Music wireless in all rooms: No problem with WLAN speakers
WLAN speakers have advantages over Bluetooth boxes when it comes to wireless music streaming in the home. The WiFi signal has more bandwidth and copes better with walls, if necessary it can be amplified. Stiftung Warentest hat 13 WiFi speaker tested and sound, handling and data protection assessed. Common top recommendations were the models Teufel One M and Yamaha Musiccast 50 for the price of around 360 to 400 Euro. However, it is also much cheaper: The good WiFi speaker Ikea Symfonisk only costs around 100 Euro.
The test was carried out by Stiftung Warentest and in issue 2 / 2020 released.
With wireless speakers you are flexible in the apartment. Without a physical connection to the audio device, you can stream music and podcasts exactly where you want to listen. The bluetooth speakers are very common here, they are very mobile with their compact size and long-lasting battery. However, the Bluetooth signal has a limited range. WLAN speakers work wherever you have a connection to your home WLAN network. If this covers your entire apartment anyway, possibly with the help of repeaters, WiFi speakers are practical. You can also transfer larger amounts of data, i.e. stream music in better quality. Stiftung Warentest tested 13 larger WiFi speakers with and without voice assistant on sound quality and ergonomics, but also took a look at data protection.
The result: None of the test devices failed with the sound, all WLAN speakers got a good or very good one here Evaluation. Due to the fluctuating quality in the handling and protection of personal data, only four of the 13 models also the overall rating “good”. The testers rated the remaining nine devices, including all speakers with voice assistant, as “satisfactory”. There is no “poor” rating in any category, “sufficient” is the worst grade.
You can read that in our article: We present the recommendations from the test first in an overview and then in detail. Then we give you a price estimate and explain the test procedure of Stiftung Warentest. You can also find out more about WLAN speakers and what you should look out for when buying. Finally, we answer open questions.
WLAN speaker test winner
These are the best WiFi speakers according to Stiftung Warentest
1. Test winner: Teufel One M
- Good and trouble-free sound
- Versatile control app
- Practical connections
- Sound not perfectly balanced
- No speakers he coupling
- Collects too much user data
The heaviest speaker in the test (5.2 kilograms) is also the best: The Teufel One M achieved the overall grade 2.0 (good) and is one of the two test winners. The WLAN speaker can shine in many areas, even if it is in the sound does not cut perfectly. It is just not enough for a “very good”. They miss balance in the hearing test, so there is little treble but a lot of bass and the voices are too loud in the reproduction. The coupling of several boxes to the stereo pair does not work. But the volume is great, there is no noise and the Teufel is also one of the best devices in the test with regard to the WLAN range.
The testers only rate the instructions for use as mediocre, commissioning is simple and the loudspeaker is convenient for daily use. The testers particularly like the app. The handling pleases the testers, but the devil does not have a language assistant. The power consumption in Network operation shows no abnormalities. A battery is not installed. An analog audio input and a connection for network cables are available, as well as Bluetooth and multiroom function. However, because the coupling option is missing, there is versatility with the deductions. The device is also collecting too much user data. Even if data protection declaration and terms and conditions fit, this is data protection – Judgment only satisfactory.
The WLAN speaker Teufel One M (Teufel-Shop) belongs to the upper class in terms of price, you pay around 400 Euro. You can always find the cheapest price in our price comparison . Since you cannot pair devices, a second device is hardly worth it. For this, a box has a lot of volume.
. 2 Test winner: Yamaha Musiccast 50
- Very good sound
- Best handling in the test
- Strong versatility
- WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS- Range could be better
- No bargain
Between the two test winners, you come with the Yamaha Musiccast 50 cheaper way: The WiFi speaker is for around 360 Euro available. You can choose between black and white designs. You can always find the cheapest price in our price comparison .
Price tip: Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf speaker
- Good sound with stereo coupling
- Control also in the smart home system
- Strong price-performance ratio
- Maximum volume somewhat low
- WiFi range could be better
- Collects too much user data
The furniture giant Ikea mixes with the smart home devices, this includes the good (grade 2.0) WiFi speaker Ikea Symfonisk . Through cooperation with the audio expert Sonos, the “shelf speaker” is structurally identical to the Sonos One SL, but it costs almost twice as much. The Ikea box delivers a pleasant tone . In the hearing test, the experts rate the sound as somewhat muted, but are generally satisfied. Above all, it is worth buying several speakers for the inexpensive Symfonisk, which can be coupled to form a stereo pair. The testers liked the room-filling sound very much. Only the volume should not be turned up fully, because then distortions occur. Otherwise, noise is largely absent. The WiFi range could be a little better.
In the category Handling the speaker gets a good grade from the testers. Commissioning works well and the Symfonisk cooperates with other Ikea smart home products. However, the instructions for use are poor. However, there are no problems in daily use. The speaker does not have a voice assistant and a battery. The power consumption is satisfactory. Also with the versatility the speaker is slightly better than mediocre. Decisive for this is the good stereo coupling, multiroom function and playback options via the app. An analog audio input and Bluetooth connectivity are missing. The protection of personal data is ok, but the tester disturbs the generally strong collection of user data.
The Ikea Symfonisk is the price-performance winner. In the Ikea range you get the WiFi speaker for around 100 Euro. Suitable accessories such as wall brackets are also available.
WiFi speaker with voice assistant
Many WLAN speakers can be integrated into the smart home system and operated via voice control, which requires a central unit such as Amazon Echo. However, there were also seven models among the test devices that already have integrated voice assistants. However, the testers devalued these devices because of the always clear deficiencies in the data protection declarations, so that none of the WLAN speakers with voice control could get a good overall rating.
If the data protection concerns are not relevant to you, you will receive the Google Home Max for round 270 Euro an excellent sounding speaker. You can always find the cheapest price in our price comparison . An alternative is the Sonos Move for the Amazon Alexa system . The speaker has the same data protection problems, but also sounds very good and even has a battery. The device costs around 400 Euro.
How much do I have to spend on a good WiFi speaker?
Smaller loudspeakers with WLAN function can already be found in online shops under 50 Euro, but a certain volume is required for a room-filling sound. Unless you want to cover just one corner of the sofa, you need a larger model. Stiftung Warentest set the limit for this with at least a device volume of four liters. You will find good offers in this area n from round 100 Euro. For the best sound quality you have to invest a little more, powerful WiFi speakers are available from around 200 Euro. The real top-of-the-line devices cost twice, however, you can also find the test winners from Stiftung Warentest in the area 350 to 450 Euro. However, you should note that the WLAN speakers are stereo devices, but you can only get real stereo sound from two sides if you couple speakers together.
WLAN speakers in the test: How does Stiftung Warentest rate it?
Stiftung Warentest checks the WLAN speakers in seven areas and uses them to determine an overall rating. The assessment of the sound makes 50 percent of the final grade. In the subjective hearing test, the testers rated a mix of different types of music in terms of naturalness, bass and other criteria. The playback takes place with a single WLAN speaker or with stereo pairs, i.e. paired devices. A measurement of the sound pressure level determines the volume at which distortions occur. The search for general noise is done in a very quiet environment. The WLAN range is also checked at ten locations in a building.
In the Handling category, the experts evaluate the device's instructions for use, assess the setup and start-up of the WLAN speaker as well as the controls and displays in general. For devices with voice assistants, the quality of voice control is put to the test and functions such as weather information or knowledge questions are tested. The power consumption for daily use is determined based on a defined user profile, and the runtime is also measured for devices with a battery. The rating in the Versatility category includes available streaming offers as well as other playback options via the connections on the device.
How do WiFi speakers work?
The basic technology is the same for all loudspeakers: an electrical audio signal is converted into mechanical vibrations, which are perceived as sound. There are differences in the transmission of the input signal. This can be done using audio cables or by radio. In the area of wireless speakers, you mainly get Bluetooth and WLAN devices. Bluetooth is a special radio standard for data transmission over short distances, the main focus is the greatest possible compatibility between the various devices such as headphones, smartphones, televisions and much more. The technical requirements are strict, transmission is in the narrowly limited frequency range over short distances and with a low data transfer rate: maximum 3 Mbit / s. This is sufficient for compressed audio signals. In addition, Bluetooth is energy saving.
If you use the home WiFi network, you have much greater freedom. The currently common WiFi standard for most routers (802. 11 ac) transports data in a quick 5- Ghz frequency range and with maximum transmission rates of up to 1.3 Gbit / s. You don't need that much bandwidth for audio signals, of course, but you can still transmit music to the speaker in a much higher quality than with Bluetooth. WLAN has a longer range and signal amplification through walls is quite easy with WLAN repeaters. If you integrate the WLAN speaker into the home network, you can also transfer music files to the speaker from numerous sources, from smartphones to notebooks to NAS servers. Compared to Bluetooth, the power consumption with WLAN is higher and battery operation is often not possible.
What types of WiFi speakers are there?
The volume of the WLAN loudspeaker largely determines its sound. So you can use a small and compact speaker to sound your kitchen and especially models with voice assistant can be helpful when you query information via voice control. But the sound quality is rather mediocre. If you really want to enjoy the music – filling the entire living room – you need a model with larger speaker . Of course, even better are two paired WiFi speakers for high-quality stereo sound from both sides.
A major difference is the presence of a voice assistant, so you can select music using voice control and start and stop and access helpful internet services. In most cases, however, this requires the use of a smart home system such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. If you have data protection concerns because the assistant and thus the provider is constantly “listening in”, you should rather do without a WLAN speaker with voice control.
What should I look out for when buying a WLAN speaker?
- sound quality
Good sound is always subjective and depends on the music. Some users prefer a powerful bass, others prefer clear voice reproduction. In general, the sound of the speakers should be balanced between treble and bass. With the branded devices of well-known audio experts, you can usually expect good sound quality. If it is a question of unknown manufacturers from online trading, the user comments help with the assessment. The loudspeaker models are technically stereo devices themselves, but since both systems are close together in the same housing, you won't get any real stereo sound. This only occurs when you pair several WiFi speakers and the music comes from two sides.
- App & button control
Usually you control the WLAN speaker via the associated app, which can be tailored to the device itself , in many cases it is compatible with the entire product range of the manufacturer. Via the app you can link boxes, select streaming services or local sources for music files and make settings. It is often necessary to create a user account with the loudspeaker manufacturer in order to be able to use the full range of functions – it is gratifying if it works without one. In addition, physical buttons on the device enable basic control, i.e. volume control or song selection. Displays are rarely integrated.
- Voice control & data protection
WiFi speakers with voice control mostly use the common smart home systems, especially Amazon Alexa or Google Home. If the functionality is not already integrated, the WLAN speaker can usually be easily integrated into an existing system, for example, it is recognized by the Amazon Echo device. You can start and stop music by voice control or ask for information such as the weather forecast. Data protection is a problem with these services. Personal data is transferred to the provider, i.e. Amazon or Google, and you usually have little control over what happens to it. Although you have a right to information, many data protection declarations do not mention this well enough.
- Interfaces & Connectivity
WLAN speakers establish a radio connection with the home router and can thus be controlled via the network. However, additional interfaces on the device are advantageous. If there is a gigabit network connection, you can connect the actually wireless device to the network cable if you wish. Analog audio inputs also allow you to connect peripheral devices to the loudspeaker without a radio connection, for example turntables or CD players. Since the installation of a Bluetooth module is usually not a major effort, most WLAN devices offer this radio alternative. Other interfaces can be practical as needed.
- Functions & Accessories
If several loudspeakers from the manufacturer can be coupled with each other, you can create room-filling stereo sound. With the multiroom function, WLAN speakers can be controlled in combination, so you can play music in distributed rooms at the same time. The flexibility of the WLAN loudspeakers helps here, which you can distribute, for example at a party, as needed throughout the entire apartment, but can control centrally. Many audio technology manufacturers also offer extra accessories for their speakers, such as wall brackets, speaker stands or rubber feet, to minimize vibrations. You will hardly find some features of mobile Bluetooth speakers such as power bank or hands-free function in home network speakers.
- Battery pack & Outdoor
WLAN speakers have a higher power consumption than Bluetooth boxes. Therefore, only the data transmission is really wireless, the power supply for the home network speakers takes place via the power cord. A few WLAN speaker models have a built-in battery, but even this is not intended for continuous operation. After all, it is a practical extra: you can use the WLAN speaker temporarily away from sockets, for example in the garden. However, the home network speaker is not suitable as a real outdoor device, as a rule the manufacturers forego shock resistance and water resistance. Energy-saving, compact and robust Bluetooth boxes are more suitable for mobile sound reinforcement. If you are still looking for a WLAN device for outdoors, you should pay attention to the protection class: A simple splash protection according to IPX4 is the minimum, but ideally the speaker should be protected against immersion according to IPX7.
- Height Weight
Did he WLAN speaker has its fixed place in the apartment, the weight of the box plays a subordinate role. But if you want to take full advantage of wireless data transmission and regularly place the speaker in other places, that's a different matter. Voluminous models can weigh over 5 kg, usually 3 to 4 kg. The shape of the WLAN loudspeakers differs significantly from one another in some cases: They are given round, rectangular or oval devices, in a box and cylinder shape or in a very unique design. It is of course crucial whether the speaker fits in the desired location, for example in the shelf compartment or on the chest of drawers. The bulkiest boxes can be up to half a meter wide, vertically aligned cylinder speakers are 25 centimeters high. And of course the WiFi speaker shouldn't be too cramped, otherwise you won't get good sound quality.
Alternatives: Bluetooth, soundbar, surround system
WLAN speakers are a flexible and often inexpensive audio system for the home. But you can go in a different direction both technically and in terms of price. The most obvious alternative is the Bluetooth speaker. Thanks to their rechargeable batteries, they are even more mobile and you can find Bluetooth in almost all connected devices. For more information read in our Bluetooth speaker purchase advice and all test devices in the ranking can be found in our best list .
If you are not so much concerned with mobility, but only with the good sound in the living room, you can also opt for a wired sound system. The sound bars are in the middle price range. With these, you can turn your television into a multimedia centerpiece. Since almost all Smart TVs allow music streaming, you have a home cinema and stereo system in one. You can find everything you need to know about soundbars in our purchase advice , top models in our best list . At the top end of the price scale you will find real home theater systems with surround sound. There is excellent sound from all sides. Read tips on this in our assessment .
The most important questions about WLAN speakers at a glance
Which WiFi speaker is the best?
In the test, the WLAN speakers Teufel One M and Yamaha Musiccast 50 the most. However, they are quite expensive: between 360 and 410 Euro. You get much cheaper with the Ikea Symfonisk for around 100 Euro gone. It is very worthwhile to pair several WiFi speakers here.
How does it work a multiroom speaker?
With the multiroom function, several WLAN speakers can be controlled in combination. This makes it possible to play music in distributed rooms at the same time. At a party, for example, you can distribute several WiFi speakers over the apartment in order to control them all centrally.
Are WiFi speakers suitable for services like Spotify?
Many WiFi speakers already have built-in support for music streaming providers like Spotify. These can be controlled collectively in the manufacturer's app. If this is not the case, third-party apps can help or you can integrate the WiFi speaker into a smart home system.
What is the difference between WLAN and Bluetooth?
The Bluetooth radio standard enables communication between many mobile devices in the limited frequency range over short distances thanks to strict specifications. The stronger WiFi signal can transmit much more data, but uses more power. It is therefore only suitable for at home.
Do WiFi speakers have a battery?
WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS- Speakers have a higher power consumption than Bluetooth boxes and therefore usually need a power cable. A battery is only installed occasionally and even then it has a significantly shorter runtime compared to Bluetooth devices. The battery is an extra for WiFi speakers.