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AirPlay Speakers
TECH
AirPlay Speakers
Seven wireless speakers that push the boundaries of sound and design
by Graham Hiemstra
on 19 October 2011

With Apple's unrelenting dominance of the consumer marketplace for mobile devices, most high-tech electronics companies are making the push to join in and offer AirPlay-enabled devices capable of wireless streaming directly from iTunes on an iOS device or OSX computer. The following are seven of the newest AirPlay-compatible speakers pushing the limits of technology and design.

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Audyssey

The Lower East Side Audio Dock Air, which launches today, 19 October 2011, is a bass-heavy, single-unit system compatible with all iPod and iPad models. Sharing the same advanced engineering and similarly inspired by the same New York neighborhood as the LES Speakers, this new wireless system delivers pure, distortion-free sound with plenty of power. The compact design favors two one-inch tweeters and two three-inch mid-range woofers, giving it its deep bass. Available today for $400 from Audyssey.

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Bowers & Wilkins

By one of the first brands to directly target the AirPlay market and to be backed by Apple, the Zeppelin Air is a near perfect blend of superior audio technology and beautiful design. Available through Amazon for $600.

Although the Zeppelin Air isn't the newest kid on the block, they've recently released the Zeppelin Air mobile app. Compatible with all AirPlay systems, the free downloadable app acts as a real-time jukebox by allowing multiple users to create individual playlists, and then collaboratively edit each other's lists from separate mobile devices, while their tunes continue to play seamlessly..

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Philips

The design-driven Dutch company has created a bold, beautiful wireless system in the Fidelio SoundRing. The speakers deliver 360 degrees of surround sound, and look brilliant from any angle at the same time. The compact design allows the circular speaker to be taken from its dock and moved wirelessly throughout the room for stellar audio anywhere. The Fidelio SoundRing, powered by 16W RMS of total output power, will be released in November with a retail price of $300.

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Loewe

The unassuming design of the Air Speaker doesn't do justice to its sound capabilities, or maybe it's that the designers wanted the audio to speak for itself. Either way, this wireless system is one we can't wait to try. Inside the minimalist, box-like speaker are two subwoofers, two tweeters and two mid-range speakers for a total power of 80 watts. Unfortunately for those of us in the States, the Loewe Air Speaker will not be released in North America. The European market launch is set for late November 2011 where it will be available in multiple colors for $999.

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Altec Lansing

The inAir 5000 blends clean lines and plenty of technology. Packed inside the sleek teardrop shape are two mid-range drivers, two tweeters, three amps, and one banging four-inch subwoofer. With a total output of 110 watts, the inAir 5000 is quite a bit larger than the others and clearly aims for the power seat among its competitors. This system also launches next month, for a price that's yet to be released.

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Klipsch

The Gallery G-17 takes the most impressive speakers from the brand's larger Gallery Series speaker line to deliver the same rich sound in a pared-down body. The sleek design and high-gloss finish make for an elegant system that sounds just as nice. Designed for wall-mounting or as a tabletop set-up on the dark glass base, the G-17 is set to be released in November 2011 for $550.

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House of Marley

The One Foundation Speaker Dock disguises a bundle of advanced features in a handsome, earth-conscious and FSC-certified-wood exterior. The two-channel, all-in-one audio system outputs smooth sound as an iPod/iPhone charging dock with an aux-in connection to hook up any other device as well. Housing two substantial, 5.25-inch woofers for a strong bass, the One Foundation—whose improved, second-generation iteration (pictured is the original) drops in early 2012—makes for a beautiful set-up, inside and out. Once released, it will sell for $600.

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