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Best multi-room speakers: 4 great options for your home

Introduction

Sonos is no longer the only audio giant on a mission to dominate your house one room at a time. Bluesound, Naim and other brands are exerting their multi-room chops, and the wider choice means a multi-room system is more affordable than ever.

But which one should you choose? That’s why our best list is here to help. We’ve tested plenty of wireless speakers, checking every aspect of the specification to ensure they work as the manufacturer states, as well as testing with a wide range of music to get an impression of how well they sound. We test them with and against speakers of similar ilk, to get a full idea of how well they integrate into a wireless system, and how they stack up against other options.

If you’re looking to invest into a new wireless system, or want a speaker that join an existing system, we’ve got options ranging from less than £200 to premium speakers that cost over £700.

If you’re interested in other types of wireless speakers, check out our pages for best outdoor speakers, best smart speakers and our best Bluetooth speakers pages.

How we test

How we test wireless speakers

We play a lot of music, and we play it loud. We play it everywhere – in the house, in the garden, and even in the bath if a speaker is waterproof.

We don’t just listen to the speakers; if there are special features then we make sure we fiddle with them until we’re satisfied. Recently, some Bluetooth speakers have begun to get smart functionality with the integration of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and as a result we’ve started speaking to our speakers as well.

Of course, it always comes back to the music. Speakers are tested by reviewers who have a love of music, a knowledge of sound quality, as well as a context of the market. We’ll listen to wireless speakers alongside similarly priced rivals, so when we recommend a particular model, it’s among the best you can buy for the money.

Obviously, we know not everyone has the same taste in music, so we won’t only test with the same perfectly mastered album, but with a variety of genres and file qualities, from MP3 to Hi-Res FLAC.

Naim Mu-So Qb 2

Another thoroughly enjoyable wireless speaker
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Pros

  • Large-scale, detailed and nuanced sound
  • Extensive specification
  • That control wheel

Cons

  • Starting to look properly expensive
  • Imperfect app

We felt that the first Mu-so Qb was a revelation – a premium wireless speaker shaped like a cube? And the second-gen version has proven to be even better.

Like the original it comes in the same distinctive design, but there are upgrades in the all-new driver units, digital signal processor, AirPlay 2 support and new illuminated dial. Compared to the original, we found the performance on tap here to be powerful, but also nuanced; showcasing a broad and well-defined soundstage. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting listen, even in light of its price increase.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2

Ruark MRx

A gorgeous and well-equipped streaming speaker
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Pros

  • Lovely design and build
  • Excellent sound
  • Wealth of connections
  • Flexible placement

Cons

  • The app can be a little sluggish

Ruark has a habit of making attractive, retro-styled speakers and radios – and making them sound great. In recent years the company brought its offerings into the realm of wireless multi-room audio with the R5, MRx, R2 Mk3 and R7 Mk3.

The MRx is a great wireless streaming speaker with a multitude of sources: Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Deezer, Tidal, 3.5mm analogue, USB for hard drives and DLNA for network-stored music. You can stereo-pair it and it can also be used vertically in mono mode, making it a hugely versatile beast.

When we tested it, we referred to its audio performance as musically infectious. The MRx’s full-range drivers deliver plenty of power, emotion and rhythmic precision. It’s a wonderfully balanced performer, so even though the cost is high at £400, you’d be hard pressed to find a better-sounding speaker.

Reviewer: Ced Yuen
Full review: Ruark MRx

Sonos One (Gen 2)

One smart speaker to rule them all
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Pros

  • Great sound
  • Small and convenient
  • Proper Alexa integration
  • Supports Google Assistant

Cons

  • Alexa not fully compatible with Spotify at launch

Sonos offers a great variety of speaker options, and one of its cheapest is the Sonos One.

The Sonos One offers plenty of convenience: easy to set up and connect to your home network, if you have a weak Wi-Fi signal, you can plug it directly into your router via an ethernet cable, or alternatively, grab the Sonos Boost.

You can choose to run music from your computer, but the best source of control is the Sonos S2 app. Is clean, fresh interface and universal search function make it super-easy to find your music.

With a comprehensive number of apps and a growing number of compatible speakers, the Sonos One is one of the best multi-room speakers to invest in.

Reviewer: Ced Yuen
Full review: Sonos One

Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i

A fantastic-looking wireless speaker that delivers a huge sound
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Pros

  • Big sound
  • AirPlay 2 compatibility
  • Works with Alexa
  • High-res support
  • MQA

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not the smartest set-up

Bluesound’s Gen 2i range is arguably the pick for audiophiles thanks to its features and high-res music support.

The Pulse Flex 2i supports Apple AirPlay 2, and, thanks to an update, it also works with Amazon Alexa (via the BluVoice interface). The speaker sounds great too – big and loud with good, crisp detail. While there’s no support for Apple Music, most of the streaming services that matter are supported, including SpotifyTidal, Qobuz, Deezer and Napster.

At £299 the Flex 2i is pricier than most, but its performance and functionality make it a worthwhile option.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full review: Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i

FAQs

What is multi-room audio?

Multi-room refers to the act of grouping wireless audio systems together to play/control music throughout a home. For example, Multi-room systems can allow for the same piece of music to be played on all connected systems, or different music played on each individual speaker.

What’s Apple AirPlay 2?

AirPlay 2 is the second generation of Apple’s proprietary wireless streaming tech, which is built into all of its hardware products (and supported by many others). It’s designed to pass content from your Apple device – music, video and photos – to a compatible receiver over your Wi-Fi network such as a TV, wireless speaker, AV receiver etc.

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