Multi-room audio is a relatively recent advancement. Thanks to wireless technology, and the ever-shrinking size and growing power of portable speakers, multi-room audio has meant it’s possible to have music in every room in your home. Multi-room audio means you can listen to the same music or podcasts allover the house, or stream different sound to different spots, all from a smartphone or connected device.
Multi-room audio systems have become more refined in the last few years also; they’re much easier to set up, configure, organize and to use than they were when they first came out.
There are some decisions you’ll need to make when it comes to your multi-room audio set up and this article will explain many of things you might consider when adding a multi-room audio system to your home.
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1. How does a wireless Multi-room Audio System Work?
Wireless Multi-room audio systems typically use your home Wi-Fi network to stream content to the various wireless speakers. Multi-room audio systems come with a free app that controls the system and lets you select the content you want to play. Some systems also have their own remote control and/or buttons on the speakers. It’s also worth noting that you will need to choose a brand to go with, since most multi-room speakers are designed to work with other speakers in the manufacturer’s range.
2. How do I set up the typical Multi-room Audio System?
Setting up a wireless multi-room audio system is extremely easy. Before you get started make sure you have the right sized speakers for each room.
If you’re just starting out, you can get nominally priced speakers to test the waters, options like Sonos One or Bose 300 are great entry-level options that let you begin to built up.
If you want to fill a larger space right out of the gate, choosing wireless multi-room speakers with more power is where you want to start; look at the Bose 500 or Sonos PLAY:5. Need more bass? Grab a subwoofer like Sonos SUB.
Consider your home’s Wi-Fi: is it powerful enough?
If your house is big and the speakers are quite far apart you need to consider if your wireless network is strong enough throughout your home. Boosting the signal, if necessary, is easy with a Wi-Fi booster or with an upgrade to your modem.
The actual setup of the wireless speaker system will require you to download the control app for your brand which will have a simple step by step guide that walks you through the process. The entire process should take less than half an hour, and often it’s just a matter of minutes.
Which brand of multi-room audio should I choose?
Most wireless multi-room speaker systems share a lot of common traits. They all have free downloadable apps that control the system and they all allow you to play your music library as well as a myriad of different streaming services too, like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music and Amazon Music. Brands like Sonos, Harman Kardon, Klipsch and Bose are some of the bigger and more common choices, while you can also create multi-room sound with smart digital functionality with brands like Google and Amazon.
3. Why choose a wireless Multi-room Audio system?
There are plenty of reasons why a multi-room audio system makes sense.
1. Flexibility: These multi-room audio systems give you flexibility in moving your speakers around. Start with a speaker in the living room and move it to the bathroom if you want.
2. Portability: Because the speakers are wirelessly connected within your home you can move them around whenever you need to. Suddenly need music in a spare bedroom or out on the deck? No problem.
3. Music Zones: These wireless multi-room audio systems can play the same music throughout your home or you can play different music in each room. You can even set up different zones where three rooms play the same music while the other rooms are all independent. They’re all instantly changeable in your app.
4. Availability of Content: Play your own music library from your computer, smartphone, tablet or other sources, or stream hundreds of different online radio stations, or play music from streaming music services like Spotify or Amazon or Google Music. There is an enormous amount of content from multiple sources that is instantly available.
5. Mobile Device Control: Controlling the speaker system couldn’t be simpler using your smartphone or tablet. Multi-room systems come with an app that lets you play whatever content you want, rearrange your system, set audio preferences and more.
6. Simplicity: These wireless multi-room audio systems are designed to be easily do-it-yourself. No professional installation is required.
7. Speaker Variety: Since not all rooms are the same size and shape, multi-room audio systems have different sized speakers and different configurations depending on the room. Get a small, splashproof speaker for the bathroom or a big room-filler for the living area.
8. Home Theatre Integration: Many of the components in today’s wireless multi-room audio configurations have speakers and sound bars that can connect to your TV or home theatre. So not only can you have a great sound bar for your new 4K or 8K TV, you can use it as a dedicates speaker for music listening too! Sonos Beam is a compact sound bar that can fill your TV room with high quality audio or the Bose Sound bar 700 is another choice.
9. Scale-ability: The beauty of multi-room wireless systems is that they are fully expandable with only a few minutes effort. If your budget is limited, pick the most important rooms right now, knowing that you can easily add more rooms at any time, and integrating the new speakers is easy easy as clicking an app.
4. What are the important factors to consider when buying a Multi-room Audio System?
When considering how to choose the best wireless system for you, the main things to think about are:
Do you want a Digital Assistant?
These days, almost every multi-room audio set up has a digital assistant built-in or it can integrate with existing smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home. If you’ve already started tricking out your home with one brand over another, you’ll want to make sure the speakers you’re shopping for have that same assistant integration. Don’t want a virtual butler eavesdropping on you? No worry. These systems have mics that can simply be turned off and the assistant features disabled if you prefer. Google and Amazon are both making a wide variety of speakers for multi-room use, from the tiny Google Nest Mini or the booming Amazon Echo Studio and all sizes in between. If you want to read more about getting digital assistant control on Sonos, check out our blog, How to enable Google or Alexa on Sonos.
Number of rooms
Most systems have the capability of covering a large number of rooms, but just make the system you’re leaning towards has the capacity to cover all the rooms you eventually want sound in.
Size and type of rooms
Depending on the size and shape of room, make sure the speaker is big enough to fill the room. Wireless multi-room audio brands have different sized speakers especially designed for different sized rooms.
Battery backup & Portability
Although a wireless multi-room system is intended to easily fill your house with great sound, you may also want speakers that can double as portable units that you can take camping, or a picnic, or out on the deck. Only a few multi-room systems have battery-powered units that are truly portable and can connect to your AC powered speakers. Sonos Move is a good example of a speaker that’s truly meant to be both a wireless home component, and one that can be used outdoors or on the road.
Adding older ‘dumb’ speakers & components to smart multi-room audio systems
It’s possible to take older non-connected speaker components and smarten them up. Devices like Sonos Port (or going all new with a connected amplifier like Sonos Amp) can allow you to bring Wi-Fi connection to your older devices. Use devices like Port to stream vinyl from a record player, CDs and more to bring your vintage gear into the 21st century.
Hiding the speakers or saving space
If you’re looking for a streamlined system, having your speakers installed in the ceiling can be a nice option. Sonos makes both In-wall and In-ceiling speakers , also called architectural speakers, that you can have installed to save space. Often these speakers should be professionally installed so do take that into consideration.
Multi-room audio – Outdoor Use
These days, it’s possible to get great quality, big brand speakers that can live outdoors. Sonos has a whole line of outdoor wireless speakers that can withstand any type of weather.
Having great audio in every room of your home, streaming from your computer, tablet, or smartphone is easier than ever.
See the many options that are available for your home: Multi-room Audio at Best Buy.