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    What to Ask about the Top 3 Wireless Home Speaker Systems

    If you are planning a home audio system, then you may well be looking into a wireless speaker system. Wireless speaker systems reduce the unsightly wires which have to be hidden in walls, make installing the system cheaper and improve flexibility. For one thing, they make it much easier to move speakers around. Traditionally, wireless speakers used Bluetooth, but most now use Wi-Fi, which offers better sound quality. There are more and more options showing up on the market, providing a variety of quality levels and in some cases extra features. Most of these systems integrate well with your phone. The top three are Chromecast Audio, Sonos Play:5 and Amazon Echo. Here are the questions you should ask yourself before choosing.

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    Do you need Amazon's Echo features?
    Amazon Echo is the standard bearer of the smart speaker. Just say "Alexa," and it can do all kinds of things. However, Echo has good but not great sound quality - the new Echo Dot works with other speakers, but is a little more expensive, and you then have to make another decision as to which speakers to use. Echo is the best choice if you want "smart home" functionality with your system.
    Any bandwidth limitations?
    Your speakers will work through the same wi-fi you are using to connect all of your various devices. If you or a family member are bandwidth hogs, you might want to consider wired speakers. You could also upgrade your router.
    Is my router in the right place in relation to my speakers?
    Make sure that your planned configuration allows for the router to be close to the speakers - distance affects sound quality and you definitely do not want wi-fi "fade." You might want to get a wireless repeater that can help bounce a signal to your audio system.
    Does your choice support your favorite apps?
    Most speakers support Pandora and Spotify, including the three mentioned. Chromecast prefers Google Play. Sonos is a good choice for iTunes and Amazon Music support. Some other speaker options may not support what you need - and remember, you get what you pay for.
    What kind of phone do you have?
    If you have an iPhone, then you may have more difficulty with Chromecast than with an Android, as Chromecast is designed to integrate with Android. Make sure you have good apps available for your phone that work with the speakers concerned, especially if you use a less standard operating system such as Windows Phone.
    How many rooms need to be wired?
    If so, you need to stick to the same product "family." Sonos has better multi-room support, but Google Cast does not seem to get along with Chromecast.
    Any budget restrictions?
    Sonos is excellent - but is the most expensive of the three options listed by quite a lot. The Play:5 is the best, but you will pay for it. You can get cheaper Sonos options, though. Chromecast is the cheapest.
    Do you need surround sound?
    If so, the best option is the Sonos PLAYBAR system, which allows you to start with three channels and then expand to full 5.1 with a couple of Play:1 or Play:3 wireless speakers. The other options are not as good for home theater use.