has long been respected for their sound quality and these are no exception.
Check the latest price for the Klipsch PowerGate Amp.
Check the latest price for the Klipsch RSB-14 Soundbar.
Marshall Wireless Multi-Room
Marshall took their current speaker lineup and added multi-room support and did not come up with a clever brand name. Oh well, the speakers still sound good and have that classic Marshall look. Their wireless line includes three speakers–Acton, Stanmore, and Woburn. All have wifi connection, Bluetooth, Airplay, Chromcast and Aux for a wired connection. As with the others, playback is via an app. The Marshall speakers have bass and treble dials, a nice feature.
Check the latest price for the Marshall Stanmore.
Unlike Sonos and its competitor lines, the DTS Play-Fi is not a speaker line but a wireless audio protocol. This means that the Play-Fi can support any speaker that supports Play-Fi. A growing list of manufacturers continue to support Play-Fi. One of the least expensive ways to enter is the Phorus PS5 Speaker. It costs much less than the other speakers in this list and allows those curious to see if the Play-Fi ecosystem works for them without much investment.
Check the latest price for the Phorus PS5.
Chromecast Audio is a dongle made by Google that allows wireless playback. It is very inexpensive and tiny and connects via a 3.5 mm Aux or Toslink cable, so not for Apple fans. It also requires power through a USB power supply. The Chromecast Audio will work with Apple devices and Android but is more versatile with Android. Audio quality is decent, but not spectacular which isn’t a surprise for a device of this price.
Check the latest price for the Chromecast Audio.
Apple AirPlay 2
Apple AirPlay 2 is Apple’s wireless protocol that supports a growing list of devices. For those in the iOS ecosystem, look for speakers that support AirPlay 2 for added versatilty. For those with Android devices, AirPlay 2 might as well be hot air.