AirPlay Vs Bluetooth

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Updated March 16, 2023

If you are new to the world of home audio, you may look to compare AirPlay vs Bluetooth. Many of the best speakers, after all, are wireless, with Bluetooth and Apple’s proprietary technology being two popular wireless options that work with a range of devices. So why use the best Bluetooth speakers or the best AirPlay speakers, and what is the difference between AirPlay and BlueTooth? Keep reading to find out.


  • Apple AirPlay is a proprietary audio streaming format that leverages a standard Wi-Fi network signal.
  • Bluetooth is its own protocol and has been around since 1989, though this type of wireless network has advanced much in the intervening years.
  • AirPlay offers access to lossless audio with wireless speakers, though Bluetooth experiences fewer dropouts during use.

Bluetooth vs AirPlay Speakers

The major difference here is that Bluetooth is its own thing, and AirPlay leverages a standard WiFi connection, which is helpful when comparing Bluetooth vs WiFi speakers. Additionally, AirPlay compatible devices are designed from the ground up to integrate with Apple products if you are looking for the top-rated AirPlay speakers.

Insider Tip

No matter which you choose, be sure to keep the speakers properly maintained, cleaned, and cared for.

Beyond that, both types offer wireless audio if you are comparing different types of speakers. They also both allow access to digital assistants if you are looking for a great smart speaker. Both types of speakers connect to a variety of mobile devices if you are learning how to connect an iPad to a Bluetooth speaker. Here are more differences between the two so you can move on to comparing HDMI vs Bluetooth for a soundbar.


Neither has an edge in this department, as it depends largely on your personal and unique needs. Some Bluetooth speakers include an AirPlay component, and some AirPlay speakers also work with Bluetooth. For maximum compatibility, get a speaker that integrates with both. Read the fine print before making a purchase, as you don’t really want to get stuck in Apple’s ecosystem with no recourse.

Sound Quality

One of the primary benefits of using AirPlay devices is that they do not compress audio, allowing for lossless formats offered by services such as Tidal and Apple Music. Bluetooth automatically compresses signals as a matter of course, as the Bluetooth tunnel is not quite wide enough to accommodate larger file sizes such as those found with certain audio formats. Note that this increase in sound quality for AirPlay speakers only happens when accessing these high-res formats. Standard wireless streaming is equatable across both types.

STAT: Bluetooth is a universal wireless platform that is found in a wide range of electrical devices that, includes mobile phones, laptops, cameras, printers, household items, and even cars. (source)

Drop Outs

Bluetooth is its own thing, and AirPlay relies on a steady Wi-Fi connection to operate. In other words, if you lose WiFi, then you won’t be able to stream any audio to and from your devices. Additionally, if your WiFi is acting spotty, users may experience signal interruptions.

Bluetooth Vs AirPlay FAQs

Is Bluetooth the same as AirPlay?

They are not similar but not the same. AirPlay is made for Apple products, such as Apple Music, and uses standard WiFi to integrate with compatible devices. Bluetooth is a self-contained wireless signal from the source device.

How does Bluetooth work?

Bluetooth works by compressing a simple wireless signal from an audio source to the speaker. This is great for streaming music but does not allow for lossless compression from an original device.

Is AirPlay the same as screen mirroring?

They use the same principles within the wireless network to, say, access Apple Music, but they are not the same. AirPlay is merely for audio, and screen mirroring boasts a wide range of uses, from streaming music from a source device to watching TV.
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