We have spent countless hours over several years testing multiroom radio speaker systems in each possible room–even outside–and Sonos remains the smartest choice for most homes. It supports the widest variety of streaming services, offers exceptional audio quality across its lineup at varying prices, and its apps offer unparalleled ease of use. The competition is still catching up, but Sonos nevertheless supplies the most complete and dependable package in general.
The best part about a multiroom wireless speaker system in contrast using a string of Bluetooth speakers is that it links directly to the Internet rather than relying on your phone or computer–this means texts, calls, and other alarms won’t disrupt playback. And you may play different songs in different rooms, or set them together, all while preserving independent volume control on each unit. Sonos has made these setups for longer than anyone, and its own experience reveals at every level of its product. Sonos’s programs are among the most polished available and provide unified search across every service you subscribe to–such as Apple Music. And Sonos supports its products for as long as you own them. This includes adding new features via firmware updates to keep its lead in the face of stiffer competition, such as Trueplay room-correction technology.
Sonos’s tight control of its ecosystem implies you are largely confined to buying speakers, but those speakers come at a variety of prices and all seem excellent. The Sonos One is an excellent entry point. It costs less than most high-end Bluetooth speakers, yet steps as accurately as speakers costing several times as much. For better sound or larger chambers, the higher-end Play:5 generates a large soundstage on its own, and a pair may hold their own with similarly priced midrange bookshelf speakerswithout needing another amplifier. There’s also a wireless Sub it is possible to pair with any present Sonos speaker to add some oomph. And you may even add Sonos for your TV using the company’s Playbar or a base speaker called the Playbase– either will match having a sub and also other Play components to form a 5.1 surround system. Or if you would like all of it at one time, you can find a wireless full 5.1-channel wireless home entertainment system in 1 package.
Google’s Chromecast Audio platform does not support as many streaming solutions and is not as polished general, but it’s built into a wider variety of devices (like speakers, recipients, and soundbars from Pioneer, Onkyo, Sony, and Vizio) and you can affordably add it to any present set of speakers using a $35 Chromecast Audio dongle. Contrary to Sonos, there’s no Chromecast program to rule all your streaming services without any unified, cross-service search. Instead, to play an album from Spotify, you hunt and pick the album in Spotify’s app, then “throw” it to a choice of speaker instead of pressing play. It is also possible to use Google Assistant or Google Home to control it with your voice, however, we experienced a great deal of hiccups while testing this feature. Sonos’s exceptional streaming service support, cross-service search ability, and tighter quality management still ensure it is the better buy for the time being. However, if Google can enhance the overall consistency of the user experience across the disparate devices and services which support it, we can see it close the difference sooner than later.