Looking to fill your house with music? Whether you want one room or five rooms of sound, it's worth thinking about your multi-room options before you get started. There are now speakers, soundbars and surround sound systems to consider, all of which allow you to send music all around your home.
Sonos has long been the obvious choice in the wireless multi-room speaker market, thanks to its easy-to-use app and its extensive support of streaming services. But it's not the only game in town, 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 (such as hi-res audio or Bluetooth across the range), we've rounded up the best Sonos alternatives on the market.
Audio Pro is a relative newcomer to the multi-room market, but we're big fans of the Swedish company's wireless speakers, which look and sound superb, and together they make an excellent Sonos alternative.
The Audio Pro Addon C3, Addon C5A and Addon C10 all deliver excellent audio performance for the money. They're entertaining, musical performers and superior to a lot of rivals at similar money. Crucially, they also offer Bluetooth and line-in inputs on many of their models, giving even more flexibility.
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
In our minds, the first genuine alternative 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 generation, 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 likely your best option.
Bluesound's current line-up includes the 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
Amazon's multi-room-supporting Echo speakers are a great cheaper alternative to Sonos. The Amazon Echo (3rd Gen), Echo Plus (2nd Gen) and Echo Dot (3rd Gen) are all considerably cheaper than the entry-level products from Sonos or Audio Pro. And with the current Echo speaker costing just £90 ($99), it's more affordable to add these speakers to new rooms than with 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 money.
Read more: Amazon Echo Plus 2 review
Google has its own smart speakers, such as the Google Home and Google Home Mini, which support multi-room music just like Sonos. But the real beauty of Chromecast is that it is also built-in to 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, Harman Kardon Citation Tower, LG WK7 or Sony STR-DN1080 amplifier) 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 lets you link selected products from manufacturers such as Arcam, Klipsch, Martin Logan, McIntosh, Pioneer, Onkyo and Polk for multi-room streaming. Just don't expect as slick an app experience as found on Sonos.
Read more: Google Home review
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 at its price (surpassing the Sonos One in audio performance) and Siri works with Apple Music beautifully.
But it's also expensive, and the 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.
Read more: Apple HomePod review
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.
The HEOS system sounds smooth, spacious and detailed. 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 Bose SoundTouch system is a bit of a mixed bag. Reliable wi-fi streaming and and impressive sound 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