Best AirPlay speaker systems

AirPlay makes it easy to stream your music from your Mac or iOS device. Here are five speaker systems that make AirPlay sound spectacular

AirPlay is Apple's secret weapon when it comes to integrating with your home entertainment system. It's the video and audio streaming technology that makes it possible for your iPhone, iPad or your Mac to take over your television through an Apple TV, but that's only part of its appeal.

A lot of us love to listen to music while we work, do chores, exercise and entertain. If you're looking for a compact speaker system that helps you get the most out of your AirPlay-equipped Apple device, I've rounded up five of my favorites here.

XtremeMac Tango Air

XtremeMac's Tango Air sports two tweeters, two full-range speakers, a subwoofer and a passive radiator and a design that can either be stood upright like a tower speaker or set on its side (a handle on the top makes it easy to cart around, too).

A rear USB slot lets you charge your iOS device if you line, an an aux line-in lets you connect other devices that don't support AirPlay. There's no internal battery so the speaker's not as portable as some of the others on this list, but it's also available for a fraction of the price. If you're on a budget, you'll have a hard time finding a comparable AirPlay-equipped speaker at the same value as this one.

Libratone Zipp

The Libratone Zipp is one of the best portable speakers on the market. It sounds fantastic and is easily portable, to take with you around the house or when you're out at the beach or wherever else you want to hear music. The Zipp gets its name from the removable wool covers that come in different colors, so you can customize your Zipp to match your decor or your mood.

Inside the Zipp sports two 1-inch ribbon tweeters and a 4-inch bass driver. A built-in rechargeable battery works for about eight hours before needing to get juiced up. In addition to AirPlay the Zipp supports USB audio, has a 3.5mm input jack and also works with DLNA, a streaming service popular on Windows and Android.

Libratone touts their "FullRoom" technology, which disperses sound in a 360 degree field around the speaker, so it fills up the room no matter where it is - there isn't a "sweet spot" where the music sounds the best, like there is on most speakers.

Bose SoundTouch 20

Room-filling sound is Bose's speciality, and you won't be disappointed with the SoundTouch 20, the middle of the SoundTouch line and a nice balance between size and features. Bose's SoundTouch 20 sports AirPlay, Ethernet and and aux in minijack.

You can set up to six personalized presets and control the whole thing using a free SoundTouch app. A built-in OLED display shows source song/station info, and an infrared remote lets you control the SoundTouch from across the room.

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200

Cambridge Audio's Minx Air 200 sports a 6.5 inch subwoofer and two 2.25-inch drivers inside a single enclosure powered by a 200 watt amp. It supports AirPlay, of course, but also works via Bluetooth and Ethernet. A bass port is incorporated into the speaker handle for nice, rich, resonant sound.

The speaker system sports buttons to enable you to listen to up to five different Internet radio stations without needing any sort of external control, though a free downloadable Minx Air app for your iPhone and iPad lets you remote-control the speaker with up to ten presets, volume control, bass and EQ.

It's premium-priced but you get a lot for your money — a compact system that can play loud, sounds rich and has a lot of functionality besides just AirPlay.

Bowers & Wilkins A7

Bowers & Wilkins is well-known among audiophiles for their uncompromising attention to detail and sound quality. Nowhere is that more evident than in their A7, which incorporates a 6-inch subwoofer and four full-range drivers mated to a five amps that output a combined 100W. The net result is gorgeous, room-filling audio.

Setting up the A7 on your network is a breeze thanks to a free app that walks you through the process. If the network is down for some reason, you can hook it up to a Mac or PC using USB and stream music that way instead, if you prefer. There's also an Ethernet jack and input minijack.

Some of Bowers & Wilkins products make a statement in the room — the company's flagship Nautilus speakers or the Zeppelin Air desktop speaker system, for example. The lines of the A7 are understated and elegant; this system lets the sound speak for itself.

Other alternatives

This isn't a comprehensive list of AirPlay-equipped speaker systems; that list is always changing as manufacturers add new products and discontinue others. You may find a great deal on a closeout item that would be well outside your price range that still works great; definitely consider them when you can find them.

If your favorite speakers system doesn't work with AirPlay (like Sonos' popular systems, for example), there may still be hope. Apple's own AirPort Express turns almost any audio system into an AirPlay setup as long as it can accept audio input through the 3.5-mm minijack, which works both with analog and optical digital sound systems.

Hopefully you've found something here that fits your needs and your budget. Have you picked one of these or did you get something else? Let me know in the comments.