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Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: big on sound, kind on your wallet

Best budget Bluetooth speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best budget wireless speakers you can buy in 2021.

Bluetooth speakers have always been a great addition to any music lover's kit bag and a budget option is a must for lazy days at the beach (or more energetic afternoons weeding the lawn). These days, it's surprising what even a small outlay can buy you too. Perhaps dropping a significant sum on something with multi-room capabilities, Roon-ready smarts or a plethora of inbuilt streaming platforms simply isn't justifiable right now. Some of these solutions will set you back as little as £20-£30 – ideal if you just want something cheap and cheerful but don't want to scrimp on sound quality. Maybe the children could use something durable to listen to while doing homework, or maybe you just want to chuck a podcast on in the kitchen when you're cooking. 

So, aside from something that sounds good for the money, what should you look for when shopping for a budget Bluetooth speaker?

Models here at the more affordable end of the market tend to be rugged and super portable, so look out for a durable design and waterproofing – IPX7 and IP67 (the latter meaning that on top of waterproofing, the speaker is also IP-rated against dust ingress) are good numbers to look out for.

Budget Bluetooth speakers can be small enough to fit in a coat pocket, cheekily designed to fit in your bike's water cage or big enough to fill a room with serious sound, so it's imperative that you also check the dimensions before clicking "buy" (don't worry, we've listed these below).

Our list has something for everyone – some models even have microphones built in, should the need to take calls or speak to your virtual voice assistant arise. And we've reviewed each one in depth, so you'll know exactly what you're buying. 

Whether you want full-on portability or a speaker to move occasionally from your bedroom to the kitchen, check these out for size: you're sure to find something you – and your current budget – can truly enjoy. 

Best Bluetooth speakers 2021

(Image credit: JBL)

1. JBL Charge 5

Updated specs and subtle tweaks for JBL’s fifth-generation Charge

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 22 x 9.6 x 9.4cm
Power: 30W + 10W tweeter
Features: waterproof, Bluetooth v5.1, power bank, voice assistant integration
Connections: USB-C, USB-A
Reasons to buy
+Clearer and more detailed sound+Wider soundstage+Updated dustproofing
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing at this level

The JBL Charge 5 is even more durable and better sounding than the four Charges that have been before it – and it's a current What Hi-Fi? 2021 Award-winner. Its predecessor carried an IPX7 rating, meaning it could handle being submerged in water to a depth of 1.5m, but the IP67-rated Charge 5 builds on that durability by also being fully dustproof. Want a speaker roughly the dimensions of a bottle of wine that'll charge your phone and sound great? You've found it. 

Thanks in part to a new 10W tweeter and racetrack-shaped driver, the Charge 5 is currently as good a sound as you can get in a portable Bluetooth speaker design for under £200 ($200, AU$300). It boasts marginal improvements, both sonically and aesthetically, over its predecessors. 

One day JBL may produce a Charge that can be outdone by a new and plucky rival, but rest assured, that has not happened with the rather splendid Charge 5.

Read the full review: JBL Charge 5

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

2. Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

A fantastically affordable Bluetooth speaker with a weighty sound and good battery life.

Connectivity: Bluetooth
Power: Battery
Battery life: 13hrs
Charge time: 2.6hrs **Dimensions (hwd):** 10.4 x 9.5 x 9.5cm
Weight: 420g
Reasons to buy
+Punchy, entertaining sound+Hefty bass+Decent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No wi-fi or smart assistant built-in-No mic for hands-free calls

Ultimate Ears has really made a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colourful, fun-sounding and portable models on its books. This is the small but mightily impressive 2019-release Wonderboom 2 – and because of its age, there are deals are out there.

Battery life is 13 hours and a full charge takes just under three. It's waterproof, sandproof, dustproof and is also designed to float, so it should withstand the most lively of pool parties. Playback is controlled over a Bluetooth connection, but note that there's no mic for hands-free calling.

Sonically, the Wonderboom 2 is an exciting listen, with impressive bass given its small dimensions. It packs in plenty of detail and there's a fine sense of attack. It's easily one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers you can buy for the money.

Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

(Image credit: Tribit)

3. Tribit Stormbox Micro

A fun and bubbly Bluetooth speaker that's serious when it comes to sound

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 9.8 x 9.8 x 3.5cm
Power: 9W
Features: water/dustproof, Bluetooth 5.0, stereo-pairing mode
Connections: 3.5 mm stereo
Reasons to buy
+Mature, musical sound+Surprisingly weighty bass+USB-C charger
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life

It’s hard to imagine a home decor, backpack or personal taste that the Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro couldn’t merge in with happily. It's the size of a stack of drinks coasters, it's IP67 rated, there's a useful rubberised strap across the back of it and you can pair two of them in stereo mode. 

You'll be pleasantly surprised by the bass clout the Tribit is able to deliver. Although a speaker of such dimensions is obviously limited in terms of bass weight, it does remarkably well; close your eyes while listening and you’ll picture a bigger product. 

If your budget maxes out at £50 ($60), the Tribit is a splendid option. Similarly, if you only have a small zip compartment in the top of your backpack for a sonic travel companion, this speaker is worthy of that space. Take note, Ultimate Ears: a little-known brand called Tribit Audio produced a budget belter of a Bluetooth speaker.

Read the full review: Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation)

The new Echo Dot is the most compelling and affordable case for choosing Alexa

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 10 x 10 x 8.9
Power: 15W
Features: Alexa inbuilt, Bluetooth, music over wi-fi
Connections: 3.5 mm stereo
Reasons to buy
+Expansive sound+Packed with features+Premium design
Reasons to avoid
-No JBL Connect support-Fussy over placement

The question of which voice assistant to introduce to your home is largely a personal one. But by updating its most popular and affordable Echo device with this degree of skill, Amazon has laid down the most compelling case yet for choosing Alexa. Regardless of the Marmite aesthetic (yes, it looks like a little Magic 8-Ball) Alexa's responses are slightly quicker, the answers are much (much) clearer, and the sonic performance is better than ever. 

It still needs to be plugged in to work (don't expect to take it hiking) but Amazon’s entry-level Bluetooth and wi-fi smart device has come a long way in terms of sound quality since the arrival of the first and second Dots – so much so, you could say Amazon has come a 'full circle’ in the smart speaker arena.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation)

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

5. Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen)

The most enticing way to bring Alexa into your home.

Voice assistant: Alexa
Connectivity: Bluetooth, wi-fi
Output: 3.5mm
Reasons to buy
+Clear, solid sound+Improved Alexa capabilities+Budget price
Reasons to avoid
-Alexa intelligence is limited

If you like the idea of a smart assistant combined with a simple music speaker, it’s hard to argue against the Amazon Echo Dot. For not a lot of money, you get a whole load of smart voice functionality and decent sound with this slightly older (and thus, quite heavily discounted!) third-generation model. 

It works well on its own or can be nicely integrated into myriad other smart home and AV products, bringing voice control and smart features just a command away. Sound quality is good too, making it even easier to recommend.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

(Image credit: JBL)

6. JBL Go 3

JBL’s newest soap-sized speaker sounds good – but the finish and battery life won’t wash with today’s class leaders

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 8.8 x 7.5 x 4.1
Power: 4W
Features: Water/dustproof IP67, Bluetooth 5.1
Connections: USB-C
Reasons to buy
+Sensible treble+Fuller bass+More volume
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life-Not very durable finish

The diminutive, soap on a rope-styled Go 3 features Bluetooth 5.1 instead of 4.1 plus a maximum power output of 4.2W, up from 3W in the Go 2 (listed below). The one specification that hasn’t changed is the Go 3's stamina. It takes 2.5 hours to charge fully, and you can still only get five hours of playtime from it from a single charge. 

If you can live with this, there's much to celebrate in the sound department at the level. The extra power and overhauled design have resulted in some solid sonic enhancements, and aesthetically it's perhaps even cuter than the original. We gave this iteration five stars for sound. Will five hours get you through a day at the beach or a lazy picnic in the park though? Probably best to take a wireless charger. 

Read the full review: JBL Go 3

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

(Image credit: JBL)

7. JBL GO 2

This punchy and clean-sounding portable speaker is a serious bargain.

Waterproof: IPX7
Bluetooth: Yes
Input: 3.5mm
Battery life: : 5 hours
Reasons to buy
+Aesthetically pleasing+Well-balanced sound+Decent bass from a small box
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life

For the money, this dinky JBL speaker is an absolute steal. It's waterproof, highly portable and looks adorable – it's like a bar of soap that plays music. And the sound is surprisingly good given its diminutive dimensions, providing an open, three-dimensional listen – though obviously it doesn't pack much bass. Our only real gripe? Battery life. Topping out at a mere five hours, it won't last you a full afternoon of wireless listening, which is something many look for in a Bluetooth speaker. Still, if you can make that sacrifice, it's well worth your consideration – especially if it's on offer.

Read the full review: JBL GO 2

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

(Image credit: JBL)

8. JBL Flip 5

Feature packed it isn't, but it sounds truly great for the money

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 7.4 x 18.1 x 6.9
Power: : 20W
Features: Bluetooth v4.2, PartyBoost for multiple connections to PartBoost enabled JBL speakers, IPX7 rated
Connections: USB-C charger
Reasons to buy
+Solid bass and timing+Great sense of acoustics+PartyBoost stereo pairing
Reasons to avoid
-No aux-in or microphone-Not Connect+ compatible-Basic app

If all you want is a portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as £100 can currently buy, you’ll struggle to better the Flip 5. Truly, JBL’s newest offering sounds great for the price. If you don’t mind the lack of aux-in port or inbuilt microphone (as seen in the Flip 4) or the inability to partner it with older JBL speakers (the PartyBoost function is not backwards compatible with Connect+ enabled speakers, like the JBL Charge 4), it’s an excellent proposition for the money.

It may be low on added extras, but the Flip 5 gets away with it. Once you're actually listening to it, JBL's latest Flip easily betters the competition at the price – even the award-winner. The solid sonic chops JBL has managed to deliver at this level simply cannot be denied – which is why we gave it a What Hi-Fi? Award last year. 

Read the full review: JBL Flip 5

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

9. Ultimate Ears Blast

The Blast is all-action in terms of both sound and durability.

Bluetooth: Yes
Voice control: Alexa
Battery life: 12 hours
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great portable design+Exciting, dynamic sound+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Top end can get excitable at loud volumes-Alexa features not exhaustive-Relatively pricey

Ultimate Ears has a knack for finding the right combination of sound, design and features in its portable Bluetooth speakers, and it does so again with the waterproof Blast. The Blast’s energetic performance and fun design makes this wireless speaker a joy to use. It’s a carefree, exciting speaker and one that's sure to please crowds (whenever we can, er, congregate again). 

Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Blast

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

10. Audio Pro Addon T5

A mature and refined-sounding Bluetooth speaker with multi-room credentials.

Bluetooth: Yes
Inputs: USB, 3.5mm
Multi-room: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great dynamism+Clear and transparent+Good sense of timing
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of portability

If you're in the market for a stationary wireless speaker that can develop into a multi-room audio system, the T5 is a great place to start. It's a beefed-up version of the Audio Pro T3 - however, unlike the smaller model, the T5 doesn’t have a in-built battery, so this isn’t a speaker to be taking out and about. Assuming you can live with that (and we sort of have to right now), the T5 has the same great character of the T3 – an expressive, well balanced, and full sound – but with more weight in the lower frequencies. You’ll be hard pressed to get something much better without dipping a lot deeper into your bank account.

Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon T5

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

11. JBL Xtreme 2

One of the best portable speakers around, and can be subtle too.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm
Water resistance: IPX7
Battery life: 15 hours
Power: 2 x 20W
Weight: 2.4kg
Reasons to buy
+Clean, clear sound+Balanced bass+Solid design
Reasons to avoid
-Big-No wi-fi or multi-room-Presentation too grown-up for some

The JBL Xtreme 2 comes as a pleasant surprise. At first sight, the it might appear a little brash and out of place – an unashamed boombox in an era of reserved smart speakers dressed in grey fabric. However, this bold and aggressive look is matched by some of the sweetest sound you’ll hear from a portable speaker. There's no wi-fi, smart assistant support and multi-room audio, but this speaker sounds much more refined and delicate than it looks. Add in its chunky, rugged build and IPX7 water resistance and you have an ideal Bluetooth speaker for use in the great outdoors.

Read the full review: JBL Xtreme 2

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

Bose's petite Bluetooth speaker makes a big impact.

Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
Battery life: 12 hours
Weight: 0.66kg
Reasons to buy
+Great omnidirectional delivery+Big, solid, punchy sound+Portable and feature-packed
Reasons to avoid
-Rivals sound more detailed-Not especially rugged-A bit pricey

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a strikingly petite speaker, and we can see it fitting into just about any space in your home. The speaker has a decent heft – it feels more substantial than the similar-sized Google Home, for instance – but it can still be held in the palm of your hand. The unit's cylindrical design is key to delivering its 360-degree sound and it is compact enough to be carried in a backpack. 

An iPX4 water-resistance rating is handy if you're worried about it getting wet, and for such a small speaker, the Bose Revolve delivers a surprisingly big and bold sound. It's come down in price since we first tested it and it’s hard not to admire the Bose Revolve for its range of talents.

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Revolve

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

13. Tivoli Andiamo

A stylish, affordable product whose performance lives up to its looks.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 3.0, 3.5mm
Battery life: 20 hours
Full-range driver: 6.5cm
Passive driver: 7.7cm
DSP equalization: 24-bit
Reasons to buy
+Fast, agile, musical sound+Premium feel and build
Reasons to avoid
-Not much at this price

Take a look at Tivoli’s Andiamo wireless speaker from afar and you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a Bang & Olufsen product. This is a lovely little bit of kit, made from lightweight but tough aluminium with leather trimmings, and nicely put together. “Andiamo” means “let’s go” in Italian, just in case you didn't know – so it's meant for travel. At its heart, this is a basic Bluetooth speaker, with no frills or added extras. Control buttons are hidden neatly beneath the tooled leather strap.

It may be relatively small in stature, but the Andiamo is certainly able to pack a sonic punch – and produces a sound way larger than you might have thought. The Tivoli Andiamo manages to pull off the seemingly impossible: it's a beautifully put-together ‘lifestyle’ product, but at the same time it provides a sound that comfortably matches its price. 

Read the full review: Tivoli Andiamo

Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2021: portable, desktop and multi-room

14. Audio Pro A10

New look, but a familiar sonic character from Audio Pro.

Power: 52W Class D
Connectivity: Wi-fi, Bluetooth V4.0, 3.5 mm
Multi-room: Yes
Audio formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, Apple Lossless
Reasons to buy
+Wide dispersion of sound+Excellent timing and dynamics+Versatile positioning
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks midrange body

The Audio Pro A10 is an entirely different design from it siblings such as the Addon T5 featured further up this list. Here we have a fabric-coated cylinder standing just shy of 20cm, resembling more the kind of speaker we’re used to seeing from its rivals, but most importantly, bringing the company’s Award-winning sonic signature sound to a multi-room speaker costing less than £200.

Inside it's different from the A10’s rectangular stablemates too. Audio Pro has packed in a 7.5cm long-throw woofer and bolstered its output with two 11.5cm passive radiators. And there's a BMR, or Balanced Mode Radiator, tweeter. The result is a spread of sound that has to be admired, combined with excellent timing – it snaps along with that same intensity and intelligent organisation we’ve come to expect from Audio Pro. We think the A10's price and more traditional design will bring Audio Pro to a different audience, and we're all for that.

Read the full review: Audio Pro A10

Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds. 

  • simonali
    I somehow managed to grab a JBL Xtreme 2 for £149 a while back from Argoose. Presumably it was a mis-price as the offer didn't last very long. Great sound.