Best AirPlay speaker systems

Best AirPlay speaker systems for your iPhone, iPad, or Mac

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.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Best AirPlay speaker systems for your iPhone, iPad, or Mac


For the hype they get everywhere else on the blogosphere, I'm surprised not to see Sonos.

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Sonos doesn't currently support AirPlay (I mention them specifically in the "other alternatives" section), or they certainly would be.

typo in the headline ...

I bought into the early "iHome" gear, which isn't shown here, but I can't recommend it really.
IMO this whole area is populated by sad, "almost works" kind of technology packaged in very ugly (supposedly "style forward"), boxes. The only one of these that wouldn't look hideous in my living room is the Cambridge one, but it succeeds only because it's boring, and is the only one that isn't purposefully ugly.

I bought 4 Tango Air's for $30 around xmas time last year -- i wouldn't buy them again. Sounds great but the connectivity is awful at times. I wish companies would provide firmware updates to these things. They seem to move onto the next product ASAP. I really like the Auris 30-pin dock connector for my Bose SoundDock. I'd say it's the best airplay device I own. :-)

We have a Zeppelin Air, it's awesome and worth the premium price (it replaced a rack of components).

Also consider that AV amplifiers such as the Yamaha RX series can also do Airplay audio -- though if you have one of those, you probably also have an AppleTV attached to it, which can do the same thing!

The Zeppelin Air is awesome - we have one in the store I work in on the weekends, and it can fill the space. It's hellaciously big, though!

Holy Carp! I couldn't even think of affording an Airplay speaker.. the $75 one is the only one I would even consider..

I have the Philips Airplay speakers.. I love mine.. got them on sale.. Only problem I have is that it resets it's Network ID to default to some blah undescript name.

WTH is with the massively overpriced speakers?

I couldn't lay my hands on Philips Fidelio products in time for this roundup, but I'm hoping to get some for next time.

Are there any Airplay speakers that support 802.11n (or ac)? It seems that for some reason Airplay speakers are limited to 802.11b/g. At least all the ones that I have seen.

All the ones I looked at were G, which is certainly sufficient to stream AirPlay audio, but can create some complexities in your Wi-Fi network topology if you're not using a dual-band router like Apple's newer AirPort Extreme.

I've got an old set of Yamaha computer speakers mounted in my backyard gazebo. I go out there with my iPad and an Airport Express. Works great! I can Airplay from the iPad or use the remote app and airplay music from my Mac indoors.

I bought last years version of the BOSE speaker for $100 from Target on Clearance. It is def worth that. We love it!

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Speakers are definitely one of the things that I typically buy from Woot and other overstock resellers. Except in terms of connectivity options, speakers don't really change that much from year to year, so if you can get last year's model at a deep discount, it's a really good move.

I'm AirPlay through myraspberry pi connected to speakers. Works well enough, but the analog sound on the rpi isn't amazing.

I have a 500€ Harman&Kardon Onyx, which supports flawlessly AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA and AuxIn (by wire).
It's just the ultimate setup for any devices at home. I took it so I can listen to Spotify on my Mac with Bluetooth for example.
AirPlay is poorly implemented in OS X...

I have the Bose Soundlink mini and it's a great Bluetooth speaker for all my devices. Not a solution for the ultimate speaker setup but a great sounding portable speaker.

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I got the SoundTouch 20 from Bose as a 30th birthday present. I've been really impressed with how good the sound is from this unit. I found the initial setup a little clunky to get it going but once I was up and running this thing cranks out some awesome sound.

I have the XtremeMac Tango Air for about a year now and it still works frawlessly with no problems. I'm suprised on how amazing the sound it offers specially for the price that I bought it for about $60 when it is actually $300 when it first launch and brand new. I totally recommend it to anyone looking for a budget AirPlay speaker specially for that price, its unbeatable. Now I'm looking for a portable bluetooth speaker for my travels any suggestions? My budget is $100 and below thank you.

It would be great to do a budget AirPlay speaker review. I realize that the budget category is still quite spendy for AirPlay, but what about sub-$100 or sub-$150 AirPlay speakers?

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