Sometimes only a full-fledged hi-fi separates system will do. But what about those times when you want straightforward convenience, music in a smaller room, or even a bit of portability? You can’t take a kit-rack to the park, after all (and you’d need the mother of all mains leads)…
One solution is a wireless Bluetooth speaker, which will free the tunes on your computer, phone or tablet without the need for any wires (or Wi-Fi). We've rounded-up the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2014, from all our reviews this year (and some of the best of 2013).
Some can replace your existing iPod/iPhone dock system, others are mini portable options that fit right in your pocket, while some are just bargains if you're on a budget. There's even a Sonos-rivalling multiroom Bluetooth speaker. Crucially, they all wowed our testing team...
Best Bluetooth speaker under £100
Tested at £85 - Compare latest prices
You might not expect an awful lot for just £85, but this Sony speaker, which has been around for a while now, delivers far more than its price might suggest. It’s classy-looking, for a start. From the smart carry-handle to the neat arrangement of controls along the top panel, it’s clear Sony has decided to buck the budget convention.
It sounds the part, too. True, you won’t get mega-bass from a unit this small, but neither does the Sony sound tinny or splashy in the treble. It serves up a decent amount of bass for its size, in fact, and doesn’t fall short when it comes to detail or definition either.
The SRS-BTM8 draws power from the mains or four AA batteries, and features NFC (Near-Field Communication) tech alongside Bluetooth. This makes it simple to pair with a compatible device – just tap it on the speaker’s NFC icon and you’re away.
MORE: Sony SRS-BTM8 review
ALSO CONSIDER: JBL Flip 2
Best Bluetooth speaker under £200
Tested at £120
Our 2013 wireless speaker Product of the Year was the Minx Go and now the new Cambridge Audio Go has taken the honours for 2014.
The Go delivers new features and a fresh finish, with the aptX Bluetooth codec, NFC connectivity and USB-charging all new additions. There's still a 3.5mm aux input and an impressive battery life of around 18 hours.
Add dynamic, detailed and punchy sound into the package, and this Bluetooth speaker is a winner.
Best Bluetooth speaker under £300
Tested at £200
The Monitor Audio Airstream range of wireless products has been an instant hit as far as we're concerned and the S200 is the best speaker yet. This speaker sports Apple AirPlay, as well as aptX Bluetooth so you can choose the streaming method you prefer. There's also DLNA and Airstream Direct for yet more connectivity options.
The key aspect is the spacious, lively and surprisingly weighty sound. For a relatively knockdown price and a speaker with a minuscule footprint, the S200 will take some beating at this price.
Also consider: Samsung M5
More after the break
Best Bluetooth speaker under £400
Tested at £330 - compare latest prices
The Geneva Model S Wireless DAB+: hi-fi sound from a wireless speaker. Yes, that’s right. We were blown away by this speaker’s performance when it first graced our testing rooms, and it wowed us again when it came to judging time in our 2014 Awards.
The Model S embodies everything we want to see in a wireless speaker. It’s stunningly subtle and dynamic via Bluetooth or its DAB and FM radio tuners. It digs up a ton of detail even from streamed Spotify tracks via a smartphone.
We love the design, too. It’s available in glossy black, white or red and features classy touch-sensitive controls on the top panel. There’s also a tabletop stand, but this can be detached if you want. If you want class in both wireless sound and construction, you really can’t go wrong with this speaker.
Best Bluetooth speaker under £750
Tested at £645
Here's another hi-fi brand taking the step in to wireless speaker territory - and doing so in impressive style. Cheap, it ain't, but if you want a premium wireless experience, this is a fine solution.
As well as aptX Bluetooth, there's a digital optical input so you can connect the speaker to your TV. Want a stereo pair? You can spend another couple of hundred quid to get the Kubik Xtra partner speaker. There's a USB input for connecting to a computer, too.
The real story is the sound quality. It's detailed, engaging and keeps a solid rhythm, beating off competition such as the (AirPlay-only) B&W A7. Crisp and clear with rock, pop and classical; if this is your wireless budget, you won't be disappointed.
MORE: Dali Kubik Free review
Best premium Bluetooth speaker
Tested at £895
Another hi-fi brand going Wi-Fi, this time with an even bigger price tag. But thanks to the full weight of Naim’s long-standing hi-fi expertise, the Mu-so has delivered the goods.
First things first, we love the design. It looks and feels the premium product the price tag demands it should, while the aluminium heatsink is eye-catching in a good way. In terms of features, it's got the lot; it will play pretty much any music by pretty much any method.
Thankfully, any concerns that the Naim Mu-so is style over substance can be forgotten. The performance is every bit as special as it needs to be to justify the price tag, delivering power and scale that you simply won't get from any other wireless speaker on the market.
If you thought Bluetooth speakers had to mean tiddly speakers with tinny sound, the Mu-so will prove you unequivocally wrong. This is the no-compromise wireless Bluetooth option.
MORE: Naim Mu-so review
Best Bluetooth multiroom speaker
Tested at £175
The quirky Pure Jongo S3 looks about as far as you can get from traditional hi-fi equipment. Regular kit doesn’t have interchangeable, multicoloured speaker grilles, after all. Nor does it feature an upward-firing subwoofer and four tweeters. Or offer ten hours of portable battery life.
The S3 falls in line with decent traditional kit in performance, though. It’s surprisingly beefy-sounding and does a great job of spreading its sound over even a good-sized room – but, crucially, it doesn’t go for gut-jiggling bass at the expense of a musical performance. Nor does it go loud enough for its character to harden-up unduly. You can even tell the unit which drivers to use to fine-tune the sound depending on surroundings.
You can stream using Bluetooth via the included dongle, which plugs in to the back of the unit. Wi-fi streaming is also on the menu via the free Pure Connect app for iOS and Android. Best of all, you can connect multiple Jongos (there's a Jongo T2) together for a multi-room set-up via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which sets it apart from rivals.Samsung M5