Best Wireless Multiroom Speakers of 2020

Top-rated models from Amazon, Apple, Google, Denon, and Sonos let you play music throughout your home

A decade or so ago, the price of a multiroom audio system could reach five figures. The cost of the speakers, amps, keypads, and switching devices were often dwarfed by the expense of snaking wires through the walls and setting up complicated equipment.

But wireless technology has changed all that, and today you can buy a wireless multiroom speaker system with great performance and unprecedented flexibility for surprisingly little money.

Though Sonos has led the way when it comes to multiroom systems, other companies have joined the fun, giving you even more choices for modestly priced wireless multiroom speakers, with still more on the way.  

Having a wide range of speakers to choose from is a good thing if you're a music lover, and our top-rated multiroom speakers offer impressive flexibility. If your aim is to 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 NPR quietly in the kitchen while the kids crank "Frozen 2" in the family room, all controlled by your smartphone—that's also an option.

The following are some of CR's recommended multiroom speakers. Like everything we rate, including printers and pickup trucks, CR buys speakers anonymously through regular retail channels, and we put every model through a battery of lab tests for ease of use, versatility, and especially sound quality.

Amazon Echo Studio
Amazon Echo Studio

    Amazon Echo Studio

    The Amazon Echo led the way as the original smart speaker, but despite all that innovation, there was one problem: The company's speakers didn't sound great. But Amazon has improved the sonics of its speakers, and the Amazon Echo Studio is the best-sounding of all.

     

    Featuring a deep and powerful bass, a clean midrange, and smooth trebles, the Studio is a viable competitor to the very best-sounding smart speakers, such as the the Google Home Max and the Sonos Move. Our testers report that when playing Dolby Atmos and 3D audio content, the Studio provides a spacious "soundfield" that can fill a room. But they found that the "Stereo Spatial Enhancment" setting adds a bit of an echo that makes the sound worse, so they recommend switching it off.

     

    The Studio can be integrated with other Amazon Echo speakers as part of a multiroom system. But our testers experienced somewhat glitchy performance when pairing two Studios. A few problems arose when changing the volume, and there were some minor sync issues between the left and right speakers.

    Apple HomePod
    Apple HomePod

      Apple HomePod

      When Apple first introduced the long-awaited HomePod early in 2018, it was a stand-alone smart speaker. But later that year Apple  pushed out a software update that allows two HomePods to pair in stereo, or multiple speakers to make up a wireless multiroom speaker system.  

       

      Our testers like the HomePod's sound quality, but they note that it lacks clarity in the all-important midrange. As a stereo pair, the HomePod's sound quality improves a bit, with treble that's less subdued and a more real-sounding placement of instruments in space.

       

      The HomePod is best if you're deeply immersed in Apple's ecosystem, because it offers easy integration with the Apple Music streaming service, including full voice control. If you're not much of an Apple fanboy or fangirl, other smart speakers like the Google Home Max, the Amazon Studio, and the Sonos One performed even better in our testing.

      Denon HEOS 5 HS2
      Denon HEOS 5 HS2

        Denon HEOS 5 HS2

        The HEOS line is Denon's attempt to take on Sonos at its ground-breaking multiroom speaker game. And according to our testers, the venerable audio company has largely succeeded. 


        The HEOS models have sound-quality scores that are similar to equivalent Sonos models', and our testers find the Denon system to be a little more flexible. The Denons offer Bluetooth pairing, which allows you to, say, casually pair your phone to the HEOS system so that you can finish listening to a playlist or podcast that you started while you were out running. But for all its versatility, the HEOS 5 isn't a smart speaker, so you'll need to control it with your phone rather than your voice. 


        The HEOS 5 sits in the middle of Denon's wireless speaker line, and you have the option of adding the larger and even better-sounding HEOS 7 or the versatile HEOS 1, which has a base with a rechargeable battery that can make the speaker portable and water-resistant. That allows you to confidently bring your multiroom music to the deck, porch, or patio.

        Google Home Max
        Google Home Max

          Google Home Max

          Introduced in mid-2017, the Google Home Max was really the first smart speaker with sound quality you didn't need to make excuses for. More than two years later, the Home Max remains our best-sounding smart speaker. Our testers like its solid bass and clean midrange, along with plenty of volume. 

          Things get even better if you're willing to pair two Home Maxes in stereo. Our testers say that a pair of these speakers can almost fool you into thinking that instruments from your favorite recording are right there in the room with you.

          The Home Max's smart functions work seamlessly with Google Assistant, and the Home also offers a variety of audio options. You can integrate several Home Max speakers throughout your home, either singly or in stereo pairs, and supplement them with smaller and less expensive Google Home speakers or other speakers with Chromecast capability as part of a multiroom system.

          Sonos One (Gen 2)
          Sonos One (Gen 2)

            Sonos One (Gen 2)

            The Sonos One has two features that make it a great choice for a wireless multiroom speaker system: a small size and a relatively low price. The Sonos One smart speaker fits unobtrusively on a shelf. Though it doesn't offer the sheer bass response of larger speakers such as the Denon or the Home Max, it does offer impressively detailed sound on vocals and instrumentals.

             

            The second-generation version of the Sonos One has more memory and a better processor than the original, but our testers report that it sounds and performs identically. It also costs about half as much as many of its rivals, so you can start your system with couple of Ones—say, one in the kitchen and the other in a bedroom—and expand to other rooms (or to stereo pairs with better sound) later.  

             

            The Sonos One can integrate with the company's larger and even better-sounding wireless speakers, such as the Play:5 and the recently introduced Move, adding smart speaker functionality to an existing Sonos system. You can even add the inexpensive Ikea Symfonisk speaker to your Sonos system. Note that like most Sonos speakers, the One doesn't have Bluetooth capability. It streams through WiFi and you control it with the company's smartphone app.

             

            The One is also platform-agnostic; it has built-in support for Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also stream music to it using an iPad or iPhone with Apple's AirPlay 2. If you don't need smart speaker functionality or have privacy concerns, the similar-sounding Sonos One SL is essentially a Sonos One without the smarts. On the other hand, the more expensive Move smart speaker is the company's first portable and adds Bluetooth capability.