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In the market for a new home speaker setup

I've largely been listening to music at home through the past couple years through a bluetooth speaker; a somewhat blocky Sony unit I got for about $150, and some cheaper things before that. Despite that, I am a music lover, and want something with better sound quality. The Sony's been having some Bluetooth connection issues as it ages, so I'd rather use it as a backup, rather than a primary unit. I've been considering upgrading to a different streaming speaker.

These day, though I have a substantial music collection, I've been listening to Apple Music streaming, and a couple other streaming services before that. I'm fairly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, which will have some influence on my decision.

One of my friends has a Bose SoundTouch 30, which sounds pretty decent, and I was considering it. But, at $600, and without Apple Music streaming support (yes, I could probably just connect via Bluetooth and stream from my computer or iOS devices, but that's not very elegant), I have some reticence to going that route.

I'm strongly considering a Sonos system (Play 3 and Play 5). By all accounts, they have great sound quality, and integrate with Apple Music, which is a plus. They don't have Bluetooth, rather they connect via Wi-Fi; Wi-Fi offers greater transfer speeds, and likely better range than Bluetooth, but I have some reservations related to how well it handles connecting to different devices and the like - I haven't seen much regarding this in what I've read so far. At $330 for the Play 3 and $650 for the Play 5, we're still sitting in kind of serious money, but, I think one of these may be the way to go.

Apple's home audio offering, HomePod went on pre-order today, but isn't available in Canada yet. It doesn't hit the market (in US, UK and AUS) until next month, so I'm still waiting to hear some reviews and comparisons once people get their hands on them. They're still missing some software aspects that will be updated later, but, those aspects are pretty much all based on using multiple units at the same time... which I'm not going to be doing. It's $350USD, which hits about $430Cdn (the Canadian price isn't known until Apple releases it in Canada)... putting it squarely between the Sonos Play 3 and 5 in price... and from the first impressions from demos at last year's WWDC, it also likely sits between the two in sound quality too.
One area where the HomePod may fall down is that it is a mono system; it does process room acoustics to produce a stereo-like sound, but, it's not stereo (the Sonos and Bose systems are). It does have full integration with my computers and portable devices, though...

Do any of you have a decent streaming speaker system? What do you use, and why?

3 blog comments below

I only have a very inexpensive unit which I got for free. Not great! One thing you may need to consider with WiFi is how many other items will be sharing that source.
standready on Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:58 pm
You're right, and is something that I've thought about. I've also been considering upgrading to a MESH system, like an Eero with a couple beacons to increase overall bandwidth and whole-home signal strength.
Ankhanu on Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:14 pm
I kind of like the Sonos, mostly because you could (burn a hole in your pocket and) set up a few in different rooms. Without reading more about them it just seems neat that maybe you wouldn't have to move the unit around much if that was the case. I like the WiFi aspect.

The Bose seems big and bulky but they seem like they make some powerful systems. It's a lot of speaker for what you'd end up doing with it. Granted, if you needed that kind of power then it's understandable. Guess it depends on the quality.

I've just been running with a little Sony bluetooth speaker as well. It's mostly connected to my iPad when I'm using it. It's speaker sucks.

For everything else... I throw on my Skullcandy headphones. Part of that is because the noise is contained and won't bug the neighbours and I can turn it up pretty darn loud.

I've never really looked into anything beyond that. Wouldn't work in my current space and I'd need it to move around with me for the most part. Maybe if I could ever afford a house... lol
TheGremlyn on Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:36 am

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