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When you think of portable speakers you can toss in your bag on vacation, or move around the house to hear your tunes in every room, you probably think you need a Bluetooth connection. But think again, because for some of the best wireless speaker systems out there, all you really need is a little WiFi to start streaming.
Emerging as an alternative to Bluetooth speakers, speakers that stream over WiFi have only become more prolific in the past few years. They’re not just purely for audiophiles either. If you’re looking for the best WiFi speakers for your home, there are a wide range of options nowadays — from budget picks equipped with smart assistants for jamming out in the kitchen, to artistically-designed models practically made for your home entertainment setup.
Versatility is key here, and some best audio companies in the world have started releasing WiFi speakers that’ll appeal to people who care about sound just as much as smart-home functionality. There are tons of new WiFi speakers out there right now, but our recommendations have got you covered.
What Are the Best WiFi Speakers?
There are many factors to think about when shopping for the best WiFi speakers; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Bluetooth vs. WiFi: You may be wondering to yourself: what’s the difference between Bluetooth and WiFi anyways if both are used for wireless streaming? While both are just as convenient for, say, playing music from your phone, Wi-Fi speakers tend to have a higher bandwidth than Bluetooth, which means they can handle higher-resolution audio. You’ll get a much further range with WiFi than Bluetooth too, and it won’t interrupt your tunes if you have to take a call on your phone, either.
Smart Capabilities: With wireless speakers, support for voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri are practically a given at this point. That means not only will you be able to listen to music, you can use your speaker to check up on the weather, make a shopping list, and verbally control other smart home appliances (like smart lights).
Multi-Room Pairing: One of the biggest draws of WiFi speakers is the ecosystem of home audio you can create by pairing additional speakers to make a stereo pair or extended wireless system. While each speaker sounds great on their own, you can play music simultaneously across rooms with many of the WiFi systems compatible with these picks. Apple AirPlay, Sonos, Google Chromecast, and Amazon’s own Multi-Room Music are well-known systems, although you need to check if they’ll work for your speaker.
Size: WiFi speakers, like any wireless speaker systems, run the gamut from portable pocket speakers to bookshelf models. They won’t be able to replicate a full home theater system yet, but they’re great for parties, or poolside lounging.
1. Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII
The Swedish firm behind Audio Pro has a long history of making audiophile sound accessible to everybody, and they’ve done it again with their hefty and much improved-upon edition to their award-winning Audio Pro C10 WiFi speaker.
At 7.28 inches tall and 12.6 inches wide, the Audio Pro C10 MkII isn’t exactly the most portable pick (they did away with the classy leather carrying handle of its predecessor), but it’s still easy enough to grab and move around the house, or stash in a bag to take to an AirBnb on your next vacation. It’s a shame the speaker isn’t rechargeable over USB-C or battery-powered at all, which has become the standard for most wireless tech, but this is ultimately a nitpick.
It should come as no surprise that Audio Pro went above and beyond when it came to leveling up the internal electronics, and improving hi-fidelity audio performance overall. It has an updated bass port design, with dual 20 mm textile dome tweeters right up against the front baffle and a 13 cm long-throw woofer. The speaker now features a removable mesh fabric grille and brushed metal plate on top. It’s a minimalist, contemporary update to an already classy speaker line.
That said, this is a WiFi speaker you’ll want to use indoors, think a kitchen countertop or open living room space. The biggest draw of the C10 MkII is clearly the new smart home functionality, adding more options for multi-room streaming (AirPlay 2, Google’s Chromecast, and Audio Pro’s app). It already boasted Bluetooth connectivity, AirPlay, RCA and an AUX port for plugging into your existing audio system.
If you want an indoor WiFI speaker with premium sound and a touch of smart home sensibility, you can’t go wrong with Audio Pro’s C10 MkII.
2. Sonos One
Sonos has been at the forefront of the speaker revolution for several years, finding even more ways to create a connected speaker ecosystem within your own home, and integrating voice assistants. The second-generation update to their home speaker features the same stellar sound quality we expect, with some neat under-the-hood updates.
At about 6.3 inches tall and 4.7 inches deep, the Sonos One (Gen 2) isn’t totally wireless (you need to keep it plugged into an outlet), but it’s bookshelf speaker-like build makes it compact enough to be moved around different rooms in your house, or kept stationary. While you can use Bluetooth with the Sonos One (which has its advantages, such as less power usage), music streaming over WiFi gives you a pretty extended range, and of course, the ability to play high-res audio.
One of the biggest improvements Sonos made was having their smart speakers be more compatible with each other. What does that mean? Well, you can pair your Sonos One (2nd Gen) with any Sonos’ speakers to create an extended wireless network of speakers, or to another Sonos One for stereo sound. Using the Sonos app (iOS and Android), it’s super simple to sync them up over WiFi to play the same track from each speaker around the house simultaneously. That being said, you can always cast your tunes to an individual speaker through Bluetooth.
The second generation of the Sonos One has also gotten smarter, too. The speaker supports Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and AirPlay 2 (not Siri though, Apple keeps that on lock).
For maximum versatility packed into one killer-sounding speaker, you can’t get any better than the Sonos One (Gen 2).
3. Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
Looking like a finely-crafted, modern sculpture, you won’t find a more unique-looking WiFi speaker out there than Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge, but we’re recommending it because it sounds as great as it looks.
This is one of the higher-end picks in our roundup, but for its price, you’ll get the most detailed, balanced sound quality possible, combined with Bowers & Wilkins’ truly best-in-class design. The contoured speaker grille and wood grain back panel are not just beautiful, but functional, too. The speaker’s 120 degree “wedge” shape actually houses five angled drivers to disperse sound more evenly, with two double-dome tweeters and midrange drivers for better stereo accuracy.
With 24-bit/96kHz streaming audio playback, you’ll get the most precise and clear audio possible, but it particularly shines of course when wirelessly streaming high-res music. These high-quality file formats practically beg to be played on a speaker like the Formation Wedge, and it’s hard not to see why. Because of its wide-sweeping stereo (and shape), we find it best placed in a corner table, or towards the edge of a wall to get the most room-filling sound out of it.
Your playback options are plentiful, with Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth and Spotify Connect, although one of the biggest downsides was splitting the controls between the B&W Home app (which you use for initial setup and EQ adjustments) and the third-party app Roon (which assists in music playback, and also includes a streaming library you can get a subscription for). You can certainly stream music without the Roon app, but we wish there was more in one place.
While it’s certainly an investment, the Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge doesn’t sacrifice outstanding audio performance for eye-catching design, and marries the two, in fact, so you get the best of both worlds.
4. Apple HomePod Mini
Apple’s HomePod Mini attempted to beat out Amazon’s Echo and the Google Nest Audio through sheer affordability and ease-of-use alone, and we confidently say that if you’re an Apple die-hard, you’re going to love these speakers.
When used in tandem with Apple Homekit, Apple’s smart home platform, you can control smart home accessories, send audio intercom messages to multiple rooms (needs more than one HomePod), give each person in your house a profile through voice recognition, and more over WiFi. With support for Apple Music’s new Siri Voice Plan, it also lets you get answers to questions, set times, and play music with voice commands.
Its clean, seamless design is a major draw as well, but how does it sound? When we tested out the HomePod Mini for ourselves, we found it had pretty solid performance for a speaker of its size and price range. Apple outfitted the latest speaker with two passive radiators that direct sound outward in multiple directions. Their “acoustic wave-guide” also directs sound downward through the bottom, so you hear a 360-degree audio effect. With Siri voice commands, four microphones make it even easier to be understood, even with music playing.
While it has a full bass, and a decent treble and midrange, the HomePod Minis really shine when they come together — linking up two speakers together over WiFi creates a stereo pair with even more dynamic sound on their own, so we highly recommend getting more than one.
If you’ve got an iPhone in your hand right now, or you’re binge-watching your shows on an Apple TV, the HomePod Mini is the best choice for a smart speaker upgrade.