In a nutshell, a multiroom audio system lets you play music in multiple rooms at the same time. That means you can execute an epic Rickroll through 16 speakers perfectly synced across four levels of your house, or simply stream a podcast like 99% Invisible in the kitchen while the kids crank up their favourite Wiggles playlist in the living room, all controlled by a single app on your smartphone.
If you’re interested in getting into multiroom streaming, it pays to start with a high-quality hi-fi system. This will ensure your system sounds great, and can be easily upgraded to multiroom capability in the future. It’s also worth considering a subscription-based online music aggregator that offers multiroom capabilities, such as Roon. These will typically require more expensive, higher-quality speakers and equipment.
When it comes to wireless multiroom audio systems, there are a lot of options available to you. You can buy speakers or soundbars that come with built-in multiroom functionality, or you can go for standalone multiroom speakers from a range of brands. Most of these systems work by connecting over your Wi-Fi, and can be controlled via an app on your smartphone or tablet. Typically, the most basic models are small and upright, while larger, chunkier boxes tend to be more expensive.
Some systems have more advanced technology, allowing different rooms to choose their own music sources and even perform their own equalization to make the most of their unique acoustic properties. These are generally the most expensive, but will offer a truly seamless and integrated experience.
You can usually find a solution to suit your budget and goals, whether you’re after an all-in-one smart speaker or a more traditional wired multiroom system. However, it’s important to research your options carefully so that you can make an informed decision that will save you money and trouble in the long run.
Many hi-ii manufacturers, including Denon, Sonos, Bluesound and Audio Pro, have multiroom audio solutions available. Their ranges tend to be a little more expensive than the offerings from tech giants like Google and Amazon, but they often have better sound quality, especially at high volumes. It’s also worth considering an all-in-one option, such as a wireless multiroom speaker from Sonos or the new Bluesound Pulse and Flex models, which are based on the BluOS operating system that is available built into a wide range of hi-fi integrated amps and receivers. These will generally be easier to set up and more cost-effective than a fully separate multiroom system that requires a headend audio amplifier, speakers and a home automation control system. Of course, you can always add multiroom audio to your existing wired hi-fi system too – but this will likely involve some extra expense and time. For more information on that, check out Crutchfield writer Ralph’s guide to adding multiroom capabilities to a hi-fi system. You can also get in touch with our customer service team if you have any questions.