AirPlay is the standard for wireless streaming you will use if you prefer the Apple kit, but to fit that standard, you need some real speakers: and we have some great AirPlay speakers for you.
AirPlay (and AirPlay speakers) are back in the headlines, with the protocol to see more devices, and AirPlay 2 – the next generation of Apple's own advanced proprietary wireless platform – now on-site.
AirPlay 2 turns the streaming standard into a suitable multiroom platform and even adds Siri integration to speakers that would never have been used before.
To prepare for this upcoming renaissance of Apple-friendly wireless speakers, here are the best Apple AirPlay speakers on the market.
The best AirPlay speakers in 2018:
1. Sonos Beam
This is the AirPlay-friendly soundbar we've been waiting for
Great compact design
Suitable for HDMI ARC
No Dolby Atmos
If you're looking for an AirPlay loudspeaker that can not only stream music but can also process TV audio, the Sonos Beam is the best option you can buy.
It's a fantastic soundbar for its price, one that takes full advantage of the Sonos ecosystem and that of Apple, and is a pleasure to use (and set if your television has HDMI ARC). The smaller form factor makes it a device that can comfortably be placed next to a 32-inch TV, but it has enough of a footprint to not be overshadowed by a much larger set.
If you are an Apple enthusiast who is also looking for additional functionality (such as Amazon Alexa support and the possibility of multi-room audio via Sonos products), then you can not do better than this for an AirPlay speaker.
Read the full review: Sonos Beam
2. Naim Mu-so Qb
Great sound and stylish looks in a small AirPlay-ready package
Small form factor
Full and lively sound
Setup can be painful
Naim makes some of the most stylish wireless speakers available and the Naim Mu-so Qb, a smaller version of the Mu-so soundbar released in 2014, is no exception.
In the simplest terms, it is an AirPlay-ready speaker block that adds style to virtually any room. And yes, these are our words, not those of Naim. The fabric grid on the sides is curved and a glassy acrylic block on the bottom ensures that the Qb looks like it is floating. (Kind of.)
It also has a distinctive top control wheel and illuminated touch controls that control playback from your phone.
The Naim Muso Qb sound is lively, with a great bass for its size and a good separation of the sound image for a wireless speaker. It uses tilted drivers to make the spread as wide and stereo-like as possible. This is not only an AirPlay speaker, it also has Bluetooth, multi-room with the Naim app, a USB port for direct playback and a digital connector to connect your TV or AV receiver.
Performance, portability and versatility? It does not get much better than this.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb
3. Orbitsound Dock E30
A small loudspeaker that uses Airsound magic to fill larger rooms
Broad sound distribution
Many lifestyle functions
Airsound function has problems
The Orbitsound Dock E30 has a lot to offer: this is an AirPlay loudspeaker with quite a few extra features, and although it may not suit everyone at home, it certainly tries its best to prevent it from looking like a regular plastic speaker.
Some highlights of the design are the groove in which you can rest your tablet or phone and how you can also charge your phone wirelessly using a Qi panel at the top. Check online if your phone supports this standard: if not, there is also a USB port on the front to connect your charging cable.
The Orbitsound Dock E30 has a different approach to sound. It uses smart side-firing speakers that separate the ambient parts of a song's mix to increase the width of the sound. This is occasionally confused with some songs, but for the most part the sound is great for a fairly unobtrusive speaker.
Read the full review: Orbitsound Dock E30
4. Riva Arena
A flexible AirPlay compatible speaker, but one that can close a big compromise
Excellent sound quality
More flexible with Android than iOS
The Riva Arena is about as close as you can get to a Sonos One with AirPlay on board. Until then, the sound quality is the best here.
Like other Riva speakers, the Arena has carefully shaped mid-tones that ensure that the vocals are well-structured and warm. It does not cast a broad sound field like some, but you can link two Arenas together, like smart bookshelf speakers.
This is also a loudspeaker that you want to connect everything. It has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi / AirPlay and also Spotify Connect. A 3.5 mm auxiliary input on the back allows other devices to join.
There is no battery in the Arena, but you can buy a battery pack that can be placed on the bottom without an adapter for 20 hours. However, it is not cheap. And that is the problem with the Arena: no part of it screams value.
It is more expensive than the Sonos One, which may be less flexible without Apple AirPlay, but makes up for it with support for voice assistants.
Read the full review: Riva Arena
5. Apple HomePod
Fantastic sound. Excellent AirPlay support. So-so smart speaker
Stunning sound quality
Attractive, understated design
Apple Music subscription required
No Bluetooth streaming
Apple's official AirPlay and Siri loudspeaker is the HomePod.
As you would expect from Apple, this is one of the most impressively designed wireless speakers ever. It has only 142 mm diameter and 170 mm high, but is home to seven tweeters and a 4-inch woofer / bass driver.
This array not only delivers 360-degree sound, but incredibly deep bass for its size, reaching the kind of frequencies that many wireless speakers do not touch. It is almost certainly the best sounding wireless speaker of its size.
It looks good too. A seamless fabric grille covers most of the outside and there is a nice little display on the top that moves while you communicate with Siri.
On the debit side, the HomePod does not have Bluetooth and does not work with Android phones. And although it has the voice control, most other speakers are missing here, but it only works with Apple Music, not with Spotify. If you do not mind being locked up in the Apple ecosystem for the rest of the time, consider the HomePod the best option available.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod
6. Libratone Zipp
An excellent sounding home loudspeaker that you can also make while traveling
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support
Balanced and clear sound
Short battery life
Buggy smartphone software
The Libratone Zipp is one of the few good AirPlay speakers with batteries, partly because Wi-Fi (which feeds AirPlay) sucks more battery than Bluetooth. It charges up to 10 hours between recharges, making it a good choice if you are looking for an AirPlay program on the road.
And the Zipp part is not only a nice design prop – unpack the zipper and you can remove the wool cover and replace it with another one.
Sound is also great for a relatively small battery-powered speaker. It has enough bass power to rattle nearby objects and goes very loudly without tilting the sound to one end of the audio spectrum.
You may not initially think you need a portable AirPlay speaker, but it is a big plus to move the Zipp from the living room to the kitchen. And prevents you from having to buy a complete multiroom setup. Libratone offers multi-room control via the less powerful app, if you feel the challenge.
Read the full review: Libratone Zipp