Apple's AirPlay technology allows you to stream music from your iPhone, iPod, iPad or computer to speakers over Wi-Fi. It offers better audio quality than Bluetooth, because it doesn't use compression on the wireless link. Speakers with AirPlay technology usually cost more than Bluetooth speakers as Apple charges manufacturers a licence fee.
Nevertheless, the premium is often worth it, especially if you really value audio fidelity. Here we've gathered together five of the best AirPlay speakers currently available.
If you're feeling flush with cash and want no-compromise sound quality from your Bluetooth speaker, the slightly retro looking, but boringly named DS-E750 from Samsung is the dock to go for. This model's cherry-wood finish and encased vacuum-tubes give it a classy look. It also sounds good, with a brighter response than B&W's Zepplin Air that give rock tracks real bite. Around the back there's a traditional retractable dock and AirPlay support is built-in, so pretty much all the connectivity bases are covered.
Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100
This may not have a design as showy as some of its competitors, but its plain white and grey colour scheme gives it an attractive Sonos-like appearance. Along with AirPlay support, the speaker also has Bluetooth onboard and in our review we liked the fact that it directly streamed Internet radio without the need for a separate mobile device. Its sound quality isn’t quite as good as the very best docks, but it does do a good job of producing a more laid-back sound that never gets too boomy.
Logitech UE Air Speaker
Viewed from the top, this speaker has a similar shape to a stingray, and its side profile is slim and beautifully contoured. Naturally it has AirPlay onboard, but to the front it also has a push-button dock that slides out from the bottom of the speaker. There's a special Logitech UE Air app to guide you through the setup process, so you'll have it up and running in no time. Those powerful double rear-mounted subwoofers really do kick out plenty of bass, and in general the speaker can blast music at astoundingly loud volumes.
The Danes are known for their tasteful design and thankfully Zipp from Danish company Libratone does nothing to tarnish the country's image. Its tubular look is modern and eye-catching and you can buy extra zip-up covers to match its colour scheme to your interior décor. The device supports both AirPlay and DirectPlay, with the latter allowing you to connect to it directly from your music source without the need for a Wi-Fi router in-between. It has a built-in rechargeable battery or can be run from the mains, and it puts in an excellent performance, offering richer, cleaner sound than many of its competitors.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air
The original B&W Zeppelin was a work of art thanks not just to its gorgeous blimp-like design, but also its sublime audio quality. The only thing that it was really missing was AirPlay support. Thankfully, B&W has fixed this with the Zeppelin Air, so you can now beam your tunes over Wi-Fi to it from your iPhone, iPod or iPad. Inside it's home to a total of five speakers -- four 25W drivers and one 50W driver -- and the four standard drivers are angled so as to bounce the sound around your room. Bass response is just as good as it was on the original Zeppelin and its clarity in the mid-range is unparalleled. It may be pricey, but its gorgeous design and sound quality make it worth every penny.