For a cashed-up audiophile, a $200 portable Bluetooth speaker isn't always going to cut it. And in response in recent years, the "high-end" wireless speaker category has blossomed.
These speakers have taken inspiration from the likes of Sonos and the original Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, and can cost anywhere from a grand to over half a million. They feature either Bluetooth streaming or Wi-Fi and sometimes both.
We look at some of the best, and also some of the most bizarre, high-end wireless speakers available today. All prices are in USD.
At $10,000 or so, the Sonus Faber SF 16 is definitely in the upper stratosphere when it comes to wireless speakers. But what makes it truly special is a unique pair of retractable arms which house the mid-range drivers and tweeters .
The £3,500/$4,500 Cotodama Lyric Speaker is part karaoke machine, part wireless speaker -- we wouldn't want to connect a microphone, though. The Lyric Speaker offers a transparent front panel which can display lyrics for over 2 million songs.
A wireless speaker made of concrete? Now we've heard everything. Master & Dynamic's $1,600 speaker features both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and was dreamed up by the designer of the National Museum of African History in Culture.
The Devialet Gold Phantom is a high-end wireless speaker with a somewhat-crazy 4,500 watts of power. True to its name, it features 22-carat rose-gold flourishes and costs a cool $3K, £1,690, or about AU$3,050. Based on a brief demo in the CNET office, it sounded better than the previous Phantoms we had heard, including...
This Devialet Silver Phantom, which will set you back a cool $2,350. Like the Gold Phantom and the "vanilla" Phantom, the Silver features a pressurized design that the makers liken to a bomb. It features a quirky setup routine -- "gently touch the Phantom" -- and streams Spotify Connect, and over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The original Naim mu-so is a $1,500 tabletop radio which features a drop-dead gorgeous design and high-end performance. While it could act as a sound bar for your TV, you wouldn't want to put anything on top of it due to that distinctive weighted volume-knob-cum-control-panel.
Where the first Zeppelin was an iPod dock, this $700 Zeppelin Wireless has dispensed with proprietary connectors entirely in favor of a more egalitarian option. This high-end speaker comes with Bluetooth, AirPlay and Spotify Connect, and it sounds decent to boot.
One of the original credenza-style wireless speakers, the Polk Audio Woodbourne debuted in 2013 for $600. While its Bluetooth-only design means it's a little behind compared to more advanced Wi-Fi models, it's now available for a pretty (or at least more) reasonable $300.
The OneClassic2 is a self-contained, fully wireless speaker. It's a stereo speaker pair that features an acrylic construction. While the company suggests the speakers are quite rugged and portable, at $3,680 we'd be content leaving these on a sidetable.
At $1,600 the wireless Dynaudio Xeo 2 isn't the craziest speaker here, but it's the performance rather than the price or design that makes the Xeo 2 stand out. CNET's Audiophiliac reckons they're "the sort of speaker a seasoned audiophile could love."
While not as "fancy" as some of the other speakers here, the latest Sonos Play:5 brings with it the heritage that inspired many high-end wireless speakers. It lacks bits of gold, and it doesn't even have Bluetooth -- but what it does have is excellent performance and amazing ease-of-use.
Another entrant in the $1,000 compact hi-fi speaker category, the McIntosh RS100 is based on DTS' Play-Fi standard. This standard offers increased compatibility with other manufacturers such as Polk, Definitive Technology and even Rotel.
The McIntosh doesn't look like any other wireless speaker we've seen, as it features a typically macho VU meter and silver knobs.
Looking more like a can crusher than a wireless speaker, the $4,600 HiVi MS-2 is truly one of the weirdest speaker designs we've come across. It's a 2.1-channel system, somehow, and includes both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
A wireless version of the well-received KEF LS50, these $2,200 speakers add onboard amplification in addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability. The KEF system offers a tightly integrated sound and the ability to serve directly from high-end Roon software makes it a 21st Century jukebox.
The Bluesound family of products is brought to us from the minds behind NAD and PSB and has a number of features Sonos doesn't. First is support for hi-res music; second is a dedicated CD-ripper/server called the Vault 2.
No high-end wireless speaker roundup would be complete without this tower of ridiculousness: the AeroDream One from Jarre Technologies. This gleaming iPhone dock and aptX-Bluetooth speaker -- last valued at $560,000 -- requires a ladder to reach the top. This particular one comes complete with its own (electronic musician and designer) Jean Michel Jarre .