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Best Bluetooth speakers: Reviews and buying advice

We'll help you find the best wireless speakers for pairing with your smartphone or tablet—whatever your budget, and whatever music floats your boat.

There was a time when Bluetooth speakers were like jelly beans: They were cheap, they all looked the same, and they were invariably of dubious quality. Times have changed. Every major audio manufacturer has at least one model on the market today, and most have several. If you haven’t listened to a Bluetooth speaker lately, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise.

Bluetooth speaker cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations

The industry’s progress doesn’t mean that every Bluetooth speaker justifies its price tag, no matter how inexpensive it might be. There’s still plenty of dreck floating around. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you steer clear of the junk and point you to the best speakers at the price range that fits your budget. To that end, we’ve picked the best Bluetooth speakers in four broad price ranges: budget, mid-range, high-end, and—yes, there are ultra-high-end Bluetooth speakers—price is no object. Some of our picks can be used indoors and out, but we’ve also named our favorites that are designed primarily as outdoor speakers. 

Updated October 4, 2018 to add our reviews of the Marshall Killburn II and the Tivoli Andiamo Bluetooth speakers. While both earned positive reviews, neither rose to the level that would displace any of our current top picks. 

Best budget Bluetooth speaker

The Bluetooth speaker market is a cutthroat business when you get to this price range. The good news for music lovers is that you can find some very good products here. The Aukey SK-S1 is a case in point. This attractively designed near-field speaker is fabricated mostly from metal, where you might expect to find ABS plastic, and it sounds very good—at least until you push it to the edge. It’s not the right choice to fill a room, and it’s not at all protected from the weather, but it is a great deal for the money,

Best $100 Bluetooth speaker

JBL’s Flip 4 would be remarkable enough for the sound it delivers at this price point, but this portable speaker also delivers another killer feature: Its IPX7 rating means it can be submersed in up to three feet of water for as long as 30 minutes without suffering any damage. You can also connect two Flip 4’s and operate them as a stereo pair, or connect up to 100 JBL Connect+ speakers and stream music to all of them from the same source at the same time.

Best mid-priced Bluetooth speaker

Oppo has been crafting some fabulous audio products lately, and its Sonica Wi-Fi is a prime example. More than just a Bluetooth speaker, you can also stream music over your Wi-Fi network—it has a dual-band adapter just for that purpose. And if that’s not flexible enough for you, it supports Apple’s AirPlay technology, too.

Most importantly, the Sonica Wi-Fi sounds superb. Capable of decoding audio files with up to 24-bit resolution and sampling rates as high as 192kHz, it’s easily the best powered speaker in its price range.

Runner-up

These bookshelf speakers knocked our socks off with their power and flexibility. They’re more like professional studio monitors—complete with balanced XLR inputs and outputs—and well worth their $400 asking price. Highly recommended (even if you never plan to set foot in a recording studio).

Best high-end Bluetooth speaker

Bowers & Wilkins has never failed to impress us, but they’ve long been associated with Apple having entered the all-in-one speaker market with the Zeppelin iPod dock. That changed with the third-generation Zeppelin, the Zeppelin Wireless, which lost the physical dock in favor of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple’s AirPlay technology.

B&W didn’t stop with Bluetooth. They also opted to support the aptX codec to deliver the highest quality audio that Bluetooth is capable of delivering. And if you’re a Spotify subscriber, you’ll appreciate this speaker’s support for Spotify Connect. The one down side: B&W stubbornly refuses to develop an Android app. But that’s a minor inconvenience that will bug you only during first-time setup.

Best outdoor Bluetooth speaker

This is the best powered outdoor speaker we’ve heard since Soundcast introduced its Outcast speaker nearly 10 years ago. It’s built like a tank; splash resistant, so you can use it poolside or at the beach; and it delivers outstanding battery life. Most importantly, however, it sounds fantastic. Expensive, but worth it.

Runner-up

As great as it sounds, the Soundcast VG7 won’t fit everyone’s budget. And while the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ isn’t exactly inexpensive at $300, it delivers exceptionally good audio from a much smaller and lighter package. Highly recommended.

Best price-is-no-limit Bluetooth speaker

You should expect a lot at this price, and Naim Audio doesn’t disappoint. This speaker is larger and more powerful than B&W’s Zeppelin and like that speaker, it gives you just about every option you could ask for: Bluetooth, of course (with both Android and iOS apps), but also Wi-Fi, AirPlay, hardwired ethernet, a USB port, 24/192 support, Spotify Connect, aptX, optical digital input, and multi-room audio support with other Naim components. And the sound? Exquisitely precise.

Features to look for in a Bluetooth speaker

Not convinced the picks we’ve listed above are exactly right for you? This guide will help you sort through the facts, figures, and specs to determine which speaker will best meet your needs. Your first decision will be to choose between mobile and stationary form factors. The majority of Bluetooth speakers are portable because they get paired with mobile phones, but more and more manufacturers are introducing models designed to remain inside the home.

Choosing a portable model gives you the best of both worlds in some respects, but a stationary speaker is more apt to blend into your home’s decor. And while we’ve heard some pretty spectacular portable Bluetooth speakers, a plug-in model is more likely to produce the sound you’re looking for if fidelity is priority one in your book.

Here are the features you’ll want to evaluate in a Bluetooth speaker:

Theo Nicolakis

App support: Companion apps can provide lots of additional features to a speaker that wouldn’t be possible with just physical buttons on the speaker itself. The app might enable more than one person to be the DJ, queuing up songs to play on the speaker. An app might enable you to create customized EQ curves for different styles of music, create wake-up alarms, or power the speaker on and off remotely.

aptX support: Bluetooth audio must be squeezed down in order to stream over the airwaves, and the default codec use lossy compression that throws some of the musical data away. Qualcomm’s aptX codec is lossless, so none of the musical detail is lost in the process. But aptX must be present at both ends of the stream, in the playback device and in the speaker. Most Android devices support aptX, but Apple devices do not.

aptX HD support: This version of Qualcomm’s codec supports high-resolution audio files, but it’s hard to find even in the highest-end Bluetooth speakers right now. As with its sibling, the codec must be supported on both the audio source and the speaker in order to work.

Battery: Next to fidelity, a portable speaker’s most important feature is how long it can operate when it’s not plugged into the wall. You should expect a battery to last 10 to 20 hours, but remember that the bigger the battery, the heavier the speaker will be.

Michael Brown

Charging options: If your speaker has a battery, it will need to be charged. Speakers that charge their batteries via a USB port are more convenient than models that require an AC adapter, but larger batteries might not offer that option. Some speakers also let you plug in a USB cable to tap their battery to charge your smartphone.

DSP: An onboard digital signal processor (DSP) lets you electronically change how the speaker is driven in order to compensate for speaker placement or the acoustical properties of your room, among other things.

Mounting options and accessories: A portable speaker should be easy to take with you. While some Bluetooth speakers count on their size to make them easy to grip, others provide a lanyard, carabiner clip, or a shoulder strap. It’s even more handy when the manufacturer provides standardized sockets and accessories for mounting the speaker to an object, such as your bike’s handlebars.

Altec Lansing

Some portable Bluetooth speakers are small enough that you can grip them in your hand, but it provide thread mounts so you can attach them

Speakerphone: Some Bluetooth speakers have built-in microphones that enable you to use the speaker as a speakerphone in concert with your smartphone. The sound quality will be much better than what you’ll get from your phone, and you’ll be able to turn the volume up much higher. This can be very handy for conference calls.

Stereo pairing: Some speakers let you create a left/right stereo pair with two speakers (this works best, of course, when the two speakers are identical).

Weatherization: Portable Bluetooth speakers can be used indoors and out, so the best models provide some protection from the elements. Ideally, the manufacturer will let you know just how much protection you can expect by providing an IP (International Protection) marking. The first digit rates the enclosure’s protection from particulate matter (e.g., dust) and the second digit rates its protection against liquids.

An IP64 code, for instance, indicates that the speaker is completely protected from dust (6) and from water splashed onto it (4). The higher the numbers, the more protection you can expert If either digit is replaced by an X—IPX4, for example—the code indicates that the speaker isn’t rated for protection from particles (this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not protected from things like dust, just that the manufacturer doesn’t rate its protection).

Wi-Fi: Higher-priced Bluetooth speakers also provide the option of connecting to your Wi-Fi network, so that you can stream music from a NAS box. Wi-Fi streams will offer higher fidelity than Bluetooth, even if the speaker supports the aptX codec. A speaker that provides for a hardwired network connection is all the more versatile.

Wireless range: A Bluetooth speaker’s range depends on the power class of its radio, and it can vary widely and is impacted by the environment that it’s operating in. A Class 1 radio offers range of approximately 100 meters, but the number of walls between the Bluetooth source and the speaker and the type of materials in those walls will have a significant impact on range. It’s much easier for radio waves to pass through drywall than masonry, for instance. Objects in the signal path, such as large metal appliances, will reduce that range even further.

Our latest Bluetooth speaker reviews

At a Glance

Oppo's first wireless speaker is fabulous; it's a great value for the money.

Pros

  • Excellent audio performance
  • Sleek design with a relatively small footprint
  • Supports Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and hardwired ethernet in addition to Bluetooth

Cons

  • All of the Sonica's advanced features (and its app) only work with Wi-Fi
  • Occasional audio anomalies (though most were solved with new firmware)
  • No battery-power option

As affordable Bluetooth bookshelf speakers, the Luna e25 HDs are simply superb. They must be linked by a cable, which makes for less versatile placement, but the sound is worth it.

Pros

  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Attractive retro/modern design (think Wall-E)
  • Bluetooth, optical digital, and analog auxiliary input

Cons

  • Cable required for stereo operation

This Bluetooth speaker is meant to look good on your desktop, not the pool. It also sounds quite nice at low volumes. Given the price, and speaker phone functionality, it's pretty much the perfect workplace audio accoutrement.

Pros

  • Sophisticated good looks
  • Very good sound at lower levels
  • Surprisingly affordable

Cons

  • Doesn't produce a lot of volume
  • Sounds harsh at higher volume levels

The Bose Soundlink Micro is a pricey, but competent and compact Bluetooth speaker that performs well at all but the loudest volumes.

Pros

  • Rugged and well weatherized
  • Produces surprisingly pleasant audio with good separation, given its small dimensions
  • Can be paired with a second Soundlink Micro for stereo sound

Cons

  • Monophonic sound, unless paired with a second speaker
  • Noticeable low-frequency distortion at higher volume levels
  • No auxiliary audio input or output

The Bose Soundlink Revolve+ is a pricey, but excellent omnidirectional wireless speaker that most people will love.

Pros

  • Excellent sound at all volume levels
  • Omnidirectional sound eliminates the sweet-spot dilemma
  • Controls are easily accessible and easy to understand
  • Water and impact resistant

Cons

  • Absence of true stereo will irritate audio purists
  • Charging cradle costs extra
  • Battery did not last as long as promised when tested

The Fender Newport is one of the best-sounding monophonic Bluetooth speakers we've tested. High-quality analog controls combine with plenty of volume and oomph hit both nostalgic and audio sweet spots.

Pros

  • Great sound
  • Long battery life
  • High-quality controls and hefty construction
  • Interesting retro design

Cons

  • Monophonic and no support for pairing with TWS
  • Oddball 15-volt AC jack charges faster but is not as universal as USB

This $100 speaker sounds like it should cost a lot more.

Pros

  • Sounds great with all kinds of music
  • IPX7 water resistance
  • Two can be configured as a stereo pair

Cons

  • No AC adapter included
  • No track forward/back controls

Yes, you'll experience sticker shock. But it's been nearly 10 years since we've heard a powered, portable, outdoor speaker as good as this one,

Pros

  • Splendid audio performance
  • Great Bluetooth range, with aptX codec support
  • Superb build quality, with an IP64 level protection from the elements

Cons

  • No DTS Play-Fi support
  • When playing outdoors, it needs a vertical surface or two to deliver its best performance
  • Very expensive

The Soundcast VG1 Bluetooth speaker delivers great sound in a small, rugged package that’s easy to take with you anywhere.

Pros

  • Terrific sound from a very small box
  • An IP67 rating means it’ll survive a dunk in the pool or a day at the beach
  • Lightweight and easy to carry at just one pound

Cons

  • No track forward/back buttons
  • AC adapter not included

The B&O Play Beoplay M3 is a little expensive compared to competing multi-room speakers, but its sleek design, broad connectivity options, and excellent sound make it a contender.

Pros

  • Rich, deep bass and a wide soundstage
  • Supports Chromecast and Apple Play as well as Bluetooth
  • Minimalistic design and solid build quality

Cons

  • Monaural speaker, you’ll need to buy a second M3 for stereo
  • No Spotify Connect functionality
  • Expensive compared to competing products

If it weren't for the $300 price, we'd have no complaints about this portable Bluetooth speaker. It's basic, but offers the nostalgic and iconic Marshall Amp styling. More importantly, it sounds very good.

Pros

  • Very good sound
  • Clevery nostalgic industrial design
  • Supports multiple clients

Cons

  • Limited stereo separation
  • Very pricey

The Mu-so sounds every bit as as beautiful as it looks. Yes, it's pricey at $1500, but its price tag is fully justified by its build quality and audio performance.

Pros

  • Impeccable audio performance
  • Lots of connnectivity options, including AirPlay for multi-room setups
  • Luxuriously elegant design

Cons

  • No HDMI
  • Expensive

Sound is always the bottom line with speakers, and the Pulse Mini is a winner in that regard. Our only complaints are the touch controls that don't provide any visual or tactile feedback, and skimpy documentation.

Pros

  • Very good sound
  • Easy-to-operate EQ
  • Versatile inputs and broad support for codecs and streaming services

Cons

  • Weak help
  • No visual or haptic feedback from touch controls

You'll be hard pressed to find a better AirPlay speaker than the Zeppelin Wireless. And now there's Bluetooth support, too!

Pros

  • Exceptional audio reproduction
  • Bluetooth with AptX support
  • Spotify Connect support
  • Exquisite industrial design

Cons

  • Can no longer be used as a USB audio device
  • No Android setup app
  • No longer charges or syncs iOS devices

No doubt, those of a certain musical bent will love the accurate, retro guitar amp styling of this Bluetooth speaker. But as there's no battery, it's not a go-anywhere speaker. That said, it's rugged and no doubt will look great on the workbench or in the garage.

Pros

  • Attractive, accurate, guitar-amp-mimicking design
  • Loud, distortion-free, and thumpy
  • Smooth, solid-feeling analog controls

Cons

  • Lacks stereo separation and dispersion
  • Expensive
  • No speakerphone capability

It’s fun and easy to bring and share the music with the Tivoli Audio Andiamo, a portable speaker with good looks and sonic punch.

Pros

  • Respectably big and entertaining sound from a relatively small package
  • Tasteful industrial design
  • Loop handle makes for swinging good times, echoing portable radios of yore

Cons

  • This traveling Bluetooth speaker won’t fit in your pocket
  • Lacks some features common to the competition, such as speakerphone functionality and weatherproofing
  • Pricey for its size and performance

This Bluetooth smart speaker packs musical power, all-day battery life, and Amazon Alexa integration into a sexy and colorful package. Claims of 360-degree immersive sound are drivel, and the Megablast is missing a couple of features we've come to expect--especially at this price.

Pros

  • Plenty loud, with good bass response
  • Amazon Alexa integration
  • IP67 weather protection

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Can't charge other mobile devices
  • No speakerphone feature

Buy this product for its light show, or for a fun time in the pool, but don't spend your hard-earned money if you're looking for quality sound.

Pros

  • Undeniably attractive light show
  • Can be linked with better sounding JBL speakers
  • IPX7 weather-proofing

Cons

  • Pricey given the sound quality
  • Distinctly mediocre sound

A street price below $155 makes this speaker a steal, provided you can tolerate its acoustic shortcomings.

Pros

  • Touch-sensitive surface for track control
  • Oversized volume-control ring
  • Built-in Chromecast, plus Bluetooth for when you’re away from Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Bland audio performance
  • Tips into distortion if pushed too hard
  • No sleep mode for battery preservation