Advise me on a home wireless speaker system
February 19, 2018 6:12 AM   Subscribe

I would like good audio quality speakers to fill a small one bedroom apartment that play well with Apple products for less than $500. I’m a complete audio newbie and am confused and overwhelmed by google results on this topic.

I have an iPhone 7 and a MacBook Air. My goal is to be able to play music AND podcasts from either throughout my apartment. I would also like decent sound quality.

I’m assuming at a minimum I will need two speakers, one for the bedroom and one for the living room/kitchen area.

Is the Sonos the best option? I could buy two sonos 1s in my budget, but as far as I can tell there’s no way to play from my apple podcast app to sonos.

Should I buy two airplay speakers? If I do, can I make them play the same thing? Any recommendations for brands?

Or are there better value speakers I can pair with an airport express or two?

Is my budget completely unrealistic or will I get a lot more value for my money if I’m able to raise my total budget?

Assume I have never bought speakers of any kind before and am not particularly tech savvy.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity to Technology (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here are 3 ways of managing podcast listening on a Sonos system - to answer part of your question. Getting 2 Sonos 1s would not be a bad option - potential to a sub or sound bar at some point in the future. I guess the target appeal of Sonos is probably more for spaces bigger than a 1 bedroom apartment.
posted by rongorongo at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have most-played playlists going back to 2004, and out of the box, the Sonos speakers can't update last-played timestamps or play counts, which was a dealbreaker for me. For now, though, they're probably the best fit for you. I'd probably recommend dragging your feet until Apple ships AirPlay 2.0 and see if Sonos will support it (which should mean my dealbreaker would become a non-issue). You could also save a little more along the way and then be able to choose between two HomePods or any number of Sonos setups. I have one HomePod today (and love it), and after AirPlay 2.0 comes out, I'll get a second one for my l-shaped living/dining area; at some later point, I'll get one for my bedroom as well (I have an apartment that's ~1100 square feet).
posted by kimota at 6:37 AM on February 19, 2018


Airfoil is a super-easy-to-use app that can help you solve most "I can't sent X to my device" issues.

I know that the HomePod and Sonos are better technical speakers than a Google Home or Amazon Echo. But we are an Apple family (and have been for 20 years), and we have a house full of Amazon Echos that we love. The 2d Generation one is $85, and unless you are a picky listener it will get louder than you need it to and sound pretty good. For the not particularly tech savvy, you can use a direct Bluetooth connection to stream anything you want to the device or a direct aux-in. And you can do a lot of stuff without having to use other devices at all, like podcasts, or Spotify, or Pandora, or NPR/radio through TuneIn. In the kitchen, the extra toys that come with it (measurement conversions, timers, alarms, etc.) are a nice bonus.

For me, it's kind of like how in our modern day even the lowest-end cars are pretty reliable. A $400 speaker will sound better than an $85 one, but that $85 sounds awfully nice too.
posted by AgentRocket at 6:55 AM on February 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's maybe less of a total "system" than you are looking for, but I have a wireless Bose speaker that works well with my iphone and has the volume to fill a large room. It's portable so I just move it on the rare occasions that I need sound in the other room, but I would just buy a second one if I always wanted the option of sound in both places.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:55 AM on February 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sonos has said that the new Sonos One will get Airplay 2 support in 2018. Sonos One and Sonos Play:1 is not the same product. Sonos has not definitively said whether or not their old speakers will get an update that enables Airplay 2 support.

Right now Airplay does not have multi room support which means the Apple Homepod does not have multi room support. Airplay 2 will add multi room support. Airplay 2 will also work with any compatible speaker so you can mix and match brands of speakers.

Right now to add Airplay support to a Sonos setup you can either buy a Sonos PLAY:5, CONNECT och CONNECT:AMP and hook them up with an Apple TV or Airport Express. That's kind of expensive though. A cheaper but more technical way to add Airplay support to Sonos is to use the free AirConnect software running on a Mac or any other computer to bridge the connection between Apple devices and Sonos.
posted by Julianna Mckannis at 7:36 AM on February 19, 2018


I have a bose mini soundlink and after comparing it with other speakers it’s sound quality and bass is pretty outstanding, can pair wireless to any device
posted by Under the Sea at 8:36 AM on February 19, 2018


We've got several Sonos speakers. I highly recommend them. They're super easy and the quality is excellent.
posted by odinsdream at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2018


My husband just bought a HomePod. It sounds good. It makes plenty of sound to fill the living room and the kitchen. I’ve not tried it in podcasts. It’s pretty cool to be able to just conversationally ask Siri to turn it down or set a timer, wherever you are. She’s much more responsive on the HomePod than on my watch.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2018


I have a small one bedroom apartment and I use a Bose wireless speaker for listening to music or podcasts. I love it. I stream via bluetooth off my desktop computer, so my wireless speaker does not work in my bathroom -- it cuts in and out, I guess the bluetooth signal can't make it through the wall. But if you're streaming off your cell phone or laptop, which you can put anywhere, it shouldn't be an issue. I take my speaker with me, so I don't see the need for a dual speaker set up -- when I am in the kitchen, I put in there. When I walk over to my bedroom, I just carry it with me. If you want an expensive total setup, you can do it, but in your situation, one nice bluetooth speaker would probably be enough and cheaper. My Bose speaker was around $130. They have nicer ones that are more expensive, but I like that mine is plastic and rugged and I've dropped it several times without issue.

I got my mom a Google Home for listening to music. After some initial headaches setting it up, it has worked pretty well and gets nice and loud. That stays in one spot though, you don't care it around.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:32 AM on February 19, 2018


(*care it around = *carry it around. Whoops.)
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2018


> I have a small one bedroom apartment and I use a Bose wireless speaker for listening to music or podcasts. I love it. I stream via bluetooth off my desktop computer, so my wireless speaker does not work in my bathroom -- it cuts in and out, I guess the bluetooth signal can't make it through the wall. But if you're streaming off your cell phone or laptop, which you can put anywhere, it shouldn't be an issue. I take my speaker with me, so I don't see the need for a dual speaker set up -- when I am in the kitchen, I put in there. When I walk over to my bedroom, I just carry it with me. If you want an expensive total setup, you can do it, but in your situation, one nice bluetooth speaker would probably be enough and cheaper. My Bose speaker was around $130. They have nicer ones that are more expensive, but I like that mine is plastic and rugged and I've dropped it several times without issue.

My experience is so close to this - down to the exact Bose model - that it's easiest for me to just copy all of it and say "seconded."
posted by komara at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2018


We are a Sonos household, and I've loved their speakers, but they don't really play nice with the rest of our Apple ecosystem.

For example, I still haven't figured out a way to reliably play podcasts from Overcast, short of sending it to our Apple TV, which outputs to a Sonos Playbar, and then grouping that with our kitchen speakers. Sonos has been promising Airplay support real soon now for ... a while.

The other thing that annoys me a bit is the lack of support for Audible, even though they're good with Amazon Music and integrating Alexa into their new products. What's the hangup?

(Yes, I can circumvent these issues if I'm willing to leave a computer running. I don't see why I should have to do that, though.)

They also went through a couple of truly awful iOS app redesigns, although the latest app iteration has reworked things to be more usable.

But other than these issues, the sound quality and general ease of use has been top notch.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:29 PM on February 19, 2018


I've got a Bluetooth bose revolve which is amazing, very good design and great sound.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:43 PM on February 19, 2018


Thanks, everyone! I marked all as best because everyone gave me something to think about and I appreciated the descriptions of user experiences. I’m leaning toward waiting for AirPlay 2 to come out and the sonos that will support that.

Going to check out Bose in the meantime and am giving that option a lot of thought as well as it is available now and can be cheaper!
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 5:01 PM on February 19, 2018


Meanwhile, we have a couple UE Booms that are Bluetooth and you can pair them together and then you can airplay whatever you want. They’re super-durable, so if you buy them to tide you over, then you’ve got awesome portable speakers when you’re done. (Seriously. They’re bulletproof, and easy to use, and sound decent. Ours are the UE boom, not the linked UE Boom 2, which say they’re waterproof as well as shockproof.)
posted by leahwrenn at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


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