Installing a multiroom audio system has changed a lot in recent years—for the better. Forget about spending thousands on speakers, amps, and keypads. And thousands more on hiring technicians to snake wires through the walls, make the connections, and adjust the settings to get all of the gear working the way it should.
Today you can buy a wireless multiroom speaker system with great performance and unprecedented flexibility for surprisingly little money. Even better, you can set it up yourself in a matter of minutes, right from your smartphone.
Sonos has led the way when it comes to multiroom systems, but other companies have joined in, giving music lovers a variety of options. And if you own a smart speaker from one of the major brands—Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, or Google Nest—you can add other models from that company’s line to form a multiroom system that can send voice-controlled music throughout your home.
Our top-rated multiroom speakers offer not only solid sound but also impressive flexibility. If your aim is to execute an epic Rickroll and play “Never Gonna Give You Up” perfectly synced through 16 speakers on four different levels of your house, go right ahead. If your goals are more modest—streaming the 99% Invisible podcast quietly in the kitchen while the kids crank “Encanto” in the family room, all controlled by your smartphone—that’s also an option.
The following are some of the top multiroom speakers in CR’s ratings. Like everything we rate, from printers to pickup trucks, CR buys speakers anonymously through regular retail channels. Our trained testers put each model through a battery of lab tests for ease of use, versatility, and especially sound quality, which gets extra weight in our ratings. Note that the ratings system is slightly different for wireless speakers and smart speakers, so you can’t directly compare the scores.
Supreme Sound From Sonos
If sound quality is your top priority in a multiroom system—and that’s usually a great place to start—take a close look at the Sonos Five.
It’s the highest-rated and best-sounding multiroom speaker we’ve tested, delivering solid bass and crystalline trebles that let you hear every detail of your favorite recordings. And while a single Five offers up fine sound, two Fives paired in stereo earn our rarely bestowed top rating for sound quality.
The Five is a bit limited in functionality, though. It’s not a smart speaker, and it’s WiFi only, with no Bluetooth connectivity.
But because the Five integrates smoothly and seamlessly in a whole-house system with other Sonos products, you can add smart speaker functionality as well as Bluetooth streaming by adding a Sonos Move or Roam to your Sonos system.
Spatial Audio Delivers Stereo on Steroids
The single-box speaker delivers audio that’s clear and detailed, so you can hear nuances like a singer breathing between syllables or a pianist creaking the pedals. The bass is deep but also tight, and that impact is likely to set your foot tapping.
In short, the Era 300 is a joy to listen to. And because speakers are quite reliable and don’t become obsolete that quickly, the $449 price—while high—is a solid investment. What’s more, even though adding a second speaker paired in stereo does improve the sound quality, according to our testers, it doesn’t necessarily merit the cost for all but the most discerning listeners.
Most significantly, the Era 300 includes new spatial audio capabilities, so it can play Dolby Atmos tracks on Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited. Spatial audio is an emerging technology, and at this point, the quality of the experience depends on the skill and taste of the remix engineer. That said, the difference—a much more expansive soundstage with a much greater sense of height—is immediately obvious even if you don’t have the ears of an audiophile. Think of it as stereo on steroids. There’s also a very good chance many of your favorite songs are already available in spatial audio, with more tracks being added every day. And if you don’t like the effect, it’s easy enough to go back to a conventional stereo mix.
Sonically, the Era 300 ranks a bit below our top-ranked Edifier S1000MKII and the Sonos Five for playing stereo material, but the spatial audio capability makes it an attractive option.
On the smart speaker front, the Era 300 offers multiple options for digital assistants, including Amazon’s Alexa, Sonos’s own Voice Control, and Apple capability through AirPlay, though it doesn’t work with Google Assistant. And of course, the Era 300 can be incorporated into a versatile multiroom system with other Sonos speakers. Unlike earlier Sonos home speakers, the Era 300 has Bluetooth capability, which can be handy for accessing a podcast or a friend’s playlist.
A Smart Speaker Classic Reimagined
Like its predecessor the Sonos One, Sonos’s Era 100 smart speaker has two features that make it a great choice for a wireless multiroom system: its small size and its relatively low price. While the Era 100 is a bit taller than the classic One, its footprint is similar and it still fits unobtrusively on a shelf.
The Era 100 performs better than the One in several important ways. Our testers report that it delivers deeper bass while maintaining the clean, detailed midrange that’s long been a Sonos strength. It also offers single-box stereo. If you want, you can stereo-pair the model. But our testers report that a single Era 300 will give you better stereo sound for less money.
Amazon's High-Performance Smart Speaker
The original Amazon Echo didn’t sound so great, but the company has improved the sonics across its speaker line in recent years, and the Echo Studio is now the best-sounding option.
Featuring a deep and powerful bass, a clean midrange, and smooth treble, the Studio is in fact one of the very best-sounding smart speakers to pass through our labs. When playing Dolby Atmos and 3D audio content, the model provides a spacious sound field that can fill a room, CR’s testers report. But the Stereo Spatial Enhancement setting adds a bit of an echo, so we recommend switching it off.
The Studio can be integrated into a multiroom system with other Amazon Echo speakers. But our testers experienced somewhat glitchy performance when pairing two Studios. A few problems arose when we changed the volume, and there were minor sync issues between the left and right speakers.
Apple's Upgraded HomePod
Apple has reintroduced the HomePod smart speaker, and the new version represents a significant upgrade. At first glance, it looks pretty similar to the original, with a mesh-covered cylindrical enclosure and a touchpad on top.
The model has a new speaker configuration, with five tweeters to handle the highs, a long-throw woofer for the bass, and four mics to pick up requests for Apple’s Siri digital assistant. According to our testers, this configuration has improved sound quality significantly. The speaker’s sonic signature is still pleasantly warm, but there’s much more clarity in the all-important midrange, which is where you can find most vocals and acoustic instruments. The HomePod can play very loud without distorting, though it’s best in a medium-sized room, and pairing two HomePods in stereo does improve the sound markedly.
The $299 HomePod is great if you’re deeply immersed in Apple’s ecosystem because it offers easy integration with the Apple Music streaming service as well as Apple Podcasts. It also can play spatial audio content on the platform.
On the smart home front, the latest HomePod also supports the new Matter protocol, which is currently found on a limited number of devices, but that’s likely to change in the months and years to come.
As a multiroom speaker, the HomePod links with the previous-gen HomePod as well as the $99 HomePod Mini, allowing you to play music in different rooms, but it can’t be stereo paired with those devices.
Denon's System Speaker
The Denon Home 150 takes over where its predecessor, the Denon Heos line, left off. It not only features more traditional styling than the Heos—some models in that line resembled a high-end handbag—but also provides satisfying sound and commendable versatility.
Sonically, the 150 delivers bass that’s impactful but a little boomy, an even midrange, and extended high frequencies. Our testers found that pairing two 150s improves the illusion that the musicians are right there in the room with you, though adding the second speaker does make the bass a bit boomier.
The Home 150 provides enough volume for a midsized room, but if you need to fill a bigger space, you might consider Denon’s larger Home 250 and Home 350 models. Our testers found a strong family resemblance among all three speakers, but the larger models supply more bass and volume, albeit for more money. All three models can integrate seamlessly in a multiroom system.
An Alternative From Audio Pro
Audio Pro is a Swedish company that has been making speakers since 1978. Given that history, it’s no surprise that sonically, the Audio Pro C10 MKII sits near the top of our ratings. Our testers report that it delivers bass that’s deep and impactful though just a bit boomy, while the midrange does a fine job with both music and dialogue. There’s enough volume to fill a midsized room, and you can pair two units in stereo to improve the sound.
Our testers also give the C10 MKII a strong grade for ease of use and our top mark for versatility. The Audio Pro’s multiroom capabilities can be accessed and managed through the company’s dedicated smartphone app, which our testers found to be easy to use on both Android phones and iPhones.
Ikea's Budget Multiroom Speaker
While Ikea—yes, the home-furnishings brand—sells the Symfonisk speaker, it’s powered by Sonos and is compatible with Sonos wireless speakers throughout a whole-home system. That makes it a top performer at a low price.
Our testers report that this second-generation model is functionally identical to the previous version (which was $20 cheaper). The new Bookshelf speaker also sounds a lot like its Sonos brethren, with clear treble, a balanced and detailed midrange, and bass that’s tuneful although not especially deep. The Symfonisk’s sound quality falls below the Era 100 (above), but it’s also about half the price. Our testers also report that a stereo pair of Symfonisk speakers sounds much better than a single unit, especially when it comes to capturing that you-are-there factor that provides the magic on a really good recording.
Ikea calls this Symfonisk model a bookshelf speaker. Literally. It can be mounted horizontally on a wall and used as a shelf, but its limited capacity makes it better suited to light volumes of poetry than Russian novels. (The Symfonisk line also includes a more expensive Sonos-powered picture frame speaker.)
Like some Sonos home speakers, the Symfonisk models lack Bluetooth capability; they need WiFi to function.