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For those in the Apple ecosystem, AirPlay can be a fantastic way to stream music. It lets you take your devices — be it a smartphone, tablet, or computer — and play your music on an Airplay-compatible speaker with just a couple of taps or clicks. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it actually delivers pretty impressive sound quality, specifically for speakers without wires. It definitely beats Bluetooth for wireless sound quality, so if you want the best sound, with a larger range, AirPlay is the way to go!
So where do you start? Which AirPlay speaker is the best for your budget? Fear not, because that’s just what we are going to show you today!
There’s only one way we can possibly start this off, and that’s with the absolutely insanely-priced models. You want to spend thousands of dollars on a single speaker with AirPlay? Sure, you can do that. We don’t necessarily recommend it, but if money is no object, you definitely have the option to go nuts.
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9 ($2,700)
If you want to talk about spending a crazy amount of money on a speaker, look no further than the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9. It costs more than most full surround sound systems, and it’s just a single speaker. B&O’s idea here is simplicity, allowing buyers to get a powerful device that looks as good as it sounds, and if the Amazon reviews are to be believed, it definitely nails that. It just nails it at a price most people have no desire to spend.
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A8 ($1,149)
Bang & Olufsen has complete control over the mega-expensive AirPlay speaker market with its slightly cheaper, but still ridiculously-priced A8 coming in as the other model of note. While the A9 is aimed at looking more like a piece of furniture than a music player, this one does away with that and goes with a more traditional styling. Both models promise high-quality sound, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections, and price tags that will make most of us quiver at the thought of buying one.
The speakers that follow here are the best-of-the-best with realistic price tags. If budget is only a very small concern and you want an incredible wireless music experience, these are the models for you. The price is high, but so is the performance.
Bowers & Wilkins A7 ($599)
This is one of the best AirPlay speakers on the market. It’s small enough to move around, but big enough to contain a 6″ Kevlar-reinforced subwoofer to bring that powerful bass. B&W is a brand we’ll see on this list time and time again, as they have a strong hold on the AirPlay market in general, and when it comes to sound quality, its top-of-the-line model delivers.
JBL L8 $599
JBL is a name that’s synonymous with high-quality music equipment, and its high-end AirPlay compatible model is no exception. It pushes 120-watts of power, which is quite impressive for such a little speaker. It has received positive reviews from around the web, but it does come with a very high price tag, so it’s a matter of deciding if it’s worth the investment.
Perhaps spending somewhere in the $600 range just isn’t for you. Understandable, as that’s a tremendous amount of money for a wireless speaker. Well fear not, because here we have some of more reasonably priced models. Are they cheap? Certainly not, as they are still going to set you back a few hundred dollars, but you will save a little by going with one of these, though you are going to make some sacrifices.
Bowers & Wilkins A5 ($499)
The differences between this and the A7 are not huge. It pretty much comes down to sound quality. You’ll sacrifice a little bit dropping down to this model, but you will also save yourself $100. So it really comes down to your own budget and how much you feel comfortable spending on a set of AirPlay speakers. Either way, B&W is a brand with a reputation for audio quality, so you can’t go wrong with either model.
Libratone Zipp ($399)
Libratone is definitely a brand that doesn’t have the immediate recognition of some of the others on the list, but all reports indicate that this is a really good AirPlay speaker. It’s also very portable, so if you want a speaker you can comfortably remove from your home, this is definitely one to consider.
We are using the term budget very loosely here, because there’s no such thing as a cheap AirPlay speaker. Relative to some of the super high-end stuff, they might seem cheap, but compared to a Bluetooth speaker, the price is still going to be high. Still, it’s more affordable than the mid and top stuff, so you can least stick to a something of a budget while getting the AirPlay speakers you want.
Wren V5 Portable ($299)
If you don’t want to spend a crazy amount of money on your AirPlay speaker, this is the one to get. It’s small, so it’s easy to carry around, but it also offers quality sound. At $300, it’s definitely not cheap, but in the AirPlay market, it’s a reasonable price.
Bowers & Wilkins Z2 ($199)
When you start getting down to the lower price points, you’ll start seeing a pretty noticeable decrease in terms of sound and build quality. These AirPlay speakers may still be rather expensive when compared with Bluetooth speakers, but the quality just doesn’t match up. However, you get the longer range of WiFi, which means you don’t have to be in the same room as the speaker to fire up your music. It’s a trade off, but as far as a sub-$200 AirPlay speaker goes, B&W’s offering is definitely the one you are going to want to pick up. It also has a Lightning connector, which means you can play your music the old-fashioned way as well.
The AirPlay speaker market is a little on the odd side. There’s not nearly as many models as you might expect, and the ones that are out there are pricey. However, if you own a lot of Apple products, they can be one of the easiest ways to play your music. If you’re in the market, the ones featured above are the best in their respective price categories. You certainly can’t go wrong with any of them.
Do you own an AirPlay speaker? Which model is it? Are you going to check out any of the ones on this list? Hit the comments section and let us know!