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Best Apple AirPlay speakers

Apple is in the air.

Published onDecember 19, 2023

The Best
Sonos Move 2
MSRP: $449.00
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Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 connectivity
Battery life
Decent sound quality
Alexa, Sonos VoiceControl, Siri
Can add more speakers
Needs additional accessories
Privacy lacking
No Google Assistant
No speakerphone
Best design
Denon Home 150 Wireless
MSRP: $249.00
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HEOS compatible
Integration with popular music services
USB port
Button shortcuts
Uninspired design
Requires power outlet
Best features
Bose Home Speaker 500
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Sounds great, even at high volumes
Alexa and Google Assistant built in
Streaming service integration
Good design
Microphone can be muted
Convoluted setup
Long updates which can fail
Privacy concerns, as with any smart speaker
Best for iPhone
Apple HomePod Mini
MSRP: $99.99
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Can distinguish different people's voices
Good sound quality for its size
Intercom feature
Can AirPlay from any Apple device
Microphone reliably hears wake phrase
Seamless setup
Need to have an iPhone or iPad to operate
No mute button
Hand off prompting can be annoying
No direct Spotify integration
Best sound
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
MSRP: $479.97
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Amazon Alexa and Google Assitant support
Dolby Digital support
Easy setup
Simple to connect other Sonos speakers
Not the biggest sound

If you want the best wireless audio streaming solution in your home, you’re better off using a Wi-Fi speaker system. Unlike Bluetooth, audio streaming over a network allows for higher data transfer rates. Apple AirPlay is one of the most reliable wireless streaming technologies available, with support for it increasing over time. If you’re eager to join in on the move towards network-based content streaming, take a look at this list of the best Apple AirPlay speakers currently available.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on December 19, 2023, to add the Sonos Move 2 to our Top Picks and answer more FAQs.

The best Apple AirPlay speaker is the Sonos Move 2

The Sonos Move 2 in Olive shown with included charging accessories with a blue background.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
You can charge the Sonos Move 2 while listening to it.

Sonos is best known for making high-end audio products that deliver great sound with a sleek design — if you’re willing to drop some serious cash. The Sonos Move is no exception.

This is Sonos’ second attempt at a portable speaker, featuring a more compact build in comparison to other speakers from the company. It sports an IP56 rating that allows this speaker to go anywhere—from the comfort of your living room to the beach or a hike. While the Sonos Move is portable, its handle design and heft make it a little difficult to carry around. This speaker is better suited for home use rather than your next road trip.

As a Wi-Fi speaker, the Sonos Move supports AirPlay 2, so you can stream high-quality audio straight from the Sonos Move. For other devices, such as Android smartphones, the Sonos Move still supports Bluetooth connections, though you’re limited to streaming audio using either the SBC or AAC codec.

Sonos Move 2Sonos Move 2
Sonos Move 2
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 connectivity • Battery life • Decent sound quality
MSRP: $449.00

Expand your multi-room wireless sound system with the Denon Home 150 Wireless

Image of a Denon Home 150 Wireless speaker on a countertop

If you already own a HEOS (Home Entertainment Operating System) speaker by Denon or Marantz or would like to start a multi-room setup, the Denon Home 150 Wireless could be a natural pick. The speaker features a dynamic tweeter and a mid-bass driver designed to produce amplified highs and lows. In addition to AirPlay 2, you can stream music using Wi-Fi, HEOS, or Bluetooth. Heck, you can even plug a USB drive into the respective port on the back.

The HEOS app supports a host of streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music HD, Tidal, and more. Once you set them up, you can control them directly from the app. Still enjoy listening to the radio? Use the HEOS app to associate up to three internet radio stations with the Quick Select buttons at the top of the speaker.

This speaker does not contain a battery and requires a constant power connection.

Denon Home 150 WirelessDenon Home 150 Wireless
Denon Home 150 Wireless
AirPlay 2 • Alexa compatibility • Can connect to other Denon speakers
MSRP: $249.00
This speaker has excellent sound quality and is compatible with lots of streaming services.
The Denon Home 150 Wireless is a great home speaker that can be converted into a smart speaker if you connect it to an Amazon Echo device.

The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a streaming stereo package

A man touches the panel on the top of the Bose Home Speaker 500 to adjust playback.

Bose cut its teeth on all-in-one speakers for the home, and the refinement of its expertise shows in the Bose Home Speaker 500. With an LCD display showing the artwork of your audio, it’s attractive and informative. Utilizing the capacitive controls and voice commands, you have immediate and direct control over playback.

The Home Speaker 500 has a true stereo configuration, housing dual 2.5-inch speakers. Despite the diminutive size, the speakers can get loud and still retain good sound quality. Besides Airplay compatibility, it also supports Bluetooth AAC and SBC (over version 4.2), Wi-Fi playback, Chromecast, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input. Basically, Bose covers almost all of the bases, but it doesn’t come cheaply, and you’ll have to endure the occasional long Bose updates.

Bose Home Speaker 500Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker 500
Loud sound • Good design • Helpful app
The Bose Home Speaker 500 brings room-filling sound to your smart home setup.
If you want an aesthetically pleasing smart speaker to bring you great sound and voice assistant support, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is a solid choice.

Apple users should get the Apple HomePod mini

An iPhone and Apple HomePod mini on a windowsill.
You can add multiple people to your home and allow them to control the HomePod mini from their iPhones.

You can’t expect to go through an article about AirPlay without mentioning the HomePod mini. If you’re already heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, commit even further with the company’s very own smart speaker.

For around $100, the HomePod mini offers features 360° audio, and support for multi-room playback when paired with other HomePod minis. The speaker also includes Apple’s S5 chips, enabling computational audio that analyzes and optimizes volume and EQ for playback.

To get the most out of the HomePod, you need to use an iOS device. In fact, you can’t even set up the speaker without one. On top of that, you’ll need a subscription to Apple Music to get access to features like hands-free control via Siri.

Apple HomePod MiniApple HomePod Mini
Apple HomePod Mini
Recognizes multiple voices • Best HomeKit speaker • Lots of fun colors
MSRP: $99.99
Apple's smart speaker gets a little smaller
If you're an Apple HomeKit user, you will definitely want a smart speaker for your 'Hey Siri' commands. The Apple HomePod Mini is worth a look in this regard, as it carries the features you need for a robust smart home experience.

The Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) is one of the best AirPlay speakers for home entertainment

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) soundbar rests on a wooden TV stand next to two Xbox controllers.

The Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) is one of the most popular soundbars on the market: it features a minimalist design that fits comfortably underneath many home entertainment setups.

Despite its slim figure, the Sonos Beam (2nd gen) delivers a powerful sound with accurate bass reproduction that doesn’t mask the mids and highs. Upon setup, you’re prompted to use Sonos’ Trueplay system, which uses your iPhone’s microphone to adjust the sound of your speaker according to your listening environment. Unfortunately, this feature is not totally supported on Android. However, once you’re up and running, you’re in for an enjoyable listening experience — whether you’re watching a movie or jamming to your favorite playlist. Plus you get Dolby Atmos support in the second generation Beam.

The Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) is a Wi-Fi speaker, though it can be connected to your home network via Ethernet. While AirPlay 2 is supported, there is no option to connect to the speaker via Bluetooth. Voice assistant integration is also included with the Sonos Beam (2nd Gen), with your choice of using either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Voice assistance • Easy setup • Dolby Atmos support
MSRP: $479.97
One of the best soundbars on the market
The Sonos ecosystem has something for everyone, and if you want a smart soundbar, the Beam is the one for you.

What about the Apple HomePod (2nd Generation)?

An aerial close up of the Apple HomePod (2nd Generation) with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro in the background.
Just hold an iPhone up to the HomePod to start setup.

While it’s a very decent speaker, the Apple HomePod (2nd Generation) does tend to struggle oddly with AirPlay. It’s entirely possible that you won’t have the same issues we did, but in our use, we noticed almost a second’s delay from input to audio — not exactly the kind of thing you want. There are other rough edges, too, and given the huge price difference between the HomePod and HomePod mini. That’s not to say that the new HomePod is bad by any means, but it does have some foibles where there are fewer with the mini version.

Apple HomePod (2nd generation)Apple HomePod (2nd generation)
Apple HomePod (2nd generation)
High-quality audio • Deep Apple integration • Smart home improvements
MSRP: $299.00
Apple's 2nd gen HomePod marks a return to full-sized smart speakers.
Apple's 2023 HomePod update delivers a more compact design, and smart home improvements including Matter, Thread, and built-in room climate sensors.

Listen to spatial audio with the Sonos Era 300

Sonos Era 300 on a wooden table.

Those looking for a fully kitted out Airplay compatible speaker should consider the Sonos Era 300. Inside the chunky housing are six drivers with Dolby Atmos compatibility for spatial audio to create more immersive music and movies. You have access to touch controls or the app, or you can use your preferred smart assistant (with an optional mic mute button if you’re concerned about privacy).

Utilizing the Sonos Trueplay feature, the speaker calibrates to the room to optimize sound quality. The app has an equalizer as well, but it’s a bit too rudimentary. In our review, we found sometimes the implementation could glitch with YouTube; however, it’s possible that will see a resolution in an update.

Sonos Era 300Sonos Era 300
Sonos Era 300
Dolby Atmos • Sound quality • Bluetooth, WiFi, and aux
MSRP: $449.00
The Sonos Era 300's funky design helps it to project high quality sound all around the room. It is compatible with Dolby Atmos, works with almost any streaming service, and its voice control functionality works very well. If you can afford it, this is a great speaker to add to your Sonos ecosystem.

The Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar can be your sole speaker

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar on a wooden desk.
The large size of the Ambeo Soundbar means you need a large area for setup.

Suppose you’ve got the space (and the funds). In that case, the Sennheiser Ambeo (also known as the Sennheiser Ambeo Max since rebranding) is an impressive soundbar capable of producing surround sound for your home theatre or for listening to music. The Ambeo calibrates itself to fit your room’s unique dimensions and reflectivity. It uses a whopping 13 speakers.

Sure, it’s large, but it easily takes on multiple roles: home theatre, music listening, podcast player, or whatever you need to listen to. Plus, with Airplay 2, you can add additional Airplay-compatible speakers for multi-room listening. It’s even futureproofed with MPEG-H support for video and high-quality audio. Overall, the Ambeo Max is more than just a standard soundbar or Airplay speaker. Here, we’ve barely touched the surface of its capabilities.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar MaxSennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max
SG recommended
Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max
MPEG-H support • Hard to beat sound quality • Excellent connectivity
MSRP: $2,499.00
Ambeo Max embodies the future of 3D sound
The Ambeo Max is one of the best soundbars on the market, providing a fully functioning surround sound system with built-in MPEG-H support, the next leap in broadcast standards.

Best Apple AirPlay Speakers: Notable mentions

A white Bose Portable Smart Speaker sitting on a table in front of a painting and a neon sign of a controller in the background.
The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is compact and will likely fit in with many design aesthetics.
  • Bose Portable Smart Speaker: If you’re willing to pay a premium ($399 at Amazon), this speaker offers AirPlay music streaming in a sleek and portable design — coupled with omnidirectional speakers, voice assistant integration, 12-hour battery life, and IPX4 water resistance.
  • Bose Smart Soundbar 600: This highly capable soundbar (for $499 at Amazon) combines the ease of use associated with Bose and includes Airplay too.
  • Bose Smart Soundbar 900: The physically bigger brother of the smart soundbar series will cost you ($899 at Amazon), but if you want audio that fills the room, try it.
  • Sonos Five: This pricey ($642 at Amazon) and large smart speaker is Airplay 2 compatible, but its real appeal is that you can pair it with a vinyl turntable to bridge your modern music streaming with your vinyl collection all in one unit.
  • Sonos One (Gen 2): Though the Sonos setup process is a real pain in the neck, the payoff is often worth it. This home smart speaker has in-app EQ and is humidity resistant, so you can customize your listening experience in all rooms of the house for $175 at Sonos.
  • Sonos Roam: If you’re already invested in the Sonos ecosystem, this AirPlay 2 compatible speaker with an IP67 rating could be a nice add-on to take outside. It’s portable, features Trueplay tuning, and Sonos promises a 10-hour battery life for $418 at Amazon.

What you should know about Apple AirPlay speakers

This is an image of an iPad and iPhone displaying AirPlay controls alongside the HomePod.
Apple Apple AirPlay is the company’s proprietary wireless content streaming protocol, compatible with specific devices—including the iPad, iPhone, and HomePod.

What is Apple AirPlay?

Apple developed AirPlay as a wireless content streaming protocol that lets you stream audio and video across a shared network. Seeing as this technology is proprietary, content can only be streamed from compatible devices: Windows machines streaming via Apple Music, Mac computers running macOS Catalina, and iOS devices running 11.4 or later. Receiver units, such as speakers and TVs, must have the label “Works with Apple AirPlay” on their packaging to verify compatibility.

Is AirPlay better than Bluetooth?

In short, yes. This is because AirPlay uses a Wi-Fi connection for greater transfer rates via the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), which supports eight channels of audio at 16, 20, 24, and 32-bit with a maximum sample rate of 384kHz. Unfortunately, Bluetooth doesn’t share the same streaming qualities as Wi-Fi, with transfer rates ranging from 320kbps (SBC) to 990 kbps (Sony LDAC).

Because AirPlay is proprietary technology, there aren’t a lot of compatible devices currently on the market. AirPlay-compatible devices tend to cost more than traditional Bluetooth speakers, which may deter some budget-conscious consumers.

What’s the difference between Apple AirPlay and AirPlay 2?

An aerial view of the Apple Homepod in black on a circular table.
Up top is a touch-sensitive pad for controls that also lights up when you say, “Hey, Siri.”

Apple AirPlay 2 was announced in 2017 and features multi-room functionality and HomeKit support. Multi-room audio allows you to play music from a single speaker or to any other device throughout your house — all from a single device. You can even choose different songs to play on each speaker in your home, though this requires a subscription to Apple Music.

HomeKit support gives you the ability to automate your speakers by adding them to rooms or scenes. For example, when you come home from work, you can configure HomeKit to turn on your lights, adjust the temperature, and put on a soothing track over your AirPlay 2 speakers.

Other enhancements included with AirPlay 2 include uninterrupted playback when you receive calls, shared playlist compatibility for Apple Music subscribers, and multi-device streaming support.

Please note that multi-room connectivity is only compatible with AirPlay 2 speakers. The feature will not work if you try to stream content to both an AirPlay 1 and AirPlay 2-enabled device.

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A close-up picture of a woman wearing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise canceling true wireless earbuds in Mystic Bronze.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
We get our hands and ears on as many products as possible so you can spend less time researching and more time listening.

Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market. SoundGuys’ survival depends mainly on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.

Frequently asked questions about the best AirPlay speakers

Despite having similar names, Apple AirPlay and Sonos Trueplay are quite different pieces of software. Apple AirPlay is a software for sharing audio and video from one device to another. Sonos Trueplay is a software feature that detects the acoustics of a room and tunes the audio output to best suit that specific space.

In general, to stream audio from your iPhone to an AirPlay speaker, you’ll need to locate the AirPlay devices menu within whichever media player you are using. To AirPlay audio from Spotify to a speaker, click on the media player within the Spotify app, click the speaker icon in the bottom left corner, and select Apple AirPlay. From this AirPlay menu, you’ll see the names of all your compatible speakers. Similarly, to stream YouTube, click the icon at the top of the video player that looks like a rectangle with a tilted Wi-Fi symbol in it, and then select AirPlay devices.

Most modern speakers, especially from well-known brands, tend to support AirPlay. This includes a range of products from Sonos, Bose, Denon, and Apple, among others. However, it’s crucial to always confirm compatibility before purchasing, as not all models may support AirPlay. Always look for the label “Works with Apple AirPlay” on the packaging or check the product specifications online to ensure compatibility.

For Apple users, we recommend the Apple HomePod mini and the Apple HomePod (2nd Generation) for their seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem. However, other speakers like the Sonos Move 2 and Bose Home Speaker 500 also work well with Apple devices, offering AirPlay support.

Yes, AirPlay provides high sound quality. It uses Wi-Fi for data transfer, allowing for higher bit rates and less compression compared to standard Bluetooth streaming, thus maintaining audio fidelity.

AirPlay generally offers better sound quality than Bluetooth. It uses Wi-Fi, which supports higher data transfer rates and less compression, enabling better audio reproduction compared to Bluetooth’s more limited bandwidth and higher compression.

AirPlay is designed to transmit audio without significant loss of quality. It uses a higher bandwidth available over Wi-Fi to maintain the fidelity of the audio stream, unlike many Bluetooth codecs that compress audio more heavily.

AirPlay to Sonos can be considered near-lossless. While it uses compression, the high data transfer rates of Wi-Fi mean the audio quality is very close to the original source. However, the term ‘lossless’ in strict audiophile terms may not fully apply due to some level of compression.

AirPlay supports streaming audio up to eight channels of audio at 16, 20, 24, and 32-bit with a maximum sample rate of 384kHz through the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC). This capability far exceeds standard Bluetooth codecs, offering superior audio quality.