Best AirPlay speakers to buy in 2013
As long as there are Apple products, there will be AirPlay speakers – but which are the best? Speakers with wireless AirPlay connectivity are aimed largely at iPhone and iPod users, but most units nowadays also come equipped with hardwiring options to connect up any device not blessed with the Apple logo.
But how to separate the best from the rest? Alongside stunning sound quality, manufacturers pay special attention to the build quality and design, while ease of use is also a must. AirPlay is slightly trickier to set up than Bluetooth but once connected, you can't argue with the simplicity of the best wireless speakers.
We've rounded-up the best AirPlay speakers you can buy in 2013 from our most recent reviews, and we'll be keeping this page updated as when we review new products...
Best AirPlay speaker under £400
Tested at £370
The Libratone Zipp stands apart from the sea of monochrome wireless AirPlay speakers with its brightly-coloured felt covers that you can swap and change - it's a fun and playful feature that's caught many an eye. But it's no gimmick – the Zipp has a premium feel, and the upright design delivers 360-degree sound that's immersive and enjoyable.
A particularly open and clear treble sits alongside bass notes that don't go boomy or flat – this is a confident speaker that delivers enthusiasm in spades without ever letting go of its composure. The delivery is fast and punchy, with ample detail to keep you interested in the music.
Throw in easily-connectable AirPlay, an elegant app, 3.5mm input and a portable feature, and the Libratone Zipp is some of the most fun we've had while listening to wireless music.
MORE: Read our full Libratone Zipp review
ALSO CONSIDER: B&W A5
Best AirPlay speaker under £450
Tested at £430
This isn't just an AirPlay speaker. It's a Bluetooth-toting, internet radio-playing all-round wired and wireless wonder. Compatible with iOS, Android and Windows devices, as well as offering analogue inputs and an ethernet port, the Cambridge Minx Air 200 is the most versatile wireless speaker we've come across yet.
It may not be much to look at it, but its incredible sense of scale and subtle detail far outweighs any superficial misgivings. With powerful dynamics and an open soundstage, the Minx Air 200 is a bold and enthusiastic player that holds its composure even at high volumes. We'd avoid placing the speaker too close to a wall or corner to avoid boomy bass, though.
Wireless speakers with such comprehensive connectivity are hard to come by, but if you want a speaker that has it all, and sounds fantastic as well, the Minx Air 200 is a great deal.
MORE: Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 full review
Best AirPlay speaker under £500
Tested at £500
From its sophisticated leather finish and equally elegant and entertaining sound, everything about the Audio Pro Allroom Air One screams quality. Refined detail and accurate timing go hand in hand with a balanced sound that's utterfly captivating.
Alongside the usual AirPlay connectivity, you can transfer your smart device's wi-fi settings to the speaker via USB – a handy feature. An optical digital input means you can also use the speaker as a soundbar, although its height might obstruct a fraction of your TV screen.
A beautifully crafted speaker with stunning sound, this AirPlay speaker will charm you away from its £500 rivals.
MORE: Read our full Audio Pro Allroom Air One review
ALSO CONSIDER: Loewe AirSpeaker
Best AirPlay speaker under £700
Tested at £700
£700 is quite a lot to pay for an AirPlay speaker, but the B&W A7 justifies the price with hi-fi sound quality and sheer simplicity of use. An app is all you need to set the speaker up, while 3.5mm, USB and ethernet inputs offer flexible connectivity, too.
A subtle but classy unit that's designed to blend into any room, the range-topping A7 impresses with incredible vocal clarity and depth of detail – it gives space to individual instruments while maintaining cohesion across complicated musical arrangements. An ability to hit deep notes with punch and weight here, as is a forgiving nature for more heavily compressed tracks.
Add in a multiroom feature, and the A7 is on its way to the hi-fi hall of fame. It's not cheap, but the A7 is worth every penny for the exciting and involving sound quality it delivers.
MORE: Read our full B&W A7 review
Best AirPlay speaker with Lightning connector
Tested at £330
Armed with a new Lightning connector dock to appease the latest batch of Apple products, the B&W Z2 also throws in wireless AirPlay connectiivity in to the mix. It's worth mentioning that you can only dock iPhone 5s and 5th generation iPods to the Z2 – iPads are a shade too big for the docking station. AirPlay set up is easily done via an app, and non-Apple aficionados can use the 3.5mm input.
Vocals are once again given prominence in the B&W Z2, and there's a surprisingly open and dynamic sound for a relatively small speaker. Subtlety and timing are strengths, too.
There's a hint of brightness at louder volumes, and we do prefer docking our Apple device for stabler sound, but overall, the Z2 is a hugely energetic and refined speaker that holds your attention with whatever song you throw at it.
MORE: Read our full B&W Z2 review