Whole home wireless audio system comparison

Let me start off by saying that this article I will compare several systems that are available for purchase. Some are very popular and some are not so popular. I don't own any of them so this is not a review of the products directly, just what is being offered.

I will follow up this article with the purchase I ended up making and how satisfied I am with it.

Whole home audio

I, like many others, would like to have a sound system that can play throughout my entire house. I want to hear the same music on the first story of the house as on the second, and in my bedroom, kitchen, bath, garage, patio, etc. I want them to be in sync and simple to use.

The least appealing, but probably the best option, is the stereo component option that would require me to run speaker wire, in the walls, all over my home. This would be expensive and a whole lot of work. If I were building my home it would probably be a great idea to do a little pre-planning and run wires all over the place at that time, but obviously not a great option after the fact.

So, this leads me to the new technology on the market to send sound all over the house using WiFi. (BlueTooth is not an option, its a single direct connection. So that's out!) There are several products on the market to do this and probably the most popular of all is the SONOS system. There is also the BOSE systems and another offering from Samsung. These are not the end of it though... there's also the NEW low cost Rocki system and some others that are similar like the Hapurs.


This system is likely the most reliable, they've been around the longest of all the systems that are available and the whole point to their existence is a wireless sound system.

It used to be required that you have the SONOS bridge. This device plugs directly into your existing wireless router and creates a wireless network that's dedicated to the SONOS sound system. This is supposed to extend the range of your SONOS system, though I'm not sure how that's achieved since its sitting right next to your router. It's also supposed to support a connected setup to allow a true 5.1 surround sound system using their offered sub, sound bar and additional PLAY:1 speakers. As wireless routers go, the price isn't too bad at about $40. If you're doing a surround sound setup it appears that one of these is needed to control the surround sound system.

However, what's new is that this is not required. You can just get any SONOS speaker and connect to that using your existing WiFi router creating a wireless sound network that way. The details on this are pretty fuzzy though. But again, it looks like this Bridge will be needed to do a surround sound system.

Their entry level speaker is this small cylinder speaker for $200 and they call it the PLAY:1. It's very small, it looks like its the size of a large coffee mug. They then go to a medium speaker called the PLAY:3. This looks like its the size of a small bookshelf speaker and costs $300. Then their large speaker called the PLAY:5 looks like its the size of a large bookshelf speaker and costs $400.

And of course there is the Sound Bar and Sub units so that you can create a 5.1 surround sound system.

I've never listened to the SONOS system play and don't know the quality of small PLAY:1 speaker or the others. I've seen a review that said that the PLAY:5 sounds better than the Bose SoundDock, but I've also seen reviews that say that the sound from SONOS is not as clear and full as Bose.

However, if you're like me and already have quality speakers and just want to link them all up then you're probably shopping for the SONOS CONNECT wireless receiver. It costs $350 and will plug into your existing stereo or powered speakers using RCA jacks, Coax, or Optical connections. I haven't found real clear information on this unit but it appears that it will also create a wireless network like the Bridge but to do that it needs to be plugged directly into your wireless router. This isn't convenient for me but it may be for you. If you need to provide power to speakers they also sell the CONNECT:AMP for $500 that can do that.

The problem I'm having with this system honestly is the cost. I already have great speakers. I just want to have them in sync. I would need start with 4 connections in the house. The Living room, kitchen, family room and one bedroom. For that to happen it looks like I need to spend $1400. I would also like it in the garage and out on the patio too, that's an additional $700. That could wait but it brings the total cost of this system to $2100. Keep in mind that this is only to connect to speakers I already have!

A couple problems... I don't trust is that the wireless system they sell will be powerful enough. It's certainly not as impressive looking as my router anyway and it alone doesn't have a super signal throughout the house, it could use WiFi extenders. While doing this review I've read that the SONOS wireless signal may only go about 50 feet and it's best if it's in line of site too. That's not far enough and I would likely have to purchase 1 or 2 of their wireless boosters adding $100 for each one.

The other problem I have is that I really don't know the quality of their speaker sound. If I were to decide to use this system I would eventually want to buy some of their speakers for other rooms in the house. I have to first to find a dealer and listen to them before I would make this purchase and begin creating a SONOS ecosystem. I don't want to dis-satisfied later on and have to buy or replace this with other equipment.

TO BE CONTINUED... PART 2 - The BOSE offering

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