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At home, I frequently move between two rooms with my OS X laptop. I would like to get two wireless speakers and place one in each room, to avoid the hassle of having to connect them via Aux Line-in.

Critical features:

The Wireless speakers I am looking for should be able to source computer audio, and let me select where to play it at any time:

  • Play one of the speakers, or...
  • Both speakers at the same time

Additionally, I would like them to:

  • Support AirPlay streaming from iOS devices

Optional features:

Optional, but not critical:

  • Support direct streaming from services like Spotify, Soundcloud
  • Allow Aux Line-In or equivalent
  • Manufacturer also provides "bridge" unit that can connect ordinary line-in speakers to the Wi-Fi system

Pricing:

Up to 450 USD per speaker, but preferably lower. Audio quality should be good but doesn't need to be Hi-Fi great (and thus very expensive).


Because of the above criteria, I'm assuming that Bluetooth speakers are not effective, because I need to be able to move around with the laptop and still have connectivity. Also, there is a thick wall between the two rooms so they wouldn't be able to communicate with each other via Bluetooth.

So my question is if you could recommend some Wi-Fi speakers that meet these critera – if there are any?

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The original Hi-Fi Wi-Fi speaker company, Sonos, seems to be your fit. They have three product lines that are fully inter-operable with each other; in order of increasing quality (and obviously price): the Play 1, 3 and 5 at $200, $300 and $500 respectively.

Despite the $50 budget breach per speaker, I include the Play 5 because you'll need at least one (or the CONNECT or the CONNECT AMP) for full source computer (Apple) audio (i.e. sources from non-Sonos compatible streaming apps). The Play 5 is also the only one with an AUX, the biggest speaker and as I mentioned the speakers are fully inter-operable, so you can mix and match.

As long as you have at least one Play 5/CONNECT/CONNECT AMP connected to an AirPort Express, all models exceed your critical requirements:

Critical features:

The Wireless speakers I am looking for should be able to source computer audio, and let me select where to play it at any time (yes for Apple devices via AirPlay):

  • Play one of the speakers, or...
  • Both speakers at the same time (2 speakers be can linked for great stereo output)
    • additional speakers can all play at the same time
    • all speakers can be divided and grouped individually into zones playing different music. Note: if using AirPlay, group functions are still available, however AirPlay is treated by Sonas a single source-so same music only in that group

Additionally, I would like them to:

Support AirPlay streaming from iOS devices

And satisfy almost all optional features:

  • Support direct streaming from services like Spotify (with Spotify premium-yes), Soundcloud (not sure-but if it plays through AirPlay then yes)
  • Allow Aux Line-In or equivalent (Play 5 only)
  • Manufacturer also provides "bridge" unit that can connect ordinary line-in speakers to the Wi-Fi system

Now in contrast to previous Sonos speakers, the latest ones connect directly to your Wi-Fi and don't require the old $50 bridge. Assuming a total budget of $900 for any 2 speakers and that you have an AirPort Express (additional $100 if you don't), to stay within it you could get (in order of preference):

  1. (1 x Play 5) + (1 x Play 3) = $800
  2. (1 x Connect) + (1 x Play 3) + (1 x Play 1) = $850

I'd go with option 1 myself because it's more than enough my for average (European) place. All the Plays sound amazing, but obviously the Play 5 really fills the room, so put plug that in your bigger/more frequented room with the AirPort Express next to it. If you don't have an AirPort Express you can get one and still be in your $900 budget.

If you want to fill a large house, stretch the budget and get 2 Play 5s. Or buy 1 Play 5, test it and decide on another or a Play 3. The main lady will try, but she'll never keep you down.

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    Also, while having great apps for Android and iOS Wi-Fi speakers (that also had bluetooth) from Samsung and Denon (which also had AUX in for all models and an optional battery for the HEOS 1) don't seem to have great desktop OS X/Windows functionality-if any. – rustynuts Mar 13 '16 at 4:29
  • Thanks for a great answer! I had considered the Sonos line-up, but I couldn't confirm that they can in fact source computer audio to both speakers at the same time. See this and this thread that it can't be done. Maybe the software changed recently or there's something I'm missing. Can you confirm that Sonos can source from OS X via Wifi? – PAN Mar 13 '16 at 16:04
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    Ah, I thought you meant streaming audio from a computer (OS X) via Sonos compatible apps e.g. iTunes, Spotify etc. You mean full audio from your computer (or phone/tablet) e.g. streamin audio from a downloaded movie on any app. From what I understand, for Apple devices, the very quick answer seems to be yes via AirPlay-for which you'll need at least one Play 5 (or CONNECT or CONNECT AMP) & Airport Express, have a scroll down to the questions section – rustynuts Mar 14 '16 at 21:14
  • Thanks for that clarification. I'm probably going to get a Sonos solution. I just have to make sure that streaming to two speakers at the same time works via Airplay from a OS X Computer (hopefully it does). Airplay is a pretty robust solution, perhaps the outcry in the linked forums thread concern Windows and other operating systems. – PAN Mar 15 '16 at 14:49
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    With your AirPlay device(s) connected to your OS X computer, you'd go to System Preferences-Sound-Output tab and select the AirPlay device connected to the Sonos. You should then get full audio transfer. You'll have normal Sonos features like grouping multiple speakers. This is in addition to the Sonos to AirPlay connection linked above. – rustynuts Mar 15 '16 at 15:05

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