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The Best Airplay Receivers and Speakers

Updated on December 21, 2015
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Scientist, writer, audiophile and smartphone addict, Will Apse, loves explaining tech issues in a way that anyone can understand.

Airplay has been around for a while now but top quality portable speakers using this wireless system have been slow in appearing. This page takes a look at the best on offer.

Airplay receivers, especially models from Denon and Marantz are worth exploring if you want to get the best sound without wires around your home.

For most audiophiles, Airplay will never be the main reason for choosing either speakers or receivers. But it does give you great flexibility.

It is especially useful for parties, when you might want sounds out on a deck or in any room away from your main entertainment zone. Both iPhone and Android smartphones have apps that will allow you to use them as remotes.

What You Need

Apart from the latest iTunes set up you need WiFi connectivity to get the most from airplay. though an Ethernet connection will suffice.

Upgrading Older Recievers

If you have an older Denon or Morantz receiver it is worth checking to see if it can be upgraded to use Airplay.

Both companies have firmware upgrades to their existing streaming audio video receivers and pre-amps (or pre-processors). They charge around $50 for upgrades available from their respective websites.

Portable Airplay Speakers

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air

The five speaker/five amplifier system in a neat portable package from Bowers and Wilkins is a rival to top bookshelf speakers for sound quality.

It will act as a dock for an iPod or iPhone and if you don't want to dock you can stream music via airplay, moving around as you wish.

The price tag is a reasonable reflection of the build quality and of course there is that design that no rival can match.

iHome iW1 AirPlay Speaker

You can stream music from any of your airplay sources to this compact speaker system.

There is an inbuilt rechargeable battery and a recess in back to allow easy carrying.

The equalizer is not ultra sophisticated but there are bass and treble controls.

It is certainly a capable speaker for bedroom and kitchens- and outside too.

Bang and Olufsen Beolit 12

Bang and Olufsen are known for wonderful, top end Hi Fi equipment.

The airplay speaker pictured right appeared in late 2012 and is highly regarded. It delivers 120 W digital amplification with a pair of 2-inch tweeters and a 4-inch woofer contained in an unusual but stylish housing with a carrying strap. USB and Ethernet ports allow non-airplay uses and the rechargeable battery should give 8 hours playtime.

There are plenty of colors to choose from.

Compete Systems

Panasonic Airplay System for Small Rooms

This compact system is ideal for smaller rooms. You can stream iTunes material via WIFi or Airplay with top quality lossless technology.

The system can be wall mounted for rooms where space is otherwise hard to find.

Top Airplay Receivers

These receivers can be at the heart of your home entertainment system. They are standard top quality receivers, recently upgraded to include an Airplay option. There is a full list below and I picked out a few favorites.

Denon Models with Airplay Option

  • AVR-4311CI
  • AVR-3311CI
  • N7 Networked CD Receiver: composed of RCD-N7 CD Receiver and SC-N7 Stereo Loudspeakers
  • AVR-991
  • AVR-A100

Marantz Models with Aiprplay Option

  • SR7005 A/V Receiver
  • AV7005 A/V Preamplifier
  • NA7004 Network Audio Player
  • M-CR603 Networked CD Receiver

Marantz SR7005

Marantz's latest and most sophisticated A/V reciever has plenty of connectivity options without airplay. These include 6 HDMI inputs with one at the front, USB input and Bluetooth. The Network function allows music and image steaming.

With the addition of airplay, all Apple devices and the whole of iTunes are especially easy to integrate and control.

Marantz AV7005 Pre-Processor

If you looking for a top class pre-processor to put at the heart of your home theater the AV7005 has all the connectivity of the Marantz model above,

Audiophiles are pleasantly surprised by this unit purely as a music player too and report it beating out the competition from far more expensive models.

Marantz NA7004

As a network player the NA7004 will act as a digital media player, a digital media renderer or an internet radio tuner. It has USB ports front and rear. You can connect in an iPod or iPhone.

With the new airplay option the whole thing of connecting inputs (and coping with tangles) can be simplified via iTunes,

Denon AVR-4311CI

This system is loud! It delivers 149 watts via 9 discrete channels- a total of 1260 watts. This make a large home vibrate from the basement to the roof!

There are 7 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs making it versatile as a hub in your home entertainment system. It offers internet radio and streaming of sound and photos.

The airplay option makes it one of the most complete home theater systems on the market.


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