AirPlay is a unique standard used by Apple that allows you to stream music from your iPhone, iPad or Mac directly to your speaker. It is similar to Bluetooth, but it offers better sound quality. If you’re looking for a good speaker for your iOS device or Mac, you are in the right place. In this article we are going to review four best AirPlay speakers and hopefully help you find the right one for your needs.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air AirPlay Speaker
Bowers & Wilkins is a well-known name in the audio industry, known for its high-end speakers. It was just a few years back that they decided to enter the mainstream consumer market.
The Zeppelin Air offers a very original, elliptic design. It looks very stylish and the build quality is superb. The speaker is quite wide, measuring around 25 inches (63.5 cm). It also weighs 13.5 pounds (6.1 kg), which means it’s not really designed to be constantly moved. The speaker is black, with a chrome part in the middle, which actually serves as a docking and charging station for your iPhone. Different models with 30-pin connector as well as lightning port are available to accommodate different devices.
Sound-wise, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air certainly doesn’t disappoint, and is noticeably better than the first iteration of the Zeppelin line. Most customers are going to be more than happy with the sound that this speaker produces. Bass is surprisingly good and much better than on the first version of the device. Mids are very warm, while the highs remain detailed and very clean.
On the back of the device you’ll notice the 3.5mm auxiliary jack, USB port which you can connect directly to your Mac or PC and upgrade firmware, or use it as an USB speaker. Like we previously mentioned, it also has a dock that can be used to connect an iOS device and playback the music. However, the biggest selling point of this speaker is the AirPlay support. In order to use Airplay, you have to connect your Zeppelin Air to your home network, which can be done either with an Ethernet cable or wirelessly. After that you go through a simple process and are pretty much ready to go. You can now use the Zeppelin Air with any of your Apple devices that support it.
Bower & Wilkins Zeppelin Air retails for $599. While it’s certainly not cheap, it does sound great and has a lot of great features. It is currently priced at about $399 on Amazon, which makes it a great buy at the moment.
Libratone Zipp AirPlay Portable Speaker
The Libratone Zipp stands out from many other AirPlay speakers that try to mimic Apple’s design. Instead, it features a very eye-catching look that allows customers to swap and change its brightly colored covers. Although it does look very modern and different, the design is far from cheap looking. The company sells separate covers for $50, so if you get bored with the current look of your speaker you can easily change it. Zipp has a carrying strap, made out of leather, which you can use to move around the 4-pound heavy speaker without any hassle.
So what else is special about this speaker, besides its design? Well, it solves one of the problems with Apple’s AirPlay that bugs some people and that is the fact that you first have to connect to your Wi-Fi network and then the speaker, before you start using it. With Libratone Zipp you skip a step. All you have to do is start Zipp’s very own Wi-Fi connection and you’ll be able to directly connect to the speaker from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac. The downside to this is that Zipp only has 4 hours of battery life with wireless on. If you opt to connect it via the wire, you can get 8 hours of playback time before having to charge it again.
The speaker is quite loud and can fill a somewhat large room with sound. The great thing about the Zipp is its portability, which will allow you to easily move it around and find the best spot in the room. Keep in mind that since it’s a relatively small speaker it will sound different in different parts of the room. For example, if you place it on the table you’ll notice more treble and less bass. If you place it on the floor instead, you are going to hear more bass and less treble. Play around with it a bit until you find the spot that sounds the best to you. Like we mentioned, Libratone Zipp is very loud, but some music genres sound better than others at higher volumes. Bass-heavy genres like hip-hop or electronic music are not going to sound as good as more acoustic music.
For the price of $399, (Click here to check the price on Amazon) you will get Libratone Zipp along with one speaker cover; while every new cover will set you back another $50. If you are looking for a very portable, but decent-sounding AirPlay speaker that has a few tricks up its sleeve, this might be the right choice for you.
Klipsch Gallery G-17 AirPlay Speaker
If previous two speakers are out of your price range you might want to check out Klipsch Gallery G-17 speaker. It used to retail for about $550, but you can now get it as low as $179 on Amazon, which is certainly a great price for such a nice speaker that is also AirPlay compatible.
Design-wise, Gallery G-17 is not the most beautiful speaker you’ll see, but it is a great choice for people who prefer simplicity. The speaker features a matte black plastic and weights about 8 pounds (3.6 kg). It also comes with an optional stand that will elevate your G-17s two inches off the ground. You can use the stand, but it’s not necessary, as it can also lie comfortably without it. Included in the box is a remote that isn’t very impressive, as well as a USB cable that can be used to charge the device or transform your speaker into a wired speaker when connected to a Mac computer.
The speaker consists of two 20-watt woofers, along with two 10-watt tweeters. The sound coming out of Gallery G-17 is quite decent, especially at the $180 price point.(Click here to check the price on Amazon)
Sound is consistent and clean. You can turn the volume up almost all the way, and there won’t be any distortions.
AirPlay functionality works pretty much the same as with most similar speakers. You have to connect Klipsch Gallery G-17 to your home network and after the process is done you’ll be able to stream music from your iOS device or your Mac using AirPlay.
Considering that the price of AirPlay speakers can easily exceed $300-$400, Gallery G-17 can be a great choice for users who are looking for a more budget option that still sounds great and has the AirPlay feature.
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9 AirPlay Speaker
This is probably the most unique AirPlay speaker (or any kind of speaker for that matter) you’ll come across. It features the award winning design and we can see why. If someone doesn’t know it’s a speaker, they can easily mistake it for an expensive piece of art or furniture. The speaker comes with wooden legs, but it can be mounted on a wall if you wish – either way it looks amazing. BeoPlay A9 comes in two color options – black and white, and you also have the option to choose different legs. It has an integrated touch sensors and it can be easily controlled using your hands. A gentle swipe across the sensor will allow you to control the volume. You can mute the device by resting your hand on it for a short while. It can all be done be through your streaming device (e.g. iPhone or Mac) as well.
When it comes to sound, Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay 9 doesn’t disappoint at all. It has two 3/4-inch tweeters and two 3-inch midrange units, which deliver very clean highs and greatly defined mids. Bass also sounds amazing, thanks to a dedicated 8-inch bass unit. Overall the sound coming from these speakers is rich in volume, and can easily fill even the larger rooms. It has no problems with any music genres – it can easily play jazz, rock, hip-hop, pop and even classical music – and it will sound great. AirPlay setup is very easy, which means you’ll be playing your favorite music in no time.
Now, let’s talk about the price. At $2,699 (Click here to find the product on Amazon) it is easily the most expensive AirPlay speaker on our list, and possibly one of the priciest AirPlay speakers on the market. However, it does deliver in every way possible. If finances are not your problems or you simply like to invest in great audio equipment, Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay 9 is most definitely going to be a purchase you’ll never regret.