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The finest Sonos alternate options

Sonos Era 100, close up on logo and indicator light.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends / Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

We have advisable Sonos wi-fi audio system and parts for years. We nonetheless assume the corporate makes a unbelievable product. But absolutely the fiasco attributable to the May 7 Sonos app redesign broke nearly each side of the Sonos expertise — and we’re still waiting for fixes that had been promised weeks in the past.

If you’re a Sonos proprietor, we share your frustration. If your funding within the firm’s ecosystem is critical, your finest guess is to attend and journey out this storm. Eventually issues will return to regular and, hopefully, the Sonos expertise can be higher than earlier than.

But should you’re new to Sonos or should you’re contemplating shopping for your first Sonos product, you could be questioning about alternate options. Bad software program rollouts can and do occur; going with one other firm isn’t any assure that your own home audio system will stay problem-free without end. Still, should you’re not feeling the Sonos love, these techniques are greater than able to filling your own home with sound.

But what constitutes a Sonos different? To our mind-set, a real different ought to have a minimum of some (and ideally all) of the next attributes:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity for each speaker/element
  • An app that allows you to management speaker playback, speaker grouping, and that may entry each your most well-liked streaming music companies in addition to your private assortment of digital music
  • A wide range of speaker sizes/varieties, together with a soundbar
  • A element that allows you to join your older, non-wireless audio gear to the system
  • Some type of voice-enabled sensible speaker choice for each sensible house integration in addition to voice management over music
  • Expandable over time

Of the 5 choices we current under, solely the primary three meet a majority of those necessities. But we’ve included two extra choices that provides you with a “Sonos lite” expertise, should you don’t want the entire options Sonos affords.

Bluesound

The finest for audiophiles

Bluesound Pulse M speaker.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

When it involves discovering a wi-fi, multiroom audio system that may compete with Sonos, look no additional than Bluesound. Like Sonos, Bluesound makes quite a lot of wireless speakers and parts together with house theater parts like soundbars and subwoofers, that are all managed through the BluOS-powered Bluesound cell app.

Where Bluesound goes above and past, nonetheless, is its help for hi-res audio and a number of wired/wi-fi connection choices. This has helped make Bluesound a favourite amongst audiophiles. All of Bluesound’s {hardware} helps lossless digital sound as much as 24-bit/192kHz, and it’s one of many solely multiroom techniques that’s suitable with the MQA format (Lenbrook, Bluesound’s mother or father firm, also owns the rights to MQA).

Its audio system and community music streamers even have auxiliary inputs and headphone outputs, one thing that Sonos has solely only recently began so as to add to its merchandise.

These additional options are likely to make Bluesound merchandise dearer than their Sonos equivalents, however you could discover the added versatility is value the additional funding.

One space the place Bluesound lags Sonos is help for music companies within the cell app. Notably absent from the record is Apple Music and YouTube Music. Still, given Bluesound’s compatibility with AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Roon, there are different methods to play music from these companies’ personal cell apps.

Bluesound parts could be managed through Amazon Alexa, however Google Assistant and Apple Siri compatibility stay unavailable.

Denon Home/HEOS

The most versatile alternative

Denon Home 350
Denon

Denon created the primary actual Sonos different with its Denon HEOS wi-fi audio system and parts. The firm has since rebranded its wi-fi audio system as Denon Home. But beneath the hood, it’s nonetheless HEOS operating the present.

You’ll discover HEOS-compatible AV receivers from Denon and sister model Marantz, which tremendously increase your choices for multiroom sound with out the necessity for separate community music streamers.

Denon’s Home portfolio of audio system isn’t as expansive as Sonos’ — there’s at present no transportable speaker within the lineup, and just one dimension of soundbar — however costs are comparable for what you get.

Like Bluesound, HEOS parts are hi-res audio suitable as much as 24-bit/192kHz. They don’t work with MQA, however they’ll play DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz tracks, which neither Sonos nor Bluesound can do.

With a 2023 update, the HEOS cell app performs almost the entire identical capabilities because the Sonos app. YouTube Music is likely one of the few music companies that isn’t supported in-app.

Bose

The finest for simple setup

Close-up of Bose Smart Soundbar 600.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bose is one other firm that has been diligently following Sonos’ lead on wi-fi multiroom audio system, and it now has a lineup of “smart” merchandise that may go (nearly) toe-to-toe.

Soundbars in a number of sizes and costs (together with fashions that help Dolby Atmos) that may also be expanded to suit bigger rooms, subwoofers, portables, and naturally, noise-canceling headphones — there’s a Bose product for each state of affairs.

Each element could be grouped and managed through the Bose Music app, and so they have a wealth of wi-fi connection choices together with Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Google Cast.

One of the issues that makes these merchandise “smart” is their built-in voice assistant capabilities. On some audio system, you’ll be able to select from both Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, whereas others are restricted to only Alexa (however with Google Assistant compatibility if you have already got a Google Assistant speaker).

You gained’t discover help for superior audio codecs like MQA, DSD, or hi-res FLAC, however that doesn’t cease these audio system from sounding glorious.

The Bose Music app, whereas nice for controlling Bose sensible audio system, is restricted in comparison with Sonos by way of music service help, creating and saving playlists, and queue administration.

Wiim

An thrilling new choice

Wiim Amp and Sonos Amp (overhead view).
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Wiim, a newcomer to the wi-fi audio house, doesn’t make wi-fi audio system (but) so it may’t fairly be thought of a full Sonos different, however the firm’s community music gamers (with and with out built-in amps) are proof that you could have Sonos-like options with out paying Sonos costs.

We’ve tried the Wiim Pro and Wiim Amp, and are mightily impressed by their know-how, design, and sound. The Wiim app is presumably the primary of its type to not solely replicate Sonos’ finest options (like common search) but in addition exceed what Sonos has executed.

There’s full help for grouping and particular person management of parts, hi-res audio compatibility together with MQA, and several other of Wiim’s merchandise are Roon-ready for followers of that music administration software program.

Each Wiim element has a plethora of digital and analog inputs and outputs, and wi-fi connectivity contains Bluetooth (often two-way), AirPlay, and Google Cast.

About the one factor you don’t get with Wiim is DSD compatibility, and, very like all non-Sonos rivals, you’ll be able to’t entry Apple Music immediately inside the Wiim app.

Apple/Google/Amazon

The 800-pound gorillas

Apple HomePod 2023
Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

Finally, should you’re a fan of the large three tech firms and their respective ecosystems, Apple, Google, and Amazon every affords methods to do wi-fi multiroom audio. They not solely make wi-fi audio system — additionally they have sensible house apps that may management quite a lot of third-party audio system from different firms.

For instance: If a wi-fi speaker is AirPlay-compatible, it may be added to the Apple Home app. Google Assistant sensible audio system and Google Cast gadgets could be managed from the Google Home app, and there’s an enormous ecosystem of wi-fi audio merchandise that may be added to the Alexa app.

To be clear, these sensible house apps are fundamental when in comparison with the performance of a Sonos system, so it’s not fairly a 1:1 substitute.

Moreover, Apple, Google, and Amazon solely have a couple of wi-fi audio system from which to decide on, and none of them makes multiroom-compatible soundbars (although Apple’s HomePods make a great soundbar substitute in case you have an Apple TV 4K).

Still, in case your wants are easy, maybe a couple of Apple HomePods scattered round your own home will do the trick.

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