The 10 Best WiFi Speakers of 2018 - Outeraudio

The 10 Best WiFi Speakers of 2018

Bluetooth speakers are so last season. WiFi speakers are where it’s at! The wireless technology for speakers is growing so fast it’s hard to keep up. Currently, most WiFi speakers are designed for in-home installation with very few designed to be fully portable. But WiFi speakers are evolving fast and it’s not long before all Bluetooth speakers feature WiFi capability as standard. In this article, we review the 10 best WiFi speakers of 2018 with options for just about every size, budget, and application.

Make sure you check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article to help narrow down the WiFi speaker that’s right for you. In addition, we have included an FAQ section compiled from common questions asked on the web.

What is a WiFi Speaker?

A WiFi speaker is a wireless speaker which can connect to your home WiFi network. Streaming over WiFi is far superior to Bluetooth in terms of audio quality and signal strength. With WiFi, as long as your device and WiFi speaker are on the same network, there is no issue with range or dropout. The audio quality is significantly better than Bluetooth as there is less compression and latency.

Connecting your WiFi speaker to your TV over your home network is also far better than any Bluetooth connection. There are no lip-sync issues and again, the sound quality is vastly superior.

Who is Alexa?

One of the main reasons people purchase WiFi speakers is so they can pair this with their Alexa device such as the Echo Dot (which we review in this article). Alexa is a voice command AI (artificial intelligence) which can be used to play music, movies, switch between apps, make calls or write texts, order products from Amazon and so much more. The technology was developed by Amazon and continues to grow and evolve every day.

Incorporating Alexa into your home essentially allows you to have a 24-hour online assistant who you can summon at any time to perform a task for you. Currently, Alexa can perform over 50,000 skills or tasks with more constantly added each day. Because an Alexa device is connected to the internet via your WiFi network, Amazon can regularly perform firmware updates which allow Alexa to constantly evolve and keep up to date.

1. Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar

Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar


Dimensions:
3.3” x 35.4” x 5.5”
Weight:
11.9 lbs
Inputs:
Optical, WiFi

The Sonos Play series is one of the most exciting range of speakers to be released in the last few years. Their flagship product is the sleek and sexy PLAYBAR TV Soundbar which is a masterpiece in design and audio quality. If you’re looking for the best WiFi soundbar, then the PLAYBAR is a must have item.

The PLAYBAR features a total of 9 speaker drivers, 6 full range drivers, and 3 tweeters which cover a left, center, right configuration. Sonos doesn’t specify the power output of the PLAYBAR, however, I can confirm this soundbar is loud! The PLAYBAR won’t have any issues filling most living spaces on its own, never mind with any of the other Sonos Play speakers. Not only is the PLAYBAR powerful, but it also sounds incredible. Usually, I find even the best soundbars can sound a little thin, this isn’t the case with the PLAYBAR. The PLAYBAR has a rich warm sound with exceptional clarity across the mids and highs delivering incredible detail. For vocals and sound effects in movies, the sound quality and detail are so incredible you can’t help but feel truly immersed in what you’re watching.

The PLAYBAR features just a single digital optical input which you connect to your TV. No receiver is required to operate the PLAYBAR, in fact, Sonos instruct you to remove any receiver between the TV and PLAYBAR for the soundbar to operate as it was designed to. The PLAYBAR is also WiFi enabled and compatible with Alexa. You also have the option of connecting the PLAYBAR directly to your via a LAN port and even network other Play speakers via network cable connection if you prefer cable over WiFi.

The PLAYBAR can be mounted on the wall or placed on a shelf/cabinet. There is a built-in gyro system which tells the PLAYBAR whether it’s on a table or mounted on the wall. This enables the soundbar to make adjustments to optimize the sound. The Play Series comes with an app which allows you to further program and calibrate your speakers based on the room and where you place your PLAYBAR. If you have other Sonos Play speakers, you can sync and control these through the Play App.

The PLAYBAR also comes with two awesome sound options, Speech Enhancement, and Night Sound. As the name suggests, Speech Enhancement adjusts the PLAYBAR to make speech and dialog more intelligible. The Night Sound feature is particularly useful if you have an apartment or can’t make too much noise at certain times of the day. In Night Sound mode the PLAYBAR will dip loud parts of whatever you’re viewing so the sound stays at a constant low level. So, for example, if you’re watching a war movie the dialogue parts are generally quiet while the fighting or battle scenes are loud with loads of explosions, the PLAYBAR will dip the audio during those loud moments so the sound is never louder than the dialogue scenes.

The greatest feature Sonos have incorporated with the PLAYBAR is the fact the soundbar doesn’t have a remote, however, you can program your TV remote to operate the PLAYBAR. Multiple remotes are annoying and the fact you can program your TV remote to operate the PLAYBAR is just incredible. At least I think it is. Set up is easy by calibrating using the Play App you can sync your TV remote to the PLAYBAR in minutes.

If you’re looking for a complete surround sound experience then you have the option of adding more Sonos Play speakers to your system.

Sonos Play:1

The Sonos Play:1 is a compact versatile satellite speaker which can be used for rear surround positions or just on its own. The Play:1 connects to the PLAYBAR wirelessly so you don’t have to worry about running cables between the two speakers. All you need is power for the Play:1 and you’re good to go. Like the PLAYBAR you can control the Play:1 via the Play App. The Play:1 is also WiFi enabled and works with Alexa. As the speaker is lightweight and compact, you can take this through to other rooms in the house and use as a portable speaker around the home. Obviously, you will still need to power the Play:1 via a socket so it’s not 100% portable. The Play:1 can be placed on a shelf or mounted on a wall for surround sound installations.

Sonos Sub

A home theater system always needs some sub-bass. The Sonos Sub is a slim, stylish powered subwoofer producing an exceptional amount of bass. The Sonos Sub can easily fill most living spaces and connects to the PLAYBAR, Play:1, Play:3 or Play:5 speakers no matter your Sonos set up.

Sonos Play:5

The Sonos Play:5 is a little different in that it’s more of a replacement option to the PLAYBAR rather than an addition. The Play:5 can be set up as a single speaker or a left/right pair. Unfortunately, you can’t set up the Play:5 as a left/right pair with the PLAYBAR as a center speaker. Sonos is constantly updating the firmware of these speakers so it’s possible this may be possible in the future.

You can, however, have the PLAYBAR set up as the front left, right, center with two Play:5 speakers as your rear surrounds. Include the Sonos Sub and you will have one serious 5.1 surround sound system.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar:

  • Sonos PLAYBAR
  • Power Cord
  • 5 ft. TOSLINK Optical Audio Cable
  • Ethernet Cable

Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar Conclusion

If you’re looking for one of the best WiFi speakers on the market at the moment, the Sonos PLAYBAR is an excellent contender. The PLAYBAR is simple to use and yet comes with some of the most advanced internal processing and features of any WiFi speaker on the market. The ability to easily add more Sonos speakers to your system whenever you want means you don’t have to purchase a full surround sound system all at once. At just under $700 the PLAYBAR is expensive but well worth every cent.

2. Bose SoundTouch 10

Bose SoundTouch 10


Dimensions:
8.3″ x 5.5″ x 3.4″
Weight:
2.89 lbs
Inputs:
AUX, Bluetooth, WiFi

When looking at pictures, you might be inclined to think the Bose SoundTouch 10 is a large WiFi speaker. It’s not. The SoundTouch 10 is ultra-compact and lightweight weighing in at a mere 2.89 lbs! While the SoundTouch 10 is small in size, it’s certainly not small in sound. This WiFi speaker packs a serious punch with some awesome features to match.

Bose doesn’t specify the power output of the SoundTouch 10, but I can confirm this speaker kicks! Even at just 60% volume, you’ll easily fill a small to a medium sized room. The SoundTouch 10 produces a decent amount of bass with a nice punchy low-end sound. Mids and highs are clear with both music and vocals coming through brilliantly clear.

The SoundTouch 10 is designed small so it’s semi-portable to easily take from room to room in the house. I say semi-portable as the SoundTouch 10 doesn’t have a built-in battery so needs a power source. You have the option of ⅛-inch AUX, Bluetooth and WiFi for audio inputs which means there are very few devices that won’t connect to the SoundTouch 10.

You will need the SoundTouch app to connect your SoundTouch 10 to your mobile device over WiFi. This does require a sign up to the SoundTouch app but the features and benefits are well worth it. The biggest benefit, of course, is that you are not limited by the range of your Bluetooth or AUX cable and can move freely around the house with your device without any dropout or disconnection.

Through the SoundTouch app, you can play audio from your favorite streaming services and even set up a playlist, save your favorite podcast or streaming service as a preset for quick access. The SoundTouch 10 allows you to save up to 6 presets which can be accessed via the SoundTouch app or on top of the SoundTouch 10 control panel which has a separate button for each of the 6 presets.

The control panel on the SoundTouch 10 also includes a power button, Bluetooth pairing/input selection, and volume control. The WiFi speaker also comes with a remote so you can control the SoundTouch 10 at a distance without needing to access the app. On the remote, you also have the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons for use with streaming services.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Bose SoundTouch 10:

  • Bose SoundTouch 10
  • Power cable
  • USB A to micro USB for computer connections
  • Remote control

Bose SoundTouch 10 Conclusion

The Bose SoundTouch 10 is essentially a portable speaker for the home. The WiFi speaker is surprisingly powerful with incredibly good sound quality. The SoundTouch 10 has everything you need from a WiFi speaker including being compatible with Alexa. The compact size of SoundTouch 10 means the WiFi speaker can be moved around easily and placed on just about every surface in the house. For just under $170, the SoundTouch 10 offers excellent value for the money.

3. Marshall Stanmore II Voice

Marshall Stanmore II Voice


Dimensions:
13.7” x 7.6” x 7.2”
Weight:
10.47 lbs
Inputs:
AUX, RCA, Bluetooth, WiFi

Marshall is most famous for their range of professional guitar amplifiers. If you’ve ever seen a live band, no matter the genre, it’s very likely the guitarists had a Marshall amp on stage. In recent years, Marshall has begun manufacturing Bluetooth and WiFi speakers modeled off their iconic range of guitar amplifiers. The aesthetic, features, materials and functionality is almost identical to the large Marshall guitar amps.

The Marshall Stanmore II Voice is the newly released update of the original Marshall Stanmore which was also a WiFi speaker. The upgraded Stanmore II Voice has made some improvements to keep up with the times. Most notably is the integration of Alexa. The Stanmore II Voice actually has Alexa built-in to the WiFi speaker eliminating the need for external Alexa devices.

Stanmore II Voice features two built-in class D amplifiers, one 50W for the low-frequency driver and a second 15W for the tweeters producing a combined 65W of sound. Truly impressive for a speaker of this size. The Stanmore II Voice has an excellent bass response with a deep, well defined low-end sound. Better than most speakers this size on the market today. The mid-range is exceptional, upfront and present with highs that have just the perfect amount of sizzle. The Stanmore II Voice is a really exciting speaker to listen to for all genres of music.

Marshall has been very generous when it comes to audio inputs. You have the option of RCA, ⅛-inch AUX, Bluetooth and WiFi. Inputs can easily be switched but pressing the source button on top of the Stanmore II Voice. A red light illuminates next to the input label so you can easily see which is selected. Other buttons on the Stanmore II Voice include a play/pause and voice button for accessing Alexa.

There are two microphones on top of the Stanmore II Voice to pick up voice commands. These microphones are exceptional at picking up your voice and can easily hear your commands from across the room with the Stanmore II Voice playing loud music. With the voice commands, you never have to touch your Stanmore II Voice as you instruct Alexa to change the music, adjust the tone or volume, buy concert tickets or shop on Amazon.

The Stanmore II Voice also comes with an app which allows you to control and calibrate your WiFi speaker to suit your exact requirements.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Marshall Stanmore II Voice:

  • Marshall Stanmore II Voice
  • Power cable

Marshall Stanmore II Voice Conclusion

The Stanmore II Voice is one of those speakers you never truly appreciate until you use it. If you’re a musician or even an audiophile of sorts, you’ll love the sound the Stanmore II Voice produces. It’s a relatively flat response while still managing to sound exciting. At $360 the Stanmore II Voice is not a speaker I would consider affordable but when you consider you have Alexa built-in, multiple inputs and exceptional build and sound quality, this WiFi speaker is definitely worth the money.

4. Klipsch Heritage Wireless Three WiFi Speaker

Klipsch Heritage Wireless Three WiFi Speaker


Dimensions:
13.7” x 7.0” x 8.0”
Weight:
10.32 lbs
Inputs:
UX, RCA, USB, Bluetooth, WiFi

Klipsch is arguably the industry leader when it comes to mass-produced consumer audio products. Their products are made using premium parts with excellent attention to detail and some of the best sounding speakers on the market. The Klipsch The Three features vintage aesthetics, simple controls, and inputs for every device including a turntable.

The Three features a 5¼” low-frequency driver coupled with two 5¼” bass radiators and two 2¼” tweeters. The combined system produces 60W RMS with an 80W Peak power out. When you consider the compact size of The Three, this amount of power is just mind-blowing. The 5¼” low-frequency driver produces an impressive amount of bass which is tight and chunky with a solid punchy definition. The mid-range and highs are upfront and present with the tweeters producing an exciting sizzle on the high end. Overall the Heritage Wireless Three is excellent for both music and vocal audio playback.

The control panel on the Heritage Wireless Three is neatly laid out with a vintage aesthetic and feel. There is a dip switch for turning the WiFi speaker on and off, a rotary knob for switching between the five inputs and pairing Bluetooth and, lastly, a master rotary volume dial.

With the remote, you can play/pause, track skip, adjust volume, switch inputs, mute, power off and even turn the LED lights on and off (useful for when you want to go to bed at night without the LEDs illuminated).

Additionally, you can download the Klipsch Heritage App to stream your favorite services over WiFi to The Three.

The Heritage Wireless Three has an input for just about every device. Aside from wireless inputs like WiFi and Bluetooth, you also have ⅛-inch AUX, USB (type B), and a switchable line/phono RCA input. The phono input is obviously an exciting feature for those who are into vinyl. It’s very rare speakers have an RCA input these days, let alone a phono. Klipsch phono preamps are exceptional and the quality of the phono-pre on The Three is excellent. Alternatively, if you prefer using your own phono preamp, you can switch the RCA to line level.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Klipsch Heritage Wireless Three WiFi Speaker:

  • Klipsch Heritage Wireless Three
  • Power cable
  • Remote control
  • ⅛-inch AUX cable
  • USB A – B (for connecting to a PC)

Klipsch Heritage Wireless Three WiFi Speaker Conclusion

The vintage style is extremely popular at the moment and Klipsch has done a great job with The Three and the whole Heritage Wireless range. The Heritage Wireless Three not only looks great but sounds incredible too. The ability to connect every device including your turntable is what truly sets the Heritage Wireless Three apart from other WiFi speakers on the market in 2018. At a little under $500, the Heritage Wireless Three is pricey but the quality and features surpass most WiFi speakers on the market.

5. Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar

Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar


Dimensions:
38.5″ x 2.2″ x 4.2″
Weight:
10.4 lbs
Inputs:
AUX, HDMI, Bluetooth, WiFi

The Bose SoundTouch 300 soundbar is a WiFi speaker designed primarily for home theater applications. The soundbar is slim and sleek with quality parts and finishes. Like most WiFi speakers, the SoundTouch 300 is compatible with Alexa so you can pair this soundbar with any Alexa device.

Bose doesn’t specify the power output of the SoundTouch 300 but I can confirm this soundbar has a serious amount of power and sound. While the SoundTouch 300 doesn’t quite get into the sub-bass frequency range, the soundbar does a better job than most in low-end response. The mid-range and highs offer exceptional detail and clarity with vocals and sound effects in movies sounding freakishly lifelike. A truly immersive audio experience. While the SoundTouch 300 doesn’t advertise any virtual surround sound capabilities, the speaker delivers an impressive soundstage and detailed separation of sound.

Bose supplies you with their ADAPTiQ® headset which you wear on your head during setup to calibrate the SoundTouch 300 to your listening position and room acoustics. The setup takes 10 minutes and the room needs to be silent while the ADAPTiQ headset does it thing. The result is a perfectly tuned SoundTouch 300 tailored to your room and listening position.

If you need some more bass, you can add the Bose Acoustimass 300 Wireless Bass Module for a subwoofer. The Acoustimass 300 connects to your SoundTouch 300 wirelessly so no speaker cables necessary. Additionally, if you want to complete a 5.1 surround sound system, you can include the Bose Surround Speakers which also connect to the SoundTouch 300 wirelessly giving you a full wireless surround sound system. All of these speakers are available in black or white.

The SoundTouch 300 offers several input options including ⅛-Inch AUX, 1 x HDMI, Bluetooth, and WiFi. There is also an HDMI through giving you the option to connect your SoundTouch 300 however you choose.

There are no buttons on the SoundTouch 300. Instead, everything is controlled either via the remote or SoundTouch app. The remote is very comprehensive and even has the thumbs up and thumbs down for streaming services. You can also set up your speakers, program presets and much more using the remote control.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar:

  • Bose SoundTouch 300
  • Power cable
  • Remote control
  • 2 x AAA batteries
  • ADAPTiQ® headset
  • HDMI cable
  • Optical cable

Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar Conclusion

Like the Sonos Play Series, the Bose SoundTouch range allows you to build your system one speaker at a time. On its own, the SoundTouch 300 is an exceptional speaker and, for smaller rooms, this might be all you need. The ability to add either the Acoustimass 300 or 700 subwoofers to complete a full range audio experience with the SoundTouch 300. Like most premium WiFi speakers, at $700, the SoundTouch 300 isn’t cheap but well worth the investment for an exceptional audio experience.

6. Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar

Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar


Dimensions:
41.7″ x 3.0″ x 5.1″
Weight:
13.67 lbs
Inputs:
AUX, HDMI, Bluetooth, WiFi

When it comes to consumer electronics, Samsung never disappoints with some of the best products across just about every category. The Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar is an outstanding WiFi speaker with simple features and immersive sound. The HW-MS650 is compatible with Alexa so, if you have an Alexa device you can perform all the usual voice commands.

The HW-MS650 features nine speakers drivers each driven by their own internal digital amplifier. These nine speakers are broken up into a left, right and center configuration with two low-frequency drivers and a tweeter for each position. The separation and sound quality from the HW-MS650 is incredible. The detail and nuance delivered by the HW-MS650 make watching movies or playing games that much more immersive and exciting. The bass the HW-MS650 produces is impressive with a clean and clear mids and highs to deliver exceptional intelligibility for dialogue-heavy programming.

If you’d like to add more bass, you can include the earth-shaking Samsung SWA-W700 Sound+ Subwoofer which connects wirelessly to your HW-MS650 soundbar.

The HW-MS650 allows for several input options including ⅛-inch AUX, HDMI, optical, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Additionally, the HW-MS650 has both HDMI ARC through and power through for linking to your TV. Having the power through is great when mounting the HW-MS650 on the wall below your TV as you reduce the number of power cables running down the wall. All inputs are tucked away in a recessed compartment at the rear of the HW-MS650 making it easy to mount on a wall or place on a shelf or cabinet.

On the right-hand edge of the HW-MS650 are four raised controls which include power on/off, input selection, volume up and volume down. The HW-MS650 comes with a remote control which performs all the same functions but also allows you to adjust the soundbar EQ, play/pause music, skip tracks, and change the sound modes.

There are three sound modes available on the HW-MS650. The first is Surround which engages a virtual surround sound. This is great for watching movies or playing games. SOUND MODE allows you to switch between a selection of audio presets depending on what you’re watching. Lastly, you have SMART MODE which “automatically optimizes sound effects to suit the scene currently playing” according to the user manual.

If you have a Samsung Smart TV, you can simply use the TV remote to control your HW-MS650 WiFi speaker.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar:

  • Samsung HW-MS650
  • Power cable
  • Remote control
  • 2 x AA batteries
  • Optical cable
  • Cable holder + screw
  • 2 x Foot holder + screws

Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar Conclusion

If you already own a Samsung Smart TV, then the HW-MS650 is a no-brainer. This soundbar will easily integrate into your current Samsung set up to enhance your audio experience. Adding the Samsung SWA-W700 Sound+ Subwoofer is a must for some sub-bass or you can enjoy a wireless 5.1 surround sound setup with the HW-MS650, SWA-W700 and SWA-9000S satellite speakers.

7. Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar with Wi-Fi

Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar with Wi-Fi


Dimensions:
See More
Weight:
See More
Inputs:
HDMI, Optical, AUX, USB, BT, WiFi

Sony is well known for their range of quality consumer audio products. Sony’s soundbars and subwoofers are some of the best on the market producing high-quality audio made from premium parts and the most up to date technology. The Sony HT-Z9F is a 3.1 WiFi speaker system with soundbar and subwoofer.

The features a 300W soundbar with a 100W powered subwoofer. The two connect via WiFi eliminating the need for any speaker cable. With the combination of soundbar and subwoofer, you enjoy a full-range audio experience. The bass from the subwoofer is deep and punchy with sub-frequencies which can be felt as well as heard. The mid-range and highs are upfront and clear with incredible detail giving life to vocals and movie effects.

For full 5.1 you can include two Z9R Wireless Speakers for full surround sound. The soundbar features Dolby Atmos which delivers a 360° audio experience with sound appearing to come from the left, right, rear and even above. Watching movies or playing games with Dolby Atmos takes your viewing experience to another level for an incredibly immersive experience.

The HT-Z9F allows for several inputs and even gives you the option to connect from the TV or to the TV via the HDMI through. Inputs include 2 x HDMI (plus 1 HDMI ARC through), optical, ⅛-Inch AUX, USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi. The HT-Z9F soundbar even has an IR repeater in case your soundbar blocks your TV’s IR for the remote. All the settings can be adjusted using the HT-Z9F comprehensive remote control.

The HT-Z9F comes with several audio enhancement and experience settings depending on what you’re watching. The VERTICAL S button engages Dolby Atmos which enables vertical as well as horizontal audio. The SOUND MODE button allows you to switch between the various pre-programmed Sony audio presets including cinema, game studio, music, news, sports, and standard. You can also set SOUND MODE to auto in which case the system will detect the content and adjust the audio accordingly. The VOICE button enhances speech for dialogue-heavy viewing while NIGHT will ensure the audio remains at a constant volume with no loud parts to disturb the rest of your house/apartment or neighbors.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar with Wi-Fi:

  • Sony HT-Z9F soundbar
  • Sony HT-Z9F subwoofer
  • Soundbar speaker grille
  • Remote control
  • 2 x AAA batteries
  • Wall mount kit
  • Wall mount template
  • HDMI cable

Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar with Wi-Fi Conclusion

If you’re looking for a WiFi soundbar with subwoofer combo, then the Sony HT-Z9F is definitely one to check out. This awesome package comes with the latest audio formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. At just under $700 you get the soundbar and subwoofer for a 3.1 system or, for just under $1000 you can have a full WiFi 5.1 surround sound system with the two Z9R Wireless Speakers for rear surrounds. When you consider most premium WiFi soundbars cost the same as the HT-Z9F without a subwoofer, this package offers extremely good value.

8. Yamaha YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar

Yamaha YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar


Dimensions:
43.2″ x 8.3″ x 3.6″
Weight:
25.8 lbs
Inputs:
RCA, HDMI, Optical, Coaxial, BT, WiFi

The Yamaha YSP-5600 is the most expensive WiFi speaker we reviewed for this article but easily the most advanced too. The YSP-5600 incorporates multiple speaker arrays to deliver a 3D audio experience, including overhead, from a single source soundbar. The YSP-5600 also works with Alexa via the Echo range from Amazon.

The YSP-5600 consists of over 40 speaker drivers in various arrays delivering a combined 128W of power. The result of all those speakers working together is the best 3D experience from any soundbar on the market today. The experience is so immersive it’ll leave you in awe. But for $1600, you’d certainly expect to be amazed at the very least! The YSP-5600 also has one of the best bass sounds of any soundbar and the detail and nuance in the mids and highs is nothing short of incredible. The YSP-5600 is hands down 2018’s winner when it comes to soundbar sound and technology.

The system even comes with the Yamaha IntelliBeam microphone for initial calibration of the YSP-5600. Full instructions for setting this up can be found in the YSP-5600 user manual.

Even though the YSP-5600 has a great low-end response, there is always going to be a need for a subwoofer. The Yamaha NS-SW300 is a 10” 300W powered subwoofer which connects using an RCA cable via the YSP-5600 sub output. Unfortunately, there is no wireless subwoofer available at the moment.

The YSP-5600 features multiple inputs but, most importantly, the soundbar has four HDMI ports and an HDMI ARC through. This means you can use the YSP-5600 as your media center with all your devices going to the soundbar and a single HDMI up to the TV. Alternatively, you can have everything go to your TV and a single HDMI or optical cable connecting to your YSP-5600. Either way, it’s nice that you have that choice.

The YSP-5600 comes packed full of audio features most notable is Yamaha MusicCast which allows you to connect multiple MusicCast devices via a WiFi network and control everything via the MusicCast app. You can stream music to all the MusicCast devices on the network effectively creating a single music system for your home controlled via your mobile phone.

All settings and controls for the YSP-5600 are controlled via the remote control. Unlike most soundbars which feature a small remote, the YSP-5600 is full sized with buttons to access every element of the WiFi speaker. The settings appear on your TV so you can see exactly what settings you’re adjusting.

If you have a separate subwoofer, you can control the volume separately from the master volume on the YSP-5600 remote. You can also switch between the multiple audio presets, too many to go into in this article. The only option the YSP-5600 remote is missing is the ability to thumbs up and thumbs down tracks on your preferred streaming service.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Yamaha YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar:

  • Yamaha YSP-5600
  • Power cable
  • Remote control
  • 2 x AAA batteries
  • Optical cable
  • Stands with screws
  • IntelliBeam microphone
  • Cardboard stand for IntelliBeam microphone

Yamaha YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar Conclusion

If you have $1,600 to spend on a high-end WiFi speaker, then you definitely won’t be disappointed with the Yamaha YSP-5600. The sound experience is like no other WiFi speaker or soundbar with Yamaha pushing the boundary in terms of what’s possible with 3D sound. For a full surround experience, you can include a Yamaha subwoofer and some satellite speakers to complete your system. For bigger rooms, this is recommended but for small rooms and apartments, the YSP-5600 on its own is sufficient. Although, even in the smaller rooms, I’d still throw in a subwoofer for the bottom end.

9. Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with Alexa

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa


Dimensions:
3.9” x 1.7” x 3.9”
Weight:
10.6 oz
Inputs:
AUX, Bluetooth, WiFi

Possibly the most popular WiFi speaker range is the Echo series from Amazon designed primarily to work with Alexa. The Echo Dot is the most compact WiFi speaker from the Echo range measuring just 3.9” in diameter and weighing a mere 10.6 lbs. The latest version being the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) which includes three more microphones for a total of four over the 2nd Gen’s 1, an improved speaker, aesthetic design improvements with a trendy fabric finish around the outside of the speaker.

Currently, Alexa has more than 50,000 “skills” which are essentially commands that Alexa is capable of carrying out for you. These include playing a certain track, opening an app, sending a text message or even shopping online. The great thing is Amazon is continually working to improve and update the technology with firmware updates so Alexa will learn and grow without you needing to purchase a new Echo device.

If you’ve heard any of the previous versions of the Echo Dot, you’ll know there isn’t much of a speaker to speak of. In fact, you get better sound from your mobile phone. The 3rd Gen Echo Dot is significantly improved resembling audio quality reminiscent of a portable Bluetooth speaker. There is a nice bassy punch with vast improvements to the intelligibility of the speaker making it easier to hear audio and chat to Alexa from across the room.

Aside from connecting to WiFi, the Echo Dot 3rd Gen can also connect via Bluetooth and ⅛-inch AUX so you can connect just about every mobile device to the WiFi speaker.

The best thing about the Echo Dot is its ability to connect to other WiFi speakers. This allows you to have a fully integrated Alexa system allowing you to perform voice commands for your entire WiFi speaker system.

If the improved Echo Dot 3rd Gen is still not powerful enough for you, there are a few other Echo options available.

Echo Plus

The Echo Plus is the latest upgrade from the Echo and the largest of the Echo WiFi speaker series. The Echo Plus incorporates a 3” low-frequency driver with a 0.8” tweeter delivering excellent room-filling audio. The Echo Plus can be paired with an Echo Sub to enhance the low-end capability and deliver a full-range audio experience.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with Alexa:

  • Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
  • Power cable

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with Alexa Conclusion

If you’re looking for an ultra-compact WiFi speaker, then currently, there is very little competition to the Echo Dot 3rd Gen. With the recent improvements to the speaker, the Echo Dot is now competing with premium compact portable Bluetooth speakers. Obviously, the Echo Dot requires power to operate but, if you’re just looking for a speaker for around the house, then the Echo Dot with its WiFi capability makes a lot more sense than purchasing a cheap Bluetooth speaker. Keep in mind this is a small speaker and not very powerful. I’d only use the Echo Dot 3rd Gen for close proximity listening and background music.

The best thing about the Echo Dot 3rd Gen is the price. At just under $30, the Echo Dot 3rd Gen is the most affordable WiFi speaker on the market today.

10. COWIN DiDa with Amazon Alexa

COWIN DiDa with Amazon Alexa


Dimensions:
3.6″ x 6.0″ x 3.6″
Weight:
1.04 lbs
Inputs:
AUX, Bluetooth, WiFi

If you like the Echo Plus but the $150 price tag is a little more than you are willing to pay for a WiFi speaker, then the COWIN DiDa is a cheaper alternative coming in at more than half the price. The COWIN DiDa has similar features to the Echo Dot and Plus with a bigger sound than the Dot and slightly less than the Plus. Most importantly, the COWIN DiDa has Alexa built-in so you can operate the speaker exactly the same as an Echo from that perspective.

The COWIN DiDa features two 7.5W full-range speaker drivers to deliver a combined 15W of power. Enough to fill a small room with background music. The COWIN DiDa produces a surprising amount of bass although this isn’t as punchy and defined as the Echo Plus. The COWIN DiDa also has good intelligibility in the mid-range and highs making it great for listening to music, podcasts and chatting to Alexa.

There is one major downside to Alexa on the COWIN DiDa compared to the Echo range, you have to press a button to activate Alexa. With the Echo range, you just call Alexa from across the room and she responds, the COWIN DiDa you have to physically press the Alexa button to engage voice commands. Still, at more than half the price of an Echo Plus, this is a minor inconvenience for the money you’re saving.

If you install the COWIN app, you can engage the Alexa button from your phone eliminating the need to engage this button on your COWIN DiDa.

In addition to WiFi, the COWIN DiDa allows you to connect audio via Bluetooth and ⅛-inch AUX.

On top of the COWIN DiDa is a touch-sensitive control panel with play/pause, volume up/track skip forward, volume down/track skip previous, Alexa voice, input selection, and WPS for connection to your WiFi network. All of these functions can also be accessed via the COWIN DiDa app.

One thing the COWIN DiDa has over the Echo range is a built-in battery. The COWIN DiDa features a 9-hour built-in battery which lasts up to 9 hours of continuous playing. This makes the COWIN DiDa fully portable to use around the house and take outdoors.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the COWIN DiDa with Amazon Alexa:

  • COWIN DiDa
  • Charging cable
  • ⅛-inch AUX cable

COWIN DiDa with Amazon Alexa Conclusion

At more than half the price of the Echo Plus, the COWIN DiDa holds its own in terms of sound quality and features. Where the Echo Plus doesn’t require you to press a button to activate Alexa, the COWIN DiDa does which is a slight disappointment. Where the COWIN DiDa wins, however, is its built-in battery making it a fully portable WiFi speaker. At a little over $60, you can own a WiFi speaker with Alexa built-in and a 9-hour battery which is unbelievable value for money.

WiFi Speaker Buyer’s Guide

We’ve offered a lot of diverse choice in this article so here is a helpful buyer’s guide to help you narrow down which WiFi speaker is right for you.

Narrowing down these choices was extremely difficult as we would love to own every one of these speakers. Each one is amazing offering interesting and unique features.

Cheapest WiFi speaker

As we have WiFi speakers from so many categories, it’s difficult to say which is the cheapest for you as they are all so different. To help, we’ve broken the speakers into the following categories, compact WiFi speaker, general listening and home theater.

Compact WiFi Speaker

Under $30Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Under $100COWIN DiDa
Under $200Sonos Play:1
Bose SoundTouch 10

General Listening and Musc WiFi Speaker

Under $400Marshall Stanmore II
Samsung HW-MS650/ZA
Under $500Klipsch The Thee
Sonos Play:5

Home Theater WiFi Speakers

Under $700Bose SoundTouch 300
Sony HT-Z9F (soundbar and subwoofer combo)
Sonos PLAYBAR TV
Under $1600Yamaha YSP-5600

Best Compact Wi-Fi Speaker

The best compact WiFi speaker goes to the Bose SoundTouch 10. Even though SoundTouch 10 is compact the speaker performs incredibly well delivering an impressive punchy bass response for such a small speaker. The SoundTouch 10 is great for listening to music or podcasts and is also compatible with Alexa.

Best Wi-Fi Speaker for Playing Music

If you just want to play music, then it’s a tough choice between the Klipsch The Three and the Marshall Stanmore II. Both of these WiFi speakers sound incredible, however, because The Three has a phono input for turntables, it takes the win.

Having said that, if you want the option of building a home theater system in the future, I’d go for the Sonos Play:5. Over time you can add more Sonos Play speakers and build a full home theater system.

Best Wi-Fi Speaker for Home Theater

While I’m really fond of the Sonos Play series, the system doesn’t yet have Dolby Atmos or DTS:X for immersive 3D audio. For this reason, I’d go for the Sony HT-Z9F. The HT-Z9F system comes with a soundbar and subwoofer so you already have a 3.1 configuration far cheaper than the other options we reviewed. You also have the option of including two wireless rear surround speakers to create a 5.1 surround sound set up. If you include Dolby Atmos, you’ll effectively have a 7.1.2 3D audio experience.

While I love the Yamaha YSP-5600, it’s simply out of most people’s price range. Still, the YSP-5600 is incredible and if you have the money you should definitely go for the Yamaha system.

Best Multi-Room WiFi Speakers

If you’re looking to create a multi-room WiFi speaker system then the best option we’ve found is the Sonos Play Series. With the Sonos Play Series, you can build a surround sound home theater system in your living area and then use Play:5, Play:3 or Play:1 speaker around the house.

What’s really cool is you can use either the PLAYBAR or the Play:5 for your front speakers. The Play:5 can be positioned horizontally or vertically which means you can have a front left, right and center configuration with Play:5 speakers.

For rear surrounds, you can use Play:5, Play:3 or Play:1 with the Sonos Sub as a subwoofer.

All your multi-room Sonos Play speakers can be controlled via the Sonos app making setup and streaming quick and easy.

WiFi Speaker FAQ

Q: Should I use HDMI or optical when connecting my WiFi speaker to my TV?

A: Both HDMI and optical pass digital audio between your TV and WiFi speaker. Each cable passes very similar audio signals except HDMI is capable of transferring a much higher audio resolution and would, therefore, be the better option. If optical is your only option, then this is definitely a better choice than going analog or Bluetooth.

Q: Does my WiFi speaker have to have Alexa built-in to work?

A: The short answer is no. Some WiFi speakers have Alexa built-in making it convenient by cutting down on the number of devices you need and the money you’d have to spend. Most WiFi speakers don’t have Alexa built-in and are instead designed to be compatible with Amazon’s Echo range which can then talk to you through your WiFi speaker.

Q: If my WiFi speaker also has Bluetooth, which should I use to stream music?

A: As mentioned at the start of this article, WiFi is far superior to Bluetooth. I would recommend using WiFi for all streaming services. In some cases, WiFi speakers require the use of their own app to stream music services. If you don’t want to use the manufacturer’s app, then you’ll have to stream from your phone via Bluetooth. The big disadvantage of Bluetooth is 1, inferior audio quality and 2, restricted wireless range.

Q: Can I have multiple Echo Dot or Plus speakers connected at the same time?

A: Yes you can. This is a new feature as you were unable to have multiple Echo Dots or Plus linked together. Now you can have many, one for each room if you choose. To add additional Echo devices simply open the Alexa App, click the “+” icon and follow the instructions to add the new device.

 

Matt Hallowes

Matt Hallowes

Matt has worked as a sound engineer and tour manager since 2003. His work as a sound engineer includes both live production and venue installations. With a passion for the industry, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us.

Add comment

Leave a Reply