Multi-Room Audio Systems Compared

March 18, 2019 menu-1 0 Comments

Over recent years the demand for multiroom audio music systems has increased at a surprising rate as consumers begin their smarthome journey we take a look at the available systems and whether there is true value for money abailable on the high street.  It would be impossible to compare every system available there are just too many with cheap IoT systems widely available online.  We have selected 3 systems to compare Sonos Bluesound and Control4 Multiroom Audio Systems. As a professional installation company we know how it important it is that the correct choice is made when investing in a new system. Having experienced the multiroom systems of the past we know that the wrong system installed now while being good for a few years could leave you with a worthless none upgradeable system in the future. The most important factor here is cabling, the cabling you put in now will dictate your options for years to come. As an example going back as far as the the late 1980’s manufacturers  like Sytemline & Opus were designing multiroom audio systems that were largely aimed at general builders & electricians; these systems proved very popular and were being installed up until around 2010 and still some are available today. The problem was that builders and electricians who were sold on the idea didn’t really know what they were fitting while they were great and innovative at the time they had no idea how restrictive these systems would become due to the way they were cabled. The biggest flaw being that the speakers were not cabled with standard speaker cables but instead used a master slave configuration with the first speaker being cabled with cat5 cable. It is now very difficult to do anything with these systems as they fail it generally means a rewire to the property.

For the purposes of the comparison table below we will compare multiroom audio systems with in-ceiling speakers priced at £200 per stereo pair.

Hi Res Audio Support

Hi Res Streaming Audio

Voice control

Airplay

Bluetooth

WiFi

App Control

Ease of Installation

Integration

Conclusion

Sonos Multiroom Audio System
From £849
Per Zone
Sonos Multiroom Audio

16bit upto 1411kbps

16bit upto 1411kbps

Alexa Built in

Airplay 2

No Support

Yes

Very Intuitive

Professional Recommended

Limited

Most Intuitive App

Control4 Automation System - Triad Multiroom Audio
From £1000
Per Zone
Control4 Home Automation

24bit/192khz True Lossless

24bit/192khz True Lossless

Amazon Alexa & Google Home programmable

Airplay

No Support

Yes

Full Home Control

professional only

N/A

Best Value For Money

Bluesound Multiroom Audio System
From £1000
Per Zone
Bluesound - The Full Range

24bit / 192khz True Lossless

24bit / 192khz True Lossless

Amazon Alexa

Airplay 2

Not supported

Yes

Intuitive App

Professional Recommended

Control4,Crestron,RTI...

Audiophiles Dream

You will note we recommend professional installation for both Sonos & Bluesound and your thinking i can fit myself why pay a professional. Well it’s to do with how much hassle you can bear further down the line! When you pay a professional installer whether it’s Envirotech Integration Ltd or another installer of your choice. We the installer take on the responsibility of installing and configuring your system to perfection meaning you get the very best from it. Each system has it’s own quirks and your installer will know it inside out.  Do you want to start trawling forums when your having a party and the network starts dropping out…

The two most important features we look at when assessing these systems is sound quality & future proofing, that’s why Bluesound & Control4 are the systems worth noting both support true lossless playback and knock Sonos out of the park. Sorry Sonos lovers you may argue that it’s more cost effective because it’s the cheapest and your right it is the cheapest but not by much. An Audiophile price tag without the Audiophile performance. Sadly it’s the brand you know because it’s on TV; it doesn’t play nice with other systems and will only ever be a consumer grade off the shelf product that is more difficult to setup than advertised. Sure you’ll run through the steps and it’ll all seem pretty easy but when the network issues start and your laptop starts randomly dropping off the network your going to need a network pro or a lot of patience.

Bluesound is a professional quality product that is genuinely pretty easy to setup as a stand alone system, it still has its quirks but any technically minded person will be able to complete the setup and the better network configuration doesn’t put the reliability of your home network at risk. It also fully integrates into popular home automation systems meaning it can be operated along with lights, heating, TV, Security… all from a single app. Of course you’ll need an automation system installed to integrate it with!

Control4 is a professional product that can only be installed by engaging the help of a professional Control4 Installer. It is up there with Bluesound in terms of sound quality but Control4 is far more than a multiroom audio system and that is why we consider it to be the best value for money. The big difference with Control4 is that it is a whole home automation system with it you can integrate and control all of the systems in your house. A professional control4 installer will help you design a system that not only delivers Hi Res music around your house but can integrate every aspect of technology and control all of your devices from a single app.

  • Heating controls
  • AC Controls
  • HD Video Distribution
  • CCTV
  • Burglar Alarm
  • Access cntrol
  • Doorbells
  • Smart Lighting
  • Assisted Living
  • Voice Control on all of the above.

The list goes on…

When we look at the cost of the three systems they really isn’t a massive difference but when we compare the Best Value system in our opinion against the cheapest option on paper we find that the cheapest option is not actually the cheapest option, here’s the twist.

We priced the cost of Sonos at £849 per zone to buy the hardware including the new Sonos Amp a pair of inceiling speakers at £200 and some 16/4 speaker cable, installation labour is not included in this example. What the table doesn’t show is that included in the initial cost of a control4 system is an automation processor. Once the initial purchase is made and system installed you now have the means to retrofit smarthome equipment as and when budget allows and get this, because you now allready have the control4 processor adding additional zones becomes far cheaper in fact a single additional zone can be added using a triad one amplifier and based on the same criteria a single zone can be added for as little as £836.25 . Cheaper than Sonos and Bluesound yet giving so much more functionality.

In this article we have highlighted the fact that there are far better systems available than the products you buy  in high street shops.  A good installation company will introduce you to high end brands that you’ve probably never heard of yet we install them every day in the homes of famous and wealthy clients. The reality is you can have them too!

As installers we have many offerings that allow us to build a system around you and ensure that whatever system you choose it will be adaptable to the technology advancements of the future.

We Install: Control4, Loxone, RTI, KNX and many more systems. Our job is to keep up with the changes in technology and learn the systems inside out so you dont have to.