The best wireless speakers make it easy to stream sound from your phone across the house, but to big, powerful speakers with hi-fi levels of sound quality. The best Wi-Fi speakers also act as multi-room speakers, using technology such as AirPlay 2, Google Cast and Spotify Connect to make it easy to play music in just one room, or everywhere in your house, perfectly synced.
The best wireless speakers usually edge a little into the premium end of things, both in design and in sound quality. They're made to look great while sitting on a sideboard, as well as impressing with their audio. This doesn't mean they all cost a lot, though: they range from small options that don't break the bank to big and luxurious speakers from hi-fi specialists – our guide has something for everyone.
The best Wi-Fi speakers generally sound better than the best Bluetooth speakers, thanks to being both bigger (which is always useful for speakers) and smarter, often with better sound-handling electronics. Few are portable, of course, but if you don't need them to be, then it's better to put all your focus on sound quality.
Some of these speakers support Bluetooth streaming as well as Wi-Fi, of course . Many also have support for Alexa or Google Assistant, though we're not making those a priority for this guide – we have a separate guide to the best smart speakers if that's really important to you. We're really focusing on audio quality, style and great support for different streaming options.
Some of the best soundbars also have multi-room functionality built in, so will act as part of a streaming setup with compatible speakers, but again we're not including those, because they're designed to only go in one specific spot in the house – but factoring in which multi-room systems the one you buy supports is a good idea
The two most important multi-room systems are Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Cast, because if something supports both of them, it enables you to play just about anything from either iPhone or Android to those speakers. Spotify users will really love Spotify Connect, though it does mean you're committed to one streaming service.
What is the best wireless speaker?
For overall quality, it's the Naim Mu-so 2nd Gen. It's expensive, but is really quite outstanding. It uses Naim's own multi-room system but is also compatible with Google Case, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Roon and Qobuz – it's elite-level stuff.
Those seeking a cheaper entry into multi-room, wireless music probably don't need to be told that Sonos is quite a big player in this market, and its Sonos One SL is the outstanding 'gateway drug' to multi-room speakers. As well as Sonos' own wireless system it's also compatible with everything from Apple AirPlay 2, to Spotify, to Tidal. And it sounds excellent for the price, and for its compact size. If you can, stretch to two in a stereo pair – few other speakers can beat that for value.
The best wireless speakers, in order
The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation is a powerhouse speaker in a sleek design that treads the line between being techy and being hi-fi. It's a pretty wide design, and is capable of hogging most of a sideboard to itself, but if you want sumptuous and powerful music, it's well worth giving up that surface space.
Our 5-star Naim Mu-so 2 review says "Play something stripped back to human voice or piano, or minimalist electronic music, and it sends shivers down the spine. Whack on something like early ’80s dub reggae and it sounds HUGE."
It's capable of bass deeper than the Mariana trench, and volume that could drown out a jet – yet it stays perfectly refined while doing it. It's not shouty, it's just a serious piece of speaker gear that wants to represent every part of the music perfectly.
With support for AirPlay 2 and Google Cast, plus hi-res support from the likes of Tidal, Qobuz and Roon, it's extremely well-equipped for streaming – including aptX Bluetooth. It's also packed with wired options, including USB playback and HDMI-ARC so that it can double as a soundbar.
Sonos has long dominated the multi-room market and despite market-leading status immediately making certain critics and consumers hate it, its speakers have always been somewhere between good and excellent.
They have also, perhaps, been a bit over-priced at times but that is not a criticism one can level at the Sonos One SL, which puts the DEAL into the phrase, "This is the best cheap wireless speaker you can get, deal with it."
Of course, you can pay more and get something that sounds even better, but pound for pound/dollar for dollar, you are getting a hell of a lot of speaker for your money. The Sonos One SL genuinely delivers the tedious old speaker marketing claim of "room-filling sound from a small box", but it's not just loud; it serves up genuinely high quality audio.
The Sonos app is not the greatest thing ever invented, I'll grant you. It offers so many connectivity options that it's naturally quite unwieldy at times. However, updates has smoothed off some of the roughest edges, and it does offer support for just about every music service out there. You can do anything from the simple – sending the music on your phone to the speaker – to using all the streaming services you can think of, to pulling tunes from a NAS drive, and playing it on multiple Sonos speakers. You can also construct playlists on the fly that use multiple sources.
In terms of the sound quality, it really impresses with detail and clarity across the whole range, and how well balanced it is for treble and mid-range especially. Bass is a little thin, but that's no surprise given its size, and some will prefer that kind of sound profile anyway. You can have two working as a seamless stereo pair, and if you can stretch to that price, that's really one of the best-value wireless speaker buys out there. But just one works excellently too.
The Ruark R5 is less satisfactory than the Naim or Sonos when it comes to streaming. But it makes up for a slightly ropey app and lack of streaming connectivity (no AirPlay or Chromecast here, and the Tidal implementation is pants compared to Naim's) with excellent sound and a wealth of additional features.
Like a mini system for the 21st century, Ruark's R5 chucks in a CD player, DAB and FM radio and two extra inputs, including one pre-amped for use with a turntable. There's also a Bluetooth aptX input, which is not compatible with many devices so far, but still nice to have.
Ruark's signature audio is in place, which is to say it sounds great but is not really built for rockin' out or mashing up de place. An extra bass speaker does make it more party-friendly than previous Ruarks, but it's still more at home with ’70s and ’80s classics than hip-hop or pounding rock, as our full Ruark R5 review review says.
Factor in the CD player and radio (there is web radio as well) and you have something seemingly aimed at a slightly older crowd, or one that's less keen on going 'full digital'. We'd like this better if it dropped the legacy elements and tightened up the app and streaming experience, but Ruark's many fans will love it, and the value for money is undeniably impressive. Well, as long as you actually are going to play CDs, vinyl and radio through it rather than just your streaming service of choice…
An affordable speaker that oozes style and minimalism, the Audio Pro Addon C10 MKII won't be an eye-sore in any modern living space. If it's not completely to your taste, you'll be able to remove the fabric mesh speaker grille to reveal the classic Audio Pro koala-style if that's what you prefer. Between that and the choice of three sleek colours, design-wise it's sure to be a hit.
It works with plenty of multiroom setups - including Google Cast, AirPlay 2 and Audio Pro's own system. You'll also be able to play music through Bluetooth and the RCA inputs on the back, as well as using Spotify Connect or Tidal through the WiFi connectivity. Six presets buttons give you a shortcut to some of your favourite internet radio stations and playlists as well. This speaker is incredibly easy to set and use.
What Audio Pro does really well is building speakers that cater to every type of music and the Audio Pro Addon C10 MKII is no different, as our full Audio Pro Addon C10 Mk II review explains. It's energetic, loud and three-dimensional, showing off every detail of the track. It won't shake the walls like the Naim Mu-So 2 but it will easily send vibrations through your furniture.
These look like two Bender from Futurama heads and sound like God yodelling in your ear. Bowers & Wilkins' Formation Duo is uncompromisingly specced, and not exactly affordable.
Obviously taking the view that if you're splashing thousands on a stereo pair of wireless speakers, B&W would also like to sell you a pair of stands for several hundred and a standalone wireless box for also a large sum if you want to use any external sources. Oh, and if you want to really get the best out of Formation Duo you'll also need the Mac and Windows app Roon, which costs a further $500 (about £450; you get a free 1-month trial with a code from B&W). Otherwise, it's AirPlay 2, Spotify or Bluetooth for you, my wealthy friend.
All your qualms about costs do rather melt away – assuming you can afford it – when you put on some music and listen to the Duo. That's because Bowers & Wilkins' pair of speakers sounds far better than anything else quite like them on the wireless market. That's especially true once they're ensconced on their stands and receiving music via Roon's fully buffed, hi-res-capable streaming. Well, in for a penny, in for just shy of 5 grand, eh? Here's our full Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo review.
In our Naim Mu-so Qb (2nd Gen) review we were unequivocal: "we're looking at a speaker that is, simply, the best speaker for those who want uncompromising audio quality, but don't have space for big stereo systems or wireless units that take over a whole sideboard on their own."
The Qb is the smaller sibling of our guide-topping Naim Mu-so (2nd Gen), but it's much smaller at 210 x 218 x 212mm. That's bigger than, say, an Amazon Echo, but it's much smaller than most high-end wireless speakers and its diminutive dimensions belie its power: there's 300W of audio power here, with the sound quality we've come to love from Naim. We've tried every conceivable genre of music on the Mu-so Qb (2nd Gen) and it's all sounded spectacular.
In our review, we said that it is "a high-end hi-fi system squeezed by mad scientists into a cube that could fit into the living room of a pokey flat… but that has the sound quality to fill a ballroom if needed." And while that's a funny mental image it's absolutely true: this is a superb high-end speaker that sounds fantastic in any environment. The only thing it doesn't deliver is true stereo – it's a one-box system – but that's common to all single-unit systems. There's simply nothing at this size that sounds better.
The Beosound Level is one of the few great wireless home speakers that's also portable, so you can make it truly wireless if you want. As you'd expect from Bang & Olufsen, the audio quality is excellent overall, and provides plenty of bounce and energy for pop while still feeling accurate and refined for less highly produced fare.
The Level is fairly slim, which makes it easier to house than some of the other options here, and it looks fab while doing it. It comes in two looks: one with black fabric and a silver metal frame, but we're into the gold frame with wood grille pictured above.
It's crammed with features into that frame, including AirPlay and Google Cast streaming support, Google Assistant integration, Bluetooth, a 16-hour battery life, and the ability to wall-mount it (though this requires an add-on you'll need to buy).
It can be laid flat as well as stood upright, and the sound profile changes to be more open with 360-degree audio – though you can't charge it when it's lying flat.
It has a few small flaws – the audio is a little less expansive than physically larger units here, and the carry handle is too close to the buttons, so you get accidental presses – but as far as super-smart, super-stylish speakers go, this is one of the best around, as our full B&O Beosound Level review testifies.
These are less mad looking and far more affordable than the Formation Duo, so those in the market for a stereo pair are generally going to favour these excellent KEF speakers. Like the Bowers & Wilkins Duo, they are truly wireless – ie: there's no wire connecting them.
Unlike the B&W there is the option to dump that and wire them together with an ethernet cable but all you lose by going 'full wireless' is the ability to stream hi-res audio above a certain bit-rate. That's not going to bother most people, realistically.
Compact enough to make positioning easy in most rooms above toilet size, the LSX does lose a bit of bottom end compared to the Naim or B&W as a result. However they sound excellent so long as you can live with that – they aren't weedy or anything, it's just the otherwise ideal cabinet size precludes major bass extension.
The app is not all that good and this was a serious problem for some users until the addition partway through this year of AirPlay 2. This means iOS users, like Spotify users, no longer need to deal with the app at all, and also makes multi-room much easier.
The entry-level Formation product is a great way to spread that Bowers & Wilkins goodness around your home. If you have more than one Formation speaker it starts using a proprietary mesh network rather than drawing on your home Wi-Fi, which is neat.
This follows the lead of the Duo by sounding excellent, looking, uh, distinctive, and having quite limited connectivity: Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, aptX Bluetooth… and that's your lot unless you want to shell out for Roon. Realistically, those options are going to serve most listeners well, though.
It's hard to say if the way Bowers & Wilkins' app only handles setup and not streaming is a stroke of genius – just use the apps of Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon or whoever and stream via AirPlay or Bluetooth – or a bit lazy. We prefer using the Tidal app, for instance, to using the versions of Tidal shovelled into most speakers' streaming apps. Some users do like having all their streaming services in one place, though – there's always Roon, if that's you, but that costs an extra £500.
The winner of the T3 Award for Best Bluetooth Speaker of 2019, the Pulse Flex 2i is actually rather more than just a Bluetooth speaker. With Wi-fi and ethernet included, it's actually like a more portable Sonos. It's Airplay 2 compatible, and also works with popular streaming services including Tidal and Spotify, and internet radio.
Considering how small it is, sound quality is little short of remarkable. With a wired connection it's even capable of playing hi-res audio files, for audiophiles, but Tidal (CD quality) and even the likes of Spotify (compressed MP3) sound wonderful.
The versatility needn't stop there, as you can add a battery pack (£69) and carry it with you wherever you may roam. Although not for very long, as battery life is only 6 hours.
Compared to the Audio Pro speaker at #2, Bluesound's champ is bordering on ugly, but since it sounds even better than the C3, has even more connectivity, and boasts an app that actually works, we'll set aside our aesthetic reservations.
Marshall's mid-size Stanmore speaker (there's also the smaller Acton, which is quite neat and the larger Woburn, which is rather an imposing thing) is very similar indeed to the Urbanears Baggen on the inside (they come from the same factories), but very different on the outside.
If Baggen is multi-room for hipsters, Stanmore is multi-room for rockers, with Marshall deploying its usual bag of stylistic tricks (ie: it's black and looks like a miniaturised guitar amp), and meaty audio.
As such, the Stanmore is comparable to Denon's similarly forceful Heos 7 in terms of performance – and looks a lot better. I keep seeing these in 'edgy' boutique hotels.
The other cool thing about the Marshall Stanmore is its pleasingly full range of connectivity options. It not only has both a 3.5mm line in and proper dual phono inputs, but also upports AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Apt-X Bluetooth.
There's also an excellent internet radio app, and a brilliant multi-room system. This lets you play anything – including anything introduced via the wired inputs and AirPlay from your mobile, which is normally strictly non-multi-room – across multiple Marshall speakers by either pressing a button or using the app.
A knob toggles between the connections, and also includes 6 presets, which can be set to web radio stations or Spotify playlists.
The sound here is not quite as good as on similarly priced rivals, but there's still a lot to like. Please note that there is also a Marshall Stanmore Bluetooth speaker. It's also good but not, alas, multi-room capable.
How to choose the best wireless speaker for you
Decide what type of streaming you want to employ. Apple fans may favour AirPlay 2. Google lovers may want Chromecast compatibility.
Obviously if you're a subscriber to Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, Qobuz or one of the myriad other subscription-based streaming services, you'll need compatibility with that, but note that these can also be piggy-backed over Chromecast or AirPlay. Apple fans: while AirPlay 2 supports multiple speakers from your mobile, original AirPlay speakers only allow this via your PC or Mac.
I've helpfully indicated what each speaker is compatible with, to help you out, there. Some of them also support Bluetooth, either because there is consumer demand for big, expensive speakers that support the format or because brands just feel obliged to chuck it in as a backup.
You'll also want to consider what size of room you want to use it in. Again, I've noted what size of space I think each speaker is able to fill – small (offices, kitchens, bedrooms); medium (larger bedrooms, most front rooms) and large (more palatial or open-plan spaces, combined kitchen/lounge type spaces, Donald Trump's toilet and so forth).
Finally, although these are meant to be wireless, in some houses that's just not going to work, and you may have to revert to powerline AV – T3 uses and endorses Devolo powerline AV. A lot of these speakers have ethernet connections to accommodate this. Although with the best mesh networks, high-speed wirelessness for all is no longer a pipe dream.