You might have a smart speaker in the house and an old radio here or a nice stereo in the living room, and maybe there’s a bluetooth speaker somebody was bought as a gift in a drawer somewhere? So instead of having multiple and disparate audio sources littering the house, you could have a collection of nice looking speakers thoughtfully placed around your home. This is something called multi room Hi-Fi. The speakers can communicate with each other, play in unison or play completely different audio sources. It makes life a little simpler.
So if you’re enjoying listening to your favourite album in the bedroom or the workshop, you can carry on listening to it in the kitchen when you’re making a cup of tea. Or perhaps put on some new vinyl in the study/man room and listen to it in the living room. After all this is the modern world .
Multi room Hi-Fi
Multi-room works via your WiFi to connect throughout the house with the other speakers and Sonos actually works over it’s own mesh network. A lot of hi-fi speakers have Alexa or Google assistant built in so you won’t even need to buy a dedicated device in that room. Also there are brands that offer a wired option too so this is still an option for those building a new house or doing a bit of renovation. Or just don’t mind a bit of extra work for a more reliable connection (see our cabling article).
If you’ve got a soundbar or an AV Receiver this type of connectivity might already be built in. Brands like Sonos, Bose, Yamaha and Denon have their own multi-room platforms where you can just add speakers to what you might already have. For example Denon and Yamaha have a whole range of speakers, AV receivers, soundbars and there are also network boxes that allow you to attach to an existing hi-fi to upgrade it. So if you already have a speaker that covers one of these areas the chances are that you can get something else from the same brand to go in another room.
What to choose?
When starting from scratch, it only really comes down to the quality of the sound, what features you want from a system and lastly the price. Here’s a table of different brands and what they do and very general price comparison.
|Brand||AV support||Connectivity||Assistant support||Streaming||Price|
|Sonos||Sound bars, Network Hub||Wireless, Ethernet||Alexa, Google||yes||£179 > £2.5k|
|Marshall||None||Bluetooth||Yes||£149 > £429|
|Yamaha||AV Receivers, Sound bars, Subs, Speakers||Wireless, Ethernet, Bluetooth||MusicCast, Spotify,||£149 > pricey AV Rcvrs|
|Audio Pro||Network Hub||Wireless, Ethernet, Bluetooth||None||Spotify, AirPlay||£99 > £800|
|Denon||AV receivers, Soundbars, Subs||Wireless, Ethernet, Bluetooth||Alexa||AirPlay2, HEOS||£219 > £799|
|Bluesound||Soundbar, Speakers, Sub||Wireless, Ethernet, Bluetooth||AirPlay, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz and Napster||£299 > £1,349|
|JBL||Speakers||Bluetooth||£29 > £700|
|Harman Kardon||Speakers, Soundbar||Bluetooth, Wireless||Google, Nest||£149 > £899|
There are plenty of options to choose from and it looks like you can split all these products into two camps. One camp is the easy connectivity of a decent loud enough speaker to play some tunes, that can also be controlled with your phone via Bluetooth. With that functionality in mind you could pick JBL and Marshall from that list. The other train of thought is the more integrated multimedia, multi room experience using many different speakers and/or hi-fi/AV units that are connected throughout the house. They enable you to play a source such as vinyl, or CD in one room and listen to it in another. It all comes under the umbrella of multi-room and there’s plenty of products out there to choose from.