Best Wireless Multiroom Speakers of 2021

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

image of Sonos and Apple speakers
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Multiroom audio systems were once expensive propositions that could easily cost thousands of dollars to buy and install. Purchasing the speakers, amps, keypads, and switching devices was just the start of the process—then you had to snake wires through the walls to make the connections.

But today you can buy a wireless multiroom speaker system with great performance and unprecedented flexibility for surprisingly little money.

Sonos has led the way when it comes to multiroom systems, and other companies have joined in, giving music lovers more choices for modestly priced wireless multiroom speakers.  

Having a wide range of speakers to choose from is a good thing if you're putting one of these systems together, 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 speaker 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 in recent years, and the Amazon Echo Studio is the best-sounding of the bunch.

     

    Featuring a deep and powerful bass, a clean midrange, and smooth trebles, the Studio is one of the very best-sounding smart speakers we've had in our lab. Our testers report that when playing Dolby Atmos and 3D audio content, the Studio provides a spacious "soundfield" that can fill a room. But the "Stereo Spatial Enhancement" setting adds a bit of an echo, they discovered, so we 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, and multiple speakers to be linked in a wireless multiroom speaker system.  

       

      Our testers give good marks to the HomePod's sound quality, but they note that it lacks clarity in the all-important midrange. As a stereo pair, the speaker provides slightly improved sound quality, with treble that's less subdued and a more real-sounding placement of instruments in space.

       

      The HomePod works 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. And while the HomePod is relatively expensive for a smart speaker, you can fill out your multiroom system with the $99 HomePod Mini, which is fine for podcasts and spoken content, but leaves something to be desired for listening to music.

       

      If you're not much of an Apple fan, other multiroom smart speakers like the Amazon Studio (above) and the Sonos One (below) performed even better in our testing. Note that Apple has discontinued the HomePod in favor of the smaller, less expensive, and worse-sounding HomePod Mini, so if you want an original HomePod, buy one while they're still available. 

      Denon Home 150
      Denon Home 150

        Denon Home 150

        The Denon Home 150 takes over where the company's HEOS line of multiroom speakers left off. Not only does it feature more traditional styling than its precedessor—some models in the HEOS line resembled a high-end handbag—but it also provides satisfying sound and commendable versatility.

         

        Sonically the 150 delivers bass that is impactful but a little boomy, an even midrange, and extended high frequencies. Our testers find 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 medium-sized room, but if you need to fill a bigger space, you might consider Denon's larger Home 250 and Home 350 models.  Our testers find 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 seemlessly in a multiroom system.
         

        Like speakers in the HEOS line, the Home 150 differs from most rival Sonos speakers in that it offers both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to quickly move a playlist or podcast from your smartphone to the speaker (although our testers noted that selecting Bluetooth input had to be done from Denon's  otherwise intuitive smartphone app.) For most of your listening, however, you'll want to use the more robust WiFi connection.

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

          Sonos One (Gen 2)

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

           

          The second-generation version 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 rivals, so you can start your system with a 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 wireless speakers, 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, 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, which adds a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth capability.

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          Allen St. John

          I believe that technology has the power to change our lives—for better or for worse. That's why I’ve spent my life reporting and writing about it for outlets of all sorts, from newspapers (such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times) to magazines (Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone) and even my own books ("Newton’s Football" and "Clapton’s Guitar"). For me, there's no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story that'll help others be smarter and better informed.