A multiroom audio system is a series of wireless speakers – or more often a soundbar or stereo amplifier with a speaker built into it – that you control via an app on your smartphone. They let you play music in one room and move to another without having to reconnect or change your playlist. They also offer superior sound quality compared to Bluetooth pairings, which can suffer from acoustic interference and lower transmission speeds.
If you’re looking to upgrade your hi-fi, then a multiroom setup might be exactly what you need. But what’s the best multiroom audio system for your home?
There are a number of different types of multiroom audio systems, which can be divided into three categories. The first are dedicated multiroom brands like Sonos, Bluesound and, to a lesser extent, Denon. These offer a range of speaker options – from small upright designs to chunkier boxes – that use the brand’s own software platform to work with one another.
They tend to support multiple streaming services – including Spotify, Tidal and Deezer – as well as audio from a NAS hard drive loaded with your own music. They run off your home Wi-Fi network and typically have a higher connection speed than a Bluetooth connection, which can sometimes suffer from latency issues.
The second kind of multiroom audio system is a smart speaker setup from one of the big three players – Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home. They’re designed to be used as a voice-controlled music player with the option to add additional speakers from the same manufacturer to create an integrated multiroom music system. They usually have high-resolution output for crystal-clear music playback.
Thirdly, there are specialist audio installers who can install custom multiroom setups that are recessed into walls or ceilings. They can include an ‘audio hub’ to connect with your TV, smart lighting and even outdoor audio systems. These can be a great option for people who have a large living space or want to create a dedicated home cinema room, but they’re also more expensive than other multiroom audio system options.
If you’re already running a wired music system, there are ways of turning it into a multiroom audio set-up. You can do this by adding a multiroom audio system ‘link’ to your existing hi-fi and adding some other speakers from the same brand, which will let you control them via an app. Or, you can start from scratch with a new multiroom system, such as a Sonos or B&O Play setup. They can be a little more complicated to set up than a traditional hi-fi with separate components, but they’ll generally offer much better sound quality and integration with other devices and apps. They’ll often be cheaper too, depending on the size and features of your current audio system. They might also require professional installation. We’d recommend seeking out a reputable installer to avoid any issues. You might be able to find one through your internet service provider or an independent AV specialist.