Top six best multi-room speakers for 2021
Multi-room music was once the preserve of only the most dedicated audiophiles. But with the introduction of wi-fi-connected speakers, it has been delivered to the masses.
Now, some of the most well-known audio brands, including , , and , are battling it out for your investment. And when buying multi-room audio, an investment is exactly what it is. With prices stretching into hundreds of pounds for a single speaker, committing to the wrong range is an expensive mistake.
For this reason, we put multi-room speakers through their paces in the lab so you can be confident you're choosing the right ones. We've picked out the best speakers and the worst, so you can separate the tuneful from the tone deaf. Average scores across the ranges of multi-room speakers vary by a staggering 30% - a remarkable difference when considering the hefty price tags.
Pricing and recommendations correct as of January 2021.
Three multi-room speakers to avoid
Multi-room speakers don't just have to sound good, they need intuitive apps that are easy to use and a smooth setup that won't have you tearing your hair out.
Many multi-room speaker systems fall at the first hurdle. The convenience of having an app to control your music in different rooms will never compensate for poor sound. Even if music sounds blissful, there are a few more boxes multi-room speakers must check before we can recommend them.
The beauty of multi-room systems isn't only being able play music wirelessly throughout your home, it's also being able to choose where the music comes from, whether that's streaming services, the radio or networked hard drives.
There are a wealth of streaming options, with Spotify being the most popular, but some of the speakers we've tested aren't compatible with it. So if you have a Spotify subscription and mainly access music this way, the expensive speaker you've just bought could turn out to be a useless piece of plastic.
We've found multi-room speakers that are the whole package, with excellent sound and tons of easy-to-use features. Then there are the ones in the table below that have a hard time getting anything right.
How to buy the best multi-room speaker
Multi-room speakers have more features than your average model and, as a result, there's more to consider when you're buying one.
You can connect to some models with Bluetooth, but more often than not you'll be using an app on your phone to control your music through wi-fi. The best speakers have intuitive apps, and using them will be second nature in no time, even if you're not too smartphone savvy.
These apps are almost always available on iOS and Android phones, but if you're on Windows phone your choice of speakers will be limited. Some speakers, such as the Sonos range, also have a desktop app.
Since the speakers use wi-fi to communicate, you'll need to have a strong enough connection wherever you want to put them. If you struggle to get a signal in the far-flung reaches of your home, your expensive new speaker is likely to have the same problem.
The last thing you want is to set up your speaker only to discover that your chosen music service isn't compatible. You can still use the music stored on your phone or an internet-connected hard drive, but not having access to the millions of songs you pay a monthly fee for would severely hamper your enjoyment of your new speaker. Make sure the speaker supports your service, whether that's Tidal, Spotify, Prime Music or Apple Music, to avoid disappointment.