Best Bluetooth speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best portable speakers you can buy in 2019.
Finding the right Bluetooth speaker can be a tricksy task. You've no shortage of options, with every consumer electronics manufacturer from Apple to Ultimate Ears vying for a bite of the Bluetooth cherry. Fret not, we've rounded-up our pick of the best portable Bluetooth speakers across all shapes, sizes and prices to ensure you discover a product you'll be over the moon with.
Before opting for the first Bluetooth speaker that takes your fancy, it's worth considering what you actually want from it – you two will be together for some time, after all. Will it mainly be used at home? In that case you'll want something that's mains-powered. Do you want to be able to build a multi-room system around it? A smart Bluetooth speaker with with a built-in virtual assistant might be something to consider. If you want flexibility from your Bluetooth speaker and the ability to withstand the elements, it sounds like a rugged, portable speaker with a built-in rechargeable battery could be your best shot at long-term compatibility and musical happiness.
The best Bluetooth speakers don't sacrifice on sound quality, either. Some offer impressive, room-filling, 360-degree sound while other models can be connected together and used as a stereo pair in a more traditional configuration. Whatever your budget, there's almost certainly a Bluetooth speaker out there for you. And with Black Friday around the corner (plus a fair few What Hi-Fi? Awards 2019 winners in the mix here) there's no better time to keep your eyes on the prize.
You'll get a whopping 20 hours of playback from this little five-star performer on a full battery. The fact that we really like the JBL Charge 4 should come as no surprise to those who read our Charge 3 review. JBL has fine-tuned the sound in this latest iteration to please even pickier ears and battery capacity has increased. We can’t reasonably ask for any more at this price. Obviously there's a limit to the bass floor in a speaker of this size, but the low-end is tasteful – and there's still plenty of punch.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 4
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. The latest is the small but mightily impressive Wonderboom 2.
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.
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 – and it's a What Hi-Fi? 2019 Award-winner too, y'know.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
The Audio Pro Addon C3 isn't just the best Bluetooth speaker at this price, it's a stylish, wi-fi connected, multi-room capable centrepiece – and a What Hi-Fi? 2019 Award winner. The sense of refinement from such a small speaker is stunning. The Audio Pro is focused yet open and airy, meaning you can fill a decent sized room with immersive, weighty sound.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
At What Hi-Fi?, we know full well the value of revisions. Yet still, it was quite the surprise when first we heard about one made by Naim, with its second generation of the Mu-so Qb wireless speaker. The previous iteration was great, earning five stars when it was first reviewed. This version, however, is is truly phenomenal.
You can now choose between an Olive, Terracotta or Peacock grille alongside the standard black, but the best tweaks Naim has made go far deeper. Remove whatever colour grille you've gone for and you'll be rewarded with upgraded and optimised midrange and bass drive units, all powered by a total of 300W of amplification.
Belying its box-like dimensions with a punchy bass alongside sparkling and rich tones across frequencies, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation scooped up our 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award for the best home wireless speaker over £500.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
The Echo Dot is a great little portable speaker that's perfect for the kitchen or bedroom, and easy to take outdoors or on holiday. Thanks to its Alexa voice assistant smarts, you can control all manner of streaming services, including Spotify, TuneIn and Amazon Music. Lots of 'proper' speaker manufacturers are getting onboard too, meaning you can control your better speakers through the Echo Dot. And if you're out of range, just speak to the Alexa app on your phone. One of the best cheap portable speakers around.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)
This is one of the less portable speakers in this list, but it can still be carted around thanks to the carry handle. It's robust rather than heavy, and boasts a battery life of up to 30 hours. If you like bass, you're in luck here - the noticeable leap in audio quality will have you enjoying music much more readily than on the smaller speakers on this list. If you want something for home and in the garden, this could work nicely – maybe not the one for your carry-on luggage, though.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon T3
The JBL Xtreme 2's boombox design has fun and excitement written all over it. That rugged, waterproof exterior means it's a great option for the beach, while clever features like the ability to charge your phone from its USB port give added appeal. There's plenty of boom to the sound, but we're not talking ridiculous levels. That deep powerful bass is also nicely controlled too. Mids are of a high quality and highs show more clarity than you traditionally get from such a product. For the money, the JBL Xtreme 2 is brilliantly balanced Bluetooth speaker.
Read the full review: JBL Xtreme 2
The UE Blast offers not only a portable Bluetooth connected speaker for the price but also crams in wi-fi and Alexa smart assistant voice controls too. The 360-degree sound is powerful and has the bass you'd expect from a higher priced speaker. The far-field voice recognition makes the smart assistant and hands-free work well. IP67 water-proofing is a nice bonus for peace of mind too.
Read the full review: UE Blast
The Echo Show 5 is the latest in a long and fast-moving line of Amazon products intended to get us all invested in its virtual assistant, Alexa. Where much of the Alexa-enabled kit out there is audio based, concentrated on the Bluetooth speaker market in particular, the Echo Show 5 embraces both sound and video in its abilities to communicate. So, as well as playing music or reading out information, you can access video content on the 5.5in LCD touchscreen. There's also a camera for video calls.
The Echo Show 5 is a diminutive device, and as such cannot possibly offer the scale of sound that some specialist wireless speakers can. But then it offers so much more ability and functionality than a run-of-the-mill Bluetooth speaker. For what it is, we find the sound perfectly acceptable. It runs fairly warm, sonically, which helps voices on radio and the like, and makes for a comfortable listening experience. There are better speakers out there but this is much more than that. It opens up the world of the digital assistant to a whole new audience for both audio and video; and if that’s what you’re after, this is about as good as you’ll get.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Show 5
Better known for its traditional loudspeakers, Dali's Katch is a weighty, portable and attractive design, with 50W of total power. The speaker boasts buttons for power, volume and pairing which is made easier with the option of NFC. There are also two EQ presets: one for freestanding play and one for positioning on a shelf. Just two hours of charge will get you around 24 hours of music playback via Bluetooth – and a sound that defies its dimensions with immense weight and dynamics.
Read the full review: Dali Katch
The UE Megablast takes the performance of a portable Bluetooth speaker at this price to a new level. The result is a Bluetooth and wi-fi connected speaker with Alexa smarts which offers pounding bass and an enthusiastic sense of rhythm. It isn't quite as pocketable as some rival speakers but they can't match the UE for bass quality.
Read the full review: UE Megablast
Compact, portable and easy to use – this is what a budget Bluetooth speaker should be. The UE Roll 2 is big enough to improve upon your phone's speaker and will keep going for over five hours. It's also small enough to slip into a bag. Considering its size, you get a full-bodied performance that's clear and offers plenty of detail. But if you're after more bass, you might want to consider a pricier option.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Roll 2
The JBL Go 2 might be the perfect holiday accessory. It's a tiny speaker, no bigger than a bar of soap, which makes it small enough to slip into your pocket. We'd like to see the five hour battery last a little longer, but apart from that, there's little else to fault and it even has a mic built-in for handsfree calls. For the money, it's a lively, balanced and cohesive performer. And it's available in no fewer than 12 different colours.
Read the full review: JBL Go 2
If you’re after a portable speaker that doesn't scrimp on bass weight, the SoundLink Mini II could be for you. Small but heavy, features are kept to a minimum, but the hefty design ensures the sound isn't - it's big and loud and will definitely get you dancing by the pool. Other speakers on this list might be slightly better value and offer more detail and composure but for a big, bassy sound, this Bose speaker is great.
Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II