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Best Sonos Alternatives of 2021: Multi-Room Audio Guide

For a while, Sonos sound systems were pretty hard to beat. Sonos was able to bring a wireless speaker system to the market with style, functionality, and easy installation. Now, electronics manufacturers big and small are producing speaker systems that give Sonos and their speaker system a run for their money.

When it comes to the best alternatives to the Sonos speaker system for 2021, there are a few stand out options:

  • Bose
  • Yamaha MusicCast
  • Amazon Echo Devices
  • Denon HEOS
  • BlueSound

There are a lot of benefits to using a Sonos system as we’ve argued before. From audiophiles to family rooms, Sonos’ speakers have stellar reviews. But if you are looking for alternatives, what products should you watch out for? There are tons of great speaker systems out there that can meet if not outperform Sonos speakers. Below you’ll find a list of some of the best Sonos alternatives for 2021.

Why You Might Want a Sonos Alternative

Sonos Arc, Sonos Sub Gen3, and 2 Sonos One SL boxes

While Sonos provides customers with a great product, it’s not the only show anymore. Back in 2006, when Sonos came onto the scene, there was no wireless hi-fi option. To have truly crisp and clear audio playback at home, you need a clunky wired system.

This meant finding a place for receivers, speaker wires, and amplifiers. For your average listener, this was a bridge too far. While wireless speakers existed at the time, their capabilities were often at the expense of sound quality. Sonos aimed to fix this issue. They established three problems they wanted to remedy:

  1. Hi-fi components were too bulky and took way too much space.
  2. Cable wires are unsightly and can ruin otherwise well thought out interior design.
  3. There was no way to listen to a single audio source in multiple rooms.

Sonos, whose products almost all need to be connected to WiFi, has proved it can deliver a product to solve those problems. Since 2006, though, competitors have started to solve them too. While Sonos is still considered the king of multi-room speaker systems, there are some other great vying for that top spot. Before we dive into what alternatives are out there, let’s take a look at Sonos and some of its benefits.

Benefits of a Sonos Speaker System

The Sonos is a multi-room speaker system that enables you to listen to music throughout your home. Sonos provides a modern approach to traditional hi-fi systems, all packed in a user-friendly and stylish form factor. The speakers are built to be small yet powerful and can often fit perfectly into a room design.

Sonos uses your home Wi-Fi network to allow for wireless connection across rooms. With over 100 streaming services to partner with the Sonos system, music and podcasts choices are virtually unlimited. The Sonos app controls everything.

This means you can conveniently change songs or speakers all with your smartphone. When it comes to what customers are saying about the Sonos, there are three main talking points. They are:

  • Usability — With over a decade of support and updates behind it, the Sonos app is a dream to use. Browse music, join rooms together and control volume easily and without any lag time.
  • Sound quality — You can’t be a good hi-fi alternative without providing the power. Sonos has worked tirelessly to fine-tune their speakers to produce unique clarity and tight bass tones.
  • Longevity — Sonos speakers are built to last. To back that up, each speaker has a six-year warranty.

These factors, along with early adoption and marketing in the sense that they were the first to the scene, have catapulted the Sonos brand fairly far. But the system is not without its criticism.

Let’s take a look at them and see why you might not want a Sonos speaker system.

Downsides of a Sonos Speaker System

There is a lot of good to say about the Sonos. But, like with any product, there are some downsides that pull customers away from the Sonos to other brands. While Sonos makes a great product, they split the difference between a true hi-fi system and lower-quality Bluetooth speakers.

Sound quality is clear, but often Sonos gets criticism for not truly producing the kind of quality you can get with wired competitors. 

The Denon D-M41 (on Amazon), for example, is an amazing entry-level hi-fi system that some say has the superior sound quality to the Sonos. At around the same price as a Two-Room Sonos System (on Amazon), those with a discerning ear and a tight wallet would opt for the Denon. This brings us to the next criticism of Sonos: the price.

When it comes to price, you are paying for more than just hardware. Much like other luxury tech brands, (looking at you, Apple), there is more to the product than the product itself. Behind the speaker is the amazing support from the Sonos app, the minimalist styling, and of course, the Sonos branding. 

For someone who is concerned with value, a Sonos may seem overpriced. Conversely, someone who is looking for quality might find the price doesn’t quite reflect the performance. They are great speakers, but they could be better given the premium price.

Luckily, the Sonos is no longer the only option. Let’s take a dive into other great alternatives and find the right multi-room wireless speaker system for you!

Best Sonos Alternatives and How They Compare

Sonos provides listeners a lot when it comes to benefits. But their product has spawned a whole new generation of speakers that offer similar experiences. To help you get the most out of your shopping, we have found some of the best Sonos alternatives. We’ve developed this list with a few considerations. They are:

  • Ecosystem — What kind of support does the system have? How usable is the software, and what kind of products are available.
  • Multi-room — Does the speaker system support multi-room functionality like the Sonos? Can you get whole-room audio wirelessly?
  • Speaker options — Are there soundbars, subwoofers, and multi-channel options?
  • Sound quality — The Sonos turns heads with its stellar sound quality. Can these alternatives stack up when it comes to sound quality?

Bose Home Speaker System

Yamaha Musiccast

Denon HEOS and Denon Home Systems

Amazon Echo Studio

BlueSound Speaker System

Best Budget Multi-Room System

When it comes to price, the Sonos is certainly outside of a lot of people’s budgets. Even if you have the money to drop on the Sonos, you might be curious if your cash is better put into another system. While there is no denying the quality of the Sonos, for a cheaper price, you can get a fairly robust and usable system.

The best alternative budget system would be the Denon speaker system. At slightly under the price of the Sonos, you are getting a lot more sound quality. If you are looking for hi-fi, this is certainly a better option. Denon has been around the block and knows how to put out a stellar speaker.

Another great option would be the Echo Studio. While it runs at a similar price to a single Sonos unit, it packs many more functions and features. It might not be the same kind of multi-room experience as the Sonos, but with the intelligent driver design, the Studio can fill a room with sound.

Best Alternative for Sound Quality

If you are an audiophile, then the Sonos might fall short when it comes to sound. The speakers in the Sonos system indeed offer crisp and clear audio. Calling them hi-fi is a bit of a misnomer. If sound quality is a driving factor for your purchase, the BlueSound system is the way to go.

Not only does BlueSound offer similar functions and benefits as the Sonos, but they come packed with high-tech drivers. Combine that with the varied speaker selection, including the subwoofer, and you’ve got as close to a wired hi-fi system as you can wirelessly.

Wrapping Up

Sonos makes a great multi-room speaker system. With great support for their app and the excellent build quality of their speakers, for a time, there were no comparable alternatives, although, that has changed. It seems almost every speaker or audio device manufacturer has come to the table with their take.

While some are great, some don’t quite match the performance of the Sonos and all of its different models and products. Others can be as good if not better. Hopefully, by now, you have an idea of which speaker system is right for you.

John m Stephens.

Thursday 9th of December 2021

I have owned A Sonos system for 10 years. I was furious with the way they treated their users as the company evolved.

Sonos was always weak on playlist management and tools to build better playlists with enhanced metadata. Enter Roon, who offers all the capabilities that Sonos lacks.

My future will be Roon with Blue Sound and NAD. I am still searching for quality comparable speakers.