Playing Music in our House

We both enjoy music and we've had something of an explosion in the number of ways we can play it in our house. In particular, 'multi-room music' which only a few years ago was technically difficult and very expensive is now much more accessible.

Starting at the bottom end in terms of sound quality, we have a number of Amazon Echo Dots dotted around the house. These are great little devices for a load of things from running our SmartHome system to checking the weather forecast, all hands-free.

Spot the difference
They can play music but the sound quality is fairly low. It reminds me of a tinny transistor radio I had as a child - but sometimes when your hands are full the convenience factor wins. There's also scope for confusion when you're ordering your music verbally and we sometimes end up listening to a few seconds of thrash metal rather than the music we thought we'd asked for.

Convenience 7/10. Music quality 4/10.

We also have Echo Dot look-alike devices in our bathrooms. The Majority Darwin plugs directly into a shaver socket and provides ones of the only ways to get a connected music service into a UK bathroom where conventional power sockets are prohibited. The music quality is about the same as the Echo Dot, but is fine for a few minutes each morning.

Convenience 8/10. Music quality 4/10.

Next is our AV receiver system with a Marantz NR1607 at its centre and Boston Acoustics Soundware speakers. There are seven of these 4-inch cubes, plus a sub-woofer, providing our surround sound for television and films. They give a clear sound, especially for dialogue, but aren't really optimised for music and often miss the subtleties.

Convenience 6/10. Music quality 7/10.

Our main multi-room music system is made up of our six Bluesound speakers around the house. Some rooms have a single speaker, others have stereo. The sound quality is great and we can easily stream our own music to them using the BluOS app. Each speaker can play its own selection of music, but we prefer to have the same music throughout the house.

The execution is perfect with no synchronisation problems. The app is well designed and easy to use, supporting a wide range of music services. The sound quality is very high.

Convenience 9/10. Music quality 8/10.

I recently posted about our gorgeous new KEF LSX powered speakers and they have been transformational in our enjoyment of music. Aside from their great looks, they give true stereo hi-fi sound. They have no aspirations to being multi-room. These are speakers that you sit in front of and listen to.

The app is intuitive and supports Spotify and Tidal but we usually use them to listen to our own music collection which is streamed locally.

Convenience 9/10. Music quality 10/10.

So now we feel a bit spoilt for choice although each type of speaker has its pros and cons. It's just a shame that there isn't a 'super-app' to link them all together...