Bluetooth speakers have revolutionized the way we listen to music, providing us with the convenience of wireless connectivity and high-quality sound. In this article, we will explore the best Bluetooth speakers currently on the market, ranging from pocket-sized bass powerhouses to party-pumping giants. Whether you're searching for a waterproof speaker, one with exceptional battery life, or a compact option for on-the-go use, we've got you covered. Additionally, we'll answer common questions about Bluetooth speakers, such as the difference between wireless and Bluetooth options and how they actually work. So, if you're in the market for the perfect speaker to enhance your music experience, keep reading to find out which one suits your needs best.
Finest Wireless SpeakerThe Sonos Move has proven to be the top-notch Bluetooth speaker in our evaluations. Its portable design makes it an ideal option for enjoying your preferred melodies while on the move, and it offers a plethora of additional features to enhance your listening experience. Connect your phone or other mobile devices to the speaker using Bluetooth, and you'll be able to stream everything from music, podcasts, and audiobooks. The built-in voice assistants provide hands-free control, allowing you to check the weather, adjust the volume, and more without leaving your couch. Additionally, if you already own other Sonos products, you can seamlessly integrate this speaker into your ecosystem to amplify audio throughout the room or distribute sound across multiple rooms in your home.
The speaker's sleek design makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Take it along to your next backyard gathering using the built-in handle, and its IP56 rating ensures protection against dust and water exposure. Its powerful sound output easily fills up your backyard with music. There's even a room calibration tool built into the speaker, enhancing the audio reproduction based on the unique acoustics of your listening space. Alternatively, if you prefer manual adjustments, the Sonos S2 app provides bass and treble controls as well. With its smart features and exceptional sound quality, this Bluetooth speaker caters to a wide range of listeners.
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Compact BassThese affordable Sony speakers have become a popular choice for portable music while riding to social gatherings, thanks to their clever built-in strap and ability to fit perfectly in a bike basket. With a battery life of up to 16 hours and an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, they offer durability. Moreover, you can link multiple speakers together to enjoy stereo sound. They are available in various vibrant colors, such as bright blue and pink, ensuring you stand out in any crowd.
Rock & RollThese affordable Sony speakers have become a popular choice for portable music while riding to social gatherings, thanks to their innovative built-in strap and ability to fit perfectly in a bike basket. With a battery life of up to 16 hours and an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, they offer durability. Moreover, you can link multiple speakers together to enjoy stereo sound. They are available in various vibrant colors, such as bright blue and pink, ensuring you stand out in any crowd.
Portable Audio Excellence
The Anker Soundcore 3 is an impressive compact Bluetooth speaker ideal for outdoor environments. Priced at $51 (£56 / AU), it offers exceptional sound quality compared to other portable speakers in the same price range. It is available in blue, red, and silver colors for a slight additional cost, alongside the standard black option that was tested.
Despite its mono driver, the Soundcore 3 delivers an expansive audio experience with surprising bass performance. Remarkably, the low frequencies remain rich and precise, avoiding any muddiness or boominess. The speaker provides a rich and clear sound despite supporting the standard SBC Bluetooth codec instead of the more advanced AAC or LDAC. With approximately 24 hours of battery life, IP67 dust and water resistance, and built-in microphones for speakerphone capabilities, the Soundcore 3 is a versatile and reliable choice. Its EQ automatically adjusts to the speaker's orientation, whether it is laid flat or standing upright. Though the button design could be improved, and Bluetooth 4.2 seems outdated, these minor drawbacks do not overshadow the overall excellence of the Soundcore 3.
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Outstanding Sound Quality Under $100
Anker Soundcore Motion Boom
The Anker Motion Boom may not be the most aesthetically pleasing speaker, but it stands out when it comes to sound performance. Priced at / £90 / AU$160, it possesses all the necessary qualifications to deliver impressive stereo sound in any setting. Its compact size may deceive you, but it can fill any space with bass-heavy audio while maintaining exceptional clarity.
Party-goers have been captivated by its performance, and have marveled at the immersive stereo experience it provides, especially considering its affordable price point. While I have not yet conducted a detailed review of this specific portable Bluetooth speaker, my extensive personal use of it at home has affirmed its remarkable capabilities. In a backyard party scenario, its sound quality matches that of larger and more expensive 'boombox' models. Numerous attendees have applauded its performance and were astounded by the captivating stereo sound it produces without breaking the bank.
The Motion Boom is the perfect companion for those seeking a durable and waterproof speaker for various settings. With its IPX7 rating, it is fully protected against water splashes, and it can even float. Similar to the Anker Soundcore 3, it boasts long-lasting battery life, BassUp technology for powerful bass, and allows for personalized sound customization through the Soundcore app's EQ modes.
Decide for yourself with our expert reviews on the Ultimate Ears WonderBoom 3, one of the leading waterproof speakers in the market, which is priced slightly higher at MSRP (£90 / AU$149). Although I have not personally tested this model, its performance and impressively bass-rich sound quality has been highly praised in reviews, making it a strong contender in the portable speaker category.
Today's best deals for the Anker Soundcore 3 and Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 can be found here:
Top Choice Under $200
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 continues to impress with its exceptional sound quality. Despite its higher price point of $199 / £199 / AU$329, it remains one of the finest Bluetooth speakers in the market. Its large, cylindrical design offers 360-degree stereo sound and delivers booming audio from its portable frame.
Featuring an IPX7 waterproof rating, the Megaboom 3 can withstand poolside gatherings, beach outings, and even submersion in water without compromising its performance. The speaker's impressive 20-hour battery life ensures hours of uninterrupted music playback, making it an ideal choice for extended outdoor use.
Just like JBL's PartyBoost-enabled speakers, the Megaboom 3 can be paired with up to 150 Ultimate Ears speakers using Party Up speaker pairing technology, creating an immersive and powerful audio experience. For those seeking a remarkable outdoor speaker that can be taken on the go, as well as in the pool, the UE Megaboom 3 comes highly recommended.
Take a look at our detailed assessment of the UE Megaboom 3 for more information.
Unbeatable Bass Performance
JBL Boombox 3
The JBL Boombox 3 is an extraordinary choice if you seek intense bass and extraordinary audio. Despite its hefty price tag of $499 / £449 / AU9, it stands out as the largest portable Bluetooth speaker I have ever used.
I have personally made extensive use of this speaker for outdoor purposes and it has received overwhelming praise from my family and friends. Its powerful bass and crystal-clear vocal reproduction fill expansive spaces with breathtaking sound, making it perfect for large outdoor parties. Additionally, its IP67 rating ensures optimal performance during outdoor events and pool parties, as it is fully protected against water and dust.
The JBL Boombox 3 is equipped with a new three-way speaker system consisting of two tweeters, two mid-range drivers, and a racetrack-shaped subwoofer. Despite its reminiscence of the boombox era, this speaker measures a practical 19.0 x 10.1 x 7.9 inches and weighs a portable 14.7 pounds. Its battery life extends up to 24 hours on a full charge, and it is available in two color options: black and an attention-grabbing squad colors design.
Supreme Bluetooth Speaker for Under $200Bose SoundLink FlexWeight: 1.3 pounds / Battery life: 12 hours / Water resistance: IP67 / Can you stereo pair two speakers?: Yes / Speakerphone: Yes / Charging port: USB-C
Bose Bluetooth speakers have consistently stood out due to their unparalleled sound quality, and the SoundLink Flex continues this tradition. Priced at $149, it is Bose's latest portable speaker, assuring you of its renowned excellence.
Despite featuring a mono driver, the SoundLink Flex delivers immersive sound with unexpectedly powerful bass that remains clear and precise. It offers expansive sound quality with rich and crystal-clear audio in every aspect. Remarkably, this level of performance is achieved despite supporting only the baseline SBC Bluetooth codec, rather than more advanced codecs such as AAC or LDAC. With approximately 12 hours of battery life and an IP67 dust and water resistance rating, the SoundLink Flex is built to last. Bose guarantees its ability to withstand falls and water exposure. Whether you decide to lay the speaker flat or stand it upright, the EQ automatically adjusts to optimize sound for each orientation. Additionally, its built-in microphones contribute to its effectiveness as a speakerphone. Though some improvements could be made to the button design and Bluetooth version, these minor issues do not overshadow its overall excellence.
Take a look at the UE Boom 3, which remains a popular Bluetooth speaker even after several years since its release.
Top-rated waterproof Bluetooth speakerUE Boom 3Weight: 1.34 pounds / Battery life: 15 hours / Water resistance: IP67 / Can two be paired for stereo sound?: Yes / Speakerphone: No / Charging: MicroUSB
Bluetooth speaker with exceptional battery lifeJBL Charge 5Weight: 2.1 pounds / Battery life: 20 hours / Water resistance: IP67 / Can two be paired for stereo sound?: Yes / Speakerphone: No / Charging: USB-C
If you're searching for something more potent, JBL's Charge 5 surpasses the UE Boom in terms of size and audio reproduction. I'm not a fan of JBL's decision to showcase their logo prominently on these speakers; subtlety goes out the window. However, if you can overlook that design choice, the Charge 5 offers a range of functionalities.
This powerhouse lasts for up to 20 hours of continuous playback. What sets the Charge 5 apart is its ability to recharge external devices; it includes a USB-A port that allows you to charge your phone or a friend's while enjoying your music.
One drawback of the Charge 5 is its mono driver, which downscales stereo content. With mono portable speakers, certain sections of songs or instruments may not be as pronounced compared to stereo speakers. Additionally, the Charge 5's sound quality falls slightly short of Bose's SoundLink Flex, making this more noticeable.
JBL’s Clip 4 can securely attach to a bag or backpack.Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
Top compact Bluetooth speakerJBL Clip 4Weight: 0.53 pounds / Battery life: 10 hours / Water resistance: IP67 / Can two be paired for stereo sound?: No / Speakerphone: No / Charging: USB-C
JBL Clip 4 Eco25% off
JBL's Clip 4 Eco is the environmentally-friendly version of the standard Clip 4. This ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker is identical to the standard model, allowing it to be clipped onto almost anything, but it is made using recycled materials.
Surprisingly, the Clip 4 is slightly larger in person than it appears in marketing images. Nonetheless, the integrated carabiner makes it easy to attach to a bag, bike, or any other object. I was pleasantly surprised by the impressive sound quality produced by this compact speaker.
Though the bass is a bit subdued, the Clip 4 delivers clear and crisp mids and treble. Like our other recommendations, it has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. Combined with its compact size and 10-hour battery life, it's the ideal speaker to take on hikes or other adventures.
The Sonos Move combines excellent sound quality with seamless integration into your home audio system.Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge
Top outdoor Bluetooth speakerSonos MoveWeight: 6.61 pounds / Battery life: 10 hours / Water resistance: IP56 / Can two be paired for stereo sound?: Yes / Speakerphone: No / Charging port: USB-C, proprietary wireless
What's the distinction between wireless and Bluetooth speakers?As expected, Bluetooth speakers are wireless because they don't require a physical connection to an audio source; instead, they utilize a Bluetooth codec. However, they may not necessarily support Wi-Fi, a crucial feature of what we refer to as "wireless speakers." A wireless speaker can connect to an audio source through the internet (such as Wi-Fi), using technologies like Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast, regardless of whether or not it also has Bluetooth.
While this depends on the devices you use and the limitations of your Wi-Fi at home, transmitting audio over Wi-Fi offers certain advantages: Wi-Fi has a broader signal range compared to Bluetooth, generally offers better sound quality, and is capable of transmitting higher-quality audio (unlike Bluetooth, which generally doesn't support CD-quality or higher music).
However, Bluetooth-only speakers are typically more portable (as they don't require an internet connection) and often more affordable.
What is an appropriate wattage for a Bluetooth speaker in a home setting?There is no simple answer to this. Essentially, you'll want a speaker that can fill your intended space with sound. If you're looking for a small, portable Bluetooth speaker to use casually when hanging out at an outdoor table, a speaker with a relatively low power output of 30 to 50 watts will suffice without any issues.
However, if you have a large, spacious room that you want to fill with sound at higher volumes, a larger speaker with a higher wattage output will likely serve you better.
How does a Bluetooth speaker function?Bluetooth is a short-range, low-power, low-bandwidth technology used to connect compatible devices to each other, rather than to the internet. Similar to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth uses radio waves but on a smaller scale.
A Bluetooth speaker relies on this short-range Bluetooth connection to connect with a Bluetooth-compatible audio source and receive audio data from it. On the other hand, a wireless speaker functions similarly but relies on the internet to receive audio data transmitted from an audio source.
Pairing a Bluetooth speaker and device is simple: you put the speaker in "pairing mode" (usually by pressing a button), go to the device's Bluetooth settings, "scan" for available speakers, and select your speaker.
The Sonos Move is an exceptional speaker for both indoor and outdoor useWhile most Sonos speakers operate over Wi-Fi and are designed for indoor use, the Sonos Move can operate over both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts approximately 6 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge. This makes it portable, but its large size and weight make it less ideal for travel. While its Bluetooth connection works well and allows for streaming over SBC or AAC, it may not deliver the same sound quality as Wi-Fi streaming. If you subscribe to Qobuz, you can enjoy 24-bit audio streaming on the Sonos Move. The Sonos Move is compatible with a variety of music streaming services.
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The Sonos Move is not just an ordinary speaker, it also features built-in smart assistants—you can choose between Alexa and Google Assistant. Its microphones accurately pick up commands, and you can disable them for privacy. The Move has an IP56 rating and is shock-resistant. However, it lacks an aux input, so wired playback is not possible. The sound quality of the Sonos Move is impressive, with a slight emphasis on bass notes that enhances clarity when listening to music outdoors. However, at maximum volume, there may be a slight reduction in quality.
For the ultimate party speaker, get the UE HYPERBOOMUltimate Ears has long been a player in the Bluetooth speaker market, but it was missing a massive speaker capable of powering parties. That changes with the UE HYPERBOOM, the company's new giant speaker. This speaker has an IPX4 splash-resistant build and a battery life of approximately 24 hours of continuous playback.
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This speaker offers several unique features that make it perfect for parties. It has two Bluetooth inputs, allowing a second person to connect and line up the next track without interrupting the music from the first device. It also includes an optical input, enabling you to connect it to your TV for improved sound quality when using it as a regular speaker. While it may not deliver soundbar-level audio quality, it will likely be a significant upgrade for most users.
Due to its high power consumption, the HYPERBOOM comes with a proprietary cable for constant power when not being used for a day trip. The HYPERBOOM may be expensive, but if you want a loud speaker with great features, it's the way to go.
Answer Calls with the Sturdy Bose SoundLink FlexThe Bose SoundLink Flex presents a remarkable choice for individuals seeking a portable Bluetooth speaker equipped with a built-in microphone. Additionally, this speaker holds an IP67 rating, signifying its resistance to dust and water. In line with other Bose speakers, the SoundLink Flex supports multipoint connectivity, enabling simultaneous connections to two devices.
The battery life is sufficiently impressive, allowing for 11 hours and 59 minutes of uninterrupted playtime before requiring connection to the included USB-C cable. Bose incorporates its PositionIQ technology that intelligently detects the speaker's orientation and adjusts the audio output accordingly. Although this feature maintains consistent audio quality, slight variations in sound can still be observed when the speaker is in motion (e.g., attached to a carabiner on a backpack).
For individuals who indulge in outdoor adventures or commuters who travel by bike, the SoundLink Flex serves as an excellent option. Despite its compact size, this speaker delivers remarkable sound quality, and the inclusion of a microphone on such a portable device is increasingly uncommon.
Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth SpeakerBose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker
IP67 rating • Powerful Bass • Highly portable
A bluetooth speaker that can be a great adventure buddy
The Bose SounLink Flex is a rugged Bluetooth speaker with an IP67 rating, providing protection against water and dust. It is highly portable, making it a suitable companion for outdoor activities and features powerful bass to enhance your musical experience. Moreover, Bose utilizes a technology called PositionIQ to ensure optimal sound output regardless of the speaker's position.
Is the Sonos Roam Worth Your Money?The Sonos Roam, with its unique triangular design reminiscent of a Toblerone chocolate bar, fits perfectly inside its compact box, which includes a strap for easy portability.
If you are in search of a portable Bluetooth speaker that also supports Wi-Fi connectivity, the Sonos Roam should be high on your list. This IP67-certified speaker boasts a 10-hour battery life and a unique triangular design that sets it apart from its competitors.
While the Sonos Roam can be connected via Wi-Fi, it is not mandatory for its operation. However, if you desire optimal wireless audio quality, setting it up through Wi-Fi is recommended for playback of high-quality audio files such as FLAC and WAV. Thanks to its integrated AirPlay 2 support, this speaker allows seamless streaming directly from an iPhone, including the ability to use Siri for controlling Apple Music. Furthermore, it is equipped with Trueplay technology, automatically adjusting the audio output based on the speaker's position.
Sonos RoamSonos Roam
Decent audio • IP67 durability • Well-featured app
Built-in support for voice assistance, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Sonos Roam is a portable speaker offering both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity along with an IP67 durability rating. Its companion app provides voice assistance and allows seamless pairing with other devices.
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What about Large Bluetooth Speakers?Although there are individuals who may find a larger Bluetooth speaker suitable for specific purposes, the scenarios in which one would prefer a large Bluetooth speaker are generally limited to situations where portability is not a concern. In such cases, some may decide to invest in a dedicated home system, as most soundbars and home receivers now support Bluetooth. However, for individuals with pools, fire pits, or those seeking a hassle-free setup without the need for a dedicated system, larger Bluetooth speakers may be the ideal choice.
There are numerous options available in this category, ranging from well-established manufacturers like JBL and their Partybox series, Sony with their XV series, to lesser-known brands such as Soundboks. These speakers offer distinct advantages over their smaller, portable counterparts, such as the ability to deliver higher volumes over a larger area and compatibility with any Bluetooth-enabled phone. However, it is important to consider the limitations associated with their larger size. For instance, these speakers typically require longer charging times, are more prone to battery drain, and can potentially cause disturbances at higher volume levels. Additionally, the cost tends to be higher due to the inclusion of more powerful components. Consequently, most individuals will find portable speakers to be a more budget-friendly option.
Factors to Consider before Purchasing the Best Bluetooth SpeakerThe XB40 is larger than expected.
With a plethora of Bluetooth speakers in the market, it can be overwhelming to select the most suitable one. Before making a purchase, there are a few factors that you should consider. What sets one speaker apart from the rest?
What Exactly Is a Bluetooth Codec?
The provided graphic represents the maximum transfer rate (kbps) for each Bluetooth codec, with higher values indicating better performance. Each waveform signifies a transfer rate of 100 kbps.
Similar to wireless headphones, Bluetooth speakers support specific Bluetooth codecs. For those unfamiliar with this concept, a codec determines how a file is transmitted from a source (e.g., phone) to a receiver (e.g., speaker). If you desire a lag-free experience, it is crucial to invest in a speaker that supports aptX or AAC for iOS users. Not only does this reduce latency, but it also enhances streaming quality, particularly when utilizing AAC with iOS devices.
Despite the convenience offered by Bluetooth technology, it falls short in terms of sound quality when compared to wired connections. While this may not come as a surprise to most, at least we can demonstrate it.
What Is an IP Rating?
The speaker can be placed directly in the pool and float about.
While some product specifications may indicate "sweat-resistant" or similar claims, individuals intending to use their speakers in aquatic environments, such as boats or beaches, should opt for products with official IP ratings. These ratings indicate the level of dust and water resistance a product possesses. Typically, a product's IP rating includes a placeholder, denoted by "X," for its dust resistance rating. For complete submersion, a product must have an IPX7 rating or higher.
Our Process for Selecting the Best Bluetooth SpeakersThe XB40 is larger than expected.
With countless Bluetooth speakers available worldwide, it is impossible for us to review every single one. However, this does not stop us from attempting to get our hands on as many as possible. Each speaker featured on this list has undergone firsthand testing and evaluation through our rigorous review process.
In addition to our direct reviews and testing, we also consider the opinions of other users and experts in the field. Our aim is to ensure that our readers make informed purchasing decisions, so we have identified key criteria for determining the best Bluetooth speakers. These criteria include sound quality, affordability, and durability. If a speaker is designed for camping or hiking, we ensure that it possesses an official IP rating. Generally, if a Bluetooth speaker performs well, there is no need to overspend when more budget-friendly options are available.
In conclusion, finding the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs can greatly enhance your audio experience whether you're indoors or outdoors. From pocket-sized options like the JBL Clip 4 Eco to powerful party speakers like the UE HYPERBOOM, there is a wide range of choices available. Consider factors such as budget, waterproof capabilities, battery life, and size before making your decision. And remember, a quality Bluetooth speaker can effortlessly connect to your devices and deliver high-quality sound with ease. So go ahead and elevate your audio game with the best Bluetooth speaker that suits your preferences.