In a few short years multi-room speakers have exploded in popularity, allowing music fans to stream the same song to every room in the house, or a different song in each room.
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 apps or voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
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.
So where do you start? You'll want a speaker that supports your preferred music streaming service. If you're a fan of Tidal, you might want support for hi-res audio streaming.
Also keep in mind some eco-systems, such as Sonos, allow you to stream multiple sources to multiple devices and rooms. Whereas AirPlay 2 and Chromecast only allow streaming of one source to multiple devices and rooms.
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....
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 smart speakers on the market, combining room-filling sound with Amazon's Alexa smart assistant voice controls. 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. 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 is less of a smart speaker, and more of a music speaker with the added bonus of smart controls. It might only be 15cm tall, but it offers 360-degree sound and impressive sonic performance for the money. The bass lacks punch but you can give it some more oomph by pairing with Amazon's Echo Sub for the reasonable sum of £119. If you're already invested in the 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)
Audio Pro makes a plethora of great wireless speakers but the award-winning Addon C10 is one of the firm's most accomplished, and benefits from an intuitive control app. You get Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay connectivity plus easy access to a plethora of music streaming apps including Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz. Sound is bold and entertaining, yet detailed and balanced when called for. Assuming that you like its chunky, retro looks, the heavyweight Addon C10 a multi-room champ.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10
Multi-room speakers start at less than £100. But if you want stunning design and audiophile sound, you can't go far wrong with the impressive Naim Mu-so 2. 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 plentiful bass.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2
Apple took its time releasing its first smart speaker, but the HomePod is all the better for it. It offers authoritative, detailed sound that's worthy of a dedicated hi-fi brand. More to the point, built-in AirPlay 2 tech makes it an excellent multi-room contender (you can connect it to additional HomePods or AirPlay 2-supported products from brands such as Sonos and Naim). The controls are largely geared around Siri voice commands, so you can tell it what to play, in what room. If you're an Android user, there's no sense in buying one. But if you own iOS devices, the HomePod should be top of your list.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod
The B&W 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. 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 premium multi-room set-up.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
The HEOS 7 HS2 isn't the flashiest-looking speaker but it more than makes up for its lack of eye-catching design with intuitive controls and impressive sound quality. You can stream music through Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer, Napster, SoundCloud, Spotify and TuneIn radio – all controlled through the Denon's slick, responsive app (apart from Spotify, which works via Spotify Connect). As you'd expect, it connects to other HEOS products, allowing you to build a commendably-simple multi-room system that supports 24bit/192kHz hi-res files.
Read the full review: Denon HEOS 7 HS2
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.
Read the full review: Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i
The JBL Link 20 is a waterproof smart speaker with many talents, including access to Google Assistant and multi-room support through Chromecast. When you factor in its compact dimensions, sound quality is top notch, offering plenty of detail and support for 24-bit/96kHz streaming (Tidal Masters users will be able to make the most of their subscription). It lacks the style and sophistication of, say, the Sonos One (our top pick) but the Link 20 does boast Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity over the Sonos. A superb little wireless speaker that's at home on a kitchen worktop, by the pool or down at the beach.
Read the full review: JBL Link 20
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 around your house. 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. Sound quality is decent but nothing special. Still, 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