Once you decide that you want to invest in multiroom audio setup, the name Sonos tends to pop up a lot. Although the company has a great line of speakers, the best of which we’ve outlined here, it’s not the only option out there. Whether you don’t want to spend too much, want better quality sound, or maybe just a different aesthetic for your home setup, these are the best Sonos alternatives you can get.
Editor’s note: this article was updated September 8, 2020, to make note of the Google Home being discontinued.
Looking into Bose? Go with the Bose SoundTouch 10 Wireless
Bose is one of the leading manufacturers of portable audio thanks to products like the Bose QC35 II and SoundLink Micro, but the company is also on the front lines of home audio. While it has plenty of speaker options available, a good place to start is the SoundTouch 10 Wireless.
Bose SoundTouch 10 Wireless
It’s fairly basic in that it won’t take up a ton of space, so whether you want to put it in your bedroom or living room you shouldn’t have a problem. It works via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can choose how you want to connect, and up top are six preset buttons so you can get to the station or playlist of your choice without even needing to reach for your phone. While it may not look huge, the sound it produces is surprisingly loud and you should have no problem filling up a room. The app is also not the easiest to use but overall, the good sound makes up for the frustrating user interface.
The Yamaha MusicCast 20 is another option for easy streaming
Yamaha doesn’t have a super strong presence in consumer audio, but it’s one of the top brands when it comes to home audio. It also has a wide range of speakers, receivers, and even pianos to choose from, but the speaker to get is the MusicCast 20. It gets a lot of things right, especially if you’re going to be streaming mainly over phones and tablets.
Yamaha MusicCast 20
It has an unassuming, cylindrical design that works on its own or as part of a set, which is nice because these can also be added to a 5.1 speaker system if you choose to build your own. The speaker features Wi-Fi connectivity as Airplay, Spotify Connect, and even Bluetooth which is missing on something like the Sonos One. That said, the sound quality is lacking a bit and bassheads will find the low-end quality a little disappointing here. While it’s a great speaker for putting in a few different rooms, you should definitely consider getting the subwoofer if you want to start a 5.1 system to enjoy your movies.
Denon Heos 1 is the best way to get into the Heos ecosystem
We reviewed the Heos 1 a while back, and it’s still a great pick-up if you’re looking for home audio. Like some of the other options on this list, it’s a first step towards building your own entertainment system. That said, it also works completely on its own as a standard wireless speaker. Denon has done a great job with making sure it supports numerous services including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Denon Heos 1Full Review
It has a sealed enclosure to protect against humidity damaging the internals (so yes, you can put it in the bathroom), and it can also be portable if you opt for the GoPack battery. The GoPack gives it six hours of untethered playback and because it’s Bluetooth, you’re not tied down to streaming only within Wi-Fi range. Of course, the design in the Heos line-up is also not the most inspiring. While they all have a unique angular design, they’re far from uniform. If you’re big on design and do plan to build around the Heos 1, just know that the line-up might not look as great as some other options.
The Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i is tough competition for Sonos
Keeping with the theme of speakers that are great whether they’re alone or part of a surround sound setup, take a look at the Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i. If you’re just looking for multiroom audio, then you can also just snatch up a few of these and sprinkle them around the house as they all sync up together via Wi-Fi.
Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i
Setup is easy with the BluOS app and it has aptX compatibility for streaming higher quality audio over Bluetooth, though you’ll likely be losing some quality compared to streaming over Wi-Fi. That said, the Flex 2i still sounds great all on its own with plenty of detail and a solid low end as well. You might still want to invest in a sub if you’re going to be using this to watch action movies, but with music playback it gets the job done for sure. There’s also a few preset and playback buttons up top, and it can also be converted into a portable speaker if you want to get the optional battery pack.
Want to save cash? Get an Amazon Echo
What if you don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars? You can get the same multiroom effect by just picking up a few Amazon Echo devices and grouping them together. It’s a bit of a hack as these aren’t going to sound anywhere near as nice as the other options on this list, but it’s one of the cheapest ways to get audio in any room.
Amazon Echo Dot
Plus, because Amazon Alexa is already in so many other speakers you’ll be able to connect them if you ever decide to upgrade.
- Amazon Echo Show: If you want an Amazon Alexa hub but want something with a screen, go with the Amazon Echo Show. It has good audio quality and you can access videos, view live lyrics from songs, and make video calls to your friends’ or family members’ Alexa devices.
- Bose 251 Environmental Speakers: This wireless outdoor speaker set is a great add on to your multiroom Bose ecosystem – multiroom includes outside! Keep in mind you’ll need a Bose-compatible amplifier to power these and connect them to multiroom wireless playback. They’re weather resistant and produce booming sound.
- Google Home & Chromecast: Just like Amazon’s Alexa speakers, another simple way to get multiroom audio is by picking up a few Google Home and Chromecast Audio devices and grouping them together in the app. The original Google Home speaker has been discontinued, but they still have the Google Home Mini and other Google Home speakers. For the best sound quality, go for the Google Home Max.
- LG MusicFlow: LG is also taking aim at the home audio market, and whether you want a smart speaker, smart display, or this awesome soundbar we reviewed, they’re worth checking out as well.
What you should know
Apps that let you control your speakers
One thing to be aware of when it comes to multiroom audio is that regardless of which ecosystem you choose, you’re going to need an app. Unless you’re connecting via Bluetooth, basically all wireless speakers that let you play music simultaneously in multiple rooms requires a dedicated app to help you keep everything under control. Another thing to be aware of is whether or not the apps are available on your OS of choice and notable features. For example, the Sonos app is available on both Android and iOS, but the Trueplay speaker tuning feature is iOS-only.
Music streaming compatibility
As you can see from this list there are plenty of choices for multiroom audio, but there are even more options when it comes to music streaming services. In a perfect world, everything would work everywhere but that isn’t the case here. Some services work on some platforms, while others do not.
So if you have your entire collection in the Google Play Music library, you should make sure that whatever you’re investing in is compatible. If you’re strictly a streamer through a service like Spotify you’ll probably be fine in most cases, but it’s still worth double-checking just for good measure.
Versatile product line-up
This is something that might be more important for some people than others. If you’re going to be doing nothing but playing music then you’ll probably be fine with any of these options. Heck, even the new JBL Connect+ feature that you find on the JBL Flip 4 and Charge 4 will let you sync up to 100 speakers together to play music simultaneously. But if you’re going to want to use speakers for home entertainment like gaming or watching movies, it matters what kind of speakers are available.
For example, if you’re trying to set up surround sound for your living room, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that whichever ecosystem you choose doesn’t only sell small, satellite speakers because you’ll also need a subwoofer. If you don’t want to set up an entire 7.1 system and just want something like the Sonos Playbase for one TV, then you’ll need to make sure that whichever brand you choose has something that fits your use case. Sonos is great at having multiple speakers for multiple purposes, but they aren’t the only company to do so.
What is a 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup?
If you’re looking into different home audio speakers you might find terms being thrown around like 5.1 or 7.1 compatible, but what exactly does that mean? While it may seem confusing at first, it’s way more simple to understand then it appears so don’t be discouraged. These numbers just refer to how many speakers you have hooked up at once, with the “.1” being a subwoofer. So if you have a 5.1 speaker setup, then you have five different speakers and a sub. The same is true with a 7.1 speaker setup. It just means that you have seven different speakers and a sub. Easy right?
It gets a little more complicated when you take into account the different kinds of speakers. In a 5.1 speaker setup you’ll have a left and right channel speakers, a center channel speaker, left and right surround speakers (usually next to, or behind the seating area), and of course the subwoofer. A 7.1 setup is this exact same setup but with two additional surround speakers that go behind you.
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