Multiple rooms and multiple devices
Most of these multi-room speaker systems are fairly easy to set up – as long as you have a mobile phone or tablet to get you started. They all rely on an iOS – or Android – app that guides you through the process of connecting one or more speakers to your home network, and then syncing them together to simultaneously play your music in different rooms.
However, these apps are less helpful when it comes to playing music from different devices and sources. The most extreme example here is the Philips Spotify speaker, which only works with the Spotify app on an iOS device. It won’t play your existing music library from iTunes on a Mac, or the Music app on iOS devices.
The LG Music Flow app is a little more flexible in this instance. It works with services such as Spotify and Napster, and can also play music that you have stored on your iOS devices. Unfortunately though, there’s no Mac version of Music Flow, so you can’t play music from iTunes on a Mac, or from the Apple Music service.
Samsung does provide a Mac version of its MultiRoom app, which can play music stored in your iTunes library, but you still have to use the iOS app as the remote control to play your music, which seems unnecessarily clumsy.
Sonos also has apps for both Macs and iOS devices, so you can play music stored on any device. The Sonos apps don’t currently work with the Apple Music service, but Apple and Sonos have said they expect to get this sorted before the end of the year.
Only one manufacturer manages to break free from this reliance on its own apps. Pure does provide an app for iOS devices, but it’s also possible to play music from other apps and other devices as well. Admittedly, the process is a bit complicated, as it involves using both Bluetoooth and Wi-Fi combined, but once that’s done you can play iTunes on a Mac, including the Apple Music service, and even stream services such as the BBC iPlayer from your web browser.
Only one manufacturer manages to break free from a reliance on its own apps…