Adding wireless speakers to your entertainment setup can elevate any space — whether inside or outside. Not only will you seriously impress your guests, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the added portability of going wireless. And while some of these Wi-Fi speakers can cost a pretty penny, you don’t need to go broke to get a great one. Some of the best streaming speakers provide you with great sound quality and connect over your available Wi-Fi, but there are many Bluetooth speakers out there as well. To help you figure out which will be the perfect fit for your home’s audio setup, we made a list of the best Wi-Fi speakers we’ve tested in the CNET labs.
Wi-Fi streaming lets you control music in a multiroom environment, and most Wi-Fi speakers also offer voice control (for instance, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri). That means you can ask your speaker for a specific song, and it’ll play it back for you. For more on this, don’t miss CNET’s guide to the best smart speakers.
For the streaming speakers that do offer voice control, if you don’t want that you can just turn it off. Either way, you don’t need to spend very much — for instance, a fantastic “dumb” multiroom speaker like the Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf starts at $140. To make sense of it all, keep reading for the best Wi-Fi speakers for your needs.
Also consider: Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2023
We also tested
- JBL Link Portable ($180): The Link Portable is a larger-size competitor to the Sonos, being both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible, and it can play louder and with weightier bass. In his review of the Sonos Roam, reviewer David Carnoy says he preferred the sound and build quality of the Sonos and would buy it over the JBL, though the Link Portable is currently $100 off, making it a much more competitive pick.
- Bose Home Speaker 300 ($264): If you’re after a responsive smart speaker, the Bose Home Speaker 300 is both snappy in operation and lovely to look at. In terms of audio quality, however, it doesn’t measure up to its competitor, the cheaper Sonos One. In addition, the onboard Bose Music multiroom system is not compatible with existing SoundTouch products. The 300 appears to be out of production but it can still be found in new condition at select retailers. There are also plenty of refurbished models available for even less. Read CNET’s review of the Bose Home Speaker 300.
- Apple HomePod (2023) ($299): The new HomePod is a refined take on Apple’s first smart speaker with better sound and more features. Despite new-found support for Dolby Atmos it’s the temperature and humidity sensors which are the most palpable changes. Yet, at $300 most people are better off buying the HomePod mini which has an almost-identical set of features. Read CNET’s review of the Apple HomePod (2023)
- Bowers and Wilkins Formation Flex ($500): A smaller brother to the flashy Formation Wedge, the Flex is still quite stylish and boasts an open-hearted sonic signature. There’s plenty of competition at this level though, including the Sonos Five, which is capable of a much bigger, party-ready performance. Read CNET’s first take on the Formation range.
- Sonos Move ($399): If you want a wireless speaker model that’s (kinda) portable and water resistant, the Sonos Move offers great sound in a very large box. If you need to power a tailgate or large party this would be great, but for most people the Sonos Roam is both cheaper and more pocketable. Read CNET’s review of the Sonos Move.
- Sony SRS-RA5000 ($798): Where are people supposed to put large speakers like the Sony SRS-RA5000 and the McIntosh RS150? A dressing table — like, a really big one? The Sony is over a foot tall but adding to its potential awkwardness is its 360-degree playback, making the “best” place to put it at the center of a room. The sound is fine, but if you want to hear 3D audio, the Amazon Echo Studio is a quarter of the price. Read CNET’s first take on the Sony SRS-RA5000.
- McIntosh RS150 ($1,200): The massive McIntosh RS150 has some great things going for it — namely Chromecast built-in, Roon Ready and Spotify Connect. Nonetheless, the sound wasn’t as clear as I’d expected and the unit offers no EQ controls to compensate. In addition, while the previous RS100 had the fabled McIntosh blue meter this update misses a trick by replacing it with LEDs. The competitive Naim Mu-so Qb is more compact and offers excellent performance for the same price.
How does CNET test Wi-Fi speakers?
CNET follows a rigorous, unbiased evaluation process for all of our audio testing. We test Wi-Fi speakers ranging from simple bedside speakers all the way through to high-end systems. Our audio lab includes a Roon server running on a Synology NAS, Google Nest and Amazon Echo speakers, plus both iOS and Android devices. Similar speakers are compared side by side in a living room environment with different styles of music and utilizing multiple streaming platforms when required. We grade the sound quality of each by evaluating clarity, dynamics, bass response and stereo imaging (if applicable). If the speaker comes with a proprietary app we will compare that to other competitive controllers.