Choosing a Multiroom Audio System

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A multiroom audio system lets you play music in multiple rooms at the same time or independently. It can be used to stream services like Spotify or Apple Music, or your own collection stored on a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive, CD or even vinyl. You can control a multiroom system using a smart device or via its built-in voice assistant.

A good multiroom audio system will be easy to set up and use. Most modern multiroom systems connect to your home network over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, making the setup process similar to setting up a wireless speaker or smart TV. Then you can just add additional speakers to extend the sound, which is typically controlled by a simple app or voice command.

When choosing a multiroom system, you need to decide what your goals are. Do you want to execute an epic Rickroll on your guests or simply stream a podcast in the kitchen while the kids crank up ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ in the living room? Once you’ve decided how many speakers and where to place them, it’s a good idea to look at the finer details such as connectivity options/protocol, frequency response and technical specs.

There are lots of different multiroom systems to choose from, ranging from the bare bones models from the likes of Sonos and Bluesound through to more fully integrated solutions from brands such as Bang & Olufsen or Denon. Some are made to work with existing hi-fi equipment, while others require a bridging box or network player to act as the hub of the system.

Sonos and Bluesound are two of the most well-established and well-respected multiroom systems, with a range that starts with their small speakers such as the One and Five. These are designed to sit on a bookshelf or coffee table and have an attractive aesthetic that makes them a good fit for any room in the house. They can also be stacked and wired together to create a larger soundbar that’s perfect for the home theatre.

Alternatively you could opt for a more traditional approach with a dedicated multiroom audio brand such as Roon, which uses a separate system of speakers and AV receivers that are recessed into walls or ceilings and usually cost a considerable sum of money. It’s a system more suitable for those with a home that’s already wired for multiroom audio or a new build where you can install everything before the drywall goes up.

Some manufacturers have also opted for a combination of both approaches, offering a multiroom system that includes both wired and wireless speakers. An example is Samsung’s R-series, which features both a wired and a wireless speaker, with a soundbar that acts as the central hub of the system. You can use this to control both the wireless and wired R-series speakers, as well as an older hi-fi that’s connected via a bridging box such as the Bluesound Powernode or Sonos Amp.

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