CHOSEN FEW: 5 Wi-fi speakers
Gone are days of chunky, stacked hi-fi systems that dominated living spaces in days of yore, now you’re more likely to find a simple, stylish WiFi speaker dock waiting to strut its stuff with thousands and thousands of tracks accessible via your iPhone or iPad. Here are five premium units to make you salivate…
Best for impact: B&W Zeppelin Air
The Zeppelin Air has been on the market for a few years but still makes a serious statement in any living room with its distinctive cylindrical design. Last year is added ‘Air’ to its name allowing wireless streaming. All you need to do is download its iOS app, find your WiFi and away you go. Looks wise, this large unit is dissected by a silver metal strip, which holds your device securely. Size-wise, it’s a proper whopper at nearly 13lbs, but the extra-size allows it to house some serious power under the hood. The Zeppelin has clear, punchy sound that can handle anything from classical music to rap with ease.
Price: from Virgin Megastore
Best for style: Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9
Bang & Olufsen are the Rolls Royce of audio equipment, with design more akin to a work of art, than a mass-produced throwaway. Unsurprisingly, given the eye-watering price tag, it has serious top-end sound quality - the A9 is a huge dish; nearly 1m tall, 700mm in diameter and 15kgs, sitting regally atop three wooden legs, available in beech, teak and oak. Fortunately, there’s a discreet carry-handle located at the back if you want to lug it round. Loaded with Apple’s Airplay, the sound is suitably mindblowing, If you tot up the various woofers, amps, midrange drivers and two tweeters, you have 450w of power on tap, meaning it doesn’t distort at high-volume and can deal with any music genre comfortably.
Price: AED10,700 from Bang and Olufsen stores
Best for wireless streaming: Sonos Play 5
The beauty of Sonos is the ability to add more devices to your gadget arsenal and wirelessly stream music from anywhere in the house, using an iPhone, laptop or miniscule remote. Sonos are ubiquitous with streaming and the Play 5 is the big daddy of the Play range. The design is wonderfully simple, a rectangular box you can stand upright or on its side. The sound, while not class leading, is strong and can fill sizeable rooms. Streaming services are increasingly the way people are listening to music, so the fact Sonos got there first early with Spotify, Deezer and now Apple Music only consolidates its appeal.
Price: AED1,995 from http://dubaimachines.com/sonos-zone-player-play-5-white-black.html
Best for build-quality: Samsung R7
The newest dock of the bunch, the R7 is an absolute beaut which could easily pass as a classy accompaniment to your room, with or without music. The build-quality is superb, with discreet touch controls and a classy chrome trim. You can place it on a tripod or hang it from the ceiling like a lampshade. Being Samsung, there’s a wealth of features; WiFi, Bluetooth, oodles of streaming options on a redesigned app, you can even send music to any other Samsung speakers around the house. What does it sound like? Well the omni-directional speakers offer a well-balanced, rich, velvety sound. File under 'object of desire'.
Price: Coming soon
Best for audio depth: Bose SoundTouch30
For many years, Bose dominated the higher-end speaker dock market, then Sonos came along, backed streaming and never looked back. Bose’s response was the SoundTouch series, a piece of audio tech that can also stream over laptops, tablets and phones. The SoundTouch is based around six presets on the hardware, or associated SoundTouch app, where you can drag and drop your music from Pandora, Spotify or other streaming services to be up and running within seconds. Connectivity wise, on top of WiFi, there’s Airplay support but no Bluetooth. A worthy addition, but no longer best in class.
Price: AED3,149 from Bose in Dubai Mall