CNET: Best Wi-Fi speakers and music systems of 2016

With over a dozen different brands of Wi-Fi music players to choose from, it can be hard to find the right one for you. CNET helps you sort the wheat from the chaff.

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Chromecast Audio

Product Review: http://www.cnet.com/products/chromecast-audio/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Outstanding)

The good: Google’s budget audio dongle pipes music to any stereo from the most popular streaming apps on your smartphone. It’s simple and works well, with direct compatibility for most major music services, and even more supported via the Chrome browser plug-in and on the Android app. And did we mention it only costs $35? It’s the easiest way to enable multiroom music in your house. The ability to feed 24-bit/96-kHz music to an external digital analog converter will please audiophiles.

The bad: Some notable music services, including iTunes, Apple Music and Amazon Music, are not supported on iPhone and iPad. In analog sound quality it’s beaten by the Fon Gramofon (which costs twice as much). You can’t use Google Cast devices as part of a multiroom environment.

The cost: $33.99 to $35.00

The bottom line: The ultra-affordable Google Chromecast Audio is one of the best music-streaming devices you can buy — especially if you’re an Android user.

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LG SH7B

Product Review: http://www.cnet.com/products/lg-sh7b/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Outstanding)

The good: The LG SH7B offers excellent performance for the money, particularly for movies. The connectivity is better than most competitors with HDMI, optical, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Streaming options include Google Cast, Spotify and Pandora.

The bad: Adding surrounds is a little ad hoc. If you want to listen to music, a dedicated stereo system will sound better for the money.

The cost: $347.00 to $397.00

The bottom line: The LG SH7B proves how far affordable sound bar/wireless subwoofer systems have come, and sounds equally credible with movies and music.

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Amazon Echo

Product Review: http://www.cnet.com/products/amazon-echo-review/#ftag=CAD187281f

Image Link: https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2014/11/24/976baf8d-2e10-4f85-803a-

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Amazon’s voice-activated smart home speaker is undeniably futuristic, but it’s also practical and accessible. With a rapidly growing slate of features and integrations, it’s easy to get excited about the Echo’s potential.

The bad: The Echo’s sound quality is uneven at times, with weak bass at high volumes. The growing list of “Skills” in the Alexa app could also benefit from better organization.

The cost: $179.00 to $179.99

The bottom line: More than a year after its debut, the Echo is smarter than ever, and one of the best connected home products money can currently buy.

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Bose SoundTouch 10

Product Review: http://www.cnet.com/products/bose-soundtouch-10/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The Bose SoundTouch 10 is a very compact Wi-Fi speaker that plays much bigger than its size would indicate, and it offers convenient features like Bluetooth and shortcut buttons. The app is pleasant to use and most functions are straightforward. The sound is impressive with surprisingly punchy bass (for a small speaker) and an articulate, exciting midrange.

The bad: The revealing nature of the speaker means some genres of music can sound a little harsh at higher volumes. There’s no mute button no integrated battery for on-the-go use. The competing Sonos offers more services over Wi-Fi, more sound-tailoring features and a superior app.

The cost: $199.00 to $199.99

The bottom line: The affordable Bose SoundTouch 10 is an impressive sounding compact Wi-Fi wireless speaker that also offers Bluetooth connectivity.

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The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Executive Editor David Carnoy, Associate Editor Ry Crist, CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg, Associate Editor Ty Pendlebury and Senior Editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.

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