Russound MBX-PRE review: Yes, Virginia, there really were multi-room audio systems before Sonos

Kick-ass sound and a raft of features makes this music player worth pursuing, even though it suffers from the occasional temper tantrum.

Countless stereo systems could get a supercharge from a Russound MBX-PRE wireless streaming media player. Boasting fine sound, major content partners, and all manner of connectivity, this little black box will carry your treasured vintage stereo equipment into the online-everything age. Multiples of them can bring music into every room in your home. Just bring your own amp and speakers.

In that regard, the MBX-PRE is a lot like the Sonos Connect (since replaced by the Sonos Port, which I reviewed in June). But Russound is no copycat; in fact, the company is one of the pioneers of whole-home audio, having got its start 45 years ago when every speaker pair in every room had to be hardwired to an in-wall volume control harnessed in turn to a matrix switcher or a multi-zone amplifier.

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