In the context of the never-ending quest to cut wires out of our entertainment set-ups, it’s great to see the recent explosion of the Wi-Fi speaker market. By connecting to our home wireless networks, these devices are saving us the trouble of having to run cables around our dens and living rooms.
Even better—with improved connection technology such as DLNA or Apple’s AirPlay driving them, the sound quality of all that wirelessly transmitted music is miles ahead of where it was just a few years ago. We tested four of the biggest-name Wi-Fi sound systems on the market. Here’s our guide.
$449 | Add the Boost hub for $109. The granddaddy of the multi-room wireless category, Sonos has been perfecting the art of meshing speakers and music sources for more than a decade, whether they be devices or Internet-based. Once connected to your Wi-Fi router, you can beam music from your phone or tablet to the top-of-the-line Play:5, plus you can hook up to more online subscription music services than any other system we tested. Sonos connects to Rdio, Spotify, Sirius XM and Deezer, among others. The best part is you can keep adding speakers, such as the smaller $219 Play:1, with up to 32 of them playing simultaneously around your home. A separate Boost hub can amplify signals if your home Wi-Fi is weak. The control app is slick, the selection is big and the sound is great.
Samsung Shape M7
$449 | Add the Boost hub for $69. Samsung’s speakers work much like Sonos’s, with a central hub allowing for up to 32 to be connected. The control app isn’t as simple to use and it doesn’t have as many online music services to connect to, but the speakers themselves sound good and are nice to look at. The triangular devices can be set horizontally or vertically with their included kickstands, which adds style to any room they’re in. As an extra bonus the Shape easily connects to Samsung smart TVs, so it can double as a sound bar.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A8
$1,300 | Wi-Fi-enabled speakers don’t come more high-end than the A8, which is why it’s no surprise that Bang & Olufsen’s offering has the crispest and widest range of sound of devices tested. The twin 10-inch speakers serve up an impressive 70 watts of bass and mid-range sound, plus 35 watts for treble. The A8 is also funky looking, with its disc-shaped speakers available in several colours, which almost qualifies as modern art. Mount it on your wall and it’s sure to be a conversation starter. The only downside is the hefty price tag.
$699 | Like Bang & Olufsen’s product, Sony’s high-end Wi-Fi unit connects right to your network and mobile device. Its plain black brick appearance doesn’t win any style points, but with seven speakers and a maximum output power of 154 watts, it packs a wallop. It’s the device for those who like it loud.