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Best AirPlay speakers 2019: wireless streaming for Apple devices

Best AirPlay speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best AiPlay speakers you can buy in 2019.

AirPlay speakers are a great way to stream wireless music if you own an iPhone, iPad or Mac. It's simple and effective, and, while Bluetooth is ubiquitous, there are still  advantages to choosing an AirPlay speaker instead. 

Apple's streaming technology can stretch over a longer distance. AirPlay uses lossless compression rather than lossy Bluetooth, and the direct connection between iOS device and the AirPlay speaker gives you control over the volume of your speaker as well as the volume of your device. If you're not quite ready to give up one technology for the other, then you'll be please to note that most AirPlay speakers will also offer Bluetooth, so you won't miss out on any functionality.

Thanks to AirPlay 2, multi-room playback is now on the menu - and not limited to just Apple-branded products - plus there's the promise of improved audio buffering and multiple control access across iOS devices (a useful touch for multi-room streaming). So if you want to keep your Apple Music experience entirely on brand, these are your outstanding AirPlay speaker options. And with Black Friday around the corner, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.

Best airplay speaker

1. Apple HomePod

Apple's smart speaker sounds better than most.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 17.2 x 14.2 x 14.2 | Features: wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth V5.0 multi-room, Siri voice assistant, Apple Music

Reasons to Buy

Compact, solid, stylish
Great positional set-up
Weighty, authoritative sound

Reasons to Avoid

Relies heavily on voice control
Muddled mid-range
Too Apple-centric

We had to wait a while for Apple's smart speaker, but the performance of the HomePod made it all worthwhile. This speaker truly delivers where sound is concerned, offering music with a weight and authority to challenge the best around. That it has wireless skills and the Siri voice assistant onboard are the icing on the audio cake. The HomePod assumes you're fully on board with the ecosystem, and happy to use voice commands, but for dedicated Apple users, this AirPlay speaker will be hard to beat.

Read the full review: Apple HomePod

Best airplay speakers 2019

2. Audio Pro Addon C10

Another class-leader from a company on a roll.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 11.5 x 21.5 x 13.5 | Power: 2x5W + 15W Digital class D | Features: wi-fi, multi-room, Bluetooth V4.0, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay | Connections: 3.5 mm stereo

Reasons to Buy

Rich, powerful performance
Expert sense of timing
Multi-room functionality

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

Audio Pro currently makes some of the best wireless speakers on the market and the Addon C10 is another impressive Award-winning model. Connectivity is among the most thorough you can expect at the money, with AirPlay joined by the option of wi-fi and Bluetooth, plus aux and RCA inputs. It has all the major music streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz. The Addon C10 sounds big and bold, but is equally able to capture the subtler, more nuanced tracks as it is firing out big bassy numbers. Every inch the Award winner and an ideal iPhone companion. 

Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10

Best airplay speakers 2019

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

3. Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge

A stylish AirPlay speaker of genuine quality.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 25.4 x 28 x 26cm | Power: 2x40W tweeter + 2x40W midrange + 80W sub | Features: wi-fi, multi-room, Bluetooth V4.1, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay, Roon Ready, DSP | Connections: Ethernet

Reasons to Buy

Detailed, balanced sound
Multi-room integration
Quality build

Reasons to Avoid

Limited B&W app
Expensive

Pricey, pricey but oh so good. The Wedge is the spiritual successor to the super-successful B&W Zeppelin but it's got so much more besides. Roon-ready, this elliptical multi-driver speaker is one of the company's Formation multi-room products and allows you to stream 24-bit/96 kHz hi-res audio through its tweeters, woofers and sub.

Sound-wise, it's obviously a treat. Vocals are textured and emotive, audio is detailed and distinguished and there's some great dynamism on offer. Not as authoritative at the bottom as the Mu-so below but it beats it for refinement and clarity.

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge

Best airplay speakers 2019

4. Naim Mu-so 2

A super-sounding and feature-packed premium wireless speaker.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 12.2 x 62.8 x 26.4 | Power: 450W | Features: Bluetooth V4.0, multi-room, wi-fi, UPnP, Spotify, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Tidal | Connections: 3.5mm stereo, optical, Ethernet, HDMI ARC

Reasons to Buy

Sensational detail and dynamics
Convincing bass
Loads of wireless and streaming features

Reasons to Avoid

That price tag

Such is the breadth of choice when it comes to AirPlay speakers, you can spend under £100 or well over £1000. Take the Naim Mu-so-2. It's extensive feature set includes all manner of wireless streaming technologies such as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. Streaming services like Tidal and Spotify are also supported as is high-res audio to the tune of 24-bit/88kHz. It's not just about streaming, though, with a HDMI ARC input allowing you to hook up a TV and boost its sound at the same time.

The Naim looks like a premium speaker and it sounds like one too, with a rich, confident sound, packed full of detail and delivered with immense rhythmic drive. Bass is plentiful and of a high quality. If your budget allows, you'll be suitable impressed.

Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2

Best airplay speakers 2019

5. Sonos One

Sonos sound quality meets Alexa voice control smarts.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 16.1 x 12 x 12 | Power: 2x Digital class D | Features: wi-fi, Bluetooth V4.0, Alexa voice assistant, AirPlay 2, multi-room, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, SoundCloud, Deezer, Tidal | Connections: Ethernet

Reasons to Buy

Stylish and unobtrusive
Solid, sophisticated sound
Alexa well integrated

Reasons to Avoid

No hi-res audio

The second-generation Sonos One is really a Sonos Play:1 in new clothing, but that's no bad thing. It now boasts Amazon's Alexa smart assistant for voice controls, and it's all the better for it. In fact, with its room-filling sound, it stands apart from the glut of smart speakers that are smart first and speakers second. Throw in Apple's AirPlay 2 tech and the fact that the One fits seamlessly into a multi-room set-up, and you've got a winner on your hands.

Read the full review: Sonos One

Best airplay speakers 2019: portable, multi-room, smart speakers

6. Audio Pro Addon C3

A talented portable AirPlay speaker with excellent sound quality.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 11.5 x 21.5 x 13.5 | Power: 2x5W + 15W Digital class D | Features: wi-fi, multi-room, Bluetooth V4.0, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay | Connections: Ethernet, 3.5 mm stereo

Reasons to Buy

Impressive timing
Solid build
Tight, textured bass

Reasons to Avoid

App could be slicker

The Audio Pro C3 sports the same minimalist look that the Scandinavian company is known for, with textured surfaces and embossed leather carry handle, but the wireless tech adds a whole new dimension to your listening. It's just a shame that controlling it using the smartphone app isn't a bit better thought through. Still, this is a belter of a speaker, complete with up to 15 hours of battery life, to make it a fine home or outdoor speaker.

Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3

best airplay speakers 2019

(Image credit: Future)

7. Audio Pro Drumfire

Audio Pro's flagship multi-room speaker is an absolute delight.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 15.5 x 36.5 x 19 | Power: 300W Digital class D | Features: Bluetooth V4.0, multi-room, wi-fi, Spotify, AirPlay 2 | Connections: 3.5mm stereo

Reasons to Buy

Nice and loud
Good impression of space
Great build quality

Reasons to Avoid

App needs work

Although we’re prepared to give it some good-natured ribbing for an aesthetic that abandons the trend of other Audio Pro speakers, the Drumfire is put together very well. The big bottom portion of the Drumfire houses a 20cm subwoofer powered by a 200W Class D amplifier to pump bass into the room. And you can hear it. If you want a seriously powerful, seriously impressive sound - look no further. You get plenty of volume and weight but don't be thinking this speaker can't also do subtle; it's a highly-accomplished wireless speaker, whatever you throw at it. Add in multi-room connectivity and the option to extend the Audio Pro family and you have an enticing, excellent high-end speaker.

Read the full review: Audio Pro Drumfire

(Image credit: Future)

8. Devialet Silver Phantom

Innovative both inside and out.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 25.5 x 25.3 x 34.3 | Power: 3000W | Features: Bluetooth, wi-fi, Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, UpNP | Connections: Optical cable

Reasons to Buy

Huge sound for its size
Rhythmically good fun
Innovative technology

Reasons to Avoid

Lacks some subtlety

Devialet doesn't do subtle, simple, or under-designed. The Silver Phantom is the optimum example of its wireless speaker design. Packing huge amounts of power inside a sleek cabinet complete with side-firing drivers, it can go louder than the average motorbike and thankfully sounds much sweeter on the ears.

Not just a pretty face, it's well-specified with AirPlay, Spotify Connect and multi-room options, and delivers possibly the best sound we’ve heard from an AirPlay speaker – bolder, bigger and louder than its size would suggest.

Read the full review: Devialet Silver Phantom