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8 best multi-room speakers

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8 best multi-room speakers

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Multi-room music systems mean that you can have your tunes blasting in every part of the house. Various wireless connection systems are used: some hook into your broadband router’s wi-fi, others create their own ad hoc network, and many use Bluetooth.

All let you play the same track simultaneously through every speaker, while some also let you play different tracks from the same source in different rooms.

For the speakers here, there are often smaller and larger models in the range too, to suit all room sizes. Some will sell you the whole kit in one, but most, thankfully let you start with whatever you want and add more when you are ready or can afford it.

1. Bose SoundTouch 10: £169.95 for one

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The latest portable speaker from Bose sounds stunningly good. Start with one, add more – it’s compatible with other speakers from the Bose SoundTouch range. Set-up is straightforward and you control the sound through a smartphone app (a separate remote is also included). There are six preset buttons on each speaker which you can sync to a favourite playlist or even an individual track. Choose between white and black finishes.

Connections: Bluetooth, wi-fi to your router

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2. Ruark Multi-room R2 Mk3: £399.95 for one

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British audio company Ruark makes exquisitely built, impressive-sounding hi-fi products. The R2 delivers warm, powerful sound with wide stereo. One will easily fill a room, but of course, if you want to go multi-room, another R2 Mk3 can be simply added to the group and will play the same music simultaneously wherever it is. Set-up is done directly on each R2 and then it works with each machine controlled by its volume dial or from a separate app called Undok (Ruark’s own app follows soon). The system comes in soft white, soft black and rich walnut. There are also DAB and FM radio tuners built in.

Connections: Bluetooth, wi-fi to your router

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3. Samsung R7: £429 for one, PC World

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The speciality here is 360-degree audio. The curious egg-like shape of the R7 helps to disperse the sound in every direction – an effect that really works. The design also means it looks pretty spiffy. Set-up is done on an iPhone or Android smartphone which finds all your speakers and connects them via your broadband network, all done via an app. Here, we’ve listed one of the pricier models in the range because it’s the best and makes a good centrepiece to any system.

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4. Sonos: from £299 for two Play:1 speakers

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One speaker connects to your broadband router, then each speaker connects to the next, so bigger distances are covered. It’s sublimely easy to set up and audio quality is brilliant. You can start with just one speaker and add as you like with different size speakers available. Sonos has one amazing, unique extra: Trueplay. Place your speakers wherever you like and Trueplay will make them sound perfect – it plays a series of tones while you slowly walk round the room with an iPhone or iPad. The app listens to how every corner of your room sounds and adjusts the speaker output to compensate for reflective surfaces or curtains in the way, say. It sounds far-fetched, but it really works. The latest model, the Play:5, is an outstanding speaker and Apple Music arrives on the platform imminently.

Connections: wi-fi to your router

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5. Pure Jongo: £99.99 for one

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Pure, the company that makes all those excellent DAB radios, has created a highly affordable multi-room system with its Jongo speakers. The first speaker connects by wi-fi to your router and subsequent speakers connect by wi-fi though some services like Spotify are piped round by Bluetooth – both sound great. The speakers don’t quite challenge Sonos for audio quality, though there’s plenty of oomph and decent clarity. The Pure Connect app on your smartphone is how you control the speakers and this is good but not as versatile as Sonos, say.

Connections: Bluetooth, wi-fi to your router

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6. Panasonic SC-ALL3: £199 for one

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Panasonic uses Qualcomm AllPlay – a platform which helps speakers to work together regardless of brand – it works with any speakers providing they’re AllPlay-compatible. The SC-ALL3 has strong stereo that’s wide enough to be effective but you can also use two as a stereo pair for even better sound – the speakers work better stood on their ends in this scenario. There’s a bigger speaker called the SC-ALL8 and a small one, SC-ALL2, which works as an alarm and has a digital clock.

Connections: wi-fi to your router

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7. Naim Mu-so: £895 for one

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The Mu-so is a one-box speaker which is heftier than most and looks pretty stylish. The solid build, excellent components and details like the aluminium heat sink contribute to the tremendous audio which is loud and bassy, but with clear vocals and soaring melodies. It’s far from cheap but worth every penny. Add more Mu-so speakers or other Naim streaming players and stream music via Bluetooth or AirPlay, Apple’s wireless system.

Connections: AirPlay, wi-fi to your router, Bluetooth

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8. Philips Izzy: £99.99 for one, Amazon

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Philips has a long and excellent history in quality audio. This latest model is a small speaker that’s exceptionally easy to set up. It creates its own network rather than using your broadband, so there’s no pairing with a router and no password. Up to five speakers can be connected just by pressing the Group button. Play your music from your smartphone simply by pressing the Bluetooth button on the Izzy – no app required. This is easily the simplest multi-room system, and it sounds good, too.

Connections: Bluetooth, creates its own ad hoc network

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Verdict

The simplest option is the new Philips Izzy, with the barest of set-up requirements. But Sonos is way more sophisticated and offers arguably the best sound and greatest versatility, while only being a little more involved to set up. Naim’s Mu-so, meanwhile, is the most stylish and powerful one-box solution by a long chalk, though not cheap. Bose offers a good balance of price and audio excellence.

Indy/ES Best product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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