WiFi speakers

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Connect to your speakers through WiFi.

WiFi speakers run over your home WiFi network. This gives you a larger range than with regular Bluetooth and enables the use of apps to create networked speaker systems.

From our test

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Speaker networks

Network or “system” speakers work by connecting various wireless speakers over your home’s WiFi network.

Once all the speakers are linked, you can play audio through any combination of them. The speakers don’t even need to be in the same room as long as they are connected to your network. So you can be listening to music solely in one room, or all of them. You can also set up two of the same speaker (for example, two Sonos Play:1 speakers) as a left and right channel.

The connection point to turn speakers into a system is an app on your phone or tablet. Most major music streaming services (such as Spotify and Pandora) work seamlessly with these apps.

Creating a network means you don’t need to lay out a large amount of money in one go but build up by buying separate pieces over time. Note, you can’t pick and choose from different brands. But each manufacturer has various speaker types available, from regular speakers to wall-mounted flat panels or round speakers that can broadcast in multiple directions. This variety means you can tailor a system to suit your home.

Here’s how the network speakers in our test performed as a complete system.

Brand Yamaha Sonos Sony Bose
App MusicCast Sonos SongPal SoundTouch
System Price $4796 $4535 $3248 $4255
Overall score 78% 72% 64% 62%
System sound quality (/10) 7.8 7.0 6.1 6.9
Ease of use - Android app (/10) 8.1 7.9 7.0 2.9
Ease of use - iOS app (/10) 8.9 8.1 8.3 4.9
Ease of use - speakers (/10) 4.5 5.0 4.0 7.3
WiFi Dual Band A B
Apple Airplay C
Bluetooth
Google Play Music
Pandora
Spotify
Speakers can act as network extenders
Can create own network

GUIDE TO THE TABLE PRICES taken from a December 2016 online price survey. System Price is the combined price of all speakers. SYSTEM SOUND QUALITY (70% of overall score). EASE OF USE - ANDROID APP (12.5%). EASE OF USE - iOS APP (12.5%). EASE OF USE – SPEAKERS (5%). WiFi DUAL BAND AExcept SRS-ZR7. BExcept SoundTouch 10. APPLE AIRPLAY CSRS-X99 only.

Features

Here are some features to consider when choosing WiFi speakers.

  • Dual band WiFi – this means the speaker can connect to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands.
  • Apple Airplay – this is a wireless connection protocol that lets the speaker communicate easily with Apple devices.
  • Bluetooth - useful as a wireless back-up.
  • Network extenders – this means the speakers will act as receivers and transmitters of your home network, so it can expand to fill the entire house with fewer dead zones.
  • WiFi Direct - Some speakers can create their own localised WiFi network to connect speakers and devices. This means you don’t need an existing WiFi network.

Bose is a Top Brand

The Top Brand award recognises brands that perform consistently well across product testing, reliability and customer satisfaction.

We have awarded the Top Brand award to Bose for sound bars, home theatre systems, wireless speakers and headphones. Bose sound products tested very well and returned exceptional owner satisfaction.

Reliability

Wireless speakers are a reliable product, with only 3% needing repair.

Bose and Sonos owners were most likely to be very satisfied (91% and 90%) and very likely to purchase the brand again (87% and 90%). Owners of less common wireless speakers, those with fewer than 30 models in our survey, were less likely to be very satisfied (64%), very likely to purchase again (63%) or think they got excellent value for money (62%).

For more on wireless speakers reliability, see our survey.

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