10 Best Airplay Speakers | February 2017
- compact space-saving design
- frequently drops connection
- poor manufacturer support
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- pairs with other musiccast products
- no aux port for analog connections
- proprietary app is poorly designed
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- available in three colors
- bluetooth and wi-fi compatibility
- alarm capability is underdeveloped
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- usb port for charging other devices
- convenient remote control included
- frequently disconnects mid-playback
|Brand||Polk Woodbourne AM6119-|
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- touch and swipe volume controls
- room adaptation technology
- prohibitively expensive
|Brand||B&O PLAY by Bang & Oluf|
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
- bluetooth connectivity
- stereo-widening dsp audio technology
- some customers received wrong item
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- an audiophile's delight
- dual ab amplifiers in each speaker
- hard to access rear controls
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- 10-hour battery life
- can daisy chain for surround sound
- many connectivity options
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
- connect up to 10 for surround sound
- available in four colors
- includes three-year warranty
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
- deep and accurate bass
- two dome tweeters for pristine highs
- can connect to virtually any device
|Brand||Bowers & Wilkins|
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Airplay vs. Bluetooth
Airplay is a wireless sound technology developed by Apple used primarily for streaming music or other audio. It works through your home WiFi network to deliver high quality sounds from your iPhone or other Apple device to your Airplay speakers. Both devices used for streaming and playing the audio must be Airplay supported, and there must be an available WiFi connection in order for the service to work.
You might be wondering why you wouldn’t just invest in a set of Bluetooth speakers. After all, Bluetooth doesn’t require the use of a WiFi network and is compatible with Android devices as well, right? Fortunately, for audio lovers, there are a wide range of options in both Airplay and Bluetooth speakers, but Airplay seems to offer more advantages over the average Bluetooth-enabled devices.
While both Bluetooth and Airplay are created for wireless connection and streaming, Airplay generally delivers a higher quality sound. Because it operates over a WiFi network and is specifically equipped in certain devices, it is designed for clear, crisp audio. It is great for use at home across multiple devices in every room, if you so choose.
Bluetooth technology is designed for convenience and portability. If you are frequently in places with no WiFi connection but still want to stream your music or other audio, then Bluetooth is the way to go.
However, if you are looking for both quality and convenience around your home or office, consider buying Airplay speakers. All Airplay speakers are compatible with Apple devices, and some even come equipped with Bluetooth and Android compatibility as well. While it's true that Bluetooth will likely run at a lower price, Airplay is the way to go for more quality and convenience provided you have a readily available WiFi network.
Because Apple has made the technology readily available to other manufacturers, there are many wireless speakers on the market from a wide variety of companies equipped with Airplay capabilities. That means you now have the option of choosing a high-quality speaker that you can operate from your phone, tablet, or computer within a reasonable budget.
Advantages of Airplay
It’s possible, even after hearing so many great things about Airplay, that you are still considering purchasing Bluetooth-only speakers. We think that’s a big mistake, and here’s why: There are a number of advantages to using Airplay besides sound quality alone. The versatility that the service offers is something you won’t find with any other wireless audio connection.
First, Airplay allows you to pick a specific speaker in your home. If you have Airplay speakers and other Airplay-enabled devices around your home, you can choose to stream your music or other audio to any one of these locations or even choose multiple locations at one time for a full, surround-sound experience.
Second, more and more amplifiers and other receivers are being equipped with Airplay capabilities meaning that you can also stream Airplay to these devices for an enhanced audio experience. Major brands such as Philips, Sony, and Yamaha offer such devices to be used in addition to your standalone Airplay speakers.
Third, Airplay is versatile enough to be capable of streaming over an Ethernet connection. Occasionally, you might run into an Airplay-enabled device that struggles to pick up the WiFi signal. It could be due to the device or due to the quality of the WiFi connection itself. Regardless, if your receiver has an Ethernet connection port, this issue can be easily resolved.
Next, Airplay can not only be streamed from a Mac, but the Mac can be used as an Airplay receiver as well. A simple software download can allow you to stream music and other audio from your iOS device to your Mac computer or from one Mac to another.
Finally, advancing technology and the popularity and availability of Airplay are making it possible to use your Android phone to control Airplay. Some newer Android phones are being created to be compatible with Airplay and operate just like the iOS devices used to facilitate audio streaming.
A Brief History of the Airplay Speaker
Airplay made its official debut in the fall of 2010 although it was available under the name “AirTunes” for several years beforehand. It was based on the idea that streaming music over a WiFi connection is much more efficient and a higher quality than using Bluetooth.
In 2004, when the technology was still known as AirTunes, a man named Jon Lech Johansen reverse-engineered the protocol so that it could be utilized on a variety of devices. It took several years for this technology to be converted to AirPlay so video and audio could be streamed together.
Apple developed a free app to use in conjunction with Airplay so the feature could be easily controlled using a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. When AirTunes was first developed, it was for audio use only. However, Airplay allows for video streaming as well. Similarly, AirTunes was specifically for Apple products only while Airplay technology has been made available to a wide range of manufacturers so many products can be compatible.
In 2011, Steve Jobs announced the invention of Airplay Mirroring that would allow for wireless video streaming directly from an iPad to a compatible HDTV. As of right now, an AppleTV is required in order to utilize this feature as it has not been sufficiently tested and made compatible with other receiving devices. It works best when being sent from specific types of Mac computers.