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