Speakers for music and voice assistants

Hi All

Our house is currently being renovated (not moved into it yet) and we’ve been prioritising getting the typical things done, as well as the smarthome things that will be installed from the start like lights and switches etc.

One thing that I really don’t have a good grasp for is a good setup for speakers which can be used with voice assistants and other things, generally music etc.

I’ve seen videos on people having setups, from very complex ones with rack mounted sound systems to Raspberry PIs, but most seem to just say that they “have it” and move on (I believe even Linus didn’t clarify this), concentrating more on switches and servers etc, and not how they actually set up the audio.

I don’t really see what they are using as the source for the music (I guess their phone?) as well as the receiver. If it’s their phone, what is the relationship between Youtube music/Spotify and HASS? And regarding the receiver, I’m not too sure how this fits in either, maybe it’s in the walls or is a screen/panel on the wall?

My knowlege is that you have:

  1. The audio source such as a phone.
  2. Connect to a receiver via a protocol such as bluetooth, wifi, zigbee etc.
  3. The receiver would be connected to an AMP etc.
  4. This would push the signal to the speakers and play the music.

In these smarthome setups, I don’t see what their receiver is, it looks like you can set up speaker zones which would be great, I imagine with a receiver per room with the speakers wired up to each receiver?

My sort of idea is:

  • Speakers being mounted flush into the ceiling (lounge will have dedicated home cinema speakers). Mics not necessarily being too hidden as I would prioritise their pickup.
  • Gardens: Outside speakers for music. I’m not sure I would have a mic out here for VA so mostly just using the phone.
  • Bedrooms, dining room: Mic for VA, speakers for TV, music and VA.
  • Bathrooms, Kitchen, Hallways: Mic for VA, speakers for music and VA.
  • Offices: Listing here but probably wouldn’t use any. They have a dedicated DAC/AMP and speakers. Most likely just using phone for VA purposes but may want to have a single speaker/mic.

I tried talking to some Smarthome reps but they kept trying to push products on me from their ecosystem that I didn’t want, rather than trying to facilitate what I did want (even though it would use products from themselves/their approved vendor list that they may even sell in their stores).

If someone is able to elaborate on this it would be much appreciated!

You may wish to look at LMS (Logitech Media Server also known as Slim Server). This can be run on a Raspberry Pi using PiCorePlayer which is a lightweight OS dedicated to this ecosystem. This LMS hub can integrate your local music library (on a NAS or attached HDD/SSD) and includes and can play natively Spotify, Tidal Quoboz Amazon MixCloud SoundCloud BBC sounds and has bridges for Chrome and AirPlay. This hub will recognise and streams to small headless receivers running Squeezlite.

I can stream to around 10 different devices around my house. I can also stream music from my phone through the bridge to any of the speakers, however I don’t tend to do that as music quality is lower and it is inefficient on bandwidth (round trip). Instead I open a web page on my phone and control music playing directly from the hub.

I see that many people focus on trying to integrate systems into HA. However, I have found the user experience as quite poor and much prefer the stand alone system. For music by people who enjoy music.

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So far this has been my experience too. However I’m interested to see what this will bring:

Though not ideal for everyone, but since I switched my setup from traditionally wired speakers and receiver/amp’s, to various Sonos speakers around the house, with a couple Echo’s in the living/dining room’s for voice assistance, and Sonos one’s in the other rooms (Alexa/Google built-in) I never looked back, the sound level is way more than needed though I tend to hit max levels after a few shots :wink:


Sonos currently supports over 100 music services if that’s your thing, but you can also use your own digital media via a network share, or old school hard media (cassettes, vinyl’s etc…) via a connect, you can also go the traditional wired in-ceiling/mounted/outdoor speaker route for both indoor and outdoor speakers with Sonos Amp’s which will give you full mobile and HA control plus TTS.

I will 2nd @Coolie1101 points on Sonos. It does seem to offer the best combo of sound quality combined with best local API access for things like voice announcements and doorbell alerts. Not perfect when merging local contest stream content, but far better than my experience with trying the same with Google speaker devices. I’m not sure about their own new voice assistant direction, as I use there older devices.

Do you not find this approach to be a little less “smart-homey”? I am interested in maintaining the quality of the music but thought there may be a more dynamic approach. Do you have 1 Pi that’s connecting to multiple receivers and then multiple speakers to each receiver? I have been trying to free up as many devices using wifi as possible.

How does this also work with voice assistants? Do you have the VA working via HASS and separate to the sound systems?

I guess it would be a good idea to hang fire until this announcement :slight_smile:

Whilst I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sonos, I’ve heard some equally bad ones too so hadn’t invested much time in them.

In terms of the bad, one was regarding reliability though this could have changed since, the other was that they bricked their older products when they reached end of life. I think Linus and/or other big tech channels on YT covered this.

Regarding Sonos, I see they have ceiling speakers but these do seem pretty expensive, definitely not something I could prioritise investing in. The other issue is that I do want to go with speakers in the shower but I don’t think Sonos ones are rated for this. This honestly could eliminate them from my consideration but I see their wall mounts look pretty nice and could get them out of the way, similar to ceiling speakers. I suppose I could keep them in the wider bathroom area.

I guess these are also using wifi for communication?

@all Many thanks for your feedback, this is helping me get a better understanding of approaches that are possible :slight_smile:

Not my experience thus far, I have a mixture of mostly older devices, 1st and 2nd gen, all still work fine.

They definitely are, I definitely won’t (didn’t) go that route as well, I would use whatever speakers you choose with either the Sonos Amp, or traditional Amps with the Sonos Connect.

Definitely not, but I actually do have a Sonos One in the bathroom on the wall in the opposite corner from the shower going on 5 years no issues.

They do, and this is why so many people experience issues with there setup, Sonos works best with atleast 1 device wired to your network, and then Sonos creates it’s own WiFi network for communication with other speakers/players.

Many thanks for your really concise feedback!

I’ve been looking at their product stack in the meantime and was actually about to watch some YT videos on setups.

Regarding the bathroom, this is what I was thinking would be an option. Each of the bathrooms has a dry area that water won’t be able to reach so could work. 2 of them have a glass door but I imagine it won’t be too bad. Sure the audio quality won’t be as good but then again, I’ll have a load of water distorting it anyway.

The One product with a wall mount looks to be the route to go, if going with Sonos.

Regarding wifi, I think I understand what you’re saying, 1 device will be connected to both the usual LAN and then the Sonos only LAN, with the other Sonos devices being connected to just the Sonos LAN, and this way there is a bridge between both.

I have a question on connections however, I’m about to look into this too though.
I see there’s an ethernet port on the One, and you can connect just 1 of these via ethernet to a router which will turn the Sonos network into their “wired” one: https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3209?language=en_US#:~:text=Connecting%20one%20of%20your%20Sonos,as%20the%20single%20wired%20product.

What would you say are the pros/cons with the wired/wireless? My house has very thick concrete+steel, I’m guessing that it should be able to mesh throughout the house so long as there are products within range? The staircase might be the biggest issue with this however so I’d need to see.

Edit: Watching a video on one of the boosters and it looks like an option I would have (without the booster) could be to have 1 wired speaker on each floor to act as the bridge for the mesh. Do you happen to know if this would create 2 separate networks or if both would mesh?

P.s It seems my hope for this being PoE has been dashed :smiley:

If you’re willing to go down the DIY-route and you want to keep an eye on your budget: LMS & RPi’s with piCorePlayer.
I think this might be amongst the least costing Multiroom solutions + you can use existing speakers or buy the design/specs you really want/need.

The downside might be the availability of new RPi’s but you can find a lot of 2nd hand models.
I run 5 of them, a Zero and 3B’s.

That’s my idea too!
I see posts with dashboards to control music and there are really nice ones but why reinvent the wheel when you have a good app that is just for that.
I guess it can be possible to imitate that in HA (completely) but it complicates things and makes HA even more critical. (and less WAF)
Of course I also use the LMS (Squeezebox) integration in HA but that is for:

  • control the volume with automations (when the phone rings or making a call)
  • control the volume & playback with IKEA zigbee remotes
  • control playback with automations when entering/leaving the house or starting to watch TV, skip commercials on radio streams and start playing again after it

I can still enjoy music no matter what the state of HA is.
And the last thing and not the least important: you don’t get locked into some proprietary closed ecosystem.

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I am running LMS (Squeezebox) with PiCorePlayer across two properties allowing music to played across some twenty receivers including:
2 x google nest hubs
1 x Apple TV
1 x Sonos Arc Bar
1 x LG TV
1 x Samsung TV
1 x Panasonic TV
1 x Panasonic BluRay
3 x Sky Q boxes
2 x PC Windows (Squeezelite - x)
2 x Logitech Squeezebox
4 x RaspberryPis (with HiFi Berry etc DACs) driving HiFi speakers to a cheap portable radio aux! + with Amp HAT

The RaspberryPis receivers allow bluetooth either to play back to the systerm or to sync additional bluetooth speakers. ALL are wired as media needs solid connection, apart from two RaspeberryPis which are too far from a socket. These can be a bit flaky. My houses have 11 WiFi APs so you get an idea that my infrastructure overhead, wall thicknesses and distances are quite significant. None of this is MESH as I hate it and have had the luxury of putting in wired backbone.

My job tomorrow is to install in ceiling speakers (I hate them but this is all my wife will allow!), so top of the line Monitor Audio + Audiolab power amp + RaspberryPi (with HiFi Berry DAC and running PiCorePlayer).

This shows you can build flexible systems, but you need a solid hub that pulls it all together; and so far, those built around LMS are the most flexible. There is a very healthy forum here https://forums.slimdevices.com/ and also worth taking a look at one of the OS systems which include https://www.picoreplayer.org/ who participate on the LMS forums and offer active support. There are SOME downsides but if you are hifi orientated https://darko.audio/ has some opinions …

Thank you Nick4 I am yet to do the full VA and HA connections and automations beyond my Google Hub…some more exploring and fiddling over some rainy days!


On Reddit’s r/sonos, someone recently reported they are using a Roam for this purpose. Not quite what you may have had in mind but it’s a possible solution.

FWIW, the recent addition of Sonos Voice Assistant (local, not cloud-based) has made it very easy to select music and control playback (especially moving music from one area to another and grouping/ungrouping speakers). The use of Giancarlo Esposito’s voice for the assistant is an inspired choice (a.k.a. Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad). The Sonos Voice Assistant (wake word is “Hey Sonos”) can also co-exist with Alexa (but not Google Assistant).

You can have multiple devices wired to your network, it all depends on the number of devices, and the load on the network, if you decide to go the Sonos route, decide on the devices and placement, and reach out to Sonos support who will guide you on optimal hookup, or build and adjust as you go.

All pros for at least 1 device wired, you shouldn’t rely totally on wireless, I had another setup (previous location) with 11 Sonos Connects with wired traditional speakers and amp’s, all equipment installed/stacked in a network/media cabinet, and had to have 2 of the Sonos Connects wired to the network for optimal whole house streaming music at one time, so yes, in your case based on your environment, I would plan on having multiple device wired.

They will all mesh as 1, don’t over think it, the Sonos Wireless mesh is just for linking the Speakers/Devices, and all devices still reside on your Lan regardless of your configuration.

Where are you located if you don’t mind me asking?

Great ok, so I’ve had a think and this should be fine. I’ll get them to run 1 extra ethernet line to each floor where I’ll position the centremost speaker so this should work fine.

I wasn’t sure if they would all mesh into 1 but with your answer + another I saw on another forum I’m happy with it being the case.

I’m in Beijing but I’m English :slight_smile:

@123 Thanks for that feedback too. I saw about the grouping of speakers, I’ll definitely do this to an extent if we go with Sonos. The master bedroom and dining room will be candidates. I’m not sure if I can do slightly dynamic groups such as including a combined kitchen and dining (as it’s open plan) but not the end of the world regardless :smiley: