Airplay vs. Bluetooth: Which is Better for Wireless Speakers?

How are Airplay and Bluetooth different for wireless speakers? Do you need one or both?

Airplay or Bluetooth for wireless speakers

Wireless audio systems, mostly characterized by products like Sonos speakers, Bluesound or the new Denon Heos wireless audio system, are hot products this year, and for good reason. They make setting up a multiroom audio system easy and fairly affordable. Except for high-end audiophile stereo systems, wireless is the way to go for audio these days. But the proprietary wireless systems like Sonos aren’t the only wireless speakers around. Two other wireless audio methods, Airplay and Bluetooth, may offer you a better solution for getting lots of music into your home.

An article in the February 2015 issue of Electronic House compares these two popular wireless alternatives and will help you decide which is best for you.

If you’re an Android user, then the choice is simple–AirPlay isn’t available on Android phones or tablets (though there are 3rd party apps that do a passable job of connecting Android phones to AirPort Express devices). Also, the ALLCAST system is essentially an AirPlay for Android, but it’s not supported on nearly as many wireless speakers or AV receivers as is AirPlay or Bluetooth.

If you consider yourself an audiophile, which wireless system do you think you should choose? This article answers that question by pointing out the system that supports audio streams at CD quality, and the wireless system that doesn’t.

If you’re interested in wireless multiroom audio–speakers in every room of the house playing the same music–then your decision is also an easy one. Only one system supports that.

One of the two wireless audio systems also has a very limited range, which might be important if you like to wander around your house with your phone in your pocket, but don’t want the music to stop just because you walked down the hall.

However, while one of the audio systems seems to have a lot of limits, it’s also extremely easy to use, inexpensive (found on wireless speakers as cheap as $10) and great for portable music or sharing.

To learn more about both AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless music standards, check out this article at Electronic House.

Also check out the Electronic House complete buying guide for wireless speakers here.

  • Good comparison of AirPlay and Bluetooth, but let’s not forget GoRave – low latency (40ms) and high bitrate. Excellent wireless audio that works with every video, game and music app in the world.


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