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What is DTS Play-Fi wireless audio?

Finally, a multi-room audio system for people who like to mix and match

Want tunes flowing throughout your home, not spools of speaker wire?

There are lots of wireless whole-home music choices out there. But one gives you flexibility when choosing speakers for each room: DTS Play-Fi.

Mix and match speaker brands

Play-Fi lets you stream music room to room through different wireless speakers, sound bars, and components — and it isn't tied to a specific brand. Many of our favorite speaker brands are in on Play-Fi. You can pick and choose products from any of them.

SVS speakers

You can connect a turntable with a phono preamp to the SVS Prime Wireless Speaker System. Then as the LP plays, stream the sound to other rooms via Play-Fi.

Toggle between your top-flight home theater speakers, a sweet-sounding sound bar in the family room, and a compact powered speaker in your kid’s room. Play-Fi takes care of the streaming technology — letting the speaker manufacturers focus on producing great sound.

Play-Fi works over your high-speed Internet connection and home Wi-Fi network. You'll need Play-Fi compatible wireless speakers or components, and a smartphone, tablet, or PC to control the system.

Play tunes and control speakers with your phone or tablet

You’ll also need the Play-Fi app. It’s a free download for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and Windows devices. The app lets you select songs and playlists from your music library. Or search through supported music services like Pandora®, TIDAL, SIRIUS XM, and various internet radio stations. If you have a Spotify® premium account, you can also use Spotify Connect on Play-Fi speakers or components.

Play-Fi app on iPhone

The Play-Fi app guides you through the simple setup process and allows you to control the speakers wirelessly.

Choose whether you want to hear the same song through a group of speakers or you want different songs playing on different speakers. You can also assign names to each speaker so you can easily identify them in the app.

Critical Listening Mode for high-res audio

High-performance speakers and components with Play-Fi built in offer something extra for music lovers. You can activate the Critical Listening Mode in the app and enjoy high-resolution audio without downsampling.

McIntosh audio streamer

The McIntosh MB50 wireless audio streamer lets you stream high-quality audio from home audio systems and components without built-in Wi-Fi.

Devices like the McIntosh RS100 let you stream files up to 24-bit/192kHz without compression. If you subscribe to a high-res service such as Qobuz or TIDAL Masters, you can hear your music with all its detail

Compatible with Amazon Alexa

Some Play-Fi speakers and components are also compatible with Amazon Alexa voice control. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, simply connect an Alexa-enabled device – such as an Amazon Echo – to a compatible Play-Fi speaker or component. The microphones from the Amazon device pick up your voice and translate your commands to the Play-Fi system.

SVS amplifier

The SVS Prime Wireless SoundBase can power a pair of speakers. And those speakers can be playing music you're streaming from another room via Play-Fi.

You can tell your Play-Fi speaker what to play, to skip or pause the track, and adjust its volume all with voice commands. You can even tell the system which room you want the music to play in, and use the Play-Fi app to group rooms together to play the same song you selected through Alexa

Sound bar options — with a wireless surround sound solution

You'll find sound bars are among your choices of Play-Fi speakers. Some of them support the "Play-Fi surround" feature. You can add two Play-Fi speakers and create a wireless 5.1 home theater system.

Play-Fi also lets you stream sound from your TV to Play-Fi speakers in other rooms. It’s a great option when you’re watching sports. You can go to the kitchen to make a snack and not miss a moment of commentary.

You can also stream your TV’s sound through the Play-Fi app to any set of connected headphones. If you and your housemates or other family members have different schedules, you can enjoy late-night (or early morning) TV without disturbing others.

How does DTS Play-Fi differ from other multi-room systems?

DTS Play-Fi vs. Apple® Airplay® 2

Like Play-Fi, Apple Airplay 2 lets you stream higher-resolution audio. And you can have different brands of AirPlay 2 compatible speakers and components in the same multi-room audio system. The primary difference is that Apple Airplay 2 is exclusively iOS, so you can only use it with an iPhone®, iPad® or computer running iTunes®. To get the most out of AirPlay 2, you should also subscribe to Apple Music®, another iOS device exclusive.

DTS Play-Fi vs. Sonos

The Sonos ecosystem is the most popular of the multi-room wireless audio options. In such a system, you’re limited to Sonos powered speakers. Play-Fi offers several brands of compatible powered speakers.

You can bring other brands of receivers and passive speakers into the Sonos ecosystem with a Sonos Amp, and Play-Fi offers similar solutions. Both Sonos and Play-Fi stream at 16-bit/48 kHz (equivalent to CD quality). Play-Fi in Critical Listening mode streams at a much higher 24-bit/192 kHz, which avoids downsampling WAV, FLAC, and other high-resolution audio files.

DTS Play-Fi vs. Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast, like DTS Play-Fi, is built into many brands of wireless speakers, receivers, and components. It can stream audio up to 24-bit/92 kHz, which is better than CD-quality sound. In Critical Listening mode, DTS Play-Fi streams at 24-bit/192 kHz. This means Play-Fi can stream at a much higher sampling rate, delivering more sonic detail more accurately.

One more thing — many companies are including multiple streaming technologies in their devices. You can find systems that support both DTS Play-Fi and Chromecast, as well as DTS-Play Fi and Apple Airplay 2. This doesn’t mean you can combine the two systems. But it does mean you can use the same speaker in both wireless systems (just not at the same time).

Need help choosing?

There are a variety of Play-Fi products available, offered by different companies. So enjoy mixing and matching to create an optimal multi-room audio system for your home. And if you need any help deciding, don't hesitate to reach out to our expert advisors. Call, email, or chat with us today

Last updated 12/9/2019
  • Eric from San Diego CA

    Posted on 2/7/2020

    Does Google Home work with Panasonic VA-FW40 Elite F4 Play - Fi speakers? (same device as Phorus PS10 And Onkyo P3) My home device is JBL Smart View. Thanks!

  • Ben Dixon from Charleston, SC

    Posted on 10/11/2018

    I was on a chat with one of the guys from Crutchfield last week. I have an Onkyo receiver with zone 2 wired, and I didn't want to wire zone 3. I was told the Definitive Technology W Adapt would allow me to stream wirelessly from my receiver. I don't want to stream from my phone, or my tablet, or my computer. I want my receiver to be the source. I plugged zone 3 into the RCA inputs on the W Adapt, I have Polk Omni S2 for zone 3. It doesn't work as advertised. Remember, I don't want to stream from my mobile device - I want to listen to music - from whatever source I choose on the receiver - in the other zones. If there's a way to do it with the recommended equipment, I can't manage to figure it out. There is an option for a "line in" - which is actually what I want to do - but the app says none of my devices support line in. When the Definitive Technology Utility app isn't crashing - which it does every time I open it - I can set 2 AUX - (RCA), and then in the Definitive Technology app a Volume Remote will show up, but I can't do anything with it.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/4/2018

    Brad, I sent your original product question to one of our Advisors so they can follow up with you about the best solution for your setup.

    As far as Alexa support, a sample of the new Phorus PS10 speaker just arrived on my desk, so I'll try to test that out this week. The Klipsch Stream gear (that uses DTS Play-Fi) will get the Alexa update later this year according to DTS.

  • Brad from Alpharetta, GA

    Posted on 1/3/2018

    Jeff, I understand Play Fi now supports some level of voice control capability via Alexa. Can you tell us more about how this works, and more importantly, how WELL it works? One of the Play Fi products I am considering purchasing is the Klipsch RSB 14 sound bar system for a TV over the fireplace. When I'm not using the TV, would I be able to tell Alexa to play music on the RSB 14?

  • Gary from Sydney, Australia

    Posted on 10/8/2017

    I have 20+ speakers including Polk omni sb1 plus sound bar and s6 speakers. I can tell you that the service is solid running on a modern Netgear r7000 router (5ghz network) Use your 2.4ghz network for mobiles, pc, tv boxes etc and 5ghz for the play fi speakers. This protocol is solid once the network is stable. 5ghz is key, as it rules out 90% of interference from neighbor WiFi networks.

  • Jeff from Monee, IL

    Posted on 5/14/2017

    I'm having the same connectivity that was previously mentioned; the router does not support the PlayFi for more than four or five (if I'm lucky) songs!!! Also...I had my first home party and it totally bounced out and would not reconnect!!! I'm not sure if it's the routers, DTS or the speakers but right now I'm not getting any return for my investment!!!

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/27/2017

    Hi Scott, Thanks for your feedback. You're correct that Play-Fi is not compatible with Mac computers. And while it works well with most 802.11n and 802.11ac routers, the software does not play well with some routers. DTS sent us this link of routers with known problems: https://play-fi.com/faq/entry/incompatible-network-set-ups

  • Scott Weil from Chicago

    Posted on 2/25/2017

    I find Play-fi to be very unstable. The app is not able to hold a connection consistently, for more than 5 songs, with Klipsch RS 8 soundbar or Klipsch RW1 speakers. The app claims to support Apple Music Files, and these files can be played in a somewhat klugey way. Be advised that Apple iTune files are supported on iOS devices but not Mac OSX devices, which does not make much sense to me. Support for Play-fi has been very weak. Crutchfield has rightly referred me to Klipsch for support issues, and thus far Klipsch support for Klipsch Stream (Play-fi) is as klugey as the software. Currently have an open ticket with Klipsch without a response for two days. Beginning to think the investment I have made in Play-fi technology was a mistake. Fortunately, I can still return the items to Crutchfield if problems persist. I would love to be proven wrong and would be happy to write positive review if technology would work consistently.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/17/2017

    Good news Joe -- You can use the DTS Play-Fi app to control any Play-Fi speaker from any manufacturer. That's how I do it whenever I'm trying out a new speaker.

  • Joe Pop from Macomb

    Posted on 1/14/2017

    Will manufactures speakers that support Play-Fi work with Play-Fi's app, or do I have to use the manufacturer's app? If I mix speakers from different makers, I would like to use a single app to control them.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/9/2016

    Hal, Play-Fi streams music, not video. Apple Music is not available on Play-Fi right now.

  • Hal from Chapel Hill, NC

    Posted on 8/4/2016

    Does Play-Fi only support specific music streaming services? Does in support Apple Music? Can it stream videos through Amazon Instant Video on iOS or other video services?

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/6/2016

    Justin, we have Play-fi adapters that can connect to your Denon receiver. I've forwarded your question to one of our Advisors, who will be in touch with you soon to discuss your setup.

  • Justin Fontaine from Somers, Montana

    Posted on 6/1/2016

    confused as to whether the Play-fi can stream music to my wired regular NHT out door speakers that are hard wired to a new denon receiver or so the speakers have to be Play Fi wireless? Not clear from this article.