If you love Apple products, the best type of wireless speaker for your home is an AirPlay speaker. You can stream music over Wi-Fi to an AirPlay speaker using any iOS device, or from a computer that has iTunes installed. And with the release of AirPlay 2, you can now use multiple speakers from different manufacturers to create a synchronized multi-room sound system. Here are the five best AirPlay speakers available today.
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1. Sonos One | Best Overall AirPlay SpeakerPros:
- Excellent sound quality
- Surprising volume for its size
- Sonos app is great
- Can use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control
- Works well with AirPlay 2
- Not cheap
- Limited color options
- Some users feel that setup is a challenge
Looking for a small speaker that can still fill a room? The Sonos One is a great option. The Sonos line of speakers is designed to allow users to have custom music playing in different rooms of the same house, or to use multiple speakers to fill the whole house with the same sound.
This edition of the Sonos One plays nice with AirPlay 2 and is integrated with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, making it ideal for households that leverage Apple, Amazon, and Google’s smart home ecosystems. The Sonos One also sounds incredible and is surprisingly powerful for its small size. Use one alone for smaller rooms or use two together and create an easy stereo system.
Potential downsides here include the price, which is less expensive than the other products on this list but still isn’t cheap, as well as a design that’s not the most intuitive. Multiple user reviews online complain about how difficult set-up can be. However, if you’re a digital native and not tech-phobic in the least, then this speaker will likely be well within your abilities to set up alone.
Overall, the Sonos One is a great blend of quality, usability, and affordability, which is why it’s our pick for the best overall AirPlay speaker.
3. Libratone Zipp 2 | Best Portable AirPlay 2 SpeakerPros:
- Excellent AirPlay 2 functionality
- 12-hour battery life
- Great audio
- Surprisingly loud and bassy
- Multiple color options available
- Inputs of all kinds
- Look isn't for everyone
- Taller than other speakers
- Alexa integration is so-so
The Libratone Zipp 2 is a fantastic AirPlay speaker for those who want to bring their music with them outside of the house. Constructed with a stylish thermos-shaped design and several striking color options, the Zipp 2 is a sporty-looking speaker that has the sound quality to boot.
The Zipp 2’s primary selling point, aside from its unique look, is its portability. The full-sized version shown here has dimensions of 14.2 x 8.3 x 8.1 inches and weighs only 5.6 pounds. It also has a solid carrying strap, which just begs you to take the speaker with you to the beach or by the pool. You can also check out the Zipp Mini 2, which is slightly smaller and about a pound lighter, for even greater portability. And with a 12-hour battery life, you don’t have to worry about the Zipp 2 dying before your day is done.
But the Zipp 2 has more going for it than just its portability. Audio from the unit sounds great, and the Zipp 2 is equipped with 100 watts of power, which is more than enough for most rooms and small outdoor environments. It also comes with a fantastic selection of inputs, including Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, 3.5mm line-in AUX, and even USB. The inclusion of a USB port is particularly nice, as you can use the Zipp 2 as a power source to charge your phone or other electronic devices. AirPlay 2 is a great addition as well and has made the Zipp 2 the go-to backyard speaker in many reviewers’ home audio systems.
The Zipp 2 does have a few downsides, namely that the look won’t jive with every kind of decor and that the Alexa integration is somewhat basic. But the Zipp 2’s versatility, paired with its great sound quality, make it the best portable AirPlay 2 speaker currently available.
4. Apple HomePod | Best AirPlay Speaker for Apple FansPrice: $299.99Pros:
- Stellar sound with especially good bass
- Siri integration works well
- Attractive in either white or space grey
- Excellent AirPlay 2 Integration
- Apple ecosystem restrictions
- Only supports Siri
The Apple HomePod is the first smart speaker from Apple, and as you would expect, it is one of the best AirPlay speakers currently on the market. The HomePod sounds incredible, with deep, clear bass and a pleasing audio balance for music of all genres. The far-field microphones are also sufficiently sensitive that you’ll be able to give Siri directions from anywhere in the room with absolutely no problems.
The big downside of the HomePod, however, is that Apple has decided to restrict the product to the Apple ecosystem: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are not supported, non-iOS mobile devices are not supported, and the HomePod is only able to stream music from Apple audio services, including iTunes, Apple Music, and music uploaded to the iCloud Music Library. To clarify, you can still use streaming services like Spotify and TIDAL with the HomePod, but you can only control them from another device (like your phone or laptop) via AirPlay. Most notably, you cannot use Siri to play specific songs, though you can still have her perform basic functions like pausing/playing and skipping.
If you don’t mind the above limitations, then the Apple HomePod is a fantastic AirPlay speaker and would be a welcome addition to any multi-room music setup.
5. Sonos Beam | Best AirPlay Speaker/SoundbarPros:
- Doubles as a soundbar for your TV
- AirPlay 2 compatible for multi-room synchronized music
- Built-in Alexa and Google Assistant integration allows for voice control (limited Siri support)
- Smart balance settings for different audio needs
- Sounds great for music and TV
- Primarily a soundbar
- Limited Siri support
The Sonos Beam is an AirPlay-compatible soundbar that produces excellent sound quality, whether you’re watching TV or listening to music. Unlike the other products on this list, the Beam is first and foremost a soundbar, which puts the Beam’s focus primarily on movie and TV audio. To that end, Sonos claims that the Beam was “specially tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers to emphasize the sound of the human voice.”
That being said, the Beam still makes a great AirPlay speaker. It’s compatible with AirPlay 2, plays well with other AirPlay speakers (especially those in the Sonos line), and even has Alexa and Google Assistant built in (with limited Siri support), allowing you to control the Beam with your voice using your preferred smart ecosystem. Music played through the Beam sounds great, with good tonal balance, deep bass, and more than enough volume. Given the fact that you’ll likely be using the Beam with your TV, it’s a great option for a living room speaker in your multi-room audio setup.
The biggest downside of the Beam is simply that it is primarily a soundbar with AirPlay support, rather than a dedicated music speaker, which is also reflected in the price. As mentioned above, the sound quality of the Beam is great, regardless of whether you’re watching TV or listening to music. But the speaker is specially tuned for film and movies, which can sometimes alter the balance of music in unexpected ways.
Still, anyone in the market for both an Airplay speaker and a soundbar should definitely take a look.
Choosing an AirPlay Speaker
Choosing which AirPlay speaker is right for you comes down to a couple of considerations, the most obvious of which is price. AirPlay speakers are generally more expensive than Bluetooth speakers, largely due to the fact that AirPlay audio is not compressed like Bluetooth often is, producing a richer and clearer overall sound. The products included here cover various price ranges, with the Sonos One and the Libratone Zipp 2 being the best-value entry-level AirPlay speakers available today. More expensive products like the Apple HomePod and the Naim Mu-so Qb offer superior sound quality to justify their increased price tags.
Another important consideration for many people is smart home functionality. If you plan on using your AirPlay speakers to create a multi-room sound system, you'll want to get speakers that support AirPlay 2 (as all of the above products do) and also support your preferred smart home ecosystem. The Apple HomePod is great for Apple lovers, or for those who don't care about having a specific virtual assistant. But those who prefer Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant will want to consider alternative options like the Sonos One or the Sonos Beam. Meanwhile, the Naim Mu-so Qb does not support voice control at all, and the Libratone Zipp 2 is limited to Alexa.
The above two factors—price and smart home functionality—should narrow your product search down considerably. From there you'll want to consider what room in the house you want to use your speaker in and whether you're looking for a portable option or not. The Sonos Beam is great for a TV room; the Zipp 2 is great for portability; and the Sonos One, Naim Mu-so Qb, and Apple HomePod are great general-purpose speakers for any room of the house.
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