home anymore," he says. "That's what got us passionate for this area."
Sonos' line of products includes two sizes of amplified speakers -- the $399 Play:5 and the smaller $299 Play:3, both of which can be linked wirelessly in your home. (A $49 Bridge product connects to your router.) A free app on your Apple iOS or Android smartphone or tablet gives you control of your music library and music services such as MOG, Pandora and Spotify. It also controls volume and distribution of sound.
The company recently added a TV sound bar speaker, the $699 Playbar, into the mix. It doubles as a top-notch TV speaker -- it has three tweeters and six mid-woofers built in -- that connects to your wireless sound system. A $699 subwoofer adds extra bass and effects for movie lovers.
For now, Sonos has the best multiroom option available, but other companies are aiming at the market. Electronics company Monster has a $99 StreamCast module that plugs into its ClarityHD speakers ($749.95 for a pair) and the Beats By Dr. Dre Beatbox ($399.95) to let you listen to music from your smartphone, tablet or laptop via a higher-resolution form of Bluetooth.
This summer, Monster will bring out its $699.95 Katana speakers, which have built-in Bluetooth but can also be connected throughout the home using StreamCast HD wireless modules. With one in your laptop and one in each Katana, you can send up to four different streams to 12 different zones of the home.
Also in the works and expected to be shipping in July is the Olive One all-in-one home music player ($399). The company just ended its crowd-funding phase. The circular touch-screen unit connects wirelessly and via Bluetooth to send music on computers and devices (Android, Apple and Windows Phone 8) throughout the home; you put an Olive in whatever room you want sound.
Already loaded with Pandora, the Olive One is a virtual music computer that will also stream music from other Internet music services and your cloud-stored music from Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. Buyers can add 1-terabyte or 2-TB hard drives to store on board. Olive has its own speakers in development, due by year's end at $199 each.
"People thought it was great when the MP3 came out and we could have all this music crammed onto portable hard drives," Bergmann says. "But as we've gotten used to it, we realized that the music quality is not as good as we would like. Meanwhile, we also want to move that around our home and have some flexibility."
Those more interested in the ability to move a speaker from room to room could investigate the Bose SoundLink Air digital music system ($349.95). The 6.75-inch speaker plays music from your Apple devices or iTunes collection on a Mac or Windows computer; multiple speakers can play back computer-streamed music simultaneously. It uses Apple's wireless AirPlay technology, which also improves the sound of music over standard Bluetooth.
McIntosh's McAire integrated audio systems ($3,000), which also uses AirPlay, has six built-in speakers and is plenty powerful to serenade an apartment or small home. The retro-looking unit connects to your wireless network so you can stream iTunes music from computers, iPads, iPhones and iPods.
A USB connector lets you charge and play an iPod or iPhone, and an auxiliary input lets you link in other devices such as a CD player or portable satellite radio.
The McAire can "get a lot more out of the music file," says Charlie Randall, president of Binghamton, N.Y.-based McIntosh.
The advent of iPods and tablets could have spelled doom for audio companies. "But no matter what the medium is that you get the sound from, as long as we can make it sound better, (consumers) are going to aspire to it," Randall says, "whether they drop a CD in the drawer, tune a radio station, put a piece of vinyl on or grab (music) off the cloud."
Garrett Hubbard for USA TODAY
Most Popular Stories
- NSA Defends Global Cellphone Tracking Legality
- Top Websites for U.S. Hispanics
- Ad Counts Rise in 2013 for Hispanic Magazines
- Networks Vie for U.S. Hispanic TV Viewers
- Saab Gets Back into the Game; U.S. Auto Sales Soar
- Apple Activates Customer-Tracking iBeacon
- Dell Offers Undisclosed Number of Employee Buyouts
- 2013 Tech Gift Guide: iPad Mini Still Hot; Chromecast a Great Low-Cost Option
- A Biography of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Creative Chief
- Authorities Close to Deal with JPMorgan Chase over Madoff Response