What is the best multi-room sys­tem for $1,000?

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ADUNCAN BELL REPLIES: For pure qual­ity, the best multi-room Wi-Fi speaker is the Naim Mu-So ($1,799, naimau­dio.

com.au). But for your bud­get, my top rec­om­men­da­tion is the Sonos One ($299, sonos.com). It has wide com­pat­i­bil­ity with every­thing from Spo­tify to Ti­dal, with Ap­ple Air­Play 2 in­com­ing, and en­lists Ama­zon Echo’s Alexa to work as your dig­i­tal PA.

You can eas­ily pair two Sonos One speak­ers for proper stereo, or to use as rear speak­ers in a sur­round setup with the Sonos Play­bar ($999) or Play­base ($899). De­spite the te­dious claim of “room-fill­ing sound from a small box”, it hon­estly serves up high-qual­ity au­dio.

The Sonos app isn’t the great­est thing in­vented, but a re­cent up­date smoothed some of the rough­est edges, and it does of­fer sup­port for just about ev­ery mu­sic ser­vice out there. You can do any­thing from send­ing the mu­sic on your phone to the Sonos One, to con­struct­ing playlists on the fly that use mul­ti­ple sources.

The real clincher in terms of value for money is the in­clu­sion of Ama­zon’s Alexa AI. The im­ple­men­ta­tion isn’t per­fect at the mo­ment – the ar­ray of mics in the Sonos One is some­times not suf­fi­cient to hear your in­struc­tions, even when there’s no mu­sic play­ing or other loud noise in the back­ground – and there are other quirks, like the way it cuts off ev­ery Sonos in your house to lis­ten when you speak to just one. If you think of the Sonos as a su­perb speaker that hap­pens to have Alexa, it’s worth the pur­chase.

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