It used to be that if you wanted music in every room of your house, you had to have a stereo or record player in each one. Now, thanks to smart home technology and multi-room audio, you simply need a speaker for each room.
All your speakers can wirelessly connect to your multi-room audio system — how’s that for technological magic? But as they’re shopping, some prospective buyers may find themselves wondering if these systems function the same way an old stereo system does.
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Does Smart Multi-Room Audio Systems Require an App?
Yes, smart multi-room audio systems require an app, meaning they’re quite different from your audio system of yesteryear. This is because they connect to your home’s wifi network and need an input for something to play; think of your smartphone as the remote control. You can use apps like Spotify, SiriusXM, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music or other music services. You can also play music that’s stored on your phone or home NAS server.
Having music play wirelessly in every room of your home may sound expensive. And it can be — but the great thing is, you can add speakers one by one. This makes smart multi-room audio affordable for just about any homeowner. Plus, you can listen to different music in each room — handy for when your teen is going through a death metal phase.
What is a Smart Multi-Room Audio System?
A smart multi-room audio system enables you to listen to podcasts, music, internet radio or other audio in multiple rooms of your home simultaneously. Essentially, multi-room systems are simply a set of wireless speakers controlled by an app. Wireless multi-room speakers give you the high sound quality of a home hi-fi system with the convenience of playing music from a streaming service.
Note that smart multi-room audio systems don’t use Bluetooth. While there are plenty of Bluetooth-enabled smart speakers on the market, you typically can’t play music in multiple rooms with them. Listening to different songs in different rooms would be impossible due to Bluetooth interference. With a smart multi-room audio system, each speaker can function as its own entity (or they can all play the same music).
A smart multi-room audio system allows you to:
- Play your entire music collection across your entire home
- Listen to different music in different rooms, or the same music in every room
- Stream from all your favorite music services or internet radio
- Wirelessly enhance your TV’s audio capabilities
How Do Smart Multi-Room Audio Systems Work?
Start by putting a wireless speaker in each room where you’d like to put music. Note that these can’t be just any wireless speaker, they must be ones specifically meant for multi-room audio. Sonos is the most popular example of multi-room audio speakers. Then, instead of connecting the speaker to a CD player or stereo, simply connect them to your wifi network. Now all your speakers are connected.
You can use an app to control each speaker separately and play different songs in each room. Or you can have them all play audio from your living room television, for instance.
Smart multi-room audio systems can also be used with digital assistant technology. This means you can use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control. So you can walk into a room and say “Hey Google, play jazz music” and your smart speaker will obey.
For music lovers, smart multi-room audio systems are fantastic. They allow you to listen to your whole music collection in every room of your home. Additionally, thanks to digital assistants, you can control your system via voice command. Smart multi-room audio systems do require an app to control them, giving you power over the sound of your whole home.