We’ve covered Bluetooth speakers in a few different price ranges in the past, but sometimes a Bluetooth speaker isn’t what you need. They’re great if you want to listen to music at the beach, but if you’re trying to sync up multiple speakers in your house they’re not always the most efficient. For that, you’re better off finding speakers that connect to your home Wifi. One of the ways to do this is via Apple Airplay. Before we get into the picks, it’s worth asking: What is Airplay?
Airplay is an Apple feature that allows iOS devices to wirelessly stream content to other devices. This allows you to stream anything that is stored locally on your source device (like movies, music, or pictures) to an external monitor or speaker. It’s that second option we’re going to focus on because not all speakers are Airplay compatible, but the ones that have the capability are worth taking a look at. Airplay speakers have some benefits that Bluetooth ones do not, like the ability to play music simultaneously through multiple speakers. Because they’re all connected to the same Wifi network, you can choose to play your music through multiple speakers at once if you have them set up correctly. Some Bluetooth speakers, like the UE Boom and some JBL products, let you do this via Bluetooth but it’s not as seamless and only works within standard Bluetooth range.
With Airplay you can play music through a single source device and have speakers on opposite sides of the house (or even in the yard) play in sync. This isn’t the only method of doing that, as Sonos has made a name for themselves with their ecosystem of Wifi speakers, but Airplay speakers are growing in popularity. This got us wondering what are some of the best Airplay speakers we’ve come across? I’m sure you want to know as well so here’s our list.
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Wren V5USFull Review
First on the list is the Wren V5US. It’s not the most portable of things at 6.6 pounds, but it doesn’t have to be. This is one of those speakers that’s designed to be a part of your decor rather than something you only take out at parties. The V5US has a smooth look that can be placed against a wall and fill the room with sound. You can choose between two kinds of wood, either the Almond Creme Anigre (pictured above) or the darker Espresso Wenge.
For the best all-around Airplay speaker, its hard to beat the Wren V5US. Wren did a good job at packing in as many possible ways to play music into this speaker as possible, one of them being Airplay. Besides Airplay, this also comes with Play-Fi compatibility (another way to play over WiFi) and of course Bluetooth with the aptX codec. The V5US even comes with a remote so that you can control the music. This could be helpful if you’re going to be playing music via your phone or iPad and don’t want to be passing it around the party. If anyone wants to control music, you can just toss them the remote instead. If you like things even simpler, the speaker also has a few basic controls on it that let you control volume and the source input. The sound is strong and can definitely fill a room nicely, and there’s also an EQ switch on the back of the speaker.
It lets you add some low end to your music and also helps the speaker fix the sound when it’s pushed up against a wall. Unless you plan on having the speaker in the middle of the living room for some reason, this is a really good idea. The speaker received an impressive 9/10 in our full review so if you’re interested make sure to check it out for all of the gritty details.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
If you’re looking for something with a more modern design, then The Zeppelin Wireless speaker from Bowers undefined Wilkins is the one for you. It isn’t cheap by any means, but you get what you pay for: a beautiful speaker with great sound. Bowers undefined Wilkins has their own ecosystem of wireless products as well, so if you have multiple speakers you can flawlessly stream to all of them simultaneously and engulf your house with music. The Zeppelin Wireless combines great design with great sound.
In terms of design it’s fairly unique, with an oval-like shape that lets it push enough to sound to fill up a room. Even though it has Bluetooth compatibility, this speaker isn’t portable and is probably best displayed on a mantle. Of course it wouldn’t be on this list if it didn’t have Airplay compatibility as well so if you’re looking for a premium new piece to add to your home audio setup the Zeppelin Wireless is worth checking out. The lows are powered by a 6.5” woofer while the highs are taken care of two double dome tweeters. Everything in the middle falls to dual mid drivers with FST technology, which is a fancy way of saying that the cone response was improved to better maintain the detail in the audio. For better sound, it also has the aptX codec for higher quality streaming. Setting it up is also simple thanks to the free control app. All you have to do is connect the speaker to your home network via the app, which is available on PC and Mac as well as iOS. On the back of the speaker you’ll find everything you need to hook it up and get it going: the power input, 3.5mm input, and an ethernet input.
If you don’t like messy cables all over the place don’t worry, it can also connect wirelessly to your Wifi as well. Also on the back are some touch controls that let you control volume and pause or play music. Overall if you’re serious about your home audio, the Zeppelin Wireless is a solid addition to any setup. It has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon so if you’re interested make sure to give it a listen for yourself.
Libratone ZIPP MiniFull Review
Sometimes a speaker product just has a certain level of style to it whether it’s because of design or functionality. Luckily, the Libratone Zipp Mini has both. There is also a larger version of this speaker just called the Libratone ZIPP, but for $50 less you get a lot of what its larger brother has to offer in a more portable package. The ZIPP mini is a hybrid between a portable Bluetooth speaker and a home audio speaker with Airplay functionality.
The ZIPP Mini might be the best value speaker you’ll find. If you’re looking to start a home audio setup this is a good one to start with since it has the best of both worlds: the continuity of Airplay and the portability of Bluetooth. The tall cylindrical design allows for 360 degree audio so unlike the V5US, this one is meant to be in the middle of the room rather than against a wall. The speaker also has a built-in amp with 60 Watts of power. Inside the speaker is a 4” woofer, two 1” inch tweeters, and two 4” low frequency radiators to provide a frequency range of 40Hz – 20kHz. Since it’s also somewhat portable, it has a built-in battery that should last you about 9-10 hours when it’s off the charger. Up top is a touch interface that let’s you create what Libratone calls “Soundscapes”. Basically this syncs up to six ZIPP speakers together so you can control which ones are playing what. You can do this via the app as well, but there’s something a little more satisfying about watching the button glow when you press it. Sync two together for the living room, another two for the yard, and control both sets right from your device.
If you’re not a fan of the cloudy grey color pictured above you’re in luck, because the ZIPP mini is available in a few other color options as well. The fabric covering is interchangeable and you can choose between six other colors: atlantic deep, deep lagoon, vibrant red, graphite grey, sangria or signal.
As more and more speakers receive Airplay compatibility we’ll be sure to update this list with the best ones we come across. Make sure to check out some of our other best lists below if this wasn’t exactly what you were looking for.
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