Multi-room or portable – which home audio set-up is right for me?
Find out whether a multi-room set-up or a portable Bluetooth speaker is the right option for your home.
Want state of the art wireless audio for your home but not sure where to begin?
Read on to find out whether a multi-room set-up or a portable Bluetooth speaker is the right option.
Both types of audio offer speakers free of cables and wires, but they are different products suited to different needs.
Here we'll explain those differences and reveal the main reasons to buy either system.
A multi-room set-up is a system of wireless speakers placed in different rooms of your home. They're connected over your Wi-Fi network, and stream music from online services like Spotify and Deezer as well as from your laptop or tablet.
You control how many speakers you have in your network, and control the lot with a single app.
In a nutshell: Better sound quality; audio for the whole house; streams over Wi-Fi from Spotify etc and from devices
Buy a portable wireless multi-room if you want to:
- create a speaker network to listen to music anywhere in your house
- begin with a single speaker and add further ones room by room, when you can afford it
- control the music in every room via a single smartphone or tablet app
- listen to different music in each room - not many families share the same taste in bands
- play the same music through each room - for instance if you're having a family party
Example of multi-room - Sonos
Sonos is one of the most popular wireless audio systems. Each of your speakers connects over your home Wi-Fi to stream music from the web and from your laptop, PC and tablet.
You then control the sound in each room with the Sonos app.
The Sonos Play speakers are:
- Play: 1 - The smallest and cheapest Sonos speaker, use it to start your network or add speakers in smaller rooms
- Play: 5 - A larger speaker suited to the main room you'll be listening to music in
- Play: 3 - the all-rounder, bigger than the Play: 1 but not as big as the Play: 5
Portable Bluetooth speakers
A portable wireless Bluetooth speaker is a single speaker that connects to your phone, tablet or laptop wirelessly.
It then streams music from the device over Bluetooth, and can be carried from room to room.
They are also great for using out and about - from the garden to the park, and often feature cool, good-looking design.
In a nutshell: Small, portable design; use indoors and on the go; portability over sound quality; streams from devices over Bluetooth
Buy a portable wireless speaker if you want to:
- listen to music in different rooms of the house without buying more than one speaker
- stream music from your phone, laptop or tablet over Bluetooth (remember you need to be in the same room/within 10m of the device)
- spend minimal time setting things up (some even have NFC technology, so you can connect the phone to the speaker in a single tap)
- take the party into the garden when having a barbecue
- throw in your bag and take to a party, a friends house or down to the park
- have a speaker that complements your own style
Example of a wireless speaker - JBL Flip 2
The JBL Flip 2 is everything a portable wireless speaker should be: portable and easy to use, with impressive sound and cool style.
This is why we handed the Flip 2 an Our Experts Love tag.
The speaker features a chic cylindrical design and is built solidly, making it perfect for throwing in a rucksack and taking to a party or down the park.
You can connect it to your phone by simply tapping the two devices together (thanks to NFC technology). It then streams music from your phone over Bluetooth. You can also stream music from your laptop or tablet.
You can stand it up or lay it down, and you can expect around five hours of battery life from a single charge. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision says its 'one of the best Bluetooth speakers we've seen'.