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Best Sonos alternatives 2020: multi-room music systems

Sonos has reigned supreme in the multi-room speaker market, thanks to its easy-to-use control app (crucial to the multi-room experience) and its extensive, unrivalled support of streaming services, iOS and voice assistants. 

But it's not the only ecosystem out there, and there are now plenty of excellent Sonos alternatives for multi-room music. 

Whether you want something cheaper than Sonos, or offering a different set of features (hi-res audio, Bluetooth), we've rounded up the best Sonos alternatives out there. And there's something for everyone.

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

1. Audio Pro

The best Sonos alternative we've tested for price and performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

Wi-fi: Yes | Ethernet: Yes | Outputs: Optical, RCA | Streaming: AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, TuneIn, Qobuz | Voice control: No | Bluetooth: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Insightful and expressive sound 
Old Addon speakers can be incorporated
Excellent value

Reasons to Avoid

App lacks the slickness and sophistication

Audio Pro may be a relative newcomer to the multi-room market, but we're big fans of the Swedish company's wireless speakers (which have separately picked up plenty of Awards), and together they make an excellent Sonos alternative. In fact, Audio Pro won our multi-room system Product of the Year

The Audio Pro Addon C3, Addon C5A and Addon C10 all sound superb for the money. They're entertaining, musical performers and superior to a lot of rivals at similar money, while also offering Bluetooth and line-in inputs on many of their models. 

The Audio Pro range doesn’t include the same home cinema components as some of its multi-room rivals, and the app is simple rather than full of features, but for sound quality at the price, this system is currently unbeatable.

Read more: Audio Pro multi-room system review

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

(Image credit: Bluesound)

2. Bluesound

An excellent Sonos alternative, which majors in hi-fi quality sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Wi-fi: Yes | Ethernet: Yes | Outputs: Optical, RCA | Streaming: AirPlay, Spotify Connect | Voice control: | Bluetooth: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Capable of 24-bit/192kHz
Highly musical
Punchy bass

Reasons to Avoid

Some components feel a bit budget

The first genuine aleternative to Sonos was Bluesound, whose key hook of high-resolution audio support made it our preferred multi-room system for years (as multiple Awards trophies attest). 

Now in its third iteration, Bluesound provides a solid Sonos alternative with an improved BluOS app that makes daily use a breeze. If you have deep pockets and a library full of hi-res music, it's worth a punt.

Bluesound's current line-up includes Pulse 2i, Pulse Flex 2i, Node 2i, Powernode 2i and Pulse Soundbar 2i, and you can add older Bluesound models into the mix, too.

Read more: Bluesound multi-room system review

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Echo

An excellent and affordable alternative to Sonos with added Alexa smarts.

SPECIFICATIONS

Virtual assistant: Alexa | Wi-fi: Yes | Bluetooth 4.0: Yes | Inputs: 3.5mm stereo | Power: n/a | Dimensions: 14.8 x 9.9 x 9.9cm

Reasons to Buy

Easy pairing with other Amazon products
Lots of smart features
Decent all-round sound

Reasons to Avoid

Very little at the money

Amazon's multi-room-supporting Echo speakers are a great cheaper alternative to Sonos. The Amazon Echo (3rd Gen), Echo Plus (2nd Gen), Echo Dot (3rd Gen) are all considerably cheaper than the entry-level products from Sonos or Audio Pro. With the current Echo (3rd Gen) costing just £90 ($99), it's more affordable to dot these speakers around your home than the Sonos One SL (£159, $159) or Addon C5 (£229, $249). If you want a bigger Amazon speaker, there's always the newer Amazon Echo Studio.

With Amazon Echo speakers now supporting Spotify (along with Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited and TuneIn radio) across multi-room, it has an attractive and immediate appeal to casual listeners who want a house filled with music without spending too much.

Read more: Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen) review

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

(Image credit: Google)

4. Google Chromecast speakers

A simple to use and feature-packed Sonos alternative.

SPECIFICATIONS

Virtual assistant: Google Assistant | Wi-fi: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Outputs: No | Dimensions (hwd): 14.3 x 9.6 x 9.6cm | Weight: 477g

Reasons to Buy

Intuitive operating system
Multi-room capable
Wide range of compatible kit

Reasons to Avoid

Sound quality can vary

Google has its own smart speakers such as the Google Home and Google Home Mini which support multi-room just Sonos, but the beauty of Chromecast is that it is baked into a vast range of other products, including Android devices, TVs, soundbars, AV receivers and wireless speakers from a variety of manufacturers.

It means you don't need to stick to one brand to go multi-room; you just need to have the compatible products (such as a Sony or Philips TV, Harma Kardon Citation Tower, LG WK7, Sony STR-DN1080 amp) and make sure they're connected to the same network. Then simply press play on your iOS or Android device to 'cast' music to your connected products.

Looking for another mix-and-match option? DTS Play-Fi is a third-party app (that's nowhere near as slick as Sonos's) that lets you link select products from manufacturers such as Arcam, Klipsch, Martin Logan, McIntosh, Pioneer, Onkyo and Polk for multi-room streaming.

Read more: Google Home review

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

(Image credit: Apple)

5. Apple AirPlay 2 speakers

The best-sounding, most music-centric Sonos alternative for Apple users.

SPECIFICATIONS

Virtual assistant: Siri | Wi-fi: Yes | Bluetooth: No | Outputs: N/A | Dimensions (hwd): 17.2 x 14.2 x 14.2cm | Weight: 2.5kg

Reasons to Buy

Supported across wide range of kit
HomePod sounds excellent
Relatively simple to use

Reasons to Avoid

Too Apple-centric

AirPlay 2 - Apple's proprietary streaming protocol - finally brought multi-room capability to its products in the summer of 2018. A multi-room system built out of the Apple HomePod smart speaker is the obvious Sonos alternative here: it's easily the best-sounding speaker of its kind (surpassing the Sonos One in audio performance) and Siri works with Apple Music beautifully.

But it's also pricey, and HomePod doesn't natively support any music service - not even BBC radio stations - apart from Apple Music.

Alternatively, you could consider a mix-and-match approach using AirPlay 2 speakers. It's supported by plenty of heavyweight hi-fi brands so you've no shortage of options including the Libratone Zipp 2, Audio Pro Addon C10 and Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation. Of course, it only works with Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod and MacBooks as a source - which isn't a problem if you're an iOS user, but it means Android users can't join in on the fun. You do get to choose from some superb-sounding hi-fi kit, though.

Read more: Apple HomePod review

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

(Image credit: Denon)

6. Denon HEOS

A simple yet sonically-capable Sonos alternative from Denon.

SPECIFICATIONS

Wi-fi: Yes | Ethernet: Yes | Outputs: Optical, RCA | Streaming: Spotify Connect, Amazon Music | Voice control: Amazon Alexa | Bluetooth: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Good range of components
Hi-res audio support
Generally a smooth, detailed sound

Reasons to Avoid

Audio Pro pips it for sound quality

Denon and Marantz might be better known for their AV receivers, but they also offers soundbars, subwoofers, amplifiers and wireless speakers. What's more, all of that kit can be connected up through their shared HEOS platform. 

Since launching, HEOS has been upgraded with support for high-res audio and additional support for streaming services such as Amazon Music. You also get more Alexa skills, allowing you to control playback with vocal commands.

Sound is smooth, spacious and replete with insight. And while Audio Pro's offering just edges it on sound quality, HEOS makes for a superb all-rounder – and it offers a wider choice of pick 'n' mix components.

Read more: Denon HEOS multi-room system review

The best Sonos alternatives 2020: budget and premium multi-room options

(Image credit: Bose)

7. Bose SoundTouch

A decent Sonos alternative at an attractive price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Wi-fi: Yes | Ethernet: Yes | Outputs: Optical, RCA | Streaming: Spotify Connect, Amazon Music, Deezer, TuneIn | Voice control: Amazon Alexa | Bluetooth: Yes

Reasons to Buy

SoundTouch 10 a decent performer
Easy to set up and use
Wireless link among the best of its kind

Reasons to Avoid

SoundTouch 30 overtaken by rivals
App lacks functionality and some streaming services

The Bose SoundTouch system is a bit of a mixed bag. Reliable wi-fi streaming and and impressive sound – blessed with plenty of scale and dynamic expression – are the highlights. Sadly the control app is less impressive. It's easy to use, but lacks functionality.

Were it not for the commanding presence of Sonos and Audio Pro in this category, the SoundTouch would be higher up this list. We admire its sound and simplicity, but it doesn't quite measure up to more contemporary, feature-laden rivals. Still, it's a decent performer at an attractive price.

Read more: Bose SoundTouch multi-room system review

  • arcadelt
    I recently discovered that when the Internet is down, not only do Alexa and Google Assistant not work, but the apps do not work either. I don’t own an Echo or Google Home based multiroom audio system, so don’t know exactly how they are controlled, but I suspect lack of connectivity might render them useless too. On the other hand, in that circumstance my Sonos system continued to work flawlessly with local content.
    Reply
  • rodanger75
    Is there a multi room music system that can receive a stream from a local PC over Wifi in multicast ? Sonos devices can't (although they can receive AirPlay from a Mac), and all I see on other systems is Bluetooth input (which is good but not as good as multicast for range and quality).
    Reply
  • arcadelt
    rodanger75 said:
    Is there a multi room music system that can receive a stream from a local PC over Wifi in multicast ? Sonos devices can't (although they can receive AirPlay from a Mac), and all I see on other systems is Bluetooth input (which is good but not as good as multicast for range and quality).

    you can set a computer as a music source for a Sonos system, and the Sonos app can then reach into that source and play that music over WiFi. Is that similar to what you are asking?
    Reply