Best multi-room systems Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best multi-room systems you can buy in 2021.
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, either. And now you can add outdoor, portable speakers to the family, too, which are ideal for the garden.
You don't have to buy a complete system, you can start with one or two speakers and expand from room to room, controlling music via the tap of an app. Most systems are now compatible with voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. You can opt to listen to the same song in every room, or a different song in each 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 hi-res audio files or your favourite streaming service, Bluetooth connectivity and more. Read on to discover the best multi-room music systems we've tested.
It’s facing more competition than ever, but few multi-room offerings are as complete or as pleasurable to live with as Sonos.
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, and added lossless audio support, 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.
The announcement that the company will end support for older devices due to the Sonos S2 software update poses questions around longevity, not least as it was previously a class-leader when it came to long-term device support. But the devices no longer supported are on the old side and it's an issue rivals will likely face too. For those dipping their toes into wireless waters for the first time, we'd still recommend Sonos products.
Read the full review: Sonos multi-room system
The Audio Pro range might be small compared to some multi-room rivals (there's no soundbar), and the app is a little lacking, but for sound quality at the price, it's hard to beat. And the company continues to add new products to the family, such as the recent Addon C10 Mk11 (even if not all recent additions have been quite as impressive).
The affordable, puck-like Link 1 hub turns your hi-fi and other Addon speakers into a simple multi-room system, while the larger Audio Pro offerings tend to deliver great sound and are easy to use. And new for 2021 is a fully portable outdoor speaker, the P5.
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
There's a lot to love about Bluesound's hi-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 includes a streamer, server, streamer and amp combo and a collection of speakers ranging from the diminutive Pulse Flex 2i to the gargantuan Pulse 2i.
Its speakers might be bettered in terms of performance-for-pound by Sonos and Audio Pro, but 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
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
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 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