Best Bluetooth speakers 2024: tried and tested for every budget

Best Bluetooth speakers: quick menu

Bluetooth speakers are one of the easiest, most versatile and budget-friendly ways to get music playing. These wire-free wonders come in so many shapes and sizes that their various use cases are near-endless, from sticking them in the corner of your office to popping one in a backpack and taking it with you to the park.

Ok, the sound is rarely audiophile-grade quality, but brands such as JBL have realised that people do care about sound quality alongside other user-friendly features, meaning the level of audio has improved over the last few years.

We’ve heard everything from large room-filling Bluetooth speakers to dinky travel options, and many have impressed by offering great value for money, lengthy battery life, waterproofing and even engaging, competent audio quality. Naturally, there are plenty of speakers that haven't made the grade, which is why our team of experienced reviewers have created this guide recommending only the best Bluetooth speakers that are worth considering for your budget.

Every single model has been tested by our team of expert reviewers both in the real world and in our dedicated test rooms to ensure they’re worth your time. You can find out more about our testing process or else keep scrolling to see our pick of the best Bluetooth speakers currently available.

The quick list

Written by
Harry McKerrell headshot
Written by
Harry McKerrell

I'm a staff writer who has listened to and reviewed dozens of products during my time at What Hi-Fi?. Hi-fi loudspeakers and fancy amps are all well and good, but I love a great Bluetooth speaker that can offer a fast, fuss-free and often fantastically affordable solution to your everyday needs. I've had hands-on experience with every model on the list below, putting them through their paces to ensure you know exactly which speaker to go for. Good sound quality, durability, waterproofness, features and connectivity; we've assessed them all to put you fully in the picture before buying.

Best Bluetooth speaker overall

JBL Charge 5

JBL's Charge 5 is an extremely durable Bluetooth speaker with detailed sound and an impressively wide soundstage. (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. An excellent all-round performer that packs a proper punch.


Power : 40W
Bluetooth : 5.1
Battery Life : 20 hours
Features: Waterproof (IP67), PartyBoost, voice assistant integration
Connections : USB-C for charging
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 22 x 9.6 x 9.4cm
Weight : 960g
Finishes: 9 (pink, blue, green, teal, white, camo, red, grey, black)

Reasons to buy

Clear, detailed, hugely confident sound 
Wide, impressive soundstage
Brilliant build and durability 

Reasons to avoid

More affordable JBL models are available

The JBL Charge 5 has become one of the most enduringly impressive Bluetooth speakers we've ever tested, wowing us not only with the quality of its sound but with the longevity it continues to display. After multiple What Hi-Fi? Award wins, JBL's bottle-shaped speaker is still the best in its class. 

The IP67-rated Charge 5 is fully dustproof and waterproof and can be submerged in water up to a meter for around 30 minutes before doing itself any damage. Thanks to its 10W tweeter and racetrack-shaped driver, it's imperious and forthright sounding, trouncing the competition at this £200 / $200 / AU$300 price point. The arrival of the slightly more expensive Charge 5 Wi-Fi (£230 / $230 / AU$330) has made things a little more complex,  but the invigorating, cohesive listen of the standard Charge 5 model remains very tough to beat. 

That new Charge 5 Wi-Fi model does offer a slightly more refined sound alongside more flexible wi-fi-enabled capabilities such as AirPlay 2 and Alexa Multiroom, but the more affordable Charge 5 remains a superb portable speaker that offers enjoyable sound in a neat, durable package. With a Charge 6 surely on the horizon soon, expect prices to fall if and when the sixth-gen model is finally unveiled to the world.  

Read our full JBL Charge 5 review

Top Tip
Andy Madden bio pic
Top Tip
Andy Madden

Which JBL speaker to choose has been made trickier by the emergence of the Charge 5 Wi-Fi, a wi-fi enabled speaker model that earned five stars during testing. The big bonus of the Wi-Fi model is that you can use features such as AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, giving you the freedom to continue using your phone or source player without affecting your music. The Charge 5 Wi-Fi does also sound a little better, but bear in mind that we tested it at £230 / $230 / AU$330, a significant advance on the standard Charge 5's current £130ish ($160 / AU$250).

Best portable Bluetooth speaker

JBL Flip 6 being held in front of a bush

JBL's Flip 6 is an excellent Bluetooth speaker with great clarity, punchy bass, and a useful equaliser. (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
The Flip 6 is a fun, compact and affordable speaker that won't leave you penniless.


Power: 30W
Bluetooth : 5.1
Battery Life : 12 hours
Features : Waterproof (IP67), PartyBoost
Connections: USB-C for charging
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 17.8 x 6.8 x 7.2cm
Weight : 544g
Finishes : 9 (pink, blue, green, teal, white, camo, red, grey, black)

Reasons to buy

Clear, precise and enjoyable sound
Punchy bass for size
Useful equaliser feature

Reasons to avoid

Can be critical of recording and source quality

Anyone who finds the considerable heftiness of the Charge 5 above to be a little too much for them should consider stepping down to the five-star JBL Flip 6. When we say "stepping down", incidentally, we mean that with regard mainly to price and size, as while it may be a slimmer model, the Flip 6 remains a consummate pro at delivering everything you'd expect from a JBL portable companion.   

The Flip's durability is up there with the more costly Charge 5 (it's IP67 water- and dust-proof), while the sound offers space, zeal and musicality in spades. Ok, it won't hit the breadth of sound that its bigger brother can, never mind those higher volumes, but that's what you sacrifice if you want a smaller form factor. 

If you desire more from the midrange and less from the treble, you can tweak it thanks to a new EQ feature in the app, which adds significant value. For a nominal price hike over the launch price of the soon-to-be-redundant Flip 5, there’s certainly more detail here, too.

If you need more oomph and drive, the larger JBL Charge 5 is the speaker for you, but for a more compact and admirably musical performer, the Flip 6 is the way to go. All in all, another winner courtesy of JBL.

Read our full JBL Flip 6 review

Best budget Bluetooth speaker

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 on a wooden surface

Tribit's Stormbox Micro 2 comes packed with a mature, musical sound alongside a surprisingly weighty bass response. (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
Small and mighty, the Stormbox Micro 2 is possibly the most wallet-friendly Bluetooth speaker we’ve tested.


Power: 10W
Bluetooth : 5.3
Battery Life : 12 hours
Features : Waterproof (IP67)
Connections : USB-C for charging
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 9.98 x 9.98 x 4.29cm
Weight : 315g
Finishes : 1 (black)

Reasons to buy

Enjoyable sound for the size
Goes louder than you'd expect
Plenty of extra features

Reasons to avoid

Can sound unwieldy at higher volumes
Only one colour choice

If all you need from your ideal Bluetooth speaker is portability alongside affordability, you'd struggle to improve on the small, satchel-friendly Tribit Stormbox Micro 2. A great and inexpensive alternative to the Flip 6 above, the Micro 2 fits flat in your hand in contrast to the cylindrical form of the Flip.

Sporting a utilitarian but not unattractive woven finish design, the Micro 2 pumps out genuinely enjoyable audio and a rather impressive battery life of around 12 hours during testing. Better yet, its IP67 rating allowed one of our team to test it in the shower without causing any lasting damage. Again, the Stormbox Micro 2's compact size and robust construction make it well-suited for venturing far beyond the confines of a bathroom or kitchen.

The audio is certainly a big plus point, too, going bigger, punchier and louder than you’d expect from such a diminutive unit, doing justice to most tracks in terms of tempo, rhythm and dynamics. The Stormbox's Midrange is particularly pleasing, and we'd even go so far as to say that it's as good as anything else we’ve seen at this price. 

Fine, the Stormbox Micro 2 can suffer from distortion at louder volumes, but it's still one of your best-value options if you’re really on a tight budget. 

Read our full Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro 2 review

Best mid-price Bluetooth speaker

Bang and Olufsen A1 next to a sitting man

Bang & Olufsen's Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) is an impressive Bluetooth speaker with an expansive sound and powerful, weighty bass. (Image credit: Bang and Olufsen)
One of the weightiest and most refined little speakers we’ve ever heard.


Power : 60W
Bluetooth : 5.1 with AAC, aptX Adaptive
Battery Life : 18-48 hours
Features : Alexa voice control, Waterproof (IP67), stereo pairing mode, speakerphone
Connections : USB-C charging
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 4.6 x 13.3 x 13.3cm
Weight : 558g
Finishes : 8 (black, gold, grey, green, anthracite, pink, jade green, red)

Reasons to buy

Expansive sound, weighty bass
Competent Alexa integration
Stunning build and finish

Reasons to avoid

JBL rivals feel a tad more rugged and hardwearing

This is definitely the Bluetooth speaker for those among us who don't like to follow the herd. You can have your JBLs and your Tribits, as the Bang & Olufsen A1 (2nd Gen) is for anyone who prioritises luxury, style and a bit of personality from their electronics. This is the speaker for those people who could choose an Audi, VW or BMW, but go for an Alfa Romeo instead.

Admittedly, saying that the A1 sports similar dimensions to a medium-sized hamburger doesn't sound that luxurious, but rest assured: it's a beautiful, very well-made burger only bested in the looks department by the rather stunning Dali Katch G2 below.  

The Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) supports Qualcomm’s latest aptX Adaptive Bluetooth 5.1 codec and features Alexa built-in, as long as you're connected to the wi-fi when you want to speak to her. That's a smart feature that most of the rivals on this list don't have, by the way.  

Sonically, we consider this to be one of Bang & Olufsen's best models, presenting a pleasingly comfortable yet authoritative performance that you could easily listen to all day. Throw in its classy, well-made design, easy-to-use operation and the bonus of Alexa, and suddenly things start to make a whole lot of sense. 

Incidentally, look out for discounts around sales periods, as we've seen certain colourways plummet considerably during Black Friday, Prime Day and the festive period. 

Read our full Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) review 

Best premium Bluetooth speaker

Dali Katch on a wooden window sill

If you're looking for the best sound-per-pound out there, the Dali Katch G2 has to be on your radar. (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. The Dali Katch G2 is simply one of the best sound-per-pound Bluetooth speakers on the market.


Power: 30W
Bluetooth : 5.0 with aptX / aptX HD / AAC
Battery Life : 30 hours
Features : True Wireless Stereo mode, EQ
Connections : 3.5mm aux, dedicated mains charging port and adapter with UK, EU and US plugs
App: No
Dimensions (hwd): 13.8 x 26.9 x 4.7cm
Weight : 1100g
Finishes : 3 (blue, caramel, black)

Reasons to buy

Excellent sonic clarity and precision 
Impressive bass weight
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

No daisy-chaining for multiple Katch G2s

Now this is how you make a premium Bluetooth speaker. A step up from the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 in terms of price, sound and style, the Dali Katch G2 proves that you don't need to sacrifice a premium look and feel for portability or sonic prowess: the G2's compact dimensions, retractable travel handle and 30-hour battery mean it could easily become your go-to travel speaker. If you've got the money, of course - a current RRP of roughly £349 / AU$749 isn't exactly budget.

The rather lovely Katch oozes a sort of continental class, finished to the highest quality and with a luxurious aesthetic that really can rival some of the best dedicated domestic speakers in the style stakes. Our white and caramel unit slots in perfectly to the aesthetic of a clean conservatory or cosy living room, and when it came time to take some hands-on pics, the G2 proved itself to be the ideal model thanks to its timeless beauty from every angle.

And the sound! The G2 is still picking up Awards in 2023 thanks to its unbeatable sonic chops at this level, delighting us with phenomenal clarity, impressive bass weight and a real adeptness at understanding the music played through it. That's now three What Hi-Fi? Awards for the Katch 2 (in 2021, 2022 and 2023), and it'll take some beating to stop it picking up any more.  

If you've got the money and want to push beyond even what most JBL speakers on this list are offering, this is our go-to recommendation. For musicality at this size, the Dali Katch G2 is the king of the hill.

Read our full Dali Katch G2 review 

Best multi-room Bluetooth speaker

Upright Sonos Era 100 next to a wooden bookshelf

Sonos Era 100 is a superb smart speaker that blends a wide range of features with a huge, truly engaging sonic experience. (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
Sonos' much-heralded Era 100 is the smaller of the new Era range - but in no way is it any less mighty.


Power : N/A
Bluetooth : 5.0 with SBC, AAC
Battery Life : N/A (mains-powered)
Features : Stereo pairing, Sonos voice control, Amazon Alexa voice control, Trueplay tuning, Adjustable EQ, multi-room
Connections : USB-C line-in, wi-fi, AirPlay 2
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 18.25 x 12 x 13.05cm
Weight : 2020g
Finishes : 2 (black, white)

Reasons to buy

Large, open sound presentation with crisp detail
Fantastic, simple-to-use app 
Great sense of rhythm, timing and tone 
Vast catalogue of streaming features

Reasons to avoid

Adapter for wired connection costs extra
Could be more natural with voices

It isn't just traditional, portable Bluetooth speakers on this list. The Era 100 is, alongside the Award-winning Era 300, one of the best speakers that Sonos has made in quite some time, and thanks to its Bluetooth capabilities, it's eligible for a spot on this rundown

The Era 100 is a certified five-star performer, combining updated specs and features with an overhauled design to deliver one of the most sonically satisfying speakers Sonos has ever made at this level. Reconceived from the ground up, the Era 100 sports brand-new drivers in the shape of two angled tweeters with customer waveguides alongside a woofer that's 25 per cent larger than the Sonos One,  with each unit powered by its own Class D amplifier. 

This, alongside a faster processor, translates into a much better sound than Sonos managed with the Sonos One, and while the One was mono only, the Era 100 can pump out a satisfying stereo experience. The bass profile feels deep, full and substantial, while the clarity and detail across the spectrum make for a cohesive, balanced listen. Even the timing is excellent!

The Era 100 is more of a stationary, use-at-home unit, but that Bluetooth connectivity does afford you more flexibility in terms of how you use it. With such ambitious levels of performance, we think it's one of the finest wireless Bluetooth speakers you'll find at this price. 

Read our full Sonos Era 100 review

Best smart Bluetooth speaker

Echo Dot on a wooden shelf with some books

Amazon's 5th Gen Echo Dot sounds expansive and sports great Alexa integration, all wrapped up in a neat, compact design. (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
An ultra-budget Alexa-powered smart speaker that's more than capable of punching above its weight.


Power : N/A
Bluetooth : Yes
Battery life : N/A (mains-powered)
Features : Alexa voice control, smart-device compatible, on-surface touch control, snooze alarm
Connections : Wi-fi
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 10 x 10 x 8.9cm
Weight : 340g
Finishes : 3 (charcoal, deep sea blue, glacier white)

Reasons to buy

Impressively expansive sound
Great Alexa integration
Pleasing, understated aesthetic

Reasons to avoid

Sound distortion at the higher ranges
Very Amazon-focused

No, the Echo Dot isn't a traditional Bluetooth speaker according to our usual criteria. It's not portable as it requires a plugged-in connection to the wall, plus it relies on wi-fi for Alexa to work at all. You can (and will), however, utilise Bluetooth to connect your iPhone to the Echo Dot, especially if you want to play music stored locally, qualifying it as a Bluetooth speaker on more than a mere technicality.

Either way, the Echo Dot (5th Generation) truly earns its place on this list thanks to its all-round excellence and hugely attractive price tag. It may be cheap, but nothing about the Dot feels tacky or cut-price, and whereas once Alexa was a one-note performer capable of answering basic questions about the weather and knowing the capital of France, now she's as bursting with skills and knowledge as Keanu Reeves after he's been uploaded with various handy computer programs. The Dot's AI assistant is more helpful than ever, stuffed with so many tricks that you'll often find yourself falling into the trap of speaking to Alexa as though "she" were a real person.

Audio has come a long way, too. Amazon's so-called “best-sounding Echo Dot yet” lives up to its billing thanks to a single 44mm front-firing speaker (4mm larger than the previous gen’s 40mm), offering audio that feels, for the size, weighty, listenable and surprisingly versatile.

For non-Apple devotees seeking a smart companion on a budget, the Echo Dot is a fine alternative to the HomePod Mini.

Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) review

Best for music and movies

Audio Pro C20 wireless speaker

The C20 is a supremely talented do-it-all speaker that will service your music and movies with spacious, open sound.  (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)
A flexible, multi-talented speaker than excels in almost every way.


Power : 190W
Bluetooth: 5.0
Battery Life : N/A
Features : AirPlay 2, Google Cast, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Audio Pro multi-room
Connections : HDMI ARC, optical, RCA line in, MM phono stage, sub out
App: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 19.6 x 41 x 22cm
Weight : 6.2kg
Finishes : 3 (soft satin white, stylish grey, classic black)

Reasons to buy

Broad, open sound with plenty of detail
Great connectivity 
Pleasing, solid build

Reasons to avoid

Poor phono stage 
Slightly awkward size for TV use
Mains-powered, so not suitable for portable use  

If it's a cliché to use the term "jack-of-all-trades", then you know what? Let's use a cliché. The five-star Audio Pro C20 is yet another supremely capable performer from one of the most consistent, and underrated, audio brands around, melding a variety of functionalities and potential use cases into a unified, deeply impressive package. If ever there was a time to use that jack-of-all-trades label, this is it. 

The C20 is a Bluetooth speaker thanks to its 5.0 connectivity, yet its wi-fi capabilities allow the C20 to stream tracks up to 24-bit/96kHz via AirPlay 2 and Google Cast, as well as via Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect and even Audio Pro multi-room. That's a lot of choice, and it makes this mains-powered powerhouse an incredibly versatile solution that goes far beyond the capabilities of your traditional Bluetooth speaker.

That's before we get on to physical connections. The C20 offers a set of RCA inputs alongside HDMI ARC for boosting your TV's sound, as well as a sub out if you want to add a subwoofer into the mix. There's also an optical input for hooking up to digital sources, plus an MM phono stage if you're planning on connecting up your turntable to the C20's convenient, one-stop-shop.

And we haven't even arrived at the sound of the thing yet. What's remarkable about the koala-faced wonder (it does look like a koala, right?) is just how open and broad the soundscape it conjures is, offering a presentation that grows and expands with an awesome sense of breadth and scale for your music and movies. Painted within this wide sonic landscape are plenty of details and nuances, each one finding its own happy place within the wider composition. If you thought the C20 would go so heavy on features that it would forget about proper sound, boy is there egg on your face.

A superb speaker that does a lot of things very, very well, there are very few single-box units that can compete. 

Read our full Audio Pro C20 review

Also consider

JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi: A wonderful spin on one of our favourite JBL speakers of all time, the Charge 5 Wi-Fi, naturally, adds wi-fi streaming and a little bit of extra musicality to the Charge 5's Award-winning recipe. It's more expensive than the basic model (sitting at around £200 / $200 at the time of writing), so you'll be forking out a little more for the convenience of AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Chromecast. That said, it's a great speaker in its own right and a lovely addition to the JBL family. As far as spin-offs go, this one's a hit in our book.

JBL Xtreme 3: One of the biggest speakers in the JBL range that could still be confidently classified as "portable", the Xtreme 3 is a powerful, robust marvel that tasks the basic form and recipe of the Charge 5 and makes it, well, bigger. It's not just a brainless brute, though - instead, the Xtreme 3's sound is laden with snap and detail, not to mention an impressive sense of dynamics and musicality. A five-star alternative that we'd urge you to check out.

Sonos Move 2: One of the big benefits of any Sonos speaker is its ability to integrate into the peerless Sonos ecosystem. Don't let its burly design fool you; the Move 2 is portable by virtue of its Bluetooth connectivity, even if it's more the sort of speaker you'd take down the bottom of the garden rather than anywhere much further afield. 

Audio Pro C10 MkII: Just because it didn't fit into this particular list, don't ignore the C10 Mk II. Despite qualifying as what we'd normally call a "wireless speaker", the C10 is a fine alternative to the models on this list courtesy of its Bluetooth capabilities. A former What Hi-Fi? Award-winner, it's versatile, portable, great-sounding and often enjoys major discounts. What's not to like?

Sonos Roam: We like the Roam, and we're confident that the legions of Sonos lovers will like it even more. Despite not being outstanding for timing and dynamics, it's a speaker with a meaty, full-bodied presentation that boasts a lovely build quality, slimline design and plenty of features, including wi-fi capabilities and AirPlay 2. Plus, you can immerse it into the exceptional Sonos multiroom ecosystem, so if you have other Sonos speakers, the Roam makes a good deal of sense.

JBL Authentics 300: Big, handsome and extremely versatile, the Authentics 300 is an excellent choice for anyone who wants something semi-portable that can be carted from room to room before blasting out a robust, enthusiastic sound when it gets there. With dual voice assistants, Bluetooth, wi-fi streaming and Alexa Multiroom, the 300 is a lot more than a pretty face. 

How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker for you

When choosing a Bluetooth speaker, the first thing you should ask yourself after setting a budget is what you want from it. Does the speaker need to be portable and versatile enough to use both indoors and outdoors? Or are you happy with a mains-powered speaker that can fill a big room with brilliant audio?

Sound, of course, should play a huge part in your decision, because there's absolutely no guarantee that two models of a similar price will end up sounding the same in terms of quality, audio presentation and general timbre. Some Bluetooth speakers will be peppy and exciting, while others will prioritise pulsating bass to get the party started.

Size and power, too, should be a consideration. The Tribit Micro 2 is a handy little speaker to take into the shower or clip onto your rucksack during a hike, but you'll find it practically useless if you plan to rave away your nights to the sound of the best house, dance and electronic floor-fillers every weekend. A bigger option, like the JBL Charge 5, or models that allow daisy-chaining, will be more appropriate for ravers or users who prioritise loudness. 

If you're choosing portability, you'll want to think about battery life and other aspects such as how waterproof, dustproof and rugged the design is. How durable a Bluetooth speaker is can quickly become a determining factor, especially if you want to, say, take one to the park or the beach and on holidays.

Generally, the more you spend the more features you get, such as multi-room functionality, higher-quality Bluetooth codec support (for aptX or aptX HD, for example), and the ability to answer calls hands-free. Some portable Bluetooth speakers even allow you to charge a smartphone or tablet using their own built-in battery. Naturally, you should only consider treating a buying decision as a box-ticking exercise based on the features you think you'd benefit from.

Once you've narrowed down your search, it's time to draw up a shortlist of contenders and, if you have the time, search around a few retailers and outlets for the best price. Or, alternatively, you can use our best Bluetooth speaker deals hub to find discounts right away.

How we test Bluetooth speakers

At What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year at our state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Reading. We have complete control over the testing process, and we also review products as a team as opposed to individually, ensuring no opinion goes unheard and that our final verdicts are consistent. Our expert, trusted team has over 100 combined years of reviewing experience.

Besides the sound quality of a Bluetooth speaker, which we test with every genre of music from classical to pop, we also scrutinise other aspects of its design. These include its battery life, the robustness of its Bluetooth connection, how easy it is to use and set up, and finally, how well built and rugged it is – especially if it will be used outdoors. Our review philosophy doesn't change whether we're evaluating a portable budget Bluetooth speaker or a more premium model with extra streaming features.

All new Bluetooth speakers are judged on a performance-per-pound basis and, as part of our tried-and-tested process, put up against the current class leader(s) at its respective price point to see how they compare and to help us settle on a star rating.

There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for nearly five decades.


What's the difference between wireless and Bluetooth speakers?

Bluetooth speakers are wireless in that they don't require a wire to connect to an audio source; they use the Bluetooth streaming protocol. However, Bluetooth speakers don't necessarily also support wi-fi, which is a necessary feature of what we term 'wireless speakers'. A wireless speaker can connect to an audio source via the internet (i.e. your home wi-fi) – by way of Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast, for example – whether or not it also has Bluetooth.

While this will depend on the kit you are using and your wi-fi limitations at home, transmitting audio over wi-fi rather than Bluetooth comes with certain benefits: wi-fi doesn't have as limited a signal range as Bluetooth, generally facilitates better sound quality and is capable of transmitting higher-quality audio. The standard Bluetooth codecs (SBC and AAC) are not widely capable of transmitting CD-quality (or higher) files, and even the higher-quality codecs like aptX are lossy (i.e. data gets lost during the transmission).

However, Bluetooth-only speakers are generally more portable, as they don't require an internet connection or being plugged into the mains, and often more affordable than wi-fi-enabled wireless speakers. If you're interested in wi-fi-ready speakers, you should look at our best wireless speakers guide instead.

How many watts is good for a home Bluetooth speaker?

There isn't a simple answer here, as a higher wattage number doesn't necessarily equal good sound quality, but it does determine how loud your speaker can go. Basically, you'll want a speaker that's going to be able to fill your intended space with a good amount of sound. So, if you're looking for a small, portable Bluetooth speaker to use casually on the table in a small space, a relatively low-powered speaker output (10W or thereabouts) will get that job done for you without any problems.

However, if you've got a big, spacious room or the outdoors that you want to fill with sound at decent volumes, a bigger speaker with a higher watt output (25W to 50W) will likely serve you best.

How does a Bluetooth speaker work?

Bluetooth is a short-range, low-powered, low-bandwidth streaming protocol used to connect compatible devices together wirelessly. Bluetooth uses radio waves just like wi-fi does but at a different scale.

A Bluetooth speaker relies on this short-range Bluetooth connection to connect to a Bluetooth-supporting audio source and accept audio data from it. Both the speaker and source device need to have compatible Bluetooth codecs to send this information between them – SBC and AAC are the standard codecs. A wireless speaker operates similarly but instead relies on a wi-fi network connection to accept audio data transmitted from an audio source.

Pairing a Bluetooth speaker and Bluetooth device is easy: you simply put the speaker in 'pairing mode' (usually by pressing a button), go into a device's Bluetooth settings and 'scan' for available speakers and then select your speaker.

Is JBL a good brand? Better than Bose?

At What Hi-Fi?, we have reviewed many products from both JBL and Bose and find that many of JBL's current speakers provide excellent audio quality and great value, earning them many five-star reviews. Bose speakers tend to satisfy on the features and design front, and while we used to see budget and great-sounding speakers from Bose a few years ago, recent models have seen costs rise. These pricier models don't always offer the same performance-per-pound value as their rivals.

In the audio world, it is tough to compare how good one brand is to another on the whole, especially when it comes to big brands that have many products in their arsenal. While we do recommend a fair few JBL speakers on the above list, don't assume that everything JBL makes is better than everything Bose makes.

Recent updates

  • April 2024: Added the Audio Pro C20 following a five-star review.
  • March 2024: Added an also consider section to offer more alternative buying options for readers.
  • February 2024: Added FAQ section to help with buying decisions and frequently asked questions.
  • November 2023: What Hi-Fi? Award winners labelled after the 2023 Awards Best Buys and Product of the Year announcements.


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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.

  • atkins14
    What is actually the best sounding speaker though? You don't actually seem to compare them to each other? Such as the Dali Katch to say the UE Megablast, Audio Pro C3 etc. Ignoring hardwired speakers and price.

    Also how do they hold up to say the Sonos Move, Bose home, Vifa Oslo, Beolit 17 etc?

    I had the Dali Katch but had to return as bluetooth connectivity was too temperamental.
  • StevieDee
    No mention of the Soundcore Flare or Flare+ which are well regarded?
  • Jmr1969x
    This article should say best bang for your buck. Best bluetooth speaker title makes me think best sounding and bose and UE don't come to mind for sound quality. Maybe do an best sounding or audiophile like sound. I would look for speakers like B&O, Harmon Kardon, Klipsch ? Mini Rig ? Not JBL and Sony. I come to What HiFi for audiophile info.
  • RicherS
    StevieDee said:
    No mention of the Soundcore Flare or Flare+ which are well regarded?
    Looked around, read many pages, reviews, sites, ended up at Which, leaning towards the excellent Polk but then decided against as they don't pair up for stereo.. Next (reasonably priced) one on their list was the (Anker) Soundcore Flare. Have to say I'm blown away by the quality. Firstly, it has a feel & heft that suggests a quality of material & manufacture. The turn on 'greeting' has a nice depth & tone, it connected quickly & easily and as a starter, the embedded music on my phone sounded amazing. Even just listening to a few random tunes on steaming/video suggest that this is a superb piece of kit. Within 48 hours, I'd ordered a second & the stereo, timing, presence & soundstage are just wonderful. I haven't been so excited about sound for a long time, so much so that I was up half the night, going through a list of music returned by the search "music for testing speakers". It has not just been an enjoyable journey of discovery, it has added a lot of wonderful tracks to my library.
  • QWales
    Jmr1969x said:
    This article should say best bang for your buck. Best bluetooth speaker title makes me think best sounding and bose and UE don't come to mind for sound quality. Maybe do an best sounding or audiophile like sound. I would look for speakers like B&O, Harmon Kardon, Klipsch ? Mini Rig ? Not JBL and Sony. I come to What HiFi for audiophile info.
    Yes suprised not to see Minirig
  • DailyDose
    Inappropriate content deleted by moderation.
  • MrBuffy
    Minirig 3 is the GOAT, don't bother with anything else.