AirPlay is one of my favorite Apple technologies. The feature allows you to wirelessly stream content over WiFi, whether it be via your Apple TV or streaming audio via a standalone speaker. Either way, AirPlay fixes some of the common flaws plaguing wirelessly streaming content with Bluetooth.
One of the common complaints with AirPlay, however, is that it’s somewhat expensive to get started. For that reason, I’ve rounded up some of the more affordable ways to enter the AirPlay ecosystem below…
AirPlay offers a handful of benefits over traditional Bluetooth speakers. You can go anywhere in your house without having to worry about being too far away and having the connection drop. There’s also no need to go through the traditional pairing process that bogs most Bluetooth speakers. You simply have to connect the AirPlay speaker to your WiFi and you’re all set.
Want to try out AirPlay without breaking the bank?
Despite the common idea that AirPlay speakers are expensive, there are a handful of offerings on the market that get users started in the ecosystem at a reasonable price. These, of course, aren’t necessarily the most powerful speakers money can buy, but the idea is that they offer an affordable way to use AirPlay.
One of the most popular and likewise more affordable options comes from August with its WS300 speaker. This speaker comes in at $99 and supports WiFi, meaning that in addition to AirPlay, there’s integration directly with streaming services such as Tidal and Spotify. The WS300 also supports multi-room setups, so if you buy more than one, you get a whole-home setup for a pretty affordable price.
At an even lower price is the August WS150G, which comes in at $79.95. This model is smaller and therefore less powerful than the WS300, but if you’re creating a whole-home setup, for instance, you could put this one in a bathroom or other smaller room.
At a slightly more expensive $139.99 price point is the GGMM M4 wireless speaker with AirPlay built-in. With that higher price, however, comes a much nicer design and more powerful speaker. The GGMM M4 offers 40W output and multi-room support for up to 10 speakers. Each speaker can either be playing the same content or something different.
In addition to AirPlay support, the M4 is also MFi certified by Apple so you know you’ll be getting the best experience possible.
Another option comes from iHome. The iHome iW2 features WiFi and AirPlay support, allowing you to stream music from wherever you are. There’s also a USB charging port for quickly giving your iOS device some juice.
I’ve had mixed experiences with iHome’s wireless products and that trend seems to continue with the iHome iW2, but connecting the speaker directly to an ethernet connection seems to drastically improve things and make for far more reliable performance.
iHome’s iW2 comes in at $84.99, but you can get the iHome iW1 in refurbished condition with a 90-day warranty for $39.99. There’s also the iHome iW3 at $49.95 in refurbished condition.
In addition to buying new standalone speakers, you also transform existing speakers into AirPlay-capable ones with third-party accessories. A variety of these options exist at prices as low as $7, but you really want to get something that works well and should look to spend a little bit more than that.
One option for this is the Anewish AudioCast receiver. This solution allows you to connect the receiver to your WiFi network and then connect any speaker via a 3.5mm connection to access it via AirPlay.
Another option is the Riversong Wireless Adapter that comes in at $39.99. Simply connect this accessory to your WiFi and plug-in a “dumb” speaker via a 3.5mm connection and you’ll instantly be able to use that speaker via AirPlay.
Finally, Apple itself offers a solution for this, as well. Though it’s technically discontinued at this point, the company’s AirPort Express features a 3.5mm headphone jack that allows you to connect any speaker system or standalone speaker to it for instant AirPlay support. This is what I use in my house and it works perfectly. The AirPort Express is available on Amazon for $92.99.
These are all ways to get into AirPlay technology affordably. A variety of more expensive options exist. If you’re going too expensive, though, it might be more advisable to get some speakers from Sonos for high-quality, whole-house setups.
Nevertheless, these are some of the more affordable options on the market. Do you take advantage of AirPlay? Let us know in the comments.