- Great AirPlay 2 speakers offer Apple’s latest and greatest connectivity standard, to be sure, but they also boast other smart features, look good, and sound great, too.
- That’s exactly why we’ve chosen the Sonos One as our top pick — it has all the features you want in an AirPlay 2 speaker with the added benefit of a smart voice assistant, thanks to Alexa support.
The concept of the multi-room speaker is only getting more popular as companies increasingly adopt new wireless standards to deliver excellent audio experiences that you can enjoy throughout the home. While early multi-room experiences were limited to companies like Sonos, these days the likes of Apple and Google have their own multi-room standards, so you can buy different speakers from different companies for different rooms and still connect to all of them from your phone.
The most recent of these standards is Apple’s AirPlay 2, which is an updated version of the original AirPlay. The new standard adds a number of great features, including multi-room support. That means you can stream content to multiple different devices at once, straight from the apps that you’re used to using on your phone.
Only a few months after the launch of AirPlay 2, there are a number of compatible speakers, and they’re not all created equal. Some are more expensive, yet offer a superior sound-quality, while others are built more to be portable and inexpensive rather than deliver a top-quality sound.
When buying an AirPlay 2-compatible speaker, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is other standards. Some speakers don’t just have AirPlay 2, they also feature other connectivity standards like Bluetooth. That is important for homes with both Android and iPhone users.
Next up, you’ll want to keep in mind digital assistants. While speakers that aren’t Apple’s HomePod unfortunately don’t offer Siri support, some might have Alexa or Google Assistant built in instead.
Here are the best AirPlay 2 speakers you can buy:
- Best AirPlay 2 speaker overall: Sonos One
- Best AirPlay 2 speaker for bass: B&O Beoplay M5
- Best portable AirPlay 2 speaker: Libratone Zipp 2
- Best AirPlay 2 smart speaker: Apple HomePod
- Best AirPlay 2 sound bar: Sonos Beam
Updated on 08/27/2019 by Christian de Looper: Added the Zipp 2 and updated prices and formatting.
The best AirPlay 2 speaker overall
The Sonos One is well-designed, sounds great, and boasts plenty of smart features — easily ensuring it gets the top spot amongst other AirPlay 2-compatible speakers.
The Sonos One has topped our list of speakers a few times, and after the company added AirPlay 2 support, it was a no-brainer that it should be the top pick for this guide, too. The One is well-designed, sounds great, and boasts a ton of connectivity. We reviewed it, and we think its the best smart speaker for music lovers.
Perhaps the best thing about the Sonos One is just how smart it is. Apart from offering support for AirPlay 2, it also has Amazon’s Alexa built in to it, and Sonos says it will get Google Assistant support by the end of the year. Safe to say, while you might want Siri to feature on the speaker, getting both Alexa and Google Assistant certainly isn’t a bad compromise.
Of course, the best thing about the speaker is how it sounds. The bass on the speaker is nice and thick, offering a nice cut to kick drums and a smooth bass tone. The midrange is well-tuned, offering warm low mids and cutting high mids, though there does seem to be a slight cut in the high mids, which is something for the audiophiles among us to keep in mind. The high end is clear and detailed, helping cymbals shimmer through.
The speaker is also well-designed and easy to control. There are touch-sensitive buttons on the top of the speaker for things like playing and pausing, plus there’s a microphone button to mute Alexa if you so choose.
So what are the downsides? Well, the main one is that the Sonos One isn’t overly cheap — though it’s not too expensive if you buy multiple One speakers in a bundle. Also, as mentioned Google Assistant isn’t yet featured on the device.
Pros: Nice design, good sound quality, smart features
Cons: A little pricey, Google Assistant not yet featured
The best AirPlay 2 speaker for loud bass
If you want a speaker with a little extra oomph, then the well-designed B&O Beoplay M5 is the best way to go.
While the Sonos One is the way to go for the vast majority of shoppers, those who want a bassier sound should get the B&O Beoplay M5 — providing you’re willing to shell out the cash for it.
The Beoplay M5 has a lot going for it. For starters, it’s absolutely beautifully designed. It offers a nice cloth outer design that should look great in any modern home. The design of the speaker is optimized for 360-degree use, so you’ll get a nice even sound even if you place it in the middle of a room.
It’s also a very smart speaker. Apart from AirPlay 2, the speaker also boasts Google Cast, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, and even B&O’s own Beolink Multiroom. In other words, if down the line you decide you don’t want to use AirPlay 2 and switch to Google products, you’ll still be covered.
Perhaps the best thing about the BeoPlay M5 is the sound quality. As mentioned, there’s a ton of bass on offer, which is great for those who like the idea of a heftier sound. That’s not to say there isn’t excellent high-end response, though. The high-end boasts a ton of clarity and detail.
There are, of course, a few downsides to the B&O BeoPlay M5. For starters, it’s certainly not cheap, coming in at a cool $590 on Amazon. On top of that, while it certainly sounds great it doesn’t quite offer the most natural sound, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you may want to keep looking.
Pros: Plenty of bass, great design, lots of connectivity
The best portable AirPlay 2 speaker
The Libratone Zipp 2 speaker has a unique design, it sounds great, and it’s compatible with AirPlay 2 and Alexa voice control.
If you’re looking for an AirPlay 2-compatible speaker that you can carry around the home, then the Libratone Zipp 2 is definitely the way to go. The speaker looks great, is well-built, plus it sounds pretty awesome too. We reviewed the speaker, and we loved it.
The Libratone Zipp 2 looks very similar to the original Zipp speaker, with a range of color-schemes and a fun vibe, but the control panel on the top is slightly different in function, offering more connectivity options and quick settings.
Like the previous-gen speaker, the Zipp 2 has a handle for carrying it around, and it has a 3.5mm audio jack and Bluetooth connectivity in case you take it out of the home and don’t have Wi-Fi anymore.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Zipp 2 and original Zipp is the fact that the newer speaker is quite a bit smarter. It features AirPlay 2 support, to be sure, but it also has Alexa built right into it, so you can use Alexa to control some smart home devices, play music, and more.
The speaker, thankfully, also sounds great. It’s got deep, thick bass response, decently-tuned mids, and plenty of clarity in the high-end. While it’s probably not the best choice for audiophiles, the speaker sounds more than good enough for the vast majority of users. And, you can take that sound with you on the go too. Its battery lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge.
Pros: Nice design, great sound, battery power
Cons: A little pricey, a bit heavy
The best AirPlay 2 smart speaker for Apple fans
The Apple HomePod has that premium Apple design sensibility, sounds great, and it has Siri built right into it, making it perfect for those firmly in the Apple ecosystem.
You’re probably already an Apple fan if you’re looking for a speaker that has AirPlay 2 support, but if you want to take that fandom to the next level, then the Apple HomePod is by far the best choice for you.
There are a few things that make this a better choice for Apple fans than the other options on this list, but perhaps the most important reason is that it has Siri installed on it, so you can talk to Siri through the speaker instead of through your phone all the time. On top of that, the HomePod can act as a HomeKit hub, which allows you to control your HomeKit devices even when you’re not home.
Of course, on top of that, the HomePod sounds great. It may not have the most natural sound out there, but the vast majority of people aren’t looking for natural anyway. They simply want something that sounds good. The bass on the HomePod is nice and powerful, while the high-end boasts plenty of clarity and detail, which is important in delivering a great listening experience.
As you might expect, there are some downsides to the HomePod. Notably, the device is pretty expensive, coming in at $350. Not only that, but it doesn’t support standards like Bluetooth, so you really have to use Apple devices if you want to take advantage of it.
Pros: Great sound, nice design, Siri support
Cons: No Bluetooth, expensive
The best AirPlay 2 sound bar
The speakers in this guide are all great, but if you’re looking for an AirPlay 2 sound bar, then the Sonos Beam is clearly the way to go.
If you’re more interested in a sound bar than a traditional speaker, there are some great options for you, too. The best AirPlay 2-compatible speaker out there is the Sonos Beam, which offers that excellent Sonos sound-quality while still retaining some of the best features of the Sonos One. We tried the Beam, and we were impressed with its sound quality and ease of use.
Like the Sonos One, the Sonos Beam offers Amazon Alexa voice control, a promised update with Google Assistant down the line, and AirPlay 2 support. It also has the added extra feature of being able to connect to your TV, so the speaker will serve multiple purposes in your home.
As you might expect, one of the best things about the Sonos Beam is the fact that it sounds so great. The speaker boasts plenty of bass, a solidly-tuned midrange, and a decent amount of clarity in the high-end. You can tune the sound-quality to your needs, to0 — There’s an EQ option in the soundbar’s settings.
There are a few downsides to the Sonos Beam. For example, the Beam doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and it could use a few more HDMI inputs, though that may not matter if you use a receiver. Despite the downsides, the Beam has gotten excellent reviews. WhatHiFi game the device 5/5, and TechRadar gave it a slightly more conservative 4.5/5.
Pros: Great sound, not too expensive, ultra-smart
Cons: No Dolby Atmos, could use more HDMI ports