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What is multi-room audio?

By 22 Nov 2017
What is multi-room audio?

It used to be that listening to music from your Hi-Fi in different rooms meant drilling holes in walls and hiding wires under carpets - thankfully, those days are long gone. Wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth make it much easier, and less messy, to connect all of your kit throughout your home. 

Multi-room speaker systems, or 'smart speakers', let you listen to your music in different rooms at the same time with everything being controlled by an app on your phone, tablet, or computer. 

In most cases you'll still need to plug your smart speakers into a power supply, but aside from that, they're usually completely wireless – using your home Wi-Fi network.  

The great thing about multi-room audio is that you don't need to buy the full system in one go, you can start off with a single speaker, and add more over time. There are a few different brands you can choose from, and they all work slightly differently. Here's our pick of the best. 

SONOS

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When it comes to multi-room audio, Sonos are one of the market leaders. They have a slightly different approach to some, in that their speakers don't use Bluetooth at all. Instead, you connect one speaker to your Wi-Fi network, then the rest of the speakers connect to each other (up to 32 in total) using a 'wireless mesh network'. This means they can produce better quality sound because Bluetooth just can't carry the same amount of data as a Wi-Fi network – at least until Bluetooth technology improves.

Sonos speakers start at around £180 for the SONOS PLAY:1, and the new SONOS One speakers also feature Alexa (Amazon's smart assistant), with plans to add Google Assistant in 2018 - discover more about what you can do with Alexa.

Once you've downloaded the Sonos app and set up your speakers, it's really straight forward to add your streaming services - like Amazon Music, Spotify, or Apple Music.

Bose SoundTouch

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Bose offers a range of top notch smart speakers, and like Sonos, they connect to your home Wi-Fi, and can all be controlled from your smartphone or tablet using the free SoundTouch app. The Bose SoundTouch 10 comes in at £159.95, and also gives you the option of connecting to it directly using Bluetooth. 

Take a look at the Bose smart speaker range here

JAM Rhythm & Symphony

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If the Sonos and Bose speakers are a little outside your budget, Jam offer some great alternatives that are a bit kinder on your pocket, with the JAM Rhythm coming in at just £49.99, and the JAM Symphony at £74.99.

Like the Sonos and Bose speakers, Jam uses your home Wi-Fi network to link the speakers together, and you control them using the 'Jam Wi-Fi' app (available on Apple and Android). You can connect up to 8 speakers on the same network and also set up groups - so you could have a group that controls all of your upstairs speakers, and a different group to control all of the downstairs ones.

The only drawback to the Jam speakers is that they don't support Bluetooth, but they do have an aux input that lets you plug your phone, tablet, or MP3 player directly into the speaker.

Sony

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When it comes to sound systems, Sony are one of the best known brands in the business, having been around for well over half a century – so it's safe to say they know what they're doing.

Their latest offering in the smart speaker category doesn't disappoint. For a relatively compact speaker, the Sony LF-S50G packs quite a punch with its 360° sound and internal sub woofer.

It also comes with Google Assistant built-in, just say "Ok Google" and tell it to do something, or ask a question - for example, if you're busy in the kitchen just ask it to convert grams to ounces, or set a timer for 30 minutes. 

It's also splash proof, so it can handle a bit of water, and you can even remove the cover to rinse it under the tap if it picks up any marks or stains.

Like most smart speakers, Sony uses your home Wi-Fi to connect to other Sony smart speakers and instead of having it's own dedicated app, you control it through your Google Assistant, so you'll need to download the Google Home app to get it set up. This speaker also gives you the option of connecting via Bluetooth.

If you want to see more smart speakers, you can view our full range here.

Hopefully, that’s everything you need but if you'd like any extra help, you can contact one of our experts from Team Knowhow here.

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