So is AirPlay a better setup than Sonos, which also has self-powered, stand-alone speakers available? It depends. AirPlay is super-simple and you can send audio from practically any web site or app, using its full capabilities. Sonos is controlled through the elegant Sonos app on a device or computer, and can only play back from the music services it knows about (which, to be fair, are practically all of them), though in some cases without the full “experience” or feature set that you get from apps like Spotify.
On the other hand, Sonos allows you to play the same music through multiple sets of speakers if you wish — which AirPlay can’t do given its “invisible cable” design — and Sonos doesn’t require that a device or computer be on and sending audio. And if you want to listen to different music in different speakers at the same time, you don’t need two devices to do it, as you do with AirPlay.
There’s also no reason why you can’t have the best of both worlds — most Sonos products accept audio from other sources, so you could connect an AirPort Express if there’s some app or web site that Sonos can’t otherwise play.
Between AirPlay and Sonos, it’s never been easier for music enthusiasts for enjoy music wirelessly throughout their home.