Best Wireless Speakers 2017
Wireless speakers are super popular.
They offer a great audio experience, without the need for amps, separate bits of equipment, and, of course, wires.
As a bonus, you can control them easily via your smartphone, giving you access to all of your streaming music from all of the providers.
The Best Wireless Speakers Reviewed
|Sonos Play 1||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
|Sonos Play 3||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
|Sonos Play 5||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
|Bose SoundTouch 10||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
|Denon HEOS 1||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
|Denon HEOS 7||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
|B&O PLAY Beoplay A6||10||10||10||10||Check Price|
Sonos Play 1
Any Sonos speakers enthusiast will tell you they could not wait for the launch of the Sonos Play 1. Famed for being small and sleek, but, with excellent sound quality, the Sonos Play 1 could very well be everything we are looking for in a high end speaker.
The Sonos:1 is a small, stylish speaker, available in 2 finishes: either white, or a sleek black. In order to maximize sound projection, the sides of the Sonos 1 are covered in wire mesh grill. The top and the bottom are both plastic and house the buttons and antennae.
Its hardware design is simple with only a play/pause button, a power jack, and an Ethernet cable jack.
On its portability, despite being small, it’s not the kind of speaker you can carry away from home. This is because it requires proximity to your Wi-Fi and lacks a battery outside.
For a first time user of Sonos appliances, the speakers do not play via Bluetooth, cable connection or airplay. All music is played via the Sonos software that can be synced over WiFi through the Sonos app on iOS and Android.
The great thing about this app is that it incorporates all the Livestream music services such as Spotify, deezer, Amazon Music, and Soundcloud.
Setting up of the Sonos 1 can be a bit painful. You have to connect the Sonos Bridge to your router, via the Ethernet connection, and finally spend few minutes of trying to find the required signal for the speaker.
Thankfully, this is a process that only has to be done once.
The Interface And The Sonos App
Sonos remains highly rated when it comes to app updating. Over the years Sonos has released versions of its software that are up to date with the various versions of Andriod, even the latest Android 4.3. The interface is very user friendly and efficient.
As with all Sonos speakers the Sonos 1 can be used as a satellite speaker with other Sonos speakers, and the Sonos play bar - to create a multispeaker/multiroom setup.
Given its size and price, Sonos have really outdone themselves with this speaker. The sound quality is excellent given its small size, ussing less than common methods of sound projection. It offers balanced tones with over the range bass rendition and a stable but fun rhythmic control.
This is indeed a kind of fun speaker that will allow you to feel the treble in Kygo’s remixes while at the same time hitting the bitter undertones in Taylor Swift’s songs.
- Simple set up process
- Definitely punchy for its size
- Clear, strong sound reproduction
- Good value for size
- Impressive sound quality
- Doesn’t offer the option of physical aux connections
- There is no option of high resolution streaming protocols
- Relatively pricey
This speaker clearly speaks for itself. Sonos has never disappointed us and the Sonos Play 1 won’t be the first to break the cycle.
It’s indeed a good buy if you’re looking for a high end, small speaker with quality sound. The price is on the higher affordable end, helping dispell the notion of Sonos only being for the rich.
Sonos Play 3
Wireless speakers have become a common product in the electronics market. Different electronic companies have released their versions of the wireless speakers, which has resulted in some products being superior to others.
One of the wireless speakers you will find in the market is the Sonos play 3. This speaker does not offer high-quality sound output and agility like speakers from Bose but will not also disappoint the buyer.
As we are going to see in this review, there are some features the Sonos play three has that are quite impressive while there are others that it does not have.
The Sonos play 3 is among the small wireless speakers with an amazing sound quality. This speaker is not more than six inches and weighs less than six pounds. However, its sound can be heard throughout a 700-square foot apartment without turning the volume all the way up.
The sound quality is perfect at lower volumes, but the bass tends to get a little distorted when it is turned to the extreme right due to lack of a dedicated subwoofer.
The 3-inch mid-range tweeter and drivers deliver a sound quality that is slight above average all in one stereo systems and iPod dock.
Its default EQ can sense the speaker orientation and disperse maximum sound to fit the room. However, the base can be a little higher and can be balanced when moved notch or two lower.
Hardware and setup
The Sonos play three is grilled in a smooth black and white plastic casing that slightly tapers towards the back with only the volume and mute button interrupting the tapering.
The speaker features a bridge, which serves as a wireless hub by connecting to the router, a jack that connects to the power and a pair of Ethernet ports.Sonos boasts of ease of use and getting the Sonos Bridge to connect and fire two play 3s over a considerably long distance takes few minutes with much of the time being spent on waiting for the controller software to install. From here, all that is required is to press “join” on the bridge and then mute and volume up buttons on the speakers. From here, all you need is to choose a music folder and direct it to the Pandora and Spotify to enjoy your music.
The Sonos software is used as the music manager because you cannot select by beaming iTunes to the speakers.
The left panel displays connected devices, the middle one shows the queue, now playing panel and the player controls and the right panel shows the music selection options.
One vexing issue about the Sonos play 3 is the lack of the search-as-you-type option, and it does not automatically go to the next song after the previous one is done playing but is still impressive when searching for songs, albums, and artists on the iPhone.
- Very easy to set up
- Impressive sound quality
- Flexible over positioning
- High-level sound dispersion
- Free control apps
- The dedicated remote for this speaker is expensive
- Requires a wired connection
- The software controls can be frustrating
- it is only supported by Wi-Fi connectivity
- The bass is not impressive at high volumes
Sonos Play 5
Everyone‘s heard of Sonos, the reputed American Consumer Electronics brand. In 2009, they launched the first and original Play:5. It’s the first wireless speaker they made and thus this product created a lot of buzz in the market.
Sonos, with the Play:5, have taken control of the user experience from beginning to end, and all the benefits that came with it.
According to Sonos, they have come up with an all-new and best-till-date speaker this time. It sounds better, looks sleek and has an array of future-proof technologies up its sleeve.
It is the most expensive product in Sonos family. For its price it is the best multi room speaker you can have.
Sonos’ main motivation behind the design of the Play:5 is to create “the best speaker of the digital age”. There must be a reason behind this new look, as from Sonos’ perspective, the design matters like other essential criteria.
Play:5 is capable of very clean and deep bass, even better than the Play bar.
The all new Play:5 can now be easily oriented in various positions. This feature helps greater placement flexibility.
The front grille is made up of plastic of high quality, rather than being metallic.
Around the back of this wireless speaker, you will find all the ports you need, including a line-in, power plug and Ethernet port.
With the advancement of technology the newly invented things get smaller and smarter but the scenario is different in this case. The design of this new speaker from Sonos is simple although it is fantastic. Sonos claims that this is the best product they have ever produced.
Set Up Process & Ease of Use
If you are an existing Sonos user, then it is a simple task to install the new Play:5. You need to just plug in, and then open the app, it will be connected.
First time users also need not be worried at all for the installation process.
As the new Sonos Play:5 has the improved Wi-Fi with 5 antennas, it keeps up the connection all through.
Actually, the Sonos application is the central hub of everything, thus, unlike the other wireless speakers in the market, it does not use Google cast, Spotify connect or Bluetooth.
When you are about to add the speaker with the system, just tap the app and then after press the sync button at the back, it’s done.
The main highlight of Sonos Play:5 is the ability to create an awesome ambiance for your entertainment needs. You will be totally amazed by the rich sound and its feel.
There is a nice clarity in mid-range, whatever music you play. The vocal will always be clear to hear with the mixture of music.
Another huge improvement compared to the previous generations is in bass. Always remember to run Trueplay on the speaker during set-up, to ensure the speaker can generate the best sound.
- Nice and Rich sound
- Improved Bass response
- Crystal clear mids
- Nice and thicker design for multi-room experience
- Ease of installation
- Restrictive in behavior
- Much Expensive
- Can’t be fitted in any room size
Bose SoundTouch 10
With the SoundTouch 10, Bose has entered the league of multi-room speakers along with its competitors. The SoundTouch 10 like majority of the multi-room speakers connects your home network, using Bluetooth, to various music streaming services like Deezer, Spotify and even internet radio. But apart from streaming services, the Bluetooth also allows Bose SoundTouch 10 to connect to all kinds of audio sources, be it YouTube or podcasts. This product is available in white and black colors with matching remote. You can find the control situated on the top portion of the unit, making SoundTouch 10 an ideal bedside speaker.
The Bose SoundTouch 10 cones with volume controls, 6 preset shortcuts as well as a source select to toggle between auxiliary and Bluetooth. The rubberized buttons do not come with backlights and the speaker does not feature any pause/play or skip track button (available on the remote though). Playing music appears to be simple using the remote and the speaker buttons. A feature not available in any other multi-room speaker is the availability of the 3.5 auxiliary connection to wire in devices.
Quality of Sound:
The Bose SoundTouch 10 is disappointingly a mono speaker that includes a single transducer within which cannot be paired to another speaker to form a stereo. Bose has however reassured its customers that with software update in future, this should not be a problem. The resulting sound produced from this speaker is extremely narrow and has a lifeless feel to it. Moreover, the bass tends to overpower the treble and the midrange. The sound, being harsh, often submerges the vocals. Surprisingly the size of the speaker does not affect the loudness of the volume, but higher volume leads to distortion in sound.
The App Feature:
Since it is a wireless connection, the speaker can only be connected through either the SoundTouch mobile app (which is available for both iOS and Android platforms), or a desktop application (available for OS X and Windows). The Wi-Fi settings are added by the app for the speaker to get internet access in order to connect you to any NAS device or PC. The design is clean and includes presets and sliding panes in sync with the buttons on the SoundTouch 10 speaker. The Sliding up option allows you to control your speakers for grouping or to send music to all speakers in your network. You can use the Explore Menu to access settings or chance an audio source. The preset buttons offer assistance to those that prefer a specified routine wherein he/she can play specific music in particular timings such as while going back home from work or while waking up in the morning.
Bose SoundTouch 10 is an attempt by the company to bridge the gap between its size and price range that has existed for some time. This product is small but a brilliant package that offers great access to amazing in-app control and all-you-can-stream features, something that gives Bose SoundTouch 10 a good start.
- The sound is clear and big
- The design is compact and smart
- The app is impressive
- Abundant features including multi-room play
- The treble is somewhat coarse
- When the volume is on the higher end the mid-range tends to harden up
Denon HEOS 1
Home wireless speakers have grown in popularity as newer brands have come up to lay stake on the large market available to them. Two companies that have been in neck to neck competition for the portable speaker market are Denon and Sonos. Denon now have their lowest priced multi-room wireless speaker, the Heos 1. The speaker can be placed wherever in the house-even the bathroom as it has a humidity resistant cover.
The compact speaker is the first in the Heos line of wireless speakers with other top-end variations such as the Heos 3, Heos 5, and Heos 7 going for a higher price. The Heos speaker is an ideal choice for wireless speakers as you can add the Go Pack and make it portable to move around with. Some online shops sell the Heos with the Go Pack which will cost you an extra $79.
With the Go Pack, you have 6 hours of battery life, a splash-proof cover to protect the rear sockets and Bluetooth connectivity as well as Ethernet and USB ports, and a 3.5 mm jack input. It comes handy in the summer outdoor parties.
Heos 1 design
It comes in two variants, white and black. It weighs 3.2 pounds and stands 189mm high. The humidity cover is hexagonal and has a metallic speaker grille covering the entire front part. The metal grille is a canny addition as it will provide support just as much as the long lasting cover.
The volume and mute buttons are positioned at the top of the speaker. The wireless speaker is not crammed with buttons and you will immediately notice that the input-selection and playback buttons are absent. This means that you have to use the app to change inputs or select music. The tweeter and midrange controllers are just underneath the speaker grill and are linked to Class D amplifiers. On its own, Heos only gives out mono sound; however, with a pair you get stereo sound.
Features and Connections
The Heos 1 is equipped with double-band Wi-Fi and there is plenty of choice when it comes to streaming services such as Napster, Deezer, Tidal, SoundCloud, Rdio and TuneIn. All the main streaming channels are accessible. You can also play music from the phone when you connect through your home network.
The multi-room feature allows you to connect multiple Denon speakers to play together or two if you want the stereo effect. The different speakers can play from different channels, you control all of that with the accompanying app. Heos 1 supports various file formats such as WMA,MP3, FLAC, AAC and WAV.
The unit, though compact, gives a commendable sound. You realize that the sound booms just right and the high frequencies sound good too. The seemingly small speaker has a cohesive and crisp sound even though overpowered with the base at higher volumes. However, this is something to fix with the sound settings on the app.
- Quality sound with high fidelity
- It’s portable
- Long-lasting build
- You can stream from all major streaming services
- Long battery life when you get the Go Pack
- Does not support music with high resolution
- You have to buy the Go Pack to get Bluetooth
- Atypical setup process
- Streams music mainly from its own app-Heos app, rather than phones music player
- A few doubts when it comes to smooth operation
Denon HEOS 7
The Denon HEOS 7 is one of the most advanced models in the new HEOS product line from Denon. It’s a wireless dynamic speaker that slots into a multi-room scheme that all the Denon Heos speakers are part of.
The HEOS 7 is a large speaker, 8 by 19 by 5.4 inches and weighing little more than 9 pounds. It has a very attractive form, especially when viewed from an angle. From the back and the front the device has a black bar motif. In top, the device has a nice touch of light colored metal.
The various ports of the device are situated towards the bottom of the the back panel. Among the ports are power supply, USB, 3.5 mm AUX-IN, as well as an Ethernet port.
The side panels of the device are made of a high-quality black plastic. Volume buttons are conveniently located on the left hand side of the speaker.
Setting up Wi-Fi of the device
Setting up the HEOS speaker will undoubtedly be something new for you, but it’s not difficult.
The HEOS 7 can be configured from either an iPhone or Android smartphone using a free app. Just use the cable attached to the device that connects to your phone via the 3.5mm port, and click on the Connect button on the back of the speaker system, and then follow the clear instructions to connect it to the desired network.
The device will immediately appear in the app as soon as it is connected, and you can give it a name and customize it in the way you want.
All control of the device is accomplished via a simple and user-friendly app. You can transfer the audio from any application on your smartphone. Support of Spotify Connect means that you can use Spotify’s software if you wish.
Performance of the speaker
Denon Heos 7 has a loud, bassy sound. The bass is dominates, which the more sensitive among you may not value – it’s a good reason why some may choose two Heos 3s over one Heos 7.
Denon‘s Heos 7 is a solid competitor in the company’s multi-room Wi-Fi speaker range.
It packages plenty of capacity into a single, attractive package.
The app offers strong support across a few popular music applications, and the dynamic’s dedicated subwoofer driver gives plenty of no-distortion bass.
When matched with the similarly priced Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air device, or the less costly AirPlay capable Harman Kardon Aura, the Heos 7 appears expensive and lacks in professional clarity.
Denon demonstrates a high level of potential in its new range of wireless speakers, but it hasn’t matched its competitors for now.
- Heos application supports a big number of well-known music services.
- Operates with both iOS and Android operating systems.
- Superior room-filling sound with excellent detail
- Speaker has attractive and innovative design
- Speaker might be very uneasy to use in areas with many Wi-Fi signals.
- Device has no hi-res music support
- Bluetooth not integrated into the speaker
B&O PLAY Beoplay A6
With a budget in the neighborhood of $1000, there is no denying that you can get a pretty decent sound system - whether it’s a fully-fledged smart home theater system such as the Sony BDV9100 or a streaming system such as the Cambridge Audio Minx System. However, if you are short on space or you would like something out-of-the-ordinary and truly exceptional, then the BeoPlay A6 might be what you are missing on your plate. But what exactly does this all-in wireless speaker have that makes it worth several hundred dollars?
Here is a quick primer to that.
Superb Streaming Prowess
Apart from being a one-source wonder, the BeoPlay A6 will stream anything from pretty much any source in whichever format. For starters, like any other music player at this price point, the A6 supports almost all popular formats ( AA6, WMA, MP3, MP4, FLAC, and WAV ). So whether the music is playing on your iPhone ( via AirPlay) or tablet ( via Bluetooth ) or Nas Drive ( via DLNA) or from any inbuilt streaming apps such as Spotify or Deezer, the A6 checks all the boxes. On the other end of the spectrum, if you‘re a radio fanatic, there are countless internet stations on the go that can be accessed via TuneIn. Lastly, as an icing on the cake, you can pair it up with another A6, its bigger cousin the A9 or even B&O’s Beovision 11 and Avant TVs courtesy of its multi-room capability.
The last thing you would expect from a speaker system this slender would be heavy or deep bass. But the BeoPlay A6 pulls a fast one on us. Well, the bass might not be rumbling and deep, but it is so textured, defined and rich that the mid-range and the treble are not grossly overpowered but cleverly accounted for. That being said, for the best output, you would be better-served by Bluetooth than AirPlay. In fact, with AirPlay, the music sounds less insightful and more confined.
The Superior Build
Physically, the A6 looks nothing like a smaller version of the A9 - as you would expect. Nonetheless, B&O minimalistic design language is written all over the A6; from the gently curved distinctive shape to the unique angling of the five internal-built drivers. What’s more, this unusual design is complemented with a luxurious finishing that looks like a fuzzy wool-like exterior that spells deluxe from all angles. Apparently, B&O teamed up with a Kvadrat - a Danish textile manufacturer - to cover the front firing 20mm tweeters and 14cm woofers with a weaving pattern making the A6 look more homely than portable.
The Bottom Line
If you have no qualms about chalking out almost a grand for premium sound, convenience, and idiosyncrasy, then the BeoPlay A6 should be your best pick. Not only does it sound as good as it looks but also integrates a vast functionality in such a small space. That being said, it would be much better if it employed more substantial controls than what is currently onboard.
- Deep, rich, and textured bass
- Utilizes a minimalistic space-economical design
- Works with a variety of streaming apps and music sources
- Could have better controls
- A prohibitive price tag for an average media consumer
- The Bang & Olufsen setup app here is a bit glitchy
Here‘s what to look for when you’re on the hunt for your perfect speaker set-up:
Choosing Your Connection
Wireless tech comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with pros and cons.
Not just for taxi-drivers and the big flashing ‘things’ stuck in their ears, Bluetooth is a short-range, low-powered, ad-hoc wireless transmission technology, i.e. if you want to get data from here to just over there, then Bluetooth has what you need.
- Ubiquitous - lots of tech, like phones, just have it already built in
- No network required - you just choose a device and connect
- Newer models offer higher quality (CD) streaming via the aptX codec
- Short-range - at most around 50 feet (20m)
- The pairing dance - turn it on, searching.. searching.. no device found - What do you mean?? It’s just over there, look!
- Older Bluetooth chips only offer lower (MP3) audio quality streaming
- Connection to a single speaker at a time
- Tends to be easily blocked by internal walls
Often used as the ‘carrier’ for other protocols to live on-top of, e.g. AirPlay, DNLA
- Higher bandwidth, and higher quality audio streams available
- Longer range than Bluetooth - up to 150 feet (50m)
- Access to audio from multiple sources
- Connection to multiple speakers at a time
- Existing wifi network has to be present - no network, no connection to your speaker(s)
- Signal competes for bandwidth with everything else on the network - if there’s a lot of traffic, it can impact streaming
- Initial set-up of a speaker on a network can be painful
Short for ‘Near Field Communication’ is an extremely short-range communication protocol - think touch-pay credit cards and bus tickets.
In speakers this technology isn’t used for transmitting the audio, but, rather to simplify the pairing process between streaming devices and the speakers. For example, touching your phone to your speaker to pair it.
A nice-to-have, not a need-to-have.
It sounds weird when talking about wireless speakers, but, if you’ve got a cable available, why not have the opportunity to plug into a wired network to get faster, more consistent connection speeds?
Not essential by any means, but a nice bonus if offered.
Compatibility & Jargon
Remember, if you want a multiroom set-up, or, play audio on multipe speakers, then you have to ensure that they all use the same wireless technology. You can’t mix-and-match AirPlay and DLNA at the same time for example.
Apple-specific, can access content on Apple devices (MacOS, iOS) and any other computer that has iTunes.
An industry standard (Digital Living Network Alliance) for sending audio-visual media over wifi. Found in lots of products, particularly those using Android, bu,t has a reputation for being slow and somewhat painful to use at times.
Multiroom / syncing
Multiroom does what it says on the tin - allowing you to play the same audio through multiple speakers positioned all around your home.
A big part of the magic is not just playing audio through multiple wireless speakers, but, keeping them all in-sync - as you walk room-to-room the audio is seamless: none of the speakers are ever so slighty ahead or behind - the music follows you everywhere.
Alternatively, you can have different audio playing in different rooms via the same system - perfect for keeping audiophiles with different tastes happy.
Features, Additional Functionality, and ‘Smarts’
Voice control, voice recognition, and AI
Fresh to the category are the ‘smart speakers’ from the likes of Amazon Echo, and Google Home.
These take your speaker from being merly something to play your audio, to a device that you can (kinda) have a conversation with.
Voice commands allow you to, not only choose and adjust your audio playback, but, to connect and interact with a whole host of services:
- Informational - sports scores, weather alerts, and the like
- Multi-device control - control of smart devices, like lighting, heating, A/C, and others.
Size & Portability
Very much dependant on what you want to use the speaker for - are you looking for something that you’re going to mount in one place and leave? Occassionally moving around your house? Or, are you looking for something you can easily carry up a mountain, or, to a desert island in a back-pack?
Durability and Build Quality
Again, related to what you want to use the speaker for:
Some more ruggedized speakers for outdoor use come encased in tough, shock-resistant plastic that serves to protect them from bumps, scrapes, and rough-treatment.
If you‘re going outside, you’ll at least want something that splash-proof. If you‘re going paddle-boarding, you’ll want to invest in something that’s fully watertight and happy being submerged.
Carry-handle, clips, loops, and connectors
If you are going to be carrying your speaker around with you, it definitely helps to have something to carry it by, or, that you can connect to your kit.
Cost & Affordability
Ultimately, it boils-down to:
- How much have you got to spend?
- And, what features do you want in return for your hard-earned cash?
Certain brands, like Sonos, are priced at a premium relative to their feature set. However, often you are paying for a better overall package: everything ‘just works’, looks great, and produces high-quality output.