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)
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
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
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
The HEOS 7 HS2 isn't the flashiest-looking speaker but it more than makes up for it 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 too, allowing you to build a commendably-simple multi-room system that supports 24bit/192kHz hi-res files.
It really comes into its own in a big space. It easily filled our medium-sized testing room with a weighty, authoritative sound - in smaller areas, the bass enthusiasm of the HEOS 7 could be a little overpowering. We'd recommend situating it somewhere big enough. And have a play with the EQ settings to suit your room.
The HEOS 7 HS2's smooth, safe character might not be the most exciting, but it could possibly keep you satisfied for a long time.
Read the full review: Denon HEOS 7 HS2
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 JBL Link 20 is a waterproof smart speaker with many talents, including access to Google Assistant and multi-room support through Chromecast.
The 360-degree mesh covering protects its two 50mm drivers, and helps give it its IPX7 waterproof rating. This means the JBL will take splashes in its stride, and can even survive being submerged in water for 30 minutes. So no worries if you're heading to the beach, pool or just the bath.
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 and can connect to other multi-room speakers in JBL's Link range.
Overall, the JBL Link 20 is a superb little wireless speaker that's at home doing multi-room duties on a kitchen worktop or being streamed to over Bluetooth 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 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