Home Airplay 2 devices

tollermee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 9, 2018
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Hi all. I'm trying to work out what the best speaker I can buy for our house is. In the past, we've used a fairly good (Cambridge Audio) Bluetooth speaker. The music quality is fine, but it has its limitations - you can't move the phone too far from the speaker and switching devices that play through it usually means turning off Bluetooth on one device before playing on another as it seems to get confused which device its connected to. Don't know whether that's typical of Bluetooth devices or unique to that speaker.

While we (me, wife & 2 pre-teens) are broadly speaking an Apple family, with iPhones an iPad, a MacBook and an Apple TV, we also some non-Apple tech like Spotify, Gmail etc.

Specifically, I want a device that each person in the family can easily play music through, using AirPlay and quickly interchange between them. I don't want something that is paired with one device, person or iCloud, Spotify account.

So while the Homepod looks good, I'm not sure its the best device for us. Would an AirPlay 2 compatible device be better for us?

Is Air Play 2 just like bluetooth but with better integration with Apple devices?
 

LiveM

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
1,152
543
The AirPort Express will connect to your speaker and use Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth, allowing higher-quality audio without concern for how far your iPhone or iPod gets from the speaker. It also has a phenomenal digital to analogue converter for the output signal, or it can output digitally.

It is AirPlay 2 compatible and also has a USB port which can recharge or power your speaker, depending on its specs. Just avoiding Bluetooth will also extend its battery life by at least double.

It will appear for anyone as an AirPlay target unless you use settings to restrict it. It can simultaneously be used to extend your Wi-Fi network if you should need to fall back on that functionality as well, or to connect an AirPrint printer.
 
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pup

macrumors regular
Dec 31, 2009
126
61
At the moment, AirPlay 2 is so buggy that I’d just steer clear. You’re asking for a load of frustration. I’d either sit it out for a while or go with Sonos.
 
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LiveM

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
1,152
543
The AirPort Express works brilliantly and always has. For a single-speaker configuration, none of the purported bugs apply, so it is plain sailing with something like this. Plus, you don't even need AirPlay 2 and can use the AirPlay 1 firmware already installed instead of upgrading.
 
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Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,247
4,129
Atlanta
At the moment, AirPlay 2 is so buggy that I’d just steer clear. You’re asking for a load of frustration. I’d either sit it out for a while or go with Sonos.
I have 4 Airport Expresses upgraded to AirPlay 2 and have not experienced any bugs or a "load of frustration".
 
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pup

macrumors regular
Dec 31, 2009
126
61
Someone must have a bunch of airport expresses on eBay. I don't think discontinued equipment is the right path for the average user. Fine for people who are already vested in them, but it's clearly not the direction Apple or anyone else is heading.

Just search this forum for threads on Airplay 2 problems. If you've avoided them, then good for you.

If you invest in Sonos speakers, you get very well reviewed speakers that are Airplay 2 compatible for when Apple gets their act together, but which can be driven via Sonos' proven networking today.
 
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cyclingplatypus

macrumors 65816
Mar 15, 2007
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213
Earth
At the moment, AirPlay 2 is so buggy that I’d just steer clear. You’re asking for a load of frustration. I’d either sit it out for a while or go with Sonos.
I'm running a HomePod and two AEXs upgraded for AP2 and have not encountered "a load of frustration" - I stream from both phone and Mac without issues or latency problems.


I also find the 'go with sonos' advice interesting because the newer One, beam, and others have AP2.
 
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LiveM

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
1,152
543
Someone must have a bunch of airport expresses on eBay. I don't think discontinued equipment is the right path for the average user. Fine for people who are already vested in them, but it's clearly not the direction Apple or anyone else is heading.
In this particular case it's a matter of being the one device that will avoid purchasing an entirely new speaker, while offering the right output to connect to the speaker's input.

The AirPort range is still a phenomenal product, which many people find offers reliability that is more beneficial than faster upcoming Wi-Fi protocols. The Express is being discontinued because Apple has integrating the functionality into the HomePod and printers are a declining market, while iCloud is slowly replacing local hard drive backups of the Extreme and Time Capsule. The OP has specifically said he wants "a device that each person in the family can easily play music through, using AirPlay and quickly interchange between them. I don't want something that is paired with one device, person or iCloud, Spotify account."
 
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