Think multi-room speakers and you might immediately think Sonos or high-end audio brands – but no longer. Both Google and Amazon let you hook up connected speakers to build a voice controlled system around the house.
What works with multi-room
So any Google Home speaker, most speakers with Google Assistant built in (double check), all Chromecast Audio speakers or speakers with Chromecast built in will work together in a multi-room audio set up.
Read this: The best multi-room speaker systems
Here's a list of Google Assistant devices and a list of speakers with Chromecast built-in. The Chromecast Audio is an $35 accessory that you can plug into your existing speakers to bring them into your connected system.
In terms of streaming services, Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Google Play Music all support multi-room audio, but you can't play podcasts, alarms or timers on speakers simultaneously.
1. Place your speakers around the house
To get going, you'll want to group together your speakers, or 'audio devices'. We'd recommend spending some time deciding where you want each speaker first – you can also set up a stereo pair if you don't want multi-room.
Maybe the kitchen or bathroom can make do with a cheaper or portable model like a TicHome Mini, while your main audio power will no doubt be concentrated in the living room – a Google Home Max, say, or Panasonic GA10. Also think about where the voice-activated smart speakers will sit for controlling the music if you have a mix of Assistant and Chromecast speakers.
2. Set up audio groups
Assuming you've already set up and placed the individual speakers, go to the Google Home app on your phone/tablet and make sure everything – all the speakers and your mobile device – is all connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Head to Devices, which is the TV/speaker icon in the top right of the homescreen of the Google Home app. Here you'll see all your Linked devices as cards. Hit the Menu button in the top right of the card for the first of your speakers. Then hit Create group and give it a name like "downstairs" or "dining room" – it will be named Home group as default. It's also a good idea to have a group called something like "all speakers" for obvious reasons.
You need at least two devices for a group so you can then tick the other speakers you want to add to the group. You also need to link the group to your Google account to use voice controls and access your personal preferences – this ain't optional.
When you're done, the group will get its own Device card under Devices. Tap the top-right Menu vertical dots on this card to edit or delete the group. FYI: You can't make edits while listening to audio on the group.
3. Control your groups with voice
Essentially, these are the same Google Assistant commands as for a single speaker – and obviously you need to speak to a speaker with far-field mics and Assistant built in; you won't be able to speak to every device with Chromecast built in.
- "Hey Google, play Wine Goes In on all speakers"
- "Hey Google, play Elton John on office speakers"
- "Hey Google, set volume to 5 downstairs"
- "Hey Google, play/pause/resume/stop/play next song on Home group"
If you want to mix and match voice and smartphone controls, you can control your music by hitting the Cast button in an app like Spotify and doing things from there. Once you've mastered the basics, you can also do things like set up a Routine so that your multi-room speakers start playing music when you get home.
More Google Assistant fun
The 65 best Google Home Easter eggs to try right now
How to control Sonos with Google Assistant
How smart displays won me over
The best Google Assistant devices: Speakers and TVs with Assistant inside
How to use Voice Match for multiple user profiles on Google Home
The best Google Home compatible devices for your smart home