Set-up is simple, but takes a few minutes if you have a few speakers. To do this just plug the ‘Bridge’ connector into your wireless router, and press and release the buttons on each speaker to add them to the network. Fire up the Sonos mobile app and you can control it from your phone, or use the dedicated controller or desktop software. Grouping speakers is a doddle, as is splitting them into different zones (perfect for a house party). It’s a cinch to add services like Deezer and Spotify, too. Sound quality is very good, but it’s pricey if you want a speaker in every room.
£169-£349; £39 (Bridge); sonos.com
Dali Kubik Free and Kubik Extra
If it’s sleek Danish design you want, this is the system for you. Use the Kubik Free on its own, or add Kubik Extra for stereo, or to create a two-room system. You can choose from nine different cover colours and you can tweak the sound depending on how your system is configured, too. The sound they produce is full and rich, and you can plug in a TV or a computer using the USB, Toslink and RCA inputs. If money is no object, add another star.
£645 (Kubik Free); £899 (Free plus Extra); dali-speakers.com
Pure Jongo T4 – Focus Best Buy
These speakers feature Pure’s new Caskeid streaming technology, which claims to offer higher-quality streaming than standard Bluetooth. You can pair multiple Jongos to make a multiroom system, with different music in each room – plus the Caskeid system lets services (like SoundCloud or Spotify) build this functionality into their own music streaming apps. The sound packs plenty of punch, but lacks some clarity. You can wall-mount the speakers, put them on a stand or leave them as standalones, and the grilles come in a huge range of colours. Set-up is simple, too. A fantastic all-rounder at a competitive price.
Philips Fidelio E2
These feature NFC – tap your phone against the panel on the side, and you can play music through them. Or you can pair over Bluetooth. You can hook up a TV and games console as well, using the optical, coaxial and HDMI connections. One of the wooden tops houses the controls, so press it to change the volume and to power it up. The remote is packed with options too, including bass and treble. But the design is a little drab, and the sound isn’t quite as room-filling as some others on test.
Spaced360 – Focus Best Buy
Thanks to its patented AirSOUND technology, this speaker throws out music in every direction, so it’ll sound the same wherever you are in relation to it. And it works: walk around the speaker, and it sounds identical the whole way. The rubber sleeve is a bit of an effort to get on (it feels like yanking on a wetsuit), but it keeps the speaker safe from knocks and bumps, and the yellow and orange options add a nice touch of colour. Charging it up is a doddle – just plonk it on the dock – as is pairing via Bluetooth or NFC. A great addition to campfire singalongs.
B&O Beolit 12
As you’d expect from B&O, the Beolit 12 has some serious design cred: from the leather carry handle and capacitive buttons on the top to the compartment for stowing the charging cable, this thing oozes class. When it comes to usability, however, things start to come unstuck. It works with Apple’s AirPlay, but that’s it: there’s no Bluetooth or NFC, so if you’re using Android or Windows Phone, you’ll have to plug your mobile into the speaker. Sound is full and rich, but we can’t forgive the lack of versatility. For this price, you should get your own band thrown in.
It may be small, but don’t underestimate this speaker. It’s very loud indeed, thanks to two full-range drivers and two central bass radiators. Sound quality is very good considering it’s coming from a package about the size of a smartphone, though there is some distortion at louder volumes. The blue model we tested was bright and easy to find in a bag, and it’s splashproof and feels hard-wearing too. There’s no NFC, so you’ll have to Bluetooth it, but for the smallest and cheapest speaker on test, we’re impressed.
This review first appeared in the August issue of BBC Focus Magazine