What is multi-room audio? Simply put, it's speakers in two or more rooms that are supplied with sound from a central music source. Modern systems let you play different music in each room or the same music in all rooms.
Below you'll find some shopping tips. For more detailed info, read our articles about multi-room audio.
Take advantage of your Wi-Fi® network to distribute music to connected speakers or amplifiers. The music could come from your phone, an online subscription service like Spotify®, a networked computer, or even a turntable. Volume control and source selection is usually done with a smartphone app or voice assistant.
Most wireless systems are “closed,” meaning all the speakers and components in the system must be from the same brand. The most popular systems are Sonos, Bluesound, Yamaha MusicCast, and Heos by Denon.
Old-school systems rely on wires that hide behind your walls. The wires travel from the speaker locations to a cluster of components that includes at least one amplifier and one music source. The speakers are usually installed in your ceilings or walls. Volume control and source selection can be done with wall-mounted keypads or knobs.
Wireless systems are much easier to install. You can start with one Wi-Fi speaker, and then keep adding more until you've filled your home with music. And you can easily take the system with you when you move.
Wired systems involve less “gear clutter.” The hardware is typically hidden in a utility room or equipment closet. And technophobes will find a wired system easier to operate. The best time to install one is when you're building a new home or renovating an old one.
You can have the best of both worlds if you wish. There's no law against adding a wireless music source component to a wired system. And you can certainly power in-ceiling speakers or outdoor speakers with a network-connected amplifier.
Wired multi-room systems are also good for business. A 70-volt system is usually the best solution for background music and announcements throughout a restaurant, school, or other commercial building. One amp can power many speakers. It's easy to set different volume levels in different listening areas. You use lighter, less expensive speaker wire and much less wire overall.
For help with a commercial installation, contact a system designer at 1-800-315-2758. To learn more about commercial audio, read our guide to 70-volt systems.