Multi room audio allows you to play music seamlessly around your home – great if you’re not all as into Brahms as your teenager, or if the family likes to listen to different music in different rooms. These systems typically run on a wireless connection, allowing you to control your speakers with an app, rather than having to move from sofa to TV in order to change the radio station in the kitchen or play a different song in the living room.
Wireless multiroom speaker systems typically work over a mesh network, which creates a virtual WiFi network for your devices to communicate over. They’re very easy to set up, and the process is similar to adding a Bluetooth speaker or pair of headphones: just connect them to your home Wi-Fi and follow the on-screen instructions, which are likely to include a combination of beeps, chimes and voice commands.
Dedicated multiroom audio makers like Sonos and Bluesound have some of the best smart multi-room speaker hardware on the market. Their wireless speakers are available in a range of sizes and shapes to suit any space. Their flagship models offer superior sound quality and built-in Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 support, which makes them ideal for home automation.
There’s also a good selection of wired multiroom audio solutions, which involve hardwiring your speakers, AV receiver or hi-fi into a system that distributes music between them. Some brands offer bridging boxes (like the Bluesound Powernode or Sonos Amp) that plug into your existing hi-fi and link to a streaming service like Spotify, Tidal or Deezer to provide multiroom functionality. Others, such as the Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A670BL, are 7.2-channel AV receivers that incorporate multiroom capabilities via their built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Many of the big hi-ii and hifi companies, including Bose, Denon and Yamaha, make multiroom audio systems to rival those from tech giants like Google, Amazon and Apple. Some, such as Sonos, have even expanded their product line to include soundbars and home theatre audio gear.
One of the most popular smart multiroom audio solutions these days is the Sonos Beam, a brilliantly versatile soundbar that replaces your TV speakers and plays music in multiple rooms. It supports multiroom audio, works with Alexa and is compatible with both Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Sonos’ own app. It’s a Stuff Recommends five-star banker, but if you’re happy to spend a little more you can get a Sonos One or a Sonos Beam SL that sounds even better.