Best multi-room speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best multi-room speakers you can buy in 2020.
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. Happy streaming!
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 multi-room speakers on the market, combining room-filling sound with Amazon's Alexa smart assistant voice controls.
Essentially, it's Sonos' old Play:1 speaker with added voice control smarts. But that's a winning combination in our book.
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.
Sound-wise, it's nigh-on identical to the Play:1, but again, that's a very good thing indeed. Delivery is weighty, full-bodied and loud, which is not what you would expect from a speaker this size. The soundstage is spacious and impressively organised, with vocals given plenty of breathing room, making them instantly more engaging.
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 might only be 15cm tall, but it offers 360-degree sound and impressive sonic performance for the money.
Previous Echo products have appeared overly forward, brash in comparison with this now more sophisticated, insightful presentation. There are textures here – hisses, warbles and sweeps – that the Echo Plus seems to enjoy exploring, organising them neatly across a soundstage with great depth and dimension.
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 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)
The Audio Pro Addon C3 isn't just the best Bluetooth speaker at this price, it's a stylish, wi-fi connected, multi-room capable centrepiece – and a What Hi-Fi? 2019 Award winner.
Sound is focused yet open and airy, meaning you can fill a decent sized room with immersive, weighty sound. It has an fantastic sense of refinement for such a small speaker, not to mention a rear-firing bass reflex port that delivers plenty of low-end grunt.
This model won't charge your smartphone but it does feature an ethernet port, giving you the option to hardwire it to your home network. The battery serves up around 15 hours playback (less if you crank the volume up to the max).
The C3 supports streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and Apple Music, and while there's no built-in voice assistant, you can control the speaker via the Alexa app.
If you're after something more rugged and portable, we'd suggest rivals such as the Ultimate Ears Megaboom or JBL Xtreme. But as a sensational-sounding multi-room proposition, this speaker gives Sonos a serious run for its money.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
Audio Pro makes a plethora of great wireless speakers but the award-winning Addon C10 is one of the firm's most accomplished. It benefits from an intuitive control app, which puts Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay connectivity at your fingertips, plus there's easy access to a plethora of music streaming apps including Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz.
The Addon C10 has plenty of size and muscle, so unsurprisingly its sound is bold and entertaining. But it's also detailed and balanced. Think of it as a boxer who also does ballet: these are broad but delicate strokes focused on dynamics and insight.
Add to that an exceptional sense of timing, and it's quite a multi-room proposition for the more discerning listener.
Assuming that you like its chunky, retro looks, the heavyweight Addon C10 is a multi-room champ. One that also does ballet.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10
At What Hi-Fi?, we know full well the value of revisions. Yet still, it was quite the surprise when first we heard about one made by Naim, with its second generation of the Mu-so Qb wireless speaker. The previous iteration was great, earning five stars when it was first reviewed. This version, however, is is truly phenomenal.
You can now choose between an Olive, Terracotta or Peacock grille alongside the standard black, but the best tweaks Naim has made go far deeper. Remove whatever colour grille you've gone for and you'll be rewarded with upgraded and optimised midrange and bass drive units, all powered by a total of 300W of amplification.
Belying its box-like dimensions with a punchy bass alongside sparkling and rich tones across frequencies, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation scooped up our most recent 2020 What Hi-Fi? Award for the best home wireless speaker over £500 ($500) – for the second year running.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
Multi-room speakers don't have to cost the earth. But if you want stunning design and audiophile sound, you can't go far wrong with the impressive Naim Mu-so 2, which sits more towards the top end of the price spectrum. Though rest assured it more than justifies its price.
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 plenty of bass. Dig deep into those pockets,and you'll have the beginnings of a stunning multi-room system.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2
Apple took its time releasing its first smart speaker, but then the firm is never one to be rushed. And the extra years of R&D have made the HomePod is all the better for it.
It offers an authoritative, detailed sound that's worthy of a dedicated hi-fi brand. Which is quite an achievement considering this is Apple's first multi-room speaker. 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. That means it's a very Apple-centric device - if you're an Android user, there's no sense in buying one. But if you own iOS devices, it will slip right into your ecosystem beautifully, and be one of the simplest speakers to use. If that's you, the HomePod should be top of your list.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod
The market is full to bursting with portable Bluetooth speakers in the sub-£150 bracket, but not all of them have the JBL Link Portable’s neat features, including hands-free voice assistance, a charger cradle and wireless streaming via wi-fi or Bluetooth. Suddenly, much of that competition seems to melt away.
For a speaker of this size, it has oodles of detail and an expansive mix with everything present, including bass. Provided you have a solid surface at home and you’re not looking to daisy-chain it with another JBL speaker, it has a lot going for it.
Read the full review: JBL Link Portable
They're not cheap and the aesthetic won't appeal to everyone, but if you want a wireless pair of standmounts that nothing comes close to right now in terms of sound, you've just found them. The Duos are deadly precise speakers with excellent clarity and a performance that makes you want to dig out tune after tune just to hear what they can do.
The multi-room feature set, while not perfect (we'd prefer a single app to handle every function), is more than made up for by the superb audio performance.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo
B&W is a 'proper' hi-fi brand, so how does its premium multi-room speaker fare?
The answer is, very well indeed. The 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. And it sounds awesome, with clear vocals, no edginess in the treble, and a wonderfully cohesive presentation. The timing is spot on, too. Calm, controlled, clear. This B&W never loses its cool.
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 a premium multi-room set-up.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
This is a bookshelf speaker, quite literally - each wall-mounted unit can hold 3kg of books, ornaments or any other clutter. But despite it coming from the flatpack kingdom of IKEA, you don't have to build it yourself.
The key name here is Sonos: this speaker - and its lamp-shaped sibling - can connect wirelessly to Sonos' excellent multi-room speakers, so you can spend a little more in certain rooms if you prefer while still letting all the units speak to each other.
Still need convincing? It's half the price of a Sonos One. That got your attention.
The design is minimalist in a typical IKEA fashion, meaning it should fit in most homes regardless of their interior design choices. And it's small enough to be tucked away when not in use, if you choose not to wall mount.
It doesn't sound quite as good as the Sonos One, but then at this price, it shouldn't. It retains the same character, with a bold yet nicely balanced delivery.
For a taste of Sonos on the cheap, this is a great buy.
Read the full review: Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker
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. Still, it sounds a lot bigger than it is in terms of muscle and bass response. And there's plenty of insight to hang your hat on.
There have been improvements in terms of timing and dynamics too, with tracks better organised and strands better stitched for a more cohesive and entertaining performance. If its previous incarnation sounded somewhat muddled when pitted against current class leaders such as the Audio Pro Addon C10, the Pulse Mini 2i now feels more confident in such company. It's all grown up, bless it. And for that, it deserves praise.
Read the full review: Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i
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 in a multi-room set-up. It's small, cheap, and endlessly usable. Not to mention portable enough to take with you.
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. Which costs it some points versus better-equipped rivals.
Sound quality is decent but nothing special. But then considering its dinky size - and price - we didn't expect too much. Voices are nice and clear, and you won't slum it sonically speaking when it comes to talk radio or voice answers (probably its primary uses).
Still, it sounds noticeably better than an Echo Dot. And 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