No more CD clutter. Spending tons of money on individual music players for each room. The hassle of plugging in (and out) devices as you move about. Enter multi-room audio, which allows people to play their favourite tunes throughout a home - or even different ones in different rooms – with a single touch.
Sounds cool? Then it’s time to get acquainted. With audio experts Absolute Sound, we dive into the basics of multi-room audio – what it is, how it works, and what homeowners should look out for when buying one.
*Plus, look out for a special deal below exclusively for Qanvast readers!
What is multi-room?
The premise is simple – it’s a system that allows you to listen to music in multiple areas at home. This is usually done by connecting audio devices placed in different parts of the house to create a ‘network’. Each area of the house that contains an audio device (or multiple output devices) would be referred to as a “zone”.
Layout of a multi-room audio system at home.
Users can play music wirelessly through their smartphone, computer, music streaming services or a shared cloud drive, and control multi-room systems remotely via mobile apps. From there, they can also choose which ‘zones’ they’d like to play their music in.
How does it work?
There are many audio devices on the market that support multi-room functionality – wireless speakers, soundbars, or a set of wired speakers. Most of them either connect with each other via physical wires (e.g. ethernet / speaker cables) or over a Wi-Fi network.
The system follows a ‘Master and Slave’ concept. Master devices are usually bridges or all-in-one speakers that communicate and transmit data to other speakers. Meanwhile, slave devices are usually audio receivers or wireless speakers that receive and output the audio.
While it’s recommended to use the same range of hubs and speakers to ensure that the entire system works optimally, you can also mix-and-match with other brands of audio devices – as long as the platform they use to communicate is the same! E.g. If your main multi-room system uses Wi-Fi to connect, a Bluetooth-only speaker won’t be able to work.
What happens if you already have an existing sound system?
All is not lost! Some multi-room devices allow you to use your existing amplifier or speakers. For instance, Naim’s multi-room enabled Network Streamer can be used to connect an existing amplifier and allow it to communicate with other devices. Paired with an additional Naim Mu-So or Mu-So QB in another part of the house, this enables the existing system a take on a multi-room function.
Buying a multi-room system? Here’s what to look out for:
With so many multi-room players on the market, what’s best for your needs? Here are some key things to look out for when investing in a multi-room system:
While a good-quality system should have clear separation and a balanced sound level, sound quality can still differ in terms how music is transmitted. For instance, music transmitted via Bluetooth is usually of lower quality compared to Wi-Fi or physical wires. Different multi-room systems may vary in sound as well, so it’s best to head down to an audio specialist store (like Absolute Sound) for a test listen to find out which suits you best.
Variety of supported music sources
One major perk with multi-room is that most systems these days support a wide variety of music sources, such as internet radio, music streaming platforms (Soundcloud, Youtube) or subscription services (Apple Music, Spotify). So, be sure to check if the music sources you’re using are supported by the multi-room system you’re buying.
Considering a multi-room system is all about allowing music to be seamlessly played anywhere, it’s important to test and see the limits of what it can bring. How many ‘zones’ can you set up at home? How many sources of music can be played simultaneously at once? Does the system or app lag or freeze when dealing with multiple sources of music in different zones?
Integration with other systems
This is crucial if you have existing audio devices. Is it easy to integrate your current sound system with a new multi-room one? Some platforms may be restrictive and may only work with its own brand of audio devices (or a select few).
Most sound systems are like long-term investments – you don’t change them on a regular basis. That’s why it’s important to make sure the multi-room system you’re getting stays relevant for years. Many systems have apps and software powering it today – are they regularly updated by the brand/manufacturer to keep up with new technologies?
Absolute Sound’s Pick: NAIM Mu-So Wireless Music System
A great multi-room starter piece that doesn’t compromise on sound quality, the 450-watt Naim Mu-So is hand fitted with a 32-bit digital processor, bass reflex system and mid-range drivers by sound engineers to produce crisp, balanced sound at any volume. For something more compact, the Mu-So QB boasts lesser power at 300-watts, though the same crystal clear sound and even distribution can still be enjoyed.
Naim Mu-so QB
Both devices come with versatile features that make multi-room audio a breeze. The Wi-Fi enabled speaker can be connected with up to 5 ‘zones’ for seamless multi-room playback. The Naim Mu-so also supports a wide range of music sources, including streaming services (Spotify, Tidal, etc.), Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, USB, and more. Want to play something else? Choose different songs to be broadcast in different spaces, or control audio settings for each area via the Naim app.
To purchase and learn more about setting up a multi-audio system using the Naim Mu-So, make an appointment at Absolute Sound’s showrooms at The Adelphi and Singapore Shopping Center for a consultation and test listen.
Get 10% off Naim Mu-so or Mu-so QB at Absolute Sound!
Exclusively for Qanvast readers, get 10% off on your purchase of a Naim Mu-so (U.P. $1849) and Mu-so QB (U.P. $1355) at Absolute Sound*. Simply flash this article at any Absolute Sound outlet before purchasing to qualify.
*Promotion is not valid with other ongoing promotions for Naim Mu-so and Mu-so QB. Valid whilst stocks last.
Absolute Sound Adelphi (Home Theatre)
1 Coleman Street
The Adelphi, #01-14A
+65 6337 0636
Absolute Sound Adelphi (Home Stereo)
1 Coleman Street
The Adelphi, #03-37/38
+65 6337 6337
Absolute Sound SSC (By Appointment Only)
190 Clemenceau Ave
Singapore Shopping Centre, #04-24
+65 6339 0330