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There have been a handful of companies who have innovated to the point where they became the benchmark of competition: Apple with the iPhone, Tesla with anything they do, and Sonos with multi-room wireless speakers. These inventions set the new standard for which all other companies must compete. Thankfully, many companies embrace the competition, have risen to the occasion and have developed new and equally amazing products.
In the category of wireless speakers, Sonos changed the game because they operate over WiFi rather than Bluetooth. This means that multiple components could be connected at once; it also means that different speakers could play different audio, in different rooms, while all being connected to the same source. Previous Bluetooth wireless speakers were unable to do such tasks.
Convenience and versatility are just some of the key advantages of WiFi-enabled, multi-room speaker systems. These systems are also more advanced in their capabilities. For example, sound via WiFi sounds better than Bluetooth, since WiFi has a wider and stronger range than Bluetooth, and WiFi doesn’t control the source’s audio channels. If the source is a smartphone, using a WiFi system will mean you can still take calls. Another significant positive of the best WiFi speaker systems is the ability to be updated via the internet, similar to the way a smartphone receives firmware updates. This means that speakers can get better as software gets better.
Sonos speakers won points for build quality, but they also won over design enthusiasts with their good looks. The sleek, streamlined design of Sonos speakers blended easily into most modern rooms, while being easy to move around and mount if desired. Sonos also developed its own proprietary app to control the system, and from the get-go it was easy to navigate, simple to use and very intuitive.
But some audiophiles will tell you that Sonos’ sound quality leaves something to be desired, while others cite connectivity issues. The Sonos speaker is also best-equipped for small to medium-sized rooms (say, an office or bedroom). If you’ve got a larger space to outfit or looking for more depth when it comes to audio, we’ve rounded up some decent alternatives to Sonos that you’ll want to consider.
1. Bose Home Speaker 500 with Alexa
Bose is known for its audio prowess and this 8 x 6.7 x 4.3-inch speaker delivers clean, clear, crisp, all-encompassing surround sound from a single unit.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a miraculous bit of sound engineering in that it mimics a surround sound experience. Use it by itself for an immersive experience or add other Home Speakers to the mix to create a dynamic and sonically superior multi-room experience.
Use WiFi to connect to streaming services like Amazon Music, or pair the speaker to your phone via Bluetooth to play content off your device. Built-in Alexa and Google Assistant features let you control your music and settings with your voice. “Alexa, turn the music up.”
PROS: Impressive, loud sound from a single speaker, with surprisingly deep bass and rich details.
CONS: Only compatible with other Bose Home Speaker devices.
2. Yamaha MusicCast 50 with Alexa
Yamaha’s MusicCast 50 is part-sound bar, part center speaker, part stand-alone speaker, and all parts quality. If you have ever had the great fortune of experiencing a Yamaha acoustic product, you’ll know they produce deep sound with stunning clarity.
The MusicCast 50 is no exception, delivering loud, full sound with none of the buzzing you occasionally get when speakers are turned up at high volumes. Users say the sound is well-balanced and easily fills the room.
Connect to the speaker through WiFi, Bluetooth or AirPlay 2, or connect directly to your TV as part of a larger home theater setup. The system is voice-compatible too.
PROS: Works on its own or connect to help expand the sound in your home entertainment system.
CONS: At 7.9 x 15.8 x 4.9 inches, it’s one of the largest units on our list, yet small enough to not take up too much space. Note: this is not recommended for mounting.
3. Denon HEOS 5 with Alexa
Denon’s HEOS 5 is built to knock. Deep, wall shaking bass from a small unit is not easy, and yet Denon has found a way to generate rich and round lows. The HEOS 5 features four drivers packed neatly and efficiently into a small tabletop component.
The unique posture of the speakers projects sound in all directions, while the well-designed components generate purer, more true-to-life sound.
Wonderfully simple, expertly-crafted, and a ton of fun, the HEOS 5 is certain to fill any room with party vibes.
This is a medium-sized speaker that measures 11.6 x 6.5 x 8.2 inches.
PROS: If you like bass, the HEOS 5 is for you.
CONS: Booming sound, but may be geared more towards higher volume listeners.