Last month, I was lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the superb Sonus faber Omnia one-box music system. As a music system aimed at quality audio fans, it breaks with the traditional stereo speaker convention by placing a speaker array and everything you need from a high-quality music streaming system in one cabinet.
This set me thinking about alternative integrated music systems shaking up hi-fi conventions — modern audio solutions that focus as much on home style as they do on sound quality. With that in mind, I set about selecting the best setups I've heard that balance sound and style.
Below are the results of that effort. Each targets a different price budget and needs, but the things they have in common is that they deliver an outstanding experience when listening to music, and have dashing good looks to fit right in with a stylish home.
Ready to find a music system that won't ruin your décor? Read on to find out which of the 5 best music systems for style is right for your habitat.
What are the best music systems for style?
1. Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
The eye-catching design of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin feels like it has been around forever. It started out as an iPod docking station (remember those), but has morphed into a powerful wireless speaker system. It may sound obvious to some, but the Zeppelin is so named because of its oval shape that is reminiscent of the floating airships that graced the world's skies for around 10 years in the late 1920s through to the 1930s.
This latest version of the Zeppelin was introduced in 2021 and is the third iteration. It has Alexa voice assistant built in, and like the other one-box music systems listed below, the Zeppelin is a wireless multi-room speaker system that supports hi-res music streaming over Wi-Fi. The Zeppelin can be partnered with Bowers & Wilkins Formation series (opens in new tab) as part of a full multi-room setup, and also has Bluetooth connectivity with aptX HD codec support.
The underside of the main body of the music system can be illuminated to achieve a halo-like effect onto the metal pedestal stand. Inside, there are tweeters placed at each of the pointy ends of the main body to help give the best impression of stereo separation. Further inwards there are two mid-range drivers partnered to a single central bass speaker that provides bass for both channels.
As you'd expect from a specialist audio company with more than 50 years experience making world-class speakers, the sound from the Zeppelin doesn't disappoint. Music is brought to life with a familiar vigour characteristic of the brand's speaker designs, and a level of engagement to make your tunes come alive no mater what your music tastes.
2. Naim Mu-so 2
Naim Audio is a British audio company synonymous with the high-end market. Although better known for its Classic hi-fi series components, which have just received an update to mark the company's 50th anniversary announced at last month's CES 2023, the Naim Mu-so 2 is a beautiful entry-level integrated speaker and music system designed to be one of the main elements in a wireless multi-room music setup around the home. The burnished black finish unit has a removable speaker grille that can be swapped for alternative color options (available at extra cost) to suit your home decor.
We haven't covered the Naim Mu-so in Tom's Guide, but I managed to spend plenty of time listening to the beautiful reengineered 2nd generation Mu-so 2 when it launched in 2019. The updated model brings improved power output and bass performance. This thing goes loud! As with the audio credentials associated with the company's even more upmarket hi-fi components, the Mu-so 2 one-boxer always sounds entirely authentic with nuanced vocals, and can rock out when called upon to do so.
The Mu-so's control app is constantly being updated and proves to be exceptionally smooth in use. There's an HDMI ARC port so it can double as a stereo soundbar, and placement is also made easy thanks to settings that tune the output to compensate for nearby wall boundaries, which can excessively boost lower frequencies, or free space.
3. Sonus faber Omnia
I’ve seen plenty of speakers and music systems come through my front door over the years, but without question the most striking to grace my home in recent time is the Sonus faber Omnia with its tactile surface and illuminated touch controls. Like the Mu-so 2 (above) it's an all-in-one wireless speaker system, and first caught my eye when it launched in February 2022.
As you might expect, its beauty is more than skin deep. Although it looks nothing like a conventional music system, it has everything the modern music listener could want integrated into its super-stylish. Physical connectivity options run to HDMI ARC, RCA analog, while wireless extends to Bluetooth with aptX HD support, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Tidal Connect, and Spotify Connect. It's Roon ready if you subscribe to the integration platform that brings all your digital music libraries and playlists together in one place, and you can even hook up a hi-fi turntable such as any of the recommendations in our best record players buying guide. About the only connection options missing are optical digital and USB ports, but this Is very unlikely to be a deal breaker for most users.
The Omnia's greatest strength is with music. Sonus faber's hi-fi heritage means this one-box music system has all the audio credentials of its speaker designs. I am a fan of the company's petite Lumina I bookshelf loudspeakers, and the Omnia sounds like it has a similar warm house sound and an ability to show off hi-res music streams from Tidal Connect.
Instruments have their own space within the soundstage, and bass levels are strong enough to carry tracks along with hi-fi levels of pace and rhythm. It goes pretty loud, too, filling my medium-sized living room with a sufficient sound level to ensure I can appreciate the full scale of my music.
Active stereo system
4. KEF LS50 Wireless II
Despite being a more traditional-looking stereo speaker system, the KEF LS50 Wireless II has completely desirable aesthetics as well as great sound. Again, we haven't reviewed this active speaker system in Tom's Guide, but I've had plenty of experience with it at home partnered with the matching KC62 (opens in new tab) compact sub priced around $1,499.
Essentially a fully integrated streaming music system, the KEF can also do TV sound thanks to an HDMI port with ARC at the back of one speaker, making it a practical alternative to a soundbar where the speakers can be placed either side of a screen. You can control TV sound either by the set’s remote, KEF Connect app or supplied remote handset.
The KEF's room-filling capabilities belie the dimensions of the compact stereo speakers and the soundstage from its Uni-Q speaker drivers is quite simply spectacular. It achieves almost tactile 3D imaging of a movie or music soundstage, and a strong sense of depth that stretches beyond the speakers and into the room. The outlay may be steep, but this KEF music system delivers some of the best stereo sound I've heard, and performance with the partnering subwoofer in place really is second to none.
5. Devialet Mania
French high-end audio specialist Devialet is undoubtedly known for its Phantom (opens in new tab) speakers, which I'm fortunate enough to have encountered several times in a previous audio editor role. But it is the company's newest introduction with the miniature Mania that's most significant as a modern music system right now.
The Devialet Mania is a battery-powered system aimed at quality audio fans with deep pockets. For the diminutive size, it employs considerable audio know-how to achieve spacious stereo sound from all directions via a ball-shaped cabinet.
The Mania exudes an air of sophistication that makes you feel that you want to take good care of it. Wireless connectivity runs to Bluetooth 5.0, and Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect are on board. Amazon Alexa is built-in, and set up is via a dedicated Devialet app. Battery life is said to run to 10 hours.
My hands-on listening session was all-too-brief, although it did make a considerable impression on me. Placed on a coffee table in front of me, the stereo effect from the Mania was subtle, but there all the same. It created a sphere of sound around the orb that projected soundwaves outwards, and the sound it produced was several times larger in scale than the compact speaker placed in front of me.
Percussion sounds from a piece of music chosen by Devialet to show off the small speaker's stereo prowess conjured up a sonic aura around the speaker that was very effective with elements bouncing around like table tennis balls being dropped on the floor. This isn't quite to the scale of stereo sound I'd expect from dedicated hi-fi speaker arrangements with speakers placed several meters apart to recreate the sonic soundstage with musicians performing in a space directly in front of you, but it's impressive all the same. Ultimately, the Devialet Mania is the most stylish and remarkably cute portable speaker I've seen.