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Best multi-room systems 2019: one system to rule them all

Best multi-room systems Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best multi-room systems you can buy in 2019.

If you want to spread sound to every nook and corner of your home, a multi-room audio system could be just the ticket. Most multi-room audio systems connect to (and work over) your home's wi-fi network so there's no need to trip over trailing wires. 

There's no need to buy a complete system straight off the bat, either. You can start with one or two speakers and expand from room to room, controlling music via the tap of an app. Some systems are even compatible with voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa. 

You can opt to listen to the same song in every room, or a different song in every room, ensuring a harmonious home in more ways than one.

There's a vast choice of multi-room speakers and systems on the market, but which is best? Sonos is the most recognisable brand, and with good reason. It's intuitive and sounds fantastic. But there are plenty of rivals, too, all serving tempting features such as support for high-res audio files or your favourite streaming service

Read on to discover the top-rated multi-room music systems that got the nod of approval – and what they offer. Plus, with Black Friday around the corner, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.

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Multi-room audio - everything you need to know

Best multi-room speakers 2019

Best multi-room systems 2019: one system to rule them all

1. Audio Pro multi-room

The best sound-per-pound multi-room system we've tested.

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

Detailed and expressive sound 
Old Addon speakers can be incorporated
Great value

Reasons to Avoid

App lacks the slickness and sophistication of the best

The Audio Pro range may be small compared to its multi-room rivals, and the app is a little lacking. But for the best sound quality at the price, this system is currently unbeatable. At just £100, the puck-like Link 1 hub turns your hi-fi and other Addon speakers into a simple multi-room system.

As much as anything else, your chosen path for migration to multi-room should be about whose speakers you want around your house. For us, Audio Pro makes that particular decision admirably simple

Read the full review: Audio Pro multi-room system

Best multi-room systems 2019: one system to rule them all

(Image credit: Sonos)

2. Sonos multi-room system

Stress-free, stylish and reliable.

SPECIFICATIONS

Wi-fi: Yes | Ethernet: Yes | Music streaming: Spotify Connect, Tidal, Qobuz, Apple Music | Voice control: Amazon Alexa | File support: MP3, WMA, FLAC (up to 16bit/44.1kHz), WAV, AAC and AIFF | Bluetooth: No

Reasons to Buy

Still the best user experience
Consistent, natural, engaging sound
Regular updates

Reasons to Avoid

Individual speakers can be trumped for sound
No hi-res support

It’s facing more competition than ever, but few multi-room offerings are as complete or as pleasurable to live with as Sonos, even if it does lack hi-res support (not a deal breaker for us).

Sonos as a system has two big advantages – breadth of choice and simplicity of use. In the time its rivals have been playing catch-up, Sonos has launched a whole family of products and got onside with a long list of streaming services, not to mention nailing the usability aspect of multi-room.

Combining a broad range of accomplished products with the most substantial selection of streaming services and the most pleasant and complete user-experience, Sonos remains one of the best multi-room options.

Read the full review: Sonos multi-room system

Best multi-room systems 2019: one system to rule them all

(Image credit: Bluesound)

3. Bluesound multi-room system

Hi-fi quality sound meets mainstream convenience.

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

There's a lot to love about Bluesound's high-res capable multi-room system. It's one of the most musical we've heard and boasts enough midrange clarity to pick out every nuance in an expressive vocal performance. 

The choice of products is small, but complete. It includes the Vault (£900), a high-res music server, plus assorted speakers. The powerful Pulse (£600), for example, makes the Sonos Play:5 sound positively anaemic by comparison. 

So what's the catch? There isn't one, aside from the fact that the components feel a little more 'budget' than Sonos'. Still, this is one of the most 'hi-fi-sounding' multi-room set-ups we've tested and returns plenty of bang for buck.

Read the full review: Bluesound multi-room system 

Best multi-room systems 2019: one system to rule them all

(Image credit: Denon)

4. Denon HEOS multi-room system

Simple yet sonically-capable.

SPECIFICATIONS

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

Reasons to Buy

Smooth, spacious sound
Hi-res audio support

Reasons to Avoid

Audio Pro pips it for sound quality

Denon might be better known for its AV receivers, but it also offers soundbars, subwoofers, amplifiers and wireless speakers. What's more, all of that kit can be connected up through Denon's 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, the HEOS makes a superb all-rounder – and it offers a wider choice of pick 'n' mix components.    

Read the full review: Denon HEOS multi-room system

Best multi-room systems 2019: one system to rule them all

(Image credit: Bose)

5. Bose SoundTouch multi-room

A decent performer 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 Bluesound and Audio Pro in this category, the SoundTouch would have fared much better. 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 the full review: Bose SoundTouch multi-room review