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Best AirPlay speakers 2022: wireless streaming for Apple devices

Best AirPlay speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best AirPlay speakers you can buy in 2022.

AirPlay speakers don't have to be made by Apple, but it does help. There are plenty of other five-star ways of streaming wireless music from an iPhone, iPad or Mac, but AirPlay is an effective way to do multi-room without getting locked into a single audio brand. AirPlay is simple and, while Bluetooth is ubiquitous, there are still advantages to choosing one of the best AirPlay speakers instead.

Apple's streaming technology can stretch over a longer distance, for example. AirPlay also uses lossless compression rather than lossy Bluetooth, and the direct connection between the iOS device and the AirPlay speaker gives you control over both the volume of your speaker and the volume of your device.

How to choose the best AirPlay speaker for you

Size and aesthetics aside, you need to know the perks of opting for a speaker with AirPlay baked in. Thanks to AirPlay 2, multi-room playback is on the menu – and it is not limited to Apple-branded products. There's also the promise of improved audio buffering and multiple control access across iOS devices to acknowledge (a useful touch for multi-room streaming).

If you're not quite ready to give up one technology for the other, you will be pleased to note that most AirPlay speakers also offer Bluetooth, so you won't miss out on any functionality. Plus, it means you can use the product with non-iOS source devices too.

If you want to keep your Apple Music experience entirely on brand, these are your best AirPlay speaker options. You may be surprised to see that the Apple HomePod isn't on this list. The reason? Oh it's nothing to do with performance. Despite its five-star rating (and the fact that it's a belter of an AirPlay smart speaker) in March 2021 Apple announced it was discontinuing it to focus its efforts on the HomePod Mini – which is absolutely on our list. 

Best airplay speaker

(Image credit: Naim)
The Mu-so Qb has matured over the years since its first generation.

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 21 x 22 x 21
Features: wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Roon Ready, Bluetooth V5.0 multi-room

Reasons to buy

+
Open, detailed and expressive
+
Loads of streaming options
+
Multi-room ready

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing at this price

While the Apple HomePod Mini (below) comes with all the company's signature technologies, if you want top quality sound from an AirPlay 2 speaker – and have the budget for it – the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation is well worth a look.

Capable of hi-res playback up to 24-bit/384kHz, the new Qb betters its predecessors performance with even greater clarity, precision timing and stunning dynamic range. We loved it so much we gave it a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation

Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII

(Image credit: Audio Pro)
Audio Pro adds Google Cast and AirPlay 2 to a winning recipe

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 16.6 x 32 x 18cm
Power: 2x20W + 40W Digital class D
Features: wi-fi, multi-room, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2
Connections: RCA, sub out

Reasons to buy

+
Levelled-up streaming support
+
Greater clarity
+
Cleaner and tighter bass

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks the fun of the original

The 2021 update (sensibly titled MkII) to the three-time Award-winning Audio Pro C10 (below) adds AirPlay 2 and Google Cast to complete a multi-room home run – and snaps up a What Hi-Fi? 2021 Award to boot.

When we tested its older sibling, we pitted it against models almost double its price and found it bettered them. We’re happy to report that it's still the case today – if £500 ($500) is your maximum budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a speaker that comes close to the Audio Pro C10 MkII. 

We sort of miss the fun leather handle and the sonic presentation of the original, but we can't argue with three options for multi-room streaming (AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Audio Pro's own slick and functional app) or the levelled-up grippy bass and improved hi-fidelity performance. 

Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII 

Best airplay speaker

Another class-leader from a company on a roll.

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 16.6 x 32 x 18
Power: 2 x 20 W + 40 W Class D
Features: wi-fi, multi-room, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, AirPlay
Connections: 3.5 mm stereo, Sub Out, RCA

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 – even if it has been superseded by the MkII above. 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. 

Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10

Best airplay speaker

(Image credit: JBL)
This wireless speaker is a winner at this level.

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 17 x 8.8 x 8.8
Power: 20W
Features: Bluetooth V4.2, Spotify, wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Google Assistant
Connections: wireless only

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive sound
+
Packed with features
+
Premium design

Reasons to avoid

-
No JBL Connect support
-
Fussy over placement

The market is full to bursting with portable Bluetooth speakers in the sub-£150 bracket, but not all of them have the JBL Link Portable’s neat features which include hands-free voice assistance, a charger cradle, wireless streaming via wi-fi and, most importantly, Apple AirPlay 2.

An IPX7 rating means it’s fully waterproof (to a depth of one metre, for up to 30 minutes) and, once USB-C-charged, you’ll get eight hours of wireless music out of it.

Soundwise, it has oodles of detail for a speaker of its size and an expansive mix with everything present, including bass. Provided you have a solid surface at home and you’re not looking to daisy-chain it with another JBL speaker, it has a lot going for it.

Read the full review: JBL Link Portable

Apple HomePod Mini

(Image credit: Apple)
Apple’s new Siri-powered smart speaker is small but mighty

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 8.4 x 9.8 x 9.8
Power: 20W
Features: Bluetooth 5.0, Siri, Apple Music, AirPlay 2, music over wi-fi
Connections: None

Reasons to buy

+
Sophisticated, engaging sound
+
Substantial smart skills
+
Impressive music discovery

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited third-party service support
-
Lacks a full control app

The HomePod Mini really is bijou. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s quite a bit smaller than the similarly spherical new Amazon Echo. In fact, it’s even dwarfed by the new Echo Dot. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running (when Siri is listening or processing) though, and you realise you've got a classy performer on your hands. 

It goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the HomePod Mini comfortably outperforms its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound.

Siri is your voice assistant, and after a short period of learning it'll respond to the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” not by streaming your most played track of the last few weeks, but by playing something that you may have never listened to before but is a good fit for what you often do listen to. It’s a really powerful way to discover new music, and Alexa is nowhere near as good at it.

Read the full review: Apple HomePod Mini

Best airplay speaker

(Image credit: Linn)
The best-sounding AirPlay speaker we’ve heard.

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm):25 x 29.6 x 20.6
Power: : 2x100W
Features: Wireless integrated Linn DSM player, Exakt digital crossover
Connections: Ethernet, USB, HDMI ARC

Reasons to buy

+
Wonderfully articulate
+
Luxury design
+
HDMI ARC for TV connection

Reasons to avoid

-
No analogue inputs
-
No Tidal Masters support

The Series 3 is the best sounding AirPlay speaker there is. No doubt. It's also seriously, seriously expensive for a wireless box.

Part of that outlay goes towards Linn’s proprietary Exakt technology which aims to reduce phase errors by intentionally delaying higher frequencies so that they arrive at your ear at the same time as lower frequencies. It also keeps the music signal’s data in the digital domain for as long as possible to avoid any degradation caused by signal processing. 

We’ve heard Exakt do its thing in many a Linn product before, and here again it contributes to an absorbing performance. What’s striking is the stunning midrange clarity and low-end agility which make the Series 3 a sharp performer and far more insightful than its more affordable competitors, too.

There's no Tidal Masters support but there is an HDMI ARC socket which allows you use the Series 3 for your TV sound.

Read the full review: Linn Series 3 

Best airplay speaker

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)
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 speaker

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 speaker

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, 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 speaker

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 speaker

(Image credit: Future)
Audio Pro's flagship multi-room speaker is an absolute delight.

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 65 x 52 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, then 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

How we choose the best AirPlay speakers 

The What Hi-Fi? team tests hundreds of products every year – and that includes the newest AirPlay-enhanced speakers. How do we come to our review verdicts and why should you trust them? Give us two minutes of your time... 

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, UK, where our team of expert reviewers handles every step of all independent testing process. This gives us complete control, ensuring consistency and impartiality. 

All products are tested in comparison with rivals in the same price category (often What Hi-Fi? Award-winners) and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure neutrality and avoid any personal preference.

Finally, we choose the culmination of our efforts – the best products from all of our in-depth reviews – to feature in our Best Buys, which is where you are now. If you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.

Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.