Bluetooth speakers are one of the easiest, most versatile and budget-friendly ways to get music playing. While various smart and wireless speakers have entered the market and regaled us with higher audio quality, there's no denying just how flexible and entertaining your standard Bluetooth speaker can be.
Bluetooth speakers come in so many shapes and sizes now, and can be placed anywhere in the house, perched in your home office, the kitchen or bathroom, or can even be slung into a bag or backpack to take with you to the beach or on holiday (or just the garden).
And while we're not expecting audiophile-grade quality sound here, brands have realised that people do care about sound quality alongside other user-friendly features, so the quality of Bluetooth speakers' audio has risen significantly in recent times.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen (and heard) everything from giant room-filling Bluetooth speakers to dinky travel options pass through our listening rooms, and many have impressed by offering great value for money, lengthy battery life, waterproofing and even engaging, capable audio quality. Of course, there are plenty of Bluetooth speakers out there that haven't cut the mustard, which is why our team of reviewers have created this handy guide detailing only the best Bluetooth speakers that are worth considering.
Every speaker on this list has been put through a series of tests by our reviewers in both our dedicated listening rooms and the real world to ensure they’re worth buying, so you can trust our advice to the letter.
The quick list
Best Bluetooth speaker overall
The Charge 5 is currently as good a sound as you can get in a portable Bluetooth speaker design for under £200/$200.
Best portable Bluetooth speaker
With its diminutive dimensions, 12-hour battery life and punchy bass, the Flip 6 is the ideal travel companion.
Best budget Bluetooth speaker
A tiny budget speaker that makes a big impact – if you’re watching the pennies there’s no better option right now than Tribit's Stormbox Micro 2.
Best mid-price Bluetooth speaker
B&O’s eye-catching compact speaker justifies its price with a refined performance and typically classy build.
Best premium Bluetooth speaker
A luxurious, lovely-sounding speaker that’s just as comfortable in your home as it is on the road.
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Best smart Bluetooth speaker
A versatile little speaker that combines Bluetooth connectivity with a handy voice assistant that does much more than just read the weather forecast.
Best Bluetooth speaker overall
Want a speaker roughly the dimensions of a bottle of wine that'll charge your phone and sound great? You've found it.
The JBL Charge 5 is even more durable and better sounding than the four Charges before it. 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.
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 also boasts marginal improvements, both sonically and aesthetically, over its predecessor, the five-star Charge 4.
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 portable Bluetooth speaker
About the size of a burrito and weighing just 550g, JBL's Flip 6 is the one to go for if you're looking for a speaker to take on your travels.
Given that the Flip 5 is a past What Hi-Fi? Award winner, it will come as little surprise to learn that the Flip 6 is another resoundingly five-star product. We might have thought we’d be advising JBL to rework the Flip by now – add a few more features, change it up a bit to keep up with the competition – but instead, we are left praising the sonic chops of a proposition that offers extra durability (it is now IP67 water- and dust-proof, over the waterproof-only IPX7 Flip 5) as well as an extra ounce of space within its trademark zealous and musical presentation. Yes, it's still 'just' a Bluetooth speaker – but what a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker it is.
If you want more from the midrange and less from the treble, you can now 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 Flip 5, there’s certainly more detail here, too.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 6
Best budget Bluetooth speaker
If all you want from a decent outdoor speaker is portability and affordability, you really couldn't do much better than the excellent Tribit Stormbox Micro 2. A tiny, satchel-friendly Bluetooth speaker, this is easily one of the best we’ve tested at this meagre price point.
Building on the success of the original Stormbox Micro and featuring an all but identical woven finish design, the Micro's sequel trumps its predecessor when it comes to delivering enjoyable audio and massively improved battery life. We easily coaxed 12 hours of listening out of a single charge, while an IP67 rating let one of our reviewers use it in the bathroom/shower without any issue or damage. Again, the Stormbox Micro 2's diminutive size and durable design make it well-suited for travelling far beyond the confines of a bathroom or kitchen.
Audio is really strong, too: bigger, punchier and louder than you’d expect from such a small box. Play Juice by Lizzo and the Micro 2 does justice to the song’s upbeat tempo with the singer's vocals vibrantly portrayed. Midrange in particular is dealt with in a much more appealing manner than anything else we’ve seen at this price.
The only issue is that it can start to suffer from distortion at louder volumes, but we found it to be one of the best-value options if you’re really on a tight budget. Really impressive stuff.
Read the full review: Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro 2
Best mid-price Bluetooth speaker
Bang & Olufsen isn’t noted for following the herd. In the Danish electronics specialist’s catalogue you'll find a wheel-shaped wireless speaker, a TV that opens up like a butterfly, and an 8200-watt monolithic speaker comprising 18 drivers. Its output could reasonably be described as "innovative" – and the B&O Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) wireless speaker is no exception.
It boasts similar dimensions to a large floury bap, but that's where any comparisons with baked goods end. The new A1 supports Qualcomm’s latest aptX Adaptive Bluetooth 5.1 codec, and of course, Alexa is built-in.
It works a treat, too, delivering a pleasingly comfortable yet authoritative performance that you'd be happy listening to all day. Throw in its classy, well-made design, easy-to-use operation and the bonus of Alexa, and you're looking at a Bluetooth speaker sequel that has very much been worth the wait.
Read the full review: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)
Best premium Bluetooth speaker
Proof that you don't have to sacrifice a premium look and feel for portability, the Dali Katch G2's compact dimensions, stylish retractable travel handle, and 30-hour battery mean it could easily be your go-to travel speaker.
Its dedicated mains charging port and bundled UK, EU and US plugs make it an easy fit for your lounge too, though, and once there, it'll sound as detailed, clear and expansive as this sort of money can buy.
The 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. When we took our Katch G2 home for some hands-on pics, we found it to be akin to a great model or a timeless beauty of the age; stunning from every angle.
It's at the pricey end of the market, yes, but the Dali Katch is a stone cold stunner, delivering excellent clarity, impressive bass weight and good looks in spades – so much so that we handed it a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2021 and 2022. If you've got the money, we'd struggle to recommend anything else at the same price.
Read the full review: Dali Katch G2
Best multi-room Bluetooth speaker
Sonos has been synonymous with multi-room music for many years now, and the Era 100 – the spiritual successor to the excellent Sonos One – pushes the bar even higher than before.
This is a true five-star performer, blending updated specifications and features with a revamped design to deliver one of the most sonically satisfying speakers the company has produced at this level. Redesigned from the ground up, the Era 100 packs in new drivers: two angled tweeters with customer waveguides and a 25 per cent bigger woofer, each powered by its own Class D amplifier.
What this all translates into is vastly improved sound, and while the Sonos One was mono only, the Era 100 distinguishes itself by providing a superb stereo experience. The bass is deeper and fuller, there's more clarity and detail throughout and even at higher volume, timing is excellent and the tonal balance is wonderfully even. It's predominantly a stationary, use-at-home type of product, but the Era 100's Bluetooth connectivity gives it more flexibility in use and makes it eligible for a spot on this list.
With such high levels of performance, it's one of the best wireless Bluetooth speakers you can find on the market today at this price.
Read the full review: Sonos Era 100
Best smart Bluetooth speaker
No, the Echo Dot isn't a traditional Bluetooth speaker in the sense of what we traditionally deem to be a Bluetooth speaker here at What Hi-Fi?. It's not portable, for one thing, as it requires a plugged-in connection to the wall to work, and it relies on wi-fi to function as an AI-boosted virtual assistant. 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 filled to the brim with skills and knowledge as Keanu Reeves after he's been uploaded with various handy computer programs (although she doesn't, as of yet, "know Kung fu"). The Dot's cybernetic assistant is more helpful than ever before, stuffed with so many tricks and quirks that you'll often find yourself falling into the trap of speaking to Alexa as though it, or rather she, were a real person.
Audio has come a long way, too. We weren't hugely keen on the sound of Amazon's early Echo models, but the trajectory has been very much one of continual improvement courtesy of Jeff Bezos' tireless team of tech tinkerers. 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 sound that feels, for the size, weighty, listenable and surprisingly versatile.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)
Best home Bluetooth speaker
The Addon C3 is basically the wi-fi-enabled, multi-room version of Audio Pro's Addon T3. It has the same minimalist looks that the Scandinavian company is known for, complete with textured surfaces and an embossed leather carry handle, but the wireless tech adds a whole new dimension to your listening.
The Audio Pro Addon C3 does support all the main streaming services, though, including Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz and Apple Music, with playback controlled via the Audio Pro Control app for iOS and Android. It’s not quite the seamless experience offered by Sonos’ equivalent app, but neither is it seriously flawed.
Set-up is a painless process whether you choose a Bluetooth or wi-fi connection. When setting up a multi-room system, the app searches for other Audio Pro speakers in the vicinity on the same network, and you can then drag-and-drop from here to group or separate speakers, either in stereo pairs or multi-room zones, or else make manual adjustments to bass and treble.
Sonically, it's a belter of a speaker and a fine addition to any home set-up. The sound offered is mature, refined and textured, with an open, detailed delivery backed by a really impressive sense of rhythmic drive. At this price, the only thing we could really find to gripe about was a slightly clunky control app, but that's hardly the most fatal of fatal flaws.
A worthy What Hi-Fi? 2022 Awards winner.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
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 that 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. There should be something for everyone here...
What's the difference between wireless and Bluetooth speakers?
As you'd expect, Bluetooth speakers are wireless in that they don't require a wire to connect to an audio source; they use a Bluetooth codec. However, they 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. 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 (Bluetooth is not widely capable of transmitting CD-quality or above music).
However, Bluetooth-only speakers are generally more portable (as they don't require an internet connection to work) and often more affordable.
How many watts is good for a home Bluetooth speaker?
There isn't a simple answer here. Basically, you'll want a speaker that's going to be able to fill your intended space with sound. So, if you're looking for a small, portable Bluetooth speaker to use casually on the table outside when you're hanging out, a relatively low-powered speaker with a 30 to 50-watt output will get that job done for you without any problems.
However, if you've got a big, spacious room that you want to fill with sound at decent volumes, a bigger speaker with a higher watt output will likely serve you best.
How does a Bluetooth speaker work?
Bluetooth is like a short-range, low-powered, low-bandwidth version of wi-fi used to connect compatible devices together rather than to the internet. Bluetooth uses radio waves 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, while a wireless speaker operates similarly but instead relies on the internet 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 offerings provide excellent audio quality and great value, earning them many five-star reviews. Bose speakers tend to satisfy on the features and stylings fronts, though are often pricier and don't always offer the same performance-per-pound value.
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 some JBL speakers on the above list, don't assume that everything JBL makes is better than everything Bose makes.
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, Reading and Bath. 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. Our team is filled with experts in the audio world with 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, including battery life, the robustness of its Bluetooth connection, how easy it is to use and set up, and finally how well built it is. Our review philosophy doesn't change whether we're evaluating a basic, budget Bluetooth speaker or a more premium model.
All products are judged on a performance-per-pound basis and, as part of the process, put up against the current class leader(s) at that 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 decades.
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