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Wireless network speaker reviews

Last updated: 14 December 2016

Play music in a single room or have a favourite track waft through the halls of a home; that's the power of networked speakers, which make it possible to playback tracks across multiple speakers from a single device. To help you decide if networked or simple wireless speakers are best for you, see our buying guide.

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Our panel of experts have reviewed four ecosystems composed of more than 20 speakers from brands such as Bose, Yamaha, Sony and Sonos. 

This review will help you identify which network of multiroom wireless speakers:

  • produces the best quality audio
  • are the easiest to set up and use
  • support the most popular music streaming services
  • is the most economical to run.

Our interactive comparison tool helps you see which systems work with Google Play Music, Spotify or Pandora, and which ones can act as a network extender by amplifying a Wi-Fi signal. Our Recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

We've shared further expert insights into ease of use and energy consumption in What we learned testing Wi-Fi multiroom speaker systems.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

    Price

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    This is the total price (in $AUD) of all five speakers we bought. Each system consists of:

    1 x small speaker;

    1 x medium speaker;

    1 x large speaker;

    1 x soundbar;

    1 x subwoofer, purchased separately where not included with the soundbar.

    Individual pricing can be viewed for each speaker under the heading 'item price'.

    enter value/s in increments of 1 between 2856 and 3547

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    System sound quality score

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    Our listening panel assesses the speakers' sound using two pieces of music (rock and electronic). The speaker is positioned about two metres away from the listener, with the panel assessing overall quality. Soundbars and subwoofers endure additional testing based on with the playback of scenes from two Blu-ray movies.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 61 and 78

    Ease of use score - Google Android

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    Multi-room speakers are designed to be controlled from the app on a smartphone. Our tester evaluates how easy it is to: (1) add speakers to a multi-room network; (2) play music to a single speaker over Wi-Fi; (C) play music to all of the speakers on the network; (D) create two separate zones and have each of them play a different song. This process is carried out – from set up to playback – on an Apple iPhone 7 Plus and an LG Nexus 5X. Each app has a weighting of 12.5% attributed to the overall score.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 29 and 81

    Ease of use score - Apple iOS

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    Multi-room speakers are designed to be controlled from the app on a smartphone. Our tester evaluates how easy it is to: (1) add speakers to a multi-room network; (2) play music to a single speaker over Wi-Fi; (C) play music to all of the speakers on the network; (D) create two separate zones and have each of them play a different song. This process is carried out – from set up to playback – on an Apple iPhone 7 Plus and an LG Nexus 5X. Each app has a weighting of 12.5% attributed to the overall score.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 49 and 89

    Ease of use score - speakers

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    This score is an average of how easy it is to use each individual speaker contributing to the network. We assess the included controls, how clearly they've been labelled and their size. Its weighting to the overall test is 5% as these systems are designed to be primarily controlled from a smartphone or tablet.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 40 and 73

    Bluetooth

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    Connects directly to a single speaker.

      Dual band Wi-Fi

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      Whether the ecosystem (and its speakers) supports the secondary and less-congested 5GHz frequency of a dual-band modem-router.

      *The Sony SRS-ZR7 is the only speaker in Sony's ecosystem to not support dual-band Wi-Fi.

      **The Bose SoundTouch 10 tested by CHOICE does not support dual-band Wi-Fi, although the series III speakers tested do.


        Wi-Fi direct

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        Wi-Fi direct is a lot like Bluetooth in that it creates a connection between a phone and a device. This connection is established over a Wi-Fi network created by, in this case, a speaker. More data can be transferred and so the playback of music is said to be of higher audio quality.

        *The Yamaha ISX-80 does not support Wi-Fi direct.



          Airplay

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          The proprietary connectivity standard developed by Apple for music to be shared with iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

          The SRS-X99 is the only speaker of the Sony's speakers tested to support Apple AirPlay.

            Network extending speakers

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            The speakers in the multiroom system will act as a network extender by amplifying a Wi-Fi signal.

              Can segregate network

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              Can split a network into sub-networks to boost performance and improve security.

                Included in this review

                Members-only access
                • Recommended
                • Overall score
                • System sound quality score
                • Ease of use score - Google Android
                • Ease of use score - Apple iOS
                • Ease of use score - speakers
                • Annual standby energy score
                • Annual standby energy cost
                • Good points
                • Bad points
                • Price
                • Brand
                • Ecosystem
                • Dual-band Wi-Fi
                • WiFi direct
                • AirPlay
                • Bluetooth
                • Spotify
                • Google Play Music
                • Pandora
                • Network extending speakers
                • Can segregate network
                • Individual speakers
                • Individual speaker price
                • Speaker sound quality score
                • Number of drivers
                • Speaker channels
                • Ethernet
                • Country of origin
                • Warranty
                • Contact

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