There was a time when if you wanted to listen to music in the comfort of your own home, then you’d need a whole host of bulky equipment including dedicated standalone speakers, a stereo amplifier and a CD player or turntable to provide your tunes.
However with the move towards digital music that started with music players like the iPod, and has continued with smartphones and streaming services such as Spotify, the need for a dedicated Hi-fi setup isn’t as great as what it once was.
These days, so long as a speaker is capable of accessing your music from streaming services it should be able to handle most of what the average person listens to, though certain models are also able to access music stored on a home network in case Spotify doesn’t have your favorite tracks.
This movement towards streaming has been reflected in audio sales, with John Lewis recently reporting that 70% of its audio sales are now of wireless products rather than traditional Hi-fi.
So if you’re looking for a speaker that you can easily control with your smartphone to access streamed music then look no further than our guide to the best connected speakers you can buy today.
1. Sonos Play:5
Another excellent flagship speaker from the multi-room king
Weight: 6.3kg | Size: 204mm x 364mm x 154mm | Drivers: 3 x mid-woofers, 3 x tweeters | Supported Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Ethernet: Yes | Aux-in: Yes | USB: No
Sonos was one of the first companies to get into the connected speaker business, and as a result has one of the most seamlessly integrated speaker systems on the market.
The Sonos Play:5 is the company's flagship, and has the
Unlike solutions which rely on Bluetooth or Google Cast, Sonos' speakers are controlled directly from its own app, which has built in integration for a number of streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Deezer, TuneIn a whole range of smaller services.
Since this is a multi-room setup, you can also add additional speakers such as the Sonos Play:3 and Sonos Play:1 to built up a complete surround sound system, but if you want to keep it simple, then you should find the Play:5 to offer more than enough sound.
Read the full review: Sonos Play:5
2. Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless
An iconically designed speaker for the connected age
Weight: 6.5kg | Size: 188mm x 660mm x 183mm | Drivers: 2 x Tweet , 2 x Mid-range, 1 x Subwoofer | Supported Connectivity: AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth aptX | Ethernet: Yes | Aux-in: Yes | USB: No
It's a tough call between this speaker and the Mu-So Qb for the best looking music player on this list, but the Zeppelin is certainly the most striking.
But as with all these speakers, the proof is in the pudding, and the Zeppelin sounds absolutely stunning no matter what volume you play it at. Its bass is distortion free, and its mid-range is nice and punchy.
It's also backed by a complete swath of connectivity options, so you'll have no problem getting your more obscure apps playing through the speaker.
The only problem is its price: $699 (£499 / AU$999). But while the sticker price ensures that only serious audiophiles will give it some consideration, it's a lot less pricey than the Mu-So Qb, and you get a similar level of sound quality.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless
3. Mu-So Qb
Stunning looks, but thankfully not just a pretty face
Weight: 5.6kg | Size: 210mm x 218mm x 212mm | Drivers: 1 x Woofer, 2 x Mid-range, 2 x Tweeter, 2 x Passive Radiator | Supported Connectivity: UPnP, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth aptX | Ethernet: Yes | Aux-in: Yes | USB: Yes
You might not have heard of it before, but Naim audio is a company that produces some of the most stylish connected speakers in the business, and we think the Mu-So Qb is the best they've put out yet.
It comes will a full suite of connectivity options including aptX Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and AirPlay, which means all of your music should be supported at its maximum resolution, no matter what device you're using.
But even if you don't have your phone in hand, the speaker is still controllable using its sleek touch-screen which allows you to access internet radio stations, for example.
It's got a premium price, but if you pluck for the Qb then you won't be disappointed.
Read the full review: Mu-So Qb
4. Ruark Audio R2 Mk3
Connected smarts combined with a capable DAB radio
Weight: 3.6kg | Size: 120mm x 130mm x 185mm | Drivers: 2 x custom units | Supported Connectivity: DAB(+), DLNA, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth aptX | Ethernet: No | Aux-in: Yes | USB: Yes
Ruark Audio is a company that started out by making radios, and this heritage is clearly visible today in its current speakers, which still keeps one foot in the world of radio with full FM,DAB and Internet radio connectivity.
The R2 is a great looking speaker, especially if you opt for the walnut finish, and it backs up these looks with an absolutely amazing sound, which is amazingly rich and full as we'd want out of a living room speaker.
We could have done with AirPlay or Google Cast support to help with streaming apps other than Spotify from an iOS device, but if you're someone that relies on this streaming service, then it should be more than connected enough for your needs.
It's control knob is also one of the neatest little bits of design in the business.
Read the full review: Ruark Audio R2 Mk3
5. BlueSound Pulse
Hi-res sound from a high-end speaker
Weight: 6.1kg | Size: 420mm x 190mm x 197mm | Drivers: n/a | Supported Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Ethernet: Yes | Aux-in: No | USB: Yes
Bluesound is a big believer in the Sonos school of thought when it comes to connected speakers. This means that all your music played through the Pulse is controlled through a central app rather than relying on other technologies like Google Cast or Spotify Connect.
Thankfully its app is well-stocked with all the streaming services you could possible need, including Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and TuneIn, although disappointingly there's no built in connectivity for Apple Music.
What's also impressive is that the centralised app brings all your music together from its different sources, meaning you can happily mix Spotify and Tidal exclusives into a single playlist without having to worry about switching apps.
It's an absolutely stunning sounding speaker to boot, the only thing preventing it from rising further up this list is its price, which places it firmly in audiophile territory.
Regardless, if you want a premium connected speaker experience, then the BlueSound Pulse is an excellent choice.
Read the full review: BlueSound Pulse
Did we miss one? Have a recommendation that you want to share? Hit us up in the comments below!