Let's talk alternatives to Sonos (compatible with Roon and with Android outside of Roon - please do NOT sell me Sonos, that is not the questions, thanks)

Since my previous thread has been hijacked and gone off topic, with most replies along the lines of “we’re not going to recommend alternatives to Sonos because if Sonos doesn’t work on your network it’s your fault, even though Sonos is the one and only piece of hardware that has any issues on your network”, I’ll try again.

Can you recommend some alternatives to Sonos?
The reason why I am not keen on Sonos is irrelevant; please don’t try to convince me Sonos is great - that is NOT the question.

I am based in Europe. My wishlist is:

  • multi-room like Sonos (I should be able to play different stuff in different rooms)

  • works with Roon but also without, ie should also be able to play music on my NAS, from Tidal and from internet radio independently of Roon (I don’t want a system that’s unusable should Roon go out of business/shut down)

  • can be controlled from Android phones and tablets; ideally from a PC, too; don’t care about Apple devices

  • I am not after audiophile-level quality and prices – something in a similar price range as Sonos would be great

  • The stability of the wifi connection and of the Android app are more important than pure audio quality

  • Must be able to work without internet. Sonos works when your WiFi doesn’t have internet access – chromecast speakers don’t.

  • Must work with wifi but ideally have ethernet as a backup

  • Ideally, both 2,4 Ghz and 5 Ghz; not because music requires a huge bandwidth but because 5 Ghz is less congested

I have read a lot about HiFiBerry used to stream audio, but it’s not clear to me if that supports multiroom, nor how the practicality of installing it would work – having speaker plus HiFiBerry would be a bit of an eyesore.

I have read contradicting feedback on Kef (too expensive anyway) and Bluesound.

The Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i https://www.bluesound.com/products/pulse-flex/ seems interesting but it’s not Roon certified (not yet at least) and it’s not clear to me how well it works with Roon.

Thoughts / suggestions?



I’m happy with BluOS endpoints. Currently running a NAD T 777v3, a Node 2, a Pulse Soundbar and a Pulse Soundbar 2i together with Raspberry Pi endpoints running Ropieee: 2 Pro-Ject Pre Box 2S Digital and an Allo Boss DAC. All BluOS endpoint are running on WiFi.
All endpoints are RAAT and work seemlessly together. I’m using the Roon and BluOS Android apps together as well allowing to use the hardware volume buttons on my phone and tablet.

I built my own speakers putting a raspberry pi and hifiberry inside the speaker itself with a little wire rerouting. Looks great , sounds great, works on 2.4 or 5 GHz wireless, Roon ready so can be grouped with other Roon ready devices. But also can use upnp or airplay as I use Ropieee XL operating system on the pi. It takes a small amount of work for little outlay.

You could also just buy any old portable speaker with a line in and use a Chromecast device or look to get any Chromecast enabled speaker this will give you the flexibility to group them outside of Roon and use other services on them

@seagull, if I got this right, your Bluesound devices are RAAT (roon certified, or whatever the term is), while the Pulse Flex 2i isn’t, at least not yet. Is this right? If it isn’t, I’d be reluctant to spend money on it until and unless it becomes Roon certified.

@seagull, @Simon_Arnold3 , do you have any pictures of what the speakers and the raspberry/hiberry look like? How did you get the hiberry inside the speaker? Would I then end up with two more devices (the speaker + the berry) that need power, so more clutter and more cables lying around?
Do you have any specific guides / tutorial etc you can link to, on how to set it all up?

I am not too keen on Chromecast speakers because:

  1. They don’t work without an internet connection. I need internet to play local content? No, thanks
  2. Software updates are a mess, like with Android: Google may release an update, but you won’t get it until and unless the speaker manufacturer implements it. The standloane audio chromecast was better but it’s been discontinued.


They may not be certified (yet) but they work perfectly well with Roon and other RAAT endpoints.

A recipe:

  • 1x Roon Core
  • Number of users x Roon Bridge* w/ DAC**
  • 1x Multi-zone amp
  • Roon Remotes as required

–* Roon Bridge can be a PC/Mac/RPi.
–** Using Bridge over a Roon Ready device keeps the RAAT protocol consistent and one can use other music players.

@YetAnotherLondoner: I’ll be following your thread with interest as I’m also looking for alternatives to Sonos. Your requirements match mine pretty closely, but may I ask a question, please? You said “I don’t want a system that’s unusable should Roon go out of business/shut down”: I had thought that Roon (the software) did not depend on Roon (the company) in day-to-day operation - if that’s not the case, thanks for highlighting it. Am I missing something?

In case it’s interesting for you, I’m currently looking at the Naim Mu-So Qb 2 and the B&W Formation Flex, both of which seem to work nicely with Roon from what I’ve read (although both are also somewhat more expensive than Sonos).

Answering my own question: yes, I had missed something (obvious in retrospect).
@danny points out in this post: What happens with the lifetime subscribers if the company folds or is sold? that the software contacts Roon servers to check for licencing and to obtain metadata. Sorry for the noise.

You can use what ever regular speaker you want. It’s down to choice and if you want to fit the pi inside or not.

For the last one in my bedroom I used a QAcoustics 2000ic speaker similar size to a Play 3 and my previous one was an unused stereo pair. Got the QAcoustics used in perfect condition.

I use. Pi3 B+ these will be better for fitting inside as the newer version 4 runs too hot for this type of thing but will be fine outside. I bought a HifiBerry amp2 and the recommended PSU from their site. This will power it all.

Then from Amazon a bought an inline DC pigtail socket.
Amazon.co.uk and get some speaker wire.

Assemble the pi and HifiBerry install either Ropieee XL operating system on its SD card. Your best doing this with a wired connection to start with and when all set up switch to wireless. There is a how-to guide listed around here somewhere.

Then comes the DIY bit. I opened up the speaker removed some of the insulation to make room to fit the pi and HifiBerry unit inside. Soldered on some speaker wire to back of the speaker binding posts after the crossover so this can then feed in to the L or the R speaker connectors on the amp2. If you making it a mono speaker then you could then connect just one to the amp if stereo then you need to connect just one a run off a wire to the other speaker which will just be a slave. You will need a hole for this or in my case I rewired the binding posts on the one with the amp so I could just bridge one speaker to the other using the binding posts on each one with speaker wire.

Drill a whole at back large enough to fit in the DC socket snugly and feed the wire through and fit the socket in place. Then connect the other end of the pigtail to the DC input connectors on top of the HifiBerry board, these are screw down connectors. Then I used double sided velcro strips to hold the pi amp combi it in place so it can be removed easily again.

Put it back together. I then used procedural EQ to make the output from Roon so it mixes the two channels coming in to one mono output. If using other stuff you will only get the L or R channel, unless you use a different distro such as dietpi and play around with Alsa settings to monorise it.

You then have one neat speaker.

If you make more than one you can set one up as left the other right and create a wireless stereo pair when they are grouped.


@YetAnotherLondoner - just to add to the above- you can either use an all-in-one amp/streamer as @Simon_Arnold3 has done for building a speaker (IQAudio DigiAmp or HifiBerry AMP2 or Allo model) or higher up the budget go with an RPi with balanced outputs to separate active monitors (e.g. PecanPi → Genelec though there’s cheaper options for both components). I use a DigiAmp with passive speakers but would be tempted by the active monitor route if I did this again.

Google „Teufel Raumfeld“

I had never heard of the brand, but it seems very promising, thanks!

May I ask you to elaborate a bit more? I haven’t been able to find many reviews online, nor many comments on the Roon forums.

What speakers do you have or do you know of (eg you have seen at friends’ houses)?

Can you comment on how stable / decent their own Android (I don’t have apple devices) app is and how it compares to Sonos?

How about Roon compatibility?

The Raumfield stereo L, which seems to be discontinued, supports Chromecast: https://www.teufelaudio.com/uk/multi-room/raumfeld-stereo-l-p9537.html

but there is no mention of Chromecast support on the newer Teufel multi-room speakers https://www.teufelaudio.com/uk/multi-room/teufel-one-s-p16558.html

(leaving aside that I am no fan of Chromecast for the reasons mentioned above - you need internet connectivity even only to play local content, and you only receive software updates if the manufacturer decides to implement them, so Google may have version 8 but you might be stuck at version 3 of the firmware)

When you say that “they” work perfectly well, which bluesound speakers do you mean, exactly?

Do you have experience of the Pulse Flex 2i, which is the one I’d be most interested in? Thanks!

What I currently use: Google Cast. 7 Chromecast Audio’s and (usually just one) Google Home Max. I do believe the Chromecast Audio’s will work over Intranet, even if the internet is down? But my internet rarely goes down, so maybe they don’t and I’m just unaware… problem is that Google discontinued them about a year ago, so you’d have to buy them used off somewhere like EBay now…

What I’m transitioning to: Roon Ready players, which mostly mean Raspberry Pi’s running RoPieee. I’ve got Roon Ready (RAAT-supporting) players on each of my two “best” rigs, in addition to CCA’s, and have them grouped together in an ALL-RAAT grouping. I could see that growing to three-or-four RoPieee endpoints by the end of 2020… I think RAAT-transport tends to sound (and image) a little better than the same files/quality transported losslessly via Google Cast.

What else I’ve heard of/read about/ believe works:
Bluesound - supports RAAT, unlike Google Cast and Sonos, so Bluesound endpoints can also be grouped together with non-bluesound Roon Ready endpoints within Roon… which would have real appeal for me. Cost is a bit high, IMO…

Denon HEOS - I believe Denon (and Marantz) receivers and Denon HEOS smart speakers can be grouped together within Roon, as well as outside of it? I’m not certain…

Apple Airplay devices - same thing as Denon HEOS. I think this works?

Prisma Primare NP5 - I believe this is a new (kind of affordable) product that is not-yet-but-working-to-be Roon Ready certified (and could then be grouped together with other non-Prisma devices within Roon). I personally don’t plan to buy one until they are Roon Ready, but have my eye on it as something I might pick up if/when they are…

Heos only works via Airplay so can only be grouped with other airplay products. It is not Roon Ready.

I mean the ones I’m using: NAD T 777v3, Node 2, Pulse Soundbar (1st gen) and Pulse Soundbar 2i.
I play them individually and grouped.

Thank you, @seagull. Could I ask you to elaborate a bit?
Do you control your Bluesound speakers mostly via the Roon app?
Have you used the Bluesound Android app at all? Do you have a sense for how it compares to the Sonos app?

Sorry, Bit I have no experience with Raumfeld. For myself I use Sonos and mainly an Oppo UDp 203 to Play Multichannel Stuff. Sorry

My opinion based on my studies on multi-channel: you will have to decide if you want to stay with hifi devices. Then you are either in the high price segment or the low price segment and depend on AirPlay Chrome cast and so on. Or you can go in the direction of computers. Then you have all this stuff raspberry and nuc and so on.

I know you do not want Apple devices however my Apple based setup with iPhones and iPads as end point devices plugged on quality speakers do the trick for me. (Multi room with roon, play from nas too roonless, webradios…)

There must be an equivalent with android based devices (phones and tablets) and cheaper. Unless the android Roon app is very different from the apple one.

What it does not is a multi room centrally controlled without roon.