Wireless Multiroom Speaker Reviews

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Michael Berk  |  Jun 18, 2013  |  0 comments

When we checked out Cambridge Audio's original Minx 5.1 setup just about two years back we plain loved the little things, which we felt represented about the best miniature speaker system to date, the bargain price notwithstanding. Cambridge hasn't rested on their laurels, and in the intervening years they've taken the Minx concept and have built a whole line of cool little (and not so little) lifestyle products - read small, portable, wireless systems - around it.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 25, 2013  |  0 comments

Wireless is, uh, in the air these days. Audio, video, telecom, and most everything else up to and including war-making are all proceeding nicely without any lengths of braided copper trailing behind. But too much of the time, this is more about wireless-ness than about what happens when the signal gets wherever “there” is. (Unless, that is, you have the misfortune to be riding in a car in the mountains of northern Pakistan…)

Not this time. And the rather unexpected reason is a new family of wireless speakers dubbed Xeo from Dynaudio, the Danish loudspeaker (and transducer) maker that is as widely respected in the hushed confines of pro audio as in the rough-and-tumble of high-end hi-fi.

Brent Butterworth  |  Oct 10, 2012  |  0 comments

As a guy who spends a lot of his life on biztrips and bike tours, I find Apple’s AirPlay wireless audio technology to be almost useless. Give me Bluetooth, baby! Bluetooth lets me haul my Soundmatters FoxLv2 to exotic locales (Houston, Indianapolis, etc.), zap it with music or Internet radio from my Motorola Droid Pro or my iPod touch, and enjoy the same listening options on the road that I have at home—minus my vinyl collection and turntable, of course.

But the new Libratone Zipp makes AirPlay almost as convenient as Bluetooth.

Michael Berk  |  Oct 25, 2012  |  0 comments

It's a given that smartphones and tablets are at the heart of today's digital media experience. The latest wave of small, mobile devices provide access to every streaming service under the sun and enough file storage to make not only portable media players, but pretty much every other part of the traditional listening rig obsolete. Big systems are going the way of the dodo - little wireless table radios are where it's at nowadays. Enter the Logitech UE Smart Radio and Phorus' Play-Fi system, two worthy contenders with very different design philosophies.

Brent Butterworth  |  Apr 25, 2012  |  0 comments

I don’t want to call Paul Barton a brilliant speaker designer, because that might imply that he lucks into occasional flashes of inspiration. No, Barton — founder and chief engineer of PSB Speakers — succeeds because he does the complicated and time-consuming work of building his products using the best science and engineering available. He doesn’t base his design decisions on pet theories, casual observations, or the latest line of B.S. circulating among online audio forums. And to my knowledge, he’s never allowed market trends, cosmetics, or form factors to ruin the sound of his products.

This is why I was so excited to find out last year that Barton was designing a new iPhone/iPod Touch dock for NAD, PSB’s sister brand.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Apr 01, 2013  |  1 comments

I've reviewed a few of these types of speakers. Pioneer calls this one a "Wireless Speaker" but that's not really adequate for the category. Music streaming speaker (MSS?) is probably more accurate, if less pithy.

Either way, my experience has been that for most, it's function first, quality second. As in, you get sound, but it's not very good. Unless the MSS has some sort of special attention paid to sound quality, I try to avoid them.

What got my attention with this one, then? Well, the A4 has been tuned by none other than Andrew Jones, and given how amazing his inexpensive Pioneer speakers are, I figured this doodad was worth a look.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jul 25, 2011  |  0 comments

The CD is dying. iPod sales are declining. More and more, people are getting their music from … well, everywhere: MP3s stored on a hard drive, Internet radio and music services like MOG, Pandora and the recently hyped Spotify.

Rob Sabin  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  0 comments

Arena Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Festival Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Festival, $499; Arena, $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent build and sound quality
Chromecast, AirPlay, Bluetooth built-in
Away mode and optional battery for portability
Minus
Chromecast multiroom interface

THE VERDICT
Riva Audio continues a tradition of excellent sound quality with the WAND series, the company’s first wireless multiroom speakers.

I first met Riva Audio founder Rikki Farr and chief engineer (now also president) Don North in the fall of 2014 when they marched into Sound & Vision’s New York City conference room to demo their first product, a Bluetooth speaker called the Turbo X. North was a youthful, glasses-wearing geek who had just enough of the right credentials and tech swagger to suggest he really knew what he was doing.

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 05, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Affordable price
Alexa voice control
Links with other Sonos speakers
Minus
More optimized for TV sound than music
Requires HDMI ARC for voice control of TV

THE VERDICT
Sonos’ compact, Alexa-enabled soundbar offers impressive performance for the price. All in all, a smart value.

Without knowing history, you might dismiss the Sonos Beam as just another budget soundbar dropped into a largely undistinguished field. But as with most things Sonos, this attractive yet intentionally non-descript oval is significant both for the company and the audio business. Sonos execs have long seen the living room television as the most logical gateway for their wireless multiroom music system.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 29, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fabulous sound quality
Replaceable battery
Supports Alexa and Google Assistant
Convenient charging base
Minus
Mono playback
Audio input limited to wireless
No phone capability

THE VERDICT
The waterproof/dustproof Move is one of the best-sounding and full-featured portables available. It may just be my new favorite speaker.

Sonos is no stranger to compact speakers that play without wires, but the new Move ($399) is the first truly portable, battery powered model to come from the company. The Move's connectivity options let you tote it around the house and even outside when using Wi-Fi; beyond that, as long as it's charged up, you can take it anywhere and stream music via Bluetooth. The Move comes with a dedicated (and dare we say, stylish) charging base that eliminates fumbling around with connecting cables, and it can also be charged via USB-C (cable not included).

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 29, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Typical Sonos build and sound quality
Alexa voice control
Minus
No Bluetooth
No hi-res audio

THE VERDICT
Sonos was slow to deliver a voice-controlled smart speaker, but with integrated Alexa (and Google Assistant arriving soon) in what amounts to a redesigned Play:1, they've created a nearly irresistible, low-cost intro to their wireless ecosystem.

The full impact of the home-based voice-actuated assistant, invented first by Amazon in the guise of Alexa, then followed by Google and now Apple with its Siri-driven HomePod, has yet to be felt. The category has loosely evolved into what we are now calling the "smart speaker," though it is not the speaker, but the microphone (or mic array) in conjunction with a network connection that imbues these devices with their extraordinary power. Sure, the speaker plays music, perhaps the simplest of its voice-controlled functions and (according to a recent study by NPR/Edison Research, the activity a smart speaker is still most frequently used for). But the opportunity presented by an artificially intelligent device that can respond to human language and trigger any number of events in our environment possesses extraordinary potential for transforming our lives. The fact that the most sophisticated of these voice interfaces to date, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, are offered in open, licensed platforms and being constantly advanced and promoted by two of the world's richest tech giants, suggests that we are on the verge of an explosion of innovation. The best is yet to come.

Rob Sabin  |  Mar 07, 2014  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Lowest price ever for a Sonos starter system
Attractive, décor-friendly design
Natural, unhyped sound quality
Minus
Needs near-wall placement or optional SUB to sound its best

THE VERDICT
The Play:1’s low price and natural sound quality make starting or expanding a Sonos system easier than ever.

At $199 each, the Play:1 represents the new low entry point for the Sonos multiroom wireless audio system. Connect it to your router, download the free controller app to your smartphone or tablet, and you’re ready to start building a wireless wholehouse music system fed by your personal music library or any of the dozens of streaming services now integrated with the system. If you’d rather put your Play:1 in a room distant from your router, you can buy the $49 Bridge adapter to make the one required wired network connection, and you’ll be free to add Sonos components wirelessly all over the house.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 19, 2016  |  7 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Auto-senses and adjusts output for vertical and horizontal orientations
Trueplay room EQ
Capacitance touch controls with audible feedback
Pure butt-kicking sound
Minus
Slight high-frequency edginess when used vertically
Tiny feet bumps are visible on sides of speaker

THE VERDICT
The Sonos PLAY:5 gets a radical makeover that adds $100 to the price but combines an amazing user experience with stunning audio performance.

Here’s the bad news: After six years, Sonos has stopped making the company’s first and, until now, best all-in-one wireless speaker system, the PLAY:5. Now for the good news: Sonos has a replacement for the PLAY:5 called…wait for it…the PLAY:5. (Confusing, I know.) At $499, though, the new PLAY:5 is $100 more than the original. For multiple reasons, the original PLAY:5 was my all-around favorite wireless speaker. Will its replacement prove worthy of its heritage—and the higher price?

Kim Wilson  |  Jan 19, 2011  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $399

At A Glance: Single-box solution • Easy setup and operation • Perfect for smaller rooms, garage, and outdoors • Integrates with existing Sonos systems • Product now called Play:5

Sonos, a leader in low-cost, wholehouse audio, has made it possible to inexpensively stream audio from a computer to multiple A/V systems using one or more of its ZonePlayers. The $399 Sonos S5, the newest ZonePlayer, is completely self-contained. It incorporates its own power supply, amplification, and internal speakers, which allows audio streaming from a wide variety of sources without a dedicated sound system. It can serve as your main (or only) ZonePlayer or as an extension of an existing Sonos system.

Lauren Dragan  |  Nov 26, 2014  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Light-up touch display
Included remote
Small footprint
Minus
Accentuated highs
Lackluster mids and bass

THE VERDICT
While the small footprint is fantastic, and the bonus features exceptional, the SRS-X9’s sound quality disappointed.

How It Connects: Bluetooth, AptX, NFC, USB, LAN, DLNA, AirPlay, ⅛” analog.

Economical in the use of space, the Sony SRS-X9 measures around 17 x 5 x 5 inches and weighs about 10.5 pounds. Sony really crammed a lot into the relatively small body of the X9, with four 0.75-inch tweeters (top and front), two 2-inch midrange drivers, a 3.75-inch woofer, and two passive radiators. The overall design is your standard black side-lying monolith, though in a cool surprise, the sleek, touch-sensitive controls on top are hidden when the unit is off and only appear by backlight upon power-up.

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