"If I want a wireless multi-room speaker system in my home, is my only option to go to Sonos?" It's not your only option - but we can see why Sonos might tempt you.
The company 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. The Sonos range of speakers sounds good, too. It's this marriage of convenience, features and performance that has seen it win countless What Hi-Fi? Awards and remain one of our go-to multi-room systems.
But it's not the only ecosystem out there, and some existing owners might be considering other options following the news that Sonos will begin to end support for older devices. After all, there's no shortage of Sonos alternatives – and the advent of smart speakers and voice control has produced more options when it comes to playing music all around your home.
We've rounded up the best Sonos alternatives, some of which offer a different flavour of sound, a different set of features (hi-res audio, Bluetooth), or just a cheaper price. Hopefully there's something for everyone.
Audio Pro is a relative newbie in the multi-room market, but we're big fans of the Swedish company's individual wireless speakers (which have separately picked up plenty of Awards), which are excellent alternatives to Sonos.
Read the full review: Audio Pro multi-room system
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.
Read the full review: Bluesound multi-room system
Amazon's multi-room-supporting Echo speakers are all fine alternatives 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 our review: Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
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 the full review: Google Home
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 the full review: Apple HomePod
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 the full review: Denon HEOS multi-room system
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 the full review: Bose SoundTouch multi-room system