Wireless Multi-room WiFi Speaker Reviews

Chances are that, unless you’re one of those vinyl weirdos, your listening pleasure comes from a digital source, whether it’s music you bought from a digital storefront or a subscription-based streaming service, you’re probably filling your ears with ones and zeros.

Which means there’s no longer a need to confine our music to one dedicated hifi system, a living room centerpiece that was still in vogue just a few years ago but is now all but obsolete. These days a smartphone or tablet provides the music processing and a wireless speaker (usually Bluetooth-powered) turns it into soundwaves. We’re not just talking about cheap and cheerful speakers here, you can get audiophile-grade Bluetooth speakers fill a room with high-end sound as quickly as they drain your bank account.

For the home automation enthusiast it’s hardly elegant to carry a Bluetooth mobile speaker around from one room to the next, which is why multi-room audio systems are so cool. They allow you to have the same song playing in sync in all the rooms where you place the speaker. Some let you play different audio in each room, but either way you can control all the audio in your home from a single interface.

So here are some of the best selling multi-room audio systems you can buy online today. Reviews of the ones I really like go at the top, and the rest hang around the bottom.

Best Overall: SONOS PLAY:3

Good on you, SONOS. This is what I love in a speaker design. It looks elegant, expensive, and solid. It doesn’t matter that it may or may not be mostly air, what matters is that it looks heavy and premium. Although, to me, the white color option does make this a little less so.

Each unit has two mid-range drivers, a tweeter and a bass radiator rather than a dedicated woofer. Bass radiators are a very clever way to get close to the bass response performance of larger systems while maintaining that unobtrusive size and shape.

The PLAY:3 is exactly what I want in a multi-room setup. The speaker can be installed permanently, set down horizontally or vertically, and even hidden out of sight. Neat and elegant.

There’s no limit on the number of rooms you can add PLAY:3 speakers to, and you can mix and match with other speakers in the series such as the Play:1 and Play:5. Sonos’ app links up to all the streaming services that you subscribe to and then lets you control playback on a room-by-room basis.

Sonos speakers automatically get software updates and support for additional services. Although out of the box you are ready to go with Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Google Play Music, Spotify and more, pretty much every major streaming service is supported. These Sonos speakers are endowed with “Trueplay”, which the company claims provides rich, room-filling sound. They also say that you will hear more details in songs than ever before.

Second Pick: Bose SoundTouch 10

Bose is the brand that audiophiles love to hate, but for those of us who don’t live in basements (for the acoustics apparently) Bose represents a product clearly a cut above the audio of most mainstream systems.

I have to say though, I think Bose dropped the ball hard when it comes to the look and design of these speakers. When I see the picture I immediately think that I am looking at guitar amplifiers – which of course is not bad in itself, but I’m not sure I want my house-wide speakers look like rock band equipment was strewn around. Of course, this is just my own personal opinion; you may really like it, but it ain’t for me.

Interestingly, each speaker comes with its own remote control. Compared to the Sonos setup where you control all the speakers from one app, this is actually a cool option. You have to program the remotes with six presets, but from then on you can start up your favorite internet radio channel immediately.

Of course, the most powerful control method is still an app on your phone or tablet, which will also let you control all the SoundTouch 10 speakers in the house, but having the remotes is great because you can very quickly adjust playback volume, skip tracks, or pause. In that case, getting your phone and opening an app can become a chore.

These speakers also have Bluetooth, so you can stream audio directly from a device like an iPad, rather than directly over WiFi. Although Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days, few are going to match this for sound and it’s a nice option to have, even if it does muddle things a bit in terms of elegance.

Sound-wise, it seems that these are par for the course when it comes to Bose. In other words, they kick the behind of just about everything in the mainstream and knock on the door of speakers that are much, much more expensive. For me the looks and additional “Bose tax” knock them off my top list, but you won’t be sorry if you buy these.

Coolest Pick: GGMM M3 Retro

It may be my age showing, but I love the look of the GGMM M3. It has that brushed aluminum style front panel and speaker cones that are clearly visible through the mesh. I don’t know why there is this obsession with hiding the speaker cone these days, I personally love watching the cones work and it makes the whole thing look awesome. I also dig the leather bits the box is wrapped in. When they say retro, they mean the best of audio equipment style from the past.

The downside is that this unit is very expensive. When it comes to these multi-room speakers I have to be harder on price than usual, simply because we are expected to buy not just one, but many of these units.

Where did the money go? Well, apart from the amazing styling and materials this unit comes with some impressive audio components. You have two glass fiber mid bass units and two silk dome tweeters. Although it would be better to have a dedicated bass speaker, the glass-fiber material should help to keep the frequencies better separated and give an experience close enough to having a dedicated subwoofer.

You can have up to ten speakers and if you have two speakers in the same room you can have one stream the left channel while the other streams the right. Of course, if you do this you move into blowing a grand on one room’s audio. Yeesh.

The sound? Owner’s of this beast say it is top notch. I’ve hardly ever seen such a strong vote of confidence in audio quality from lots of different people. Audio quality is very subjective and even with objectively high-end sound people will disagree a lot.

While this speaker is pricey, I think it’s worth the money. If you can stomach the price this would be my recommendation.

Audiophile Pick: Denon HEOS 7

I liked some aspect of the HEOS 1, but criticized it for nasty looks and a generally unattractive package. This offering from Denon however, is at the far end of the spectrum. This is a pricey unit. Triple the price of the already-pricey HEOS 1, this speaker has a lot to prove in order to justify that steep price point.

Let’s get straight to the way it looks. Compared to the HEOS 1 this is a supermodel. Compared to the rest of the field I don’t think Denon has the design chops that Sonos and Bose does. Still, this is not ugly and would look great on a shelf or anywhere else where you don’t necessarily want attention grabbed.

Like the HEOS 1 this supports high-resolution audio and has built-in Bluetooth.

Unlike the HEOS 1 the 7 goes all-out in terms of audio. Two tweeters, two mids, two passive bass radiators, AND a dedicated subwoofer. Each active speaker is powered by its own dedicated amp. That means a total of five amplifiers.

This speaker is meant for the largest room in your house. It’s meant for the open plan part of your apartment or the open air patio if you are having a party outdoors.

I have read a lot of customer feedback on this speaker and, like with all HEOS speakers, people are a little down on the software. When it comes to the sound, however, this is in a class of its own. Is it worth the massive price? If you care about the quality of your audio on a technical level, this needs to be on your list. This is knocking on the audiophile end of the sound spectrum while still being a smart multi-room solution. This is going to be the closest you’ll get to a true enthusiast solution in this product category.

Best for the Money: iDeaUSA Smart WiFi Speaker

This is another brand that I have never heard of, but right off the bat I approve of its simple and effective styling. When I look at these speakers I have to imagine how good it will look in my home. After all, the idea behind these speakers is that they should make your home look nicer and add a great convenience to it.

This speaker doesn’t go out to look pretty, but it looks handsome.

For a speaker at this price it has a lot to offer on paper. There are three drivers and a dedicated subwoofer. It also supports Bluetooth, 3.5mm aux, and has an integrated battery. As I say elsewhere on this page, I don’t like the idea of a battery in a WiFi multi-room speaker. Just buy a dedicated portable Bluetooth speaker instead.

Sound-wise people who own these are pretty lyrical about them. Some people claim that they almost rival Bose in perceived sound quality. Whether this is true on an objective level is debatable, but in the end what you hear is more important than what’s on paper.

As far as I can see there’s nothing better in terms of sound at this price level. It is certainly the most affordable way to cover every room in a home with good sound.

Samsung Radiant360 R1 Review

These Radiant360 speakers sure look like the Amazon Tap or Google Onhub, but of course this is only a speaker, not a home automation hub or router. There is no stereo here since the Radiant360 is designed to stand in the center of a space and beam the music in all directions. You do get 10W of power and a five inch subwoofer though, so the sound promises to be strong and full.

What can you say about what’s basically a tube? It looks, nondescript.

Samsung provides us with Bluetooth and direct wireless TV connection in addition to WiFi, and supports multi-room audio via the app.

The big fancy feature that makes this speaker different from all the rest is Samsung’s “ring radiator” technology that uses acoustic lenses to take the speaker output and evenly project it in 360 degrees.

My favorite feature has to be the touch controls on the top of the cylinder. It’s very clever, I have to admit and the whole thing is rather elegant.

The main thing that bothers me about this is where in the room I would put it. Most people have spaces for speakers (and furniture) at the edges of the room rather than in the middle of the space, but maybe you have a setup that has logical spot for a speaker meant to be in the middle. It’s not that this won’t work, it just seems like a waste. Especially since, on a per-speaker basis, these cost about as much as the Bose SoundTouch speakers.

If the tech and looks of this speaker appeal to you then you’ll be happy to hear that the sound quality is great. Unfortunately, the app is apparently a bit spotty and, as an owner over several Samsung phones over the years, I’ll believe that.

Denon HEOS 1 Wireless Speaker

I guess designing attractive speakers is a lot harder than I think it is, because for some reason a lot of companies fail at it repeatedly. This speaker from Denon is an egregious example. I had a series of PC speakers from the mid-90s that looked just like this. Yup, this HEOS is ugly with a capital H, but maybe its specs will be a saving grace.

This particular model supports high resolution audio and just about every streaming service you can think of. There is also an optional battery add-on product known as the HEOS 1 GO, this provides six hours of portable power. If course this extra flexibility will cost you, but it’s nice to have the option.

Another thing I do appreciate is the fact the the HEOS is sealed against humidity, which can be a real killer of electronics in some environments.

This is another speaker that is not limited to WiFi streaming, Bluetooth is built-in, which means you can also directly beam audio to it from the appropriate source. You can also connect via USB and a plain old stereo jack. It’s all there.

The actual sound circuitry is a cut above in the HEOS, at least on paper. You can customize the EQ on the speaker itself and the amplifier is a good quality, dual-channel model.

This amp powers the two drivers, a wider-than-usual midrange speaker and a dedicated dome tweeter.

Users complain about the app being unfriendly and compared to other similar speakers it seems there is a lack of bass. However, taken by itself the bass is good enough and the sound is acceptable. What bums me out is the price. This is more expensive than either the Sonos and Bose, both speakers which give more bass and a fuller sound going by user opinions. I would choose either of those speakers over this Denon.

DOSS WiFi Streaming Speakers

I have no idea who DOSS. I’ve never seen their stuff until now, but while the brand may be a bit obscure, the price puts them right against the big boys like Bose.

The DOSS is a bit different than the other multi-room speaker systems that I’ve looked at here. First of all, there’s a battery built right into the unit. These guys are not usually meant to be portable, so that clearly shows DOSS is trying to go for a slightly different market segment.

The reason this isn’t actually all that great to me is the fact that a battery is a consumable device, which means that your speaker’s lifetime is limited to the life of the battery. This is where something like the HEOS 1 from Denon makes more sense since it allows you to add the battery as an optional extra and without even opening the unit up. In any case, being a WiFi streaming device it is very unlikely you’ll be away from an outlet, even if you want to move the speaker from one room to the next.

The company claims that you’ll get 16 hours of playback at 50% volume, which is not bad, but once again I’d rather buy a much cheaper portable Bluetooth speaker when leaving home.

Sound wise there is a bit of oomph here. There is 16W worth of mid-high range and a passive bass radiator, which is a space-saving solution that gives us almost the same subjective experience as we’d get from an active woofer.

There’s no Bluetooth, but there is a good old 3.5mm jack so you can connect sources directly if you can’t use the WiFi.

In terms of the sound, consumers are super happy with it for the price. I’ve seen the DOSS discounted often, so I do not recommend buying it at full price. At the recommended price it’s up against the Bose and I don’t think it’s competitive in that space, but with the frequent and deep cuts to the price this is worth picking up on sale.

SONOS PLAY:1 Multiroom Wireless Home Speaker

The PLAY:1 is the little brother to my top pick, the PLAY:3. Obviously it’s not quite at the same standard as the PLAY:3, because that’s how it’s been designed, but the PLAY:1 provides some of the best bang for buck you’ll get in this segment of the market.

The PLAY:1 is small and unobtrusive. Sonos also says that it is designed to withstand high humidity. How high is not explicitly stated, but it does sound like these may work well in a kitchen or the room with the hot tub. Your mileage may vary.

Since you can mix and match the different PLAY speakers now and you now longer need a special bridge device, you can put the PLAY:1 in rooms that don’t need quite as much oomph.

The sound quality at moderate volumes is apparently on par with the bigger boys, with a relative lack of bass a predictable complaint. However, this is only something you’d notice relative to more bassy speakers. In isolation, the PLAY:1 sounds great.

The PLAY:1 is a great little speaker and if you are planning on investing in the superlative PLAY:3, then you might as well plan on getting a few of these to spread the music around to the less central corners of the home.

GGMM E3 Wireless Multi-Room Speaker

I have a really hard time believing that the same company that gave us the gorgeous, award-winning design in the M3 Retro made this hideous lump of plastic.

In black it’s just about bearable, but in white or awful blue this thing is just ugly.

Still, it is what it is. This is also a speaker that costs more than great offerings from Sonos, Bose, and Denon.

This speaker is designed to be more of a bedside clock radio replacement and it includes inputs for direct Bluetooth, WiFi direct, WiFi to router, or plain 3.5mm auxiliary.

GGMM says this has been designed to fit perfectly on a bedside table. I assume that this is a bedside table from a 1970s caravan park, in which case they succeeded.

Still, what’s the sound like? Well, the sound is much better than the average alarm clock and I guess you could always put something in front of it. Personally, I think you’d be better off getting another one of the cheaper and better sounding speakers we’ve seen here and just use your smartphone as an alarm and clock the way normal people do.

Samsung Radiant360 R7 Wi-Fi

Unlike the R1 Radiant 360, which I look at on this page as well, the R7 is an unashamedly high-end product. It’s not as expensive as the HEOS 7, but it’s not far off either.

I have to commend Samsung on the design of this speaker. My main criticism of the R1 is that the tube thing had been done and really doesn’t look that great, but this R7’s egg-shaped styling is interesting, futuristic, and I want it in my own home from an aesthetic point of view.

These Radiant360 speakers have a unique gimmick where they use a set of acoustic lenses to project the sound evenly in a 360-degree ring. There’s obviously no stereo with this technology, but it should work well for group listening where people were not going to notice stereo in any case. You can simply make sure everyone can hear things equally well.

This is one of the most powerful speakers I’ve seen in this product category. This has a stonking 24W of power and a fat five-inch subwoofer. There’s Bluetooth, WiFi and Soundconnect support as well.

The sound and hardware in this speaker are phenomenal, the problem that it shares with the rest in this series comes from the wonky software. This is a common issue with Samsung products, which I love to death, but the software is usually the low point. When it comes to a TV or smartphone you can either ignore or replace the software, but in the case of a speaker like this the multi-room functionality depends on the software and I am seeing too many complaints about it. If Samsung ever sorts this out it will be a top product, but until then I’d rather have a HEOS 7.

Beoplay A9 Music System by Bang & Olufsen

This speaker is not meant for mere mortals. At two and a half grand PER SPEAKER it’s clear that only a millionaire could afford enough of these to have a multi-room setup. This is also a giant product, which is more like another piece of furniture thanks to its big cloth wrap and wooden legs.

Let’s talk about that design for a second. This is clearly something that’s not meant to be looked at. It’s meant to blend into a room. Which is fine. The people who this is aimed at often don’t care much for tech details, they just want the best of something and will pay for it. You can get the A9 in black or white, which will fit many aesthetics. You can, however, buy covers in other colors so that it will match the color scheme of the room it is in. You know the target market for this speaker has rooms with color schemes. If the stand doesn’t appeal to you they also sell wall mountings, which personally I think suits the size and shape of this speaker much better.

The A9 touts an earth-shattering 480W of power. This comes from five independent amps powering one eight-inch woofer, two three-inch mids and two tweeters.

The A9 has got the most intuitive touch controls that I have ever seen. You simply make gestures along the top of the device in order to control playback and volume.

Predictably the audio is peerless for this product category; the only complaint that I could find is that the Bluetooth is buggy. If that doesn’t bother you then this is probably the best speaker of any type you will ever own.

Beoplay A6 Music System by Bang & Olufsen

This is the cheaper member of the Beoplay “A” range, and by “cheaper” I mean it only costs a grand rather than almost three times that much.

I’m split on the design of this speaker. It has some impressive tricks with it’s shape and size, but to me it looks more like some sort of foot-heater than a speaker. It’s completely a personal opinion, but I think they missed the boat on this design. They include a picture of the A6 without the wool sock cover and that looks great. Put some speaker grills on that puppy and you’d have a winner.

The A6 has a total of 260W of power split over five amplifiers. It has no fewer than two five and a half inch woofers, one full-range speaker, and two tweeters.

So yes, this is a very powerful speaker that promises to blow even large rooms away with rich, powerful and clear audio if you look at the on-paper specification.

B&O say that the A6 was envisioned as the modern replacement for the classic home stereo.

The A6 supports Bluetooth, Airplay, DLNA, and Spotify Connect. At first I thought that WiFi was not included somehow, but that support is hidden down in the technical documentation. I guess B&O thought people would just know that this had to have WiFi to be multi-room compatible. You can also connect a USB device and the A6 will play MP3, WMA, AAC, ALAC, FLAC, WAV and AIFF.

What’s the verdict on the sound? Well, we’re definitely in audiophile territory here and if you are currently using something from the upper part of the mainstream from Bose or another reputable brand this would represent a strong upgrade. There are no real negatives about the A6, but the price is a sticking point, especially if you want to run two in stereo per room or have many rooms to cover.

SONOS PLAYBAR TV

Thanks to the generally abysmal sound you get from the tiny speakers they squeeze into even high-end flatscreen TVs these days, aftermarket speaker solutions have become more popular than ever. While many people still want a surround-sound home theater setup, a new product known as a “sound bar” has pushed cumbersome surround kits in a bit of a niche these days. It’s not that soundbars are cheaper than surround sound – often they are as expensive as a multi-speaker system.

Sonos has some very impressive speakers in the PLAY series, but this PLAYBAR stands apart as being a device with two different roles. On the one hand it’s a soundbar meant to give you a far superior TV viewing experience compared to just the built-in horns. You can choose to have just the soundbar, an additional subwoofer, or an entire surround kit. These three options range from insanely expensive to ludicrously expensive. If the amount of money Sonos is asking for this soundbar is anything to go by, this is a serious bit of kit.

If we judge it just as a soundbar the price certainly makes me balk, but it is probably one of the best sounding and most elegant soundbar solutions out there. The unit has an incredible nine speakers meant to produce sound that is true to life. It only needs two wires as well – one for power and one for optical input. Turning the bar into a surround system basically just involves adding two PLAY:1 speakers for the rear channels.

Going the whole hog will cost you nearly two grand, but you also have all the same streaming features and multi-room audio. The downside? Since the idea is that all your sources go to the TV and then to the Playbar, it means your aren’t really getting digital surround. Most TVs don’t pass more than two channels through the optical port, even high-end ones. That’s why so many systems make use of HDMI pass-throughs or direct connection from a source device.

If all you want is a very high-end sound bar then the Playbar is an excellent choice, but if you plan on making it part of a surround system in future I would be very careful that you aren’t building the world’s most expensive stereo instead.

Spread The Love

Few things say that you have a modern, connected home than a house-wide audio system that pumps out great music for any occasion. I was pleasantly surprised by how mature these products already are. There’s something for every budget and for every taste in audio quality. Speaker technology also keeps blowing me away with bigger and better sound coming from smaller and smaller speakers. What a time to be alive.