Best multi-room speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best multi-room speakers you can buy in 2021.
In a few short years multi-room speakers have exploded in popularity, allowing you to stream music all around your home, whether playing different music in each room or grouped together in party mode.
Not only are multi-room speakers convenient, they negate the need to run a whole bunch of wires around your home. Most multi-room speakers connect to your home's wi-fi network to ensure stable streaming, and can be controlled by dedicated apps, your streaming service of choice or even your voice.
Sonos is probably the best known maker of multi-room speaker systems but it's facing stiff competition, with rivals offering simple-to-use controls and great sound quality. Tech giants Amazon, Google and Apple have got in on the action too, joining 'proper' hi-fi brands such as B&W and Naim.
To help you pick a multi-room speaker that suits your needs, we've compiled a list of the best options, rated according to performance, connectivity, build quality and value for money. Happy streaming!
Sonos has ruled the multi-room roost for over a decade now, and with good reason. The Sonos One is one of the best-sounding multi-room speakers on the market, combining room-filling sound with Amazon's Alexa smart assistant voice controls.
Essentially, it's Sonos' old Play:1 speaker with added voice control smarts. But that's a winning combination in our book.
It also features Apple AirPlay 2 tech built in, so you can stream music, podcasts and radio stations directly from your iPhone or iPad. And if you're an Apple Music subscriber, you tell Siri what to play, in what room.
Sound-wise, it's nigh-on identical to the Play:1, but again, that's a very good thing indeed. Delivery is weighty, full-bodied and loud, which is not what you would expect from a speaker this size. The soundstage is spacious and impressively organised, with vocals given plenty of breathing room, making them instantly more engaging.
Looking for an affordable, feature-packed multi-room speaker? This is the One to go for.
Read the full review: Sonos One
The Echo Plus might only be 15cm tall, but it offers 360-degree sound and impressive sonic performance for the money.
Previous Echo products have appeared overly forward, brash in comparison with this now more sophisticated, insightful presentation. There are textures here – hisses, warbles and sweeps – that the Echo Plus seems to enjoy exploring, organising them neatly across a soundstage with great depth and dimension.
Bass lacks punch but you can give it some more oomph by pairing with Amazon's Echo Sub for not a huge amount more money.
If you're already invested in Amazon's eco-system or are building a multi-room system from scratch, this is superb choice. Though if your use of Alexa is likely to be limited, the Sonos One is the better all-rounder.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
The Audio Pro Addon C3 isn't just the best Bluetooth speaker at this price, it's a stylish, wi-fi connected, multi-room capable centrepiece – and a previous What Hi-Fi? Award winner.
Sound is focused yet open and airy, meaning you can fill a decent sized room with immersive, weighty sound. It has an fantastic sense of refinement for such a small speaker, not to mention a rear-firing bass reflex port that delivers plenty of low-end grunt.
This model won't charge your smartphone but it does feature an ethernet port, giving you the option to hardwire it to your home network. The battery serves up around 15 hours playback (less if you crank the volume up to the max).
The C3 supports streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and Apple Music, and while there's no built-in voice assistant, you can control the speaker via the Alexa app.
If you're after something more rugged and portable, we'd suggest rivals such as the Ultimate Ears Megaboom or JBL Xtreme. But as a sensational-sounding multi-room proposition, this speaker gives Sonos a serious run for its money.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
Audio Pro is in the highly favourable position of having produced one of our favourite wireless speakers in the Addon C10. In the three years since its arrival, it has won three consecutive What Hi-Fi? Awards in its price category. Now, the Swedish firm has released a sequel, the sensibly named Addon C10 MkII, promising enhanced functionality, sound quality and design.
With the C10 MkII, Audio Pro builds on the original model's feature list, which boasted Bluetooth, AirPlay, aux and RCA inputs and access to music streaming services via wi-fi, by adding AirPlay 2 and Google Cast streaming smarts. It's worth noting the 3.5mm aux input has gone, as has Alexa voice control (in favour of Google) and the carry handle.
In the name of improved sound quality, Audio Pro has enhanced the electronics here and revised the bass port design, while for control there are additional buttons on the speaker itself. Most crucially, you can now connect over wi-fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 or Google Cast.
When we tested the original C10, we pitted it against models almost double its price and found it bettered them. And this MkII is more of the same, thanks to better bass and improved fidelity. If £500 ($500) is your maximum budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a speaker that comes close to the Audio Pro C10 MkII.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII
At What Hi-Fi?, we know full well the value of revisions. Yet still, it was quite the surprise when first we heard about one made by Naim, with its second generation of the Mu-so Qb wireless speaker. The previous iteration was great, earning five stars when it was first reviewed. This version, however, is is truly phenomenal.
You can now choose between an Olive, Terracotta or Peacock grille alongside the standard black, but the best tweaks Naim has made go far deeper. Remove whatever colour grille you've gone for and you'll be rewarded with upgraded and optimised midrange and bass drive units, all powered by a total of 300W of amplification.
Belying its box-like dimensions with a punchy bass alongside sparkling and rich tones across frequencies, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation scooped up our most recent What Hi-Fi? Award for the best home wireless speaker over £500 ($500) – for the second year running.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
The HomePod Mini really is bijou. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s quite a bit smaller than the similarly spherical new Amazon Echo. In fact, it’s even dwarfed by the new Echo Dot. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running (when Siri is listening or processing) though, and you realise you've got a classy performer on your hands.
It goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the HomePod Mini comfortably outperforms its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound.
Siri is your voice assistant, and after a short period of learning it'll respond to the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” not by streaming your most played track of the last few weeks, but by playing something that you may have never listened to before but is a good fit for what you often do listen to. It’s a really powerful way to discover new music, and Alexa is nowhere near as good at it.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod Mini
Multi-room speakers don't have to cost the earth. But if you want stunning design and audiophile sound, you can't go far wrong with the impressive Naim Mu-so 2, which sits more towards the top end of the price spectrum. Though rest assured it more than justifies its price.
It streams hi-res music up to 32-bit and offers direct streaming from Spotify Connect and Tidal. Throw in Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, and you have access to yet more internet radio stations, plus Deezer, Qobuz and Google Play Music.
The Mu-so 2 connects to its smaller siblings, the Mu-so Qb speakers, via AirPlay 2, Chromecast or Naim's own software. Building a multi-room system around the Mu-so 2 won't be cheap, but you'll be rewarded with premium build-quality, rich sound and plenty of bass. Dig deep into those pockets,and you'll have the beginnings of a stunning multi-room system.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2
The Sonos Roam is the firm's cheapest and smartest speaker. Portable, with Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, the Toblerone-shaped Roam is a great alternative to the company's first Bluetooth speaker, the much larger, heavier and more expensive, Sonos Move.
Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, the (appropriately-named) Roam is rated IP67 waterproof and boasts a 10 hour battery life – despite being a sixth of the size of the Move.
It comes with an excellent bag of tricks, too. Sonos Swap (exclusive to the Roam) lets you 'hand off' whatever music the Roam is playing to another Sonos speaker nearby, while improved Auto TruePlay uses the speaker's microphones to optimise the sound according to the speaker's surroundings.
Want the smallest and smartest speaker in the range? The picnic-friendly Roam could be just the ticket. Sound quality is seriously full-bodied, but it's fair to say other Bluetooth speakers offer a slightly more dynamic performance. Does that matter? Not really. Not when you factor in the Roam's nomadic abilities, AirPlay 2 support and robust build quality. All in all, a great Sonos starter speaker.
Read the full review: Sonos Roam
The market is full to bursting with portable Bluetooth speakers in budget price bracket, but not all of them have the JBL Link Portable’s neat features, including hands-free voice assistance, a charger cradle and wireless streaming via wi-fi or Bluetooth. Suddenly, much of that competition seems to melt away.
For a speaker of this size, it has oodles of detail and an expansive mix with everything present, including bass. Provided you have a solid surface at home and you’re not looking to daisy-chain it with another JBL speaker, it has a lot going for it.
Read the full review: JBL Link Portable
They're not cheap and the aesthetic won't appeal to everyone, but if you want a wireless pair of standmounts that nothing comes close to right now in terms of sound, you've just found them. The Duos are deadly precise speakers with excellent clarity and a performance that makes you want to dig out tune after tune just to hear what they can do.
The multi-room feature set, while not perfect (we'd prefer a single app to handle every function), is more than made up for by the superb audio performance.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo
B&W is a 'proper' hi-fi brand, so how does its premium multi-room speaker fare?
The answer is, very well indeed. The Formation Wedge isn't cheap but it delivers detail in spades, supports 24-bit/96 kHz hi-res audio, and is optimised for multi-room integration with the Formation family (including the superb B&W Formation Duo speakers).
It also boasts B&W's proprietary wireless mesh system, for rock-solid hi-res streaming between devices. And it sounds awesome, with clear vocals, no edginess in the treble, and a wonderfully cohesive presentation. The timing is spot on, too. Calm, controlled, clear. This B&W never loses its cool.
Its striking looks aren't to everyone's taste, and you'll need to consider investing in a Roon subscription to get the best out of the Wedge. Those factors aside, this is a stunning speaker and a great start to a premium multi-room set-up.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
The medium-sized 100W Pulse Mini 2i is a great choice for those wanting to spread audio around the home. It accommodates playback of hi-res files, including the ability to stream MQA, and features Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, plus dual-band wi-fi for more stable streaming.
Detail, presentation and bass response are truly impressive, but the Pulse Mini 2i doesn't quite have the authority to earn a coveted five stars. Still, it sounds a lot bigger than it is in terms of muscle and bass response. And there's plenty of insight to hang your hat on.
There have been improvements in terms of timing and dynamics too, with tracks better organised and strands better stitched for a more cohesive and entertaining performance. If its previous incarnation sounded somewhat muddled when pitted against current class leaders such as the Audio Pro Addon C10, the Pulse Mini 2i now feels more confident in such company. It's all grown up, bless it. And for that, it deserves praise.
Read the full review: Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i
The Home Mini can be used as a dinky little wireless speaker or as a smart hub, through which you can control other Google Home or Chromecast-enabled speakers in a multi-room set-up. It's small, cheap, and endlessly usable. Not to mention portable enough to take with you.
Pairing multiple Chromecast speakers for multi-room audio is delightfully simple, but it's worth noting that the Mini lacks Bluetooth and an aux input. Which costs it some points versus better-equipped rivals.
Sound quality is decent but nothing special. But then considering its dinky size - and price - we didn't expect too much. Voices are nice and clear, and you won't slum it sonically speaking when it comes to talk radio or voice answers (probably its primary uses).
Still, it sounds noticeably better than an Echo Dot. And if you want to build up a Chromecast multi-room system on a very tight budget, the Mini is hard to beat.
Read the full review: Google Home Mini