The best Wi-Fi speakers for 2021: Apple, Sonos, JBL and Polk

Wi-fi audio for the house is nothing new, however the previous few years have introduced a proliferation of audio system that use Wi-Fi streaming as an alternative choice to Bluetooth. The power to manage music in a multiroom surroundings is one among Wi-Fi’s greatest promoting options, however nearly all Wi-Fi speakers also offer voice control through a voice assistant together with Amazon AlexaGoogle Assistant and Apple’s Siri

It is a problem to discover a price range speaker that does not have microphones onboard, however all of them include mic switches or you’ll be able to go for a “dumb” speaker just like the Sonos One SL, you probably have privateness issues. Maintain studying for our breakdown of one of the best Wi-Fi audio system to your wants — there is a brief buying guide on the backside of the web page you probably have extra questions, and do not miss CNET’s guide to the best smart speakers.

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For $100 there’s just a few glorious sensible audio system to select from, such because the Amazon Echo, Nest Audio and HomePod Mini, however the Symfonisk is greater than all of them. Greater cupboards often imply larger sound. Whereas this speaker is greatest as a part of a Sonos encompass system, it additionally makes a terrific children’ room speaker.

Read our Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf WiFi Speaker review.


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At beneath $200, and with both Alexa and Google Assistant in addition to glorious sound high quality, the Sonos One is the sensible speaker to get and can please any music fan. Pair it with one other Sonos One and you’ve got a versatile, high-quality speaker system which responds to voice instructions for lower than the worth of the Play:5.


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Finest life-style speaker

Ikea Symfonisk Lamp


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The issue with most Wi-Fi audio system is they do not slot in with the remainder of your decor. They’re boxy they usually’re often black. The Ikea Sonos speaker actually thinks outdoors the field and delivers a Sonos-compatible lamp that sounds higher than most audio system at this value. It is not sensible, however the machine will reply to Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa instructions.

Read our Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp with WiFi speaker review.


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Google could provide a variety of audio system, together with the Nest Audio, however the one which was really nice with music — the Home Max — has been discontinued. It is stunning then that the listing of affordable-yet-good-sounding Chromecast built-in audio system may be counted on the fingers on one hand. And of these, the JBL Playlist is one of the best I’ve heard, with a generously sized speaker and sufficient quantity to fill a typical room. It additionally has Bluetooth and an auxiliary enter to increase its flexibility. It is probably not “sensible”, however if you would like a system that may be managed through an present Google Assistant speaker, that is the one to get.

Read our JBL Playlist review.


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Now $50 off its unique $350 price ticket, the Apple HomePod is much more aggressive with different Wi-Fi and multiroom audio system. It is one of many best-sounding all-in-one wi-fi speaker choices with loads of spaciousness and deep bass.

Read our Apple HomePod review.


If you need a wi-fi speaker mannequin that is transportable and water-resistant, the Sonos Transfer gives nice sound in a really massive field.

Read our Sonos Move review.


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That includes a compact bar and glorious sound, the Polk MagniFi gives nearly every thing you want in a streaming TV speaker, together with Chromecast built-in. We picked the MagniFi over the Yamaha YAS-209 as a result of it gives a sturdy multiroom system, however if you would like Alexa built-in, the Yamaha is a superb speaker.

Read our Polk MagniFi Mini review.


Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi

Each of them may be termed as wi-fi speaker system. Wi-Fi delivers the identical fundamental comfort as Bluetooth: utilizing your telephone’s Wi-Fi connection to play music over an exterior speaker or sound system. Identical to audio system that use Bluetooth connectivity, it may possibly work with a subscription music service app resembling Spotify (through Spotify Connect) or Apple Music, a radio service like Pandora or TuneIn, or your personal music assortment. Listed below are one of the best causes to get a streaming Wi-Fi speaker:

  • A Wi-Fi speaker sounds higher than a Bluetooth speaker resulting from its greater bandwidth.
  • Wi-Fi has higher vary.
  • Wi-Fi would not take over your telephone’s audio channel — so you’ll be able to take a name with out interrupting the track, for instance.
  • It additionally works nice for multiroom audio, permitting playback from a number of audio system everywhere in the home through your Wi-Fi community, all managed by a single telephone app.

What are the main multiroom requirements?

Once you purchase a Wi-Fi speaker, you are additionally investing in an ecosystem — a household of merchandise and apps that work collectively, however often do not work with different ecosystems. Here is a have a look at the main Wi-Fi ecosystems on the market at present. 

  • Sonos: It is form of costly and a little bit unique, however Sonos nonetheless gives a few of the greatest dwelling speaker {hardware} out there. The corporate is transferring away from the megalithic single app in favor of supporting third-party music providers natively (Spotify Join, Apple AirPlay 2). Contemplating the exacting sound high quality and the bomb-proof construct, Sonos continues to be the premium Wi-Fi system to get. The discharge of Ikea’s Symfonisk range additionally makes the system extra reasonably priced.
  • Apple AirPlay/AirPlay 2: The attain of Apple’s AirPlay 2 will proceed to grow alongside its Music streaming service — with its most intriguing characteristic being multiroom — however there are many audio system on the market that also help the unique AirPlay. Nice for iPhone customers.
  • Chromecast built-in: For the price of entry and ease of use and setup, Chromecast built-in is our present favourite Wi-Fi music system. There isn’t any new apps to study — simply press the Forged button in an present, appropriate app and music will play to the speaker(s) of your selection.
  • Amazon Multi Room Music: The speaker market has been upended by Amazon’s household of Echo speakers that mix wi-fi audio with voice management and residential automation. MRM has been sluggish to take off, nonetheless, partly as a result of third-party machine help is scarce.

The $30 Google Chromecast will allow you to stream audio to units with HDMI inputs.

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There are a variety of different Wi-Fi techniques, some open and a few particular to the only producer. These embrace: Yamaha MusicCast, Denon HEOS, Bowers and Wilkins Formation, Bose Music and Bluesound. There are many techniques which have largely been deserted or changed, whether or not it is in favor of a more recent model or competitors from extra well-liked protocols. These embrace All-Play, LG MusicFlow and Samsung Multi-Room. 

If you wish to play a track in “home get together mode,” for instance, the place it blasts from a number of audio system all through the home concurrently, all of these audio system must share the identical ecosystem. For Sonos and different proprietary techniques, all of these audio system should be Sonos (or linked to a Sonos machine). For Chromecast, the entire audio system no matter model, will should be Chromecast-compatible. And so forth. 

Most Wi-Fi speaker merchandise help streaming providers resembling Pandora and Spotify, however double-check first to make sure. Is your music saved in iTunes, Google Play Music or Amazon Music? You may nonetheless be advantageous with a Sonos (as an example), however different merchandise could provide lower than excellent help.

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