Don’t Go Overboard With Your First Whole Home Audio Purchase

Estimated read time 4 min read

A large collection of speakers standing against a brick wall in blue and pink lighting.
Evgeny Ostroushko/

Making your first whole home audio purchase can be daunting. After all, you’re talking about audio for your entire home. That’s exactly why you don’t want to jump into the world of multi-room audio head first.

It’s Okay to Start Small

While your ultimate goal may be speakers in every room of your house, from the living room to the kitchen, it’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t need to get there right away. Not only is creating a huge multi-room setup from scratch a daunting process, but it can be costly as well.

Instead, try focusing on just one or two rooms. If you only ever listen to music in one room, start with that room and another room you’d like to be able to listen in. This lets you get used to how multi-room audio works without having to juggle five or more rooms at the same time.

Similarly, while you might want full stereo sound in multiple rooms, this isn’t something you have to do right away. Start with a single speaker in each room, then pair another later on if you still think you need it. You may realize that for most rooms, a single speaker is all you require.

Buy for What You Need Now

With most modern multi-room audio systems, you don’t really need to think too much about what you might want to do in the future. The one situation where this isn’t the case is when you’re setting up a wired whole home audio system.

With a wired system, you’ll need to run wires from your amplifier or amplifiers to speakers. The vast majority of these systems run wires through the walls or the floor, so you’ll want to spend some time considering how you’re going to wire the system.


With wireless systems, which are much more common, all you need to worry about is reaching the wall socket for power. Since you don’t need to plan for where you might want to put speakers later, feel free to put your speakers wherever they work best now.

For this reason, all you have to think about is what works for you now. For example, you don’t need to replace your home theater system with a new one that is multi-room capable if you never use the system for music.

Look at What You Already Have

You may already have a few gadgets around that support multi-room and whole home audio, even if you don’t know it. Many of the smart speakers you can buy these days are multi-room capable.

This includes devices that don’t cost a lot of money. For example, you can set up multi-room audio with Amazon Echo speakers. The cheapest model of these, the Echo Dot, costs less than $50.

If you’ve got a speaker with AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast built-in, you may be in luck. These protocols support multi-room audio, and while they are most easily found on products from Apple and Google, they pop up in other gadgets as well.

This isn’t limited to just speakers. For AirPlay 2, other supported devices include Apple TV, some models of smart TVs, and more.

Don’t Forget Compatibility

If you know that you’re planning on whole-home audio, even if you don’t have it yet, focus on compatibility in the future. Assuming you plan on sticking with one brand, choose a brand that offers a wide range of products so that you’ve got more choice in the future.

On the other hand, if you want flexibility, pick multi-room speakers that use protocols like AirPlay 2, Chromecast, or another option that lets you choose from multiple brands. In most cases, you’ll want to choose an option that already works with what you have.

If you’re looking for some speaker suggestions that won’t break the bank, don’t forget to check out our favorite budget speakers.

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