Skip to main content

Best AirPlay speakers: the top Apple-friendly wireless speakers in 2021

the best airplay speakers, including models from Naim, Sonos, and Apple
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best AirPlay speakers let you stream music, podcasts or audiobooks from your iPhone or iPad directly to a speaker in your home. This means you can enjoy room-filling sound from your phone without the need for a more complex entertainment set-up.

AirPlay is the name of Apple’s wireless streaming standard. So, maybe without knowing it, if you already own Apple products, like iPhones, iPads, an Apple TV or even an Apple HomePod, you're probably using AirPlay.

But to make the most of AirPlay and the products you have already, you need some AirPlay speakers. This is why we’ve selected our favorite AirPlay-friendly speakers in our guide below. Because although there are many smart speakers on the market to choose from, not all of them will play nicely with your current Apple devices.

Back in 2019, AirPlay 2 – the next generation of Apple's cutting-edge proprietary wireless platform – arrived on the scene. This turned the Apple streaming standard into a proper multi-room platform – it even added Siri integration into wireless speakers that never would've had it before, too. 

That’s when AirPlay was also added to more devices, including Samsung TVs. A few years on, and even more TV brands have at least three or four TV options with AirPlay, including LG, Sony and Vizio, too. 

But assuming you don’t have an AirPlay-enabled TV right now, which are the best AirPlay 2 speakers for you? We've rounded up the very best models you can buy right now, including soundbars and Bluetooth speakers. And don't forget - with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up soon, many of the speakers in this guide could be discounted heavily in the sales.

Our top picks

The apple homepod mini in black and white

(Image credit: Apple)

The best AirPlay speaker you can buy

Specifications
Weight: 0.76lbs
Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.9 x 3.9 inch / 8.43 x 9.79 x 9.79 cm
Drivers: Full-range driver and dual passive radiators for deep bass and crisp high frequencies
Supported connectivity : Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, AirPlay
Aux-in: No
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Incredible sound+Sleek design
Reasons to avoid
-Needs Apple Music for full function-Siri and the smart home features need work

For anyone looking to enter the Apple smart ecosystem, or who has an Apple Music subscription, the HomePod mini is a great option. It's far cheaper than some might expect, packing mighty sounds and an elegant design for under $100 / £100 / AU$150. 

For us, the audio performance is the key reason to buy the HomePod mini. It's excellent for a speaker that's so small, and it really feels like the right mix of price and sound quality. The bass isn't too heavy, vocals aren't lost in the mix, and when you pair two minis the stereo experience is really immersive. There may be better-sounding speakers in this list, but the HomePod mini is certainly the best value, and the best speaker to use in a wider Apple ecosystem.

Wondering about the original HomePod? It's been discontinued, though you can still buy it while stocks last.

Read more: Apple HomePod mini review

Border used to separate products

A pair of Sonos One smart speakers, one in white and one in black

(Image credit: Sonos)

The best AirPlay speaker for multiroom audio

Specifications
Weight: 1.85kg (4.08 lbs)
Size: 6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 in
Drivers: 1 x tweeters, 1 x woofer
Supported Connectivity: AirPlay, Bluetooth 4.2, Google Cast, Spotify Connect, 3.5mm, RCA
Ethernet: No
Aux-in: Yes
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Full-bodied, rich sound+Alexa and Google Assistant support+AirPlay 2 support
Reasons to avoid
-No Hi-Res Audio support

Given that this is a Sonos speaker, you won’t be surprised to hear that the Sonos One sounds pretty fantastic. Throw Elegie by Mouse on the Keys at the speaker, and sound has real punch and energy to it. The song’s kickdrum... well... has kick to it, and drives the energy of the song. It’s an impressive amount of power from such a small speaker. 

This AirPlay speaker even deals admirably with more complicated pieces of music. Silent Earthling by Three Trapped Tigers sounds clear and crisp, despite the multiple layers of instruments circulating throughout the song. 

With AirPlay 2, you can play any sound from an iPhone or iPad, or Mac computer – including YouTube videos and Netflix movies – on the Sonos One. You can also ask any Siri-enabled device to control Apple Music on Sonos speakers.

Read more: Sonos One Review

Border used to separate products

The mu-so qb smart speaker

The best AirPlay speaker for stylish homes

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Amazing looks+Full and vibrant sound +Small form factor
Reasons to avoid
-Setup isn't seamless

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, this wireless 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 more: Mu-So Qb review

Border used to separate products

The Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge smart speaker in black

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

The best AirPlay speaker with an iconic design

Specifications
Weight: 6.5kg
Size: 232 x 440 x 243 (H x W x D)
Drivers: 2 x 25mm (1 in) double dome tweeter, 2 x 90 mm (3.5 in) FST midrange, 1 x 150mm (6 in) subwoofer
Supported Connectivity: Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Ethernet: Yes
Aux-in: No
USB: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Unique looks+Clever engineering+Big, wide soundstage
Reasons to avoid
-Limited connectivity

It will divide people with its looks, and it will exclude some people with its price, but the Formation Wedge is Bowers & Wilkins doing what it does best, delivering bold looks and bigger sound.

Sound from the Wedge is spread far and wide, without becoming vague or ill-focused, and there’s enough outright power to fill even large rooms with sound. While it’s apparent where the music originates, there’s a much less pronounced ‘sweet spot’ than some less capable wireless speakers generate and the Wedge is an enjoyable listen, no matter where you are in relation to it.

Bluetooth (proper aptX HD Bluetooth, what’s more) is available, as is Spotify Connect. And, of course, Apple AirPlay 2.

Read more: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge review

Border used to separate products

the sonos arc soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

The best AirPlay speaker for your TV

Specifications
Weight: 6.25kg
Size: 1141.7 x 87 x 115.7mm (W x H x D)
Drivers: N/A
Supported Connectivity: Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Ethernet: Yes
Aux-in: No
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Dolby Atmos, TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus+Discrete all-in-one soundbar+Amazing surround sound and music playback
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t suit every room

The Sonos Arc draws on Dolby’s latest TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus sound codecs to deliver the best quality lossless audio found on cutting edge Blu-ray disks and some of the leading streaming services. It then enhances the 3D soundscape using Dolby Atmos object tracks to bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so they feel like they’re coming at you from all angles.

While all this might sound complicated, the Sonos Arc setup couldn’t be simpler, involving just a couple of steps on the smartphone app. The minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to this no-fuss feeling and streamlined aesthetic – making it the best soundbar you can buy in 2021 that doubles up as a fantastic AirPlay speaker for your TV.

And, if you're looking for something a little cheaper, be sure to check out the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which also comes with AirPlay 2 support.

Read more: Sonos Arc review

Border used to separate products

The Sonos Roam portable smart speaker in black

(Image credit: Sonos)

The best Bluetooth speaker with AirPlay

Specifications
Weight: 0.43kg
Size: 168mm x 62mm x 60mm (H x W x D)
Drivers: Two class-H amplifiers, one tweeter, and one midwoofer
Supported Connectivity: Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Ethernet: No
Aux-in: No
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Powerful audio performance+Easily portable design
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly pricey-Bass can be overwhelming

The Sonos Roam is our pick for the best Bluetooth speaker on the planet, with a powerful sound, rugged design, excellent connectivity features, and smart home control. A bass-heavy audio performance makes it ideal for use outdoors, while a clever Automatic Switching feature means it's easily used indoors, too – though audiophiles may dislike the overwhelming low frequencies and rhythmic handling.

Following in the footsteps of the Sonos Move, the Sonos Roam comes with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity along with AirPlay support, which means it can work as a portable speaker as well as part of your wider multi-room Sonos system – and with Google Assistant and Alexa onboard, it doubles up a smart speaker too. 

In spite of its (relatively) low price you’re getting a lot for your money here. Its slick design means the Sonos Roam won’t look out of place in your home, while a rugged, waterproof and dustproof build and a decent battery life make it ideal for listening to music outdoors. 

Read more: Sonos Roam review

Border used to separate products

the amazon Echo studio wireless speaker

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best AirPlay speaker for Alexa fans

Specifications
Weight: 7.7lbs
Size: 206 x 175mm
Drivers: 1 x upward-firing midrange speaker, 1 x right-firing midrange speaker, 1 x left-firing mid-range speaker, 1 x forward-firing tweeter, 1 x downward-firing woofer
Supported Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplay
Ethernet: No
Aux-in: Yes
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Gigantic sound+Alexa smarts
Reasons to avoid
-Larger than your average Echo-3D audio is a mixed bag

Love Apple but hate Siri? The Amazon Echo Studio might be the perfect answer, offering AirPlay 2 support alongside Alexa smarts.

It's a good option for anyone who's low on space and can't stretch to an upfiring soundbar or multi-speaker setup, as it can upmix stereo sources into a form of spatial audio.

If you're upgrading from the simple speakers built into your TV, or a lowly stereo soundbar, it's a fantastic and simple upgrade to make to your home cinema system. You'll get a cracking, resonant bass response, excellent volume and far more depth than a comparably-priced soundbar can offer.

Read more: Amazon Echo Studio review

Border used to separate products

the braun le01 wireless speaker

(Image credit: Braun)

The best AirPlay speaker in a one-box solution

Specifications
Weight: N/A
Dimensions: 700 x 271 x 99mm (W x H x D)
Drivers: 3 x front-firing drivers, 2 x passive radiators and 3 x class D amplifiers
Supported connectivity : Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, AirPlay, Chromecast
Aux-in: Yes
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Refined sound and build quality+Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast streaming
Reasons to avoid
-Needs to be set up using Google Home-Basic app

A resurrected Braun Audio’s new flagship one-box hi-fi offers impressively bassy yet detailed audio, plus excellent build quality to complement its smart speaker status. The need to use Google Home for setup and Google Assistant-only compatibility might annoy some, but Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast streaming is easily capable of challenging Sonos on sound quality.

That’s a good thing, because the LE01 smart speaker comes with only Bluetooth 4.2; there’s no sign of aptX hi-res audio streaming. Nor does this dual-band Wi-Fi speaker allow streaming directly from Tidal Connect or Spotify Connect, and it doesn’t operate as an access-all-areas UPnP speaker either. 

Read more: Braun LE01 review

Border used to separate products

the devialet phantom i wireless speaker

(Image credit: Devialet)

The best AirPlay speaker for bassy sound

Specifications
Weight: 11.4kg
Dimensions: 255 x 252 x 342mm (H x W x D)
Drivers: Grade 1 titanium tweeter driver, aluminum medium driver, aluminum bass drivers
Supported connectivity : Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Roon
Aux-in: No
USB: No
Reasons to buy
+Unique design+Fantastic audio performance
Reasons to avoid
-Super-expensive-Quite heavy and large

The Devialet Phantom I is a continuation of the French audio brand’s iconic range of wireless speakers, which come with powerful side-firing bass reflex ports that pulse in time to your music. The sound is nothing short of outstanding, and a good range of connectivity options - including AirPlay 2 - and an easy-to-use app make the Phantom I easy to recommend – if you have a lot of money to spare, that is.

Oh, and don’t forget the 22-carat rose gold-plated sides – which may go some way to explain the speaker’s $3,200 / £2,790 / AU$5,490 price. And that’s the price for just one speaker, by the way. If you want to pair two for stereo sound, it will cost you double. 

Still, the sound is undeniably good. This speaker packs a real punch, presenting a powerful, immersive sound, thumping bass, smooth mids and detailed trebles. 

Read more: Devialet Phantom I review

AirPlay speakers buying advice

How to choose the best AirPlay speaker

There are a lot of factors to consider when you're looking for the best AirPlay speakers for you. 

One of the obvious ones is budget. None of the speakers in our list below are cheap. But they are from some of the best audio brands around, which means your money will go further and you'll have access to updates so they keep working for a long time. Some cheaper and older speakers might not be getting updates anymore, so that's worth checking before you buy.

If you want AirPlay but you're not sure your budget can stretch to new speakers, consider the Belkin SoundForm Connect instead. It's an audio adapter that can be plugged into any powered speaker or sound system via a 3.5mm or optical port to give it Apple AirPlay 2 connectivity, giving your old speakers a very modern upgrade.

Design is also important. Luckily, most AirPlay speakers are simple and streamlined, meaning they'll fit into most homes discretely. However, it is worth considering whether a small portable speaker, like the Sonos Roam, or a soundbar that slots under your TV, like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), would suit you and your home better. 

Finally, think about sound quality. All of the best Airplay speakers below are on our list for a reason, but you might have specific things to consider. For example, do you like listening to hi-res audio? Only a few of the options below will give you the sound quality you're looking for. 

The best way to choose the right AirPlay speaker for you is to take a look at the options and compare the specs. Be sure to click through to our reviews of the speakers too, which will give you even more information about how they work day-to-day.

Can I AirPlay to multiple speakers?

If you have a multiroom audio system, you should have no trouble using AirPlay to cast your music to more than one speaker at a time. You'll just need a compatible system - check out brands like Sonos, Bowers & Wilkins, and Bang & Olufsen for wireless speakers that support the format.

Which is better, Google Chromecast or Apple AirPlay 2?

It depends on your needs. In terms of pure audio fidelity, Chromecast wins; it supports 24-bit / 96Hz streaming, whereas AirPlay 2 is limited to 16-bit / 44.1Hz streaming. So, if you're looking for hi-res audio support, Chromecast is your best bet. If you're not too worried about hi-res audio, AirPlay's CD-quality streams should suffice, though. 

Chromecast also works with a wider range of source devices, while AirPlay 2 is pretty much limited to Apple products - though both services work with lots of third-party speakers, soundbars, and TVs. 

If voice control is important to you, Chromecast is probably the better option, too. That's because Google Assistant is built into lots of smart speakers, while Apple's Siri is limited to the HomePod and HomePod mini.

If you're an Apple obsessive, that won't matter though. AirPlay still offers the best streaming solution for Apple devices.

AirPlay speaker deals

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.