Thanks to wireless technology and the ever-shrinking size of portable speakers, it’s possible to have music in every room in your house. Multi-room audio means you can listen to the same music or podcasts all over the house or stream different sounds to different spots, all from one smartphone or connected device.
There are a few decisions you’ll need to make when it comes to your multi-room audio setup. This article will explain a few factors you might consider when adding a multi-room audio system to your home.
Multi-room Audio Buying Guide Quick Reference Handout
Table of contents
How does a wireless multi-room audio system work?
A wireless multi-room audio system is made up of several independent speakers. These speakers connect to your home Wi-Fi network to stream content, and after you place the speaker in the room you’d like, each speaker connects wirelessly to one another to create multi-room sound.
You need two or more speakers to create a multi-room system. To control your speakers you’ll use the speaker’s compatible app. It will let you select the content you want to play. Some systems also have their own remote control and/or buttons on the speakers.
The first decision you’ll need to make when you choose a multi-room audio system is which brand you want to go with. Most multi-room speakers are designed to only work with other speakers from the same brand, so to create a connected system you’ll need to purchase several compatible speakers.
How do I set up a typical multi-room audio system?
Setting up a wireless multi-room audio system is extremely easy. Before you get started setting it up, you’ll want to make sure you have the right-sized speakers for each room.
If you’re just starting out and you have a small room, you may want to opt for inexpensive speakers to get an idea of what you’re looking for in a multi-room audio system. If you want to fill a larger space and you have a good idea of what type of speakers you’re interested in, you’ll want to choose speakers with a bit more power. You’ll find many different options for rooms small and large from Sonos, Bose, Klipsch, and more.
If you’re interested in adding bass to your multi-room system, you’ll want to choose a subwoofer too. You can read more about the benefits of adding a subwoofer to your home in this article.
The actual setup of the multi-room wireless speaker system will require you to download the control app for your brand. The app will have a simple step-by-step guide that walks you through the process of connecting each speaker. The entire process should take less than half an hour.
1. Is your home’s Wi-Fi powerful enough for multi-room audio?
If your house is big and the speakers are quite far apart, you’ll need to consider if your wireless network is strong enough to stream content to every room. If it’s not you may have one speaker streaming loud and clear, and the others breaking up or providing choppy audio.
Thankfully, boosting your Wi-Fi signal is easy. You can choose a Wi-Fi booster to amplify your signal to every room or add a mesh router so your entire home has access to high-speed Wi-Fi. To learn more about your home networking options, read our Networking Buying Guide.
2. Which brand of multi-room audio system is best?
Most brands that produce speakers compatible with wireless multi-room audio share a lot of common traits. They have free downloadable apps that control the system, and they offer you the option of playing your own saved audio as well as a list of streaming services 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 popular choices, but you can also create multi-room sound with smart speakers from brands like Google Nest, Amazon, and Apple.
Why choose a wireless multi-room audio system?
There are quite a few reasons why you’d choose to set up a multi-room audio system.
1. Flexibility: Multi-room audio systems give you flexibility in moving your speakers around. You can start with a speaker in the living room and move it to the bathroom if you’d like.
2. Portability: Because the speakers are wirelessly connected within your home, they are very portable. If you suddenly need music in a spare bedroom or out on the deck, just move your speaker out there.
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.
4. Availability of Content: Play your own music library from your computer, smartphone, tablet or other sources, stream hundreds of different online radio stations, or play music from streaming music services like Spotify or Amazon or Google Music.
5. Mobile Device Control: Controlling the speaker system couldn’t be simpler. All you need is your smartphone or tablet and you can create a multi-room system come via the 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, splash-proof speaker for the bathroom or a big speaker for room-filling sound in 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. Not only can you have a great sound bar for your new 4K or 8K TV, but you can also use it as a dedicated speaker for music listening too.
9. Scale-ability: The beauty of multi-room wireless systems is that they are fully expandable. If your budget is limited, pick the most important rooms right now. You can easily add more rooms at any time, and integrating the new speakers is as easy as clicking an app.
What is important to consider when buying a multi-room audio system?
When considering how to choose the best wireless system for you, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider.
1. Do your speakers need access to your voice assistant?
These days, almost every multi-room audio setup has a digital assistant built-in or it can easily integrate with existing smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Nest. If you’ve already started setting up your home with one brand over another, you’ll want to make sure the speakers you’re shopping for have that same assistant integration. If you haven’t created your multi-room setup yet, you’ll want to take a look at smart speakers.
2. Can you use smart speakers to create multi-room audio?
The latest smart speakers from Google Nest, Alexa, and Apple are more than just voice assistants – they link together to provide premium sound in every room you place them in. They also offer you smart integration so you can use your voice assistant in every room, create a broadcast and send it out to every speaker, or control your smart home devices from your speakers.
Don’t want a virtual butler eavesdropping on you? No problem. These systems have mics that can simply be turned off and the assistant features disabled. Google and Amazon offer a wide variety of speakers for multi-room use, and many brands use Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri for voice control.
3. How many rooms will you need to purchase speakers for?
Most brands have systems that can easily cover a large number of rooms, but it’s a good idea to know how many rooms you’ll want to place speakers in before you choose one brand or another.
4. How big are the rooms you’re placing your portable speaker in?
Depending on the size and shape of the room, you’ll want to make sure the multi-room speaker you choose is big enough to fill the room with sound. Wireless multi-room audio brands offer different-sized speakers designed for different-sized rooms, so you’ll want to have an idea of how big the room is and what the shape is before you choose.
5. How portable do your speakers need to be?
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, picnic, or out on the deck. In that case, you may want to choose a few battery-powered speakers. Some multi-room speakers have a battery-backup option or are battery-powered, yet they can still connect to your AC-powered speakers.
6. Do you need to hide your multi-room speakers?
If you’re looking for a streamlined system, you may want to hide your multi-room speakers. You can choose in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, also known as architectural speakers, to save space. Often these speakers should be professionally installed, so you’ll want to take that into consideration before purchasing.
7. Do you want to create a multi-room audio system in your yard?
These days, it’s possible to get great quality, big-brand speakers that stay outdoors. Some brands have designed speakers that are waterproof, weatherproof, and can link together to stream great audio no matter what the conditions are outside.
Having great audio in every room of your home, streaming from your computer, tablet, or smartphone is easier than ever.
Wireless multi-room bundles
If you don’t want to pick and choose individual wireless speakers for each room in your home, a wireless room bundle is the perfect option. Take Sonos Audio bundles as an example – you get a Sonos Arc sound bar, Sonos sub wireless subwoofer, and a Sonos One SL wireless multi-room speaker. They connect together via Wi-Fi and you can purchase additional Sonos One SL wireless speakers for each room in your home to create a full multi-room sound system.
Wireless speakers are great for gifting
Wireless speakers are one of the best options for gift giving. If the person you’re buying for likes to spend more time outside than in, a wireless speaker will let them take their music out on the deck or patio. Wireless speakers are also a great addition for bedrooms if you’re buying for someone who likes to listen to white noise or podcasts before they go to sleep or when they wake up in the morning. Wireless speakers make the perfect gift for anyone who has a home office and wants to use their speaker to play music during the work day.
Take the next step
A multi-room audio system is easy to set up, you can upgrade it or expand it whenever you’d like, and your favourite playlists will follow you as you move throughout your home and yard. Take the next step by choosing your own multi-room audio system at Best Buy.