Multiroom speaker buying guide: How to find the best speakers for your home
With Wi-Fi multiroom speakers, you can listen to music anywhere in your home.
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Quick facts about multiroom speakers
- Multiroom speakers are an easy-to-use and high-tech way to listen to music at home.
- To compare speakers, look at the price, volume capacity, maximum room size, ease of use and how compatible they are with the systems and streaming services you use.
- Prices typically range from $200 to $2,500 per speaker but keep in mind one of the main features of multiroom speakers is the ability to connect multiple speakers together. You will likely be buying at least two or three speakers.
What are multiroom speakers?
Many of us want to be able to listen to music and podcasts in the kitchen while we cook. This is easy enough if we have a speaker or smart device, but if we want to walk to the living room and continue listening, we have to bring the speaker or device with us each time. With multiroom speakers, you can get a speaker for each space and connect them together so they can work in tandem. You can continue adding speakers until you have your ideal listening set-up in every room in the house, or until your budget runs out. This is how you create a network of multiroom speakers.
Traditional home speakers required a complex set-up with many wires and just as many headaches. Wi-FI multiroom speakers allow you to connect multiple speakers around your home in just minutes and control them using an app on your smartphone, tablet or computer. However, if you already have a home audio system that works for you, it’s probably not worth upgrading to a multiroom speaker system.
How do they work?
Multiroom speakers either use your home Wi-Fi or create a mesh network. A mesh network means after connecting to the Internet, systems such as Sonos and Bose join together forming their own network. While traditional Wi-Fi speakers rely on Wi-Fi to connect and stream music, these mesh-network speakers won’t use your Wi-Fi while streaming. This means your bandwidth and data usage won’t be impacted by the speakers.
Pros and cons
With multiroom speakers, you can play music anywhere in your home with a quick tap on your phone, tablet or computer. You can play different music in each room or play the same music from every speaker so you can keep listening to your favourite songs as you walk from room to room. Most multiroom speakers will allow you to play music or podcasts from your digital library or a streaming service.
- Quick to install and easy to move if you change homes.
- You can listen to the same music on every speaker or different music in each room.
- Play content from your digital library or any streaming service.
- Unlike Bluetooth speakers, Wi-Fi speakers won't be interrupted by calls or texts.
- The cost of multiple speakers can add up quickly. If you only need music for one room in your house, there are cheaper options, such as Bluetooth speakers.
- Speakers are often not compatible with other brands. Once you've bought a speaker it can be difficult to switch brands and keep everything connected.
- Multiroom speakers are not as portable as Bluetooth speakers.
How to compare Wi-Fi multiroom speakers
With a multiroom speaker system, you can start with just one quality speaker and add more over time as your budget allows. You don't have to fill your house with speakers all at once unless you want to. Keep in mind, you will likely have to stick with the same brand so choose carefully. Make sure that brand offers everything you need from an audio system.
Some people might be willing to pay thousands of dollars for the highest sound quality and sleekest designs available, while others might be satisfied with low-cost speakers that are easy to use and support all of the streaming services they subscribe to.
Choosing the right speaker for you depends on the cost of the speaker, how easy it is to use, the sound quality and how well it supports the platforms and streaming services you want to use.
The following table shows the average range of a few important speaker stats for a wide range of speakers.
|Price (USD)||Maximum room size||Volume capacity (decibels)|
|From $199 to $1,800||Small to very large||86dB to 110dB|
Keep in mind, volume capacity measures the maximum volume a speaker can reach. This is not a volume you should listen to regularly. According to Safe Work Australia, long-term exposure to volumes over 85dB can lead to hearing loss. For reference, a loud conversation is around 70 dB, a typical lawnmower is 90dB and a chainsaw can be as loud as 110dB.
When choosing a multiroom speaker, consider the following additional features:
Streaming services compatibility
Make sure the speaker you choose supports the music streaming services you use, such as Spotify Connect, Tidal, Amazon, Apple Music, Pandora and Internet Radio.
Choose a brand that has products to meet all your audio needs. It will be much easier to add to your multiroom speaker network if you stay within the same brand.
Ease of use
Look for a speaker system that is easy to control from your phone or smart device. If you want to use voice commands to control your speaker, check out smart speakers instead. Or consider the Sonos One, which can act as both a smart speaker and a multiroom speaker.
If your speaker has Bluetooth or Airplay capability you won't have to worry about losing precious playing time if it malfunctions or has connection issues.
You might want floor stands, wall mounts or other accessories to make your new speakers fit perfectly into your home. Make sure you choose a speaker that is compatible with any accessories you want to use.
While functionality is key when it comes to speakers, appearance is also important. Your speakers will be in multiple rooms and maybe even in every room in your home, so make sure to pick a speaker that you won't mind looking at every day.
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