Bluetooth speakers are a super quick and easy way to stream music from your phone without having to worry about cables.
As an added bonus they now come in a variety of form factors and, thanks to advances in wireless technology the streaming doesn’t have to completely destroy audio quality the way it once did.
Over the past 12 months alone we’ve seen everything from giant room-filling Bluetooth speakers to dinky travel options pass through our listening rooms.
And while many have impressed offering great value for money, lengthy battery life, and at times surprisingly capable audio quality, there has been an equal number that haven’t.
This is why our team of reviewers created this handy guide detailing the best Bluetooth speakers money can buy that we’ve tried and tested. Every speaker on this list has been put through a series of tests by our reviewers in both our listening rooms and the real world to ensure they’re worth buying, so you can trust our advice.
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How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
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 wireless speaker that can fill a big room with brilliant audio?
If it's the former, you'll want to think about battery life and other aspects such as waterproofing, dustproofing and how 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 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. To help you, we have a great selection of the best portable speakers and best Bluetooth speakers below that span a range of types and budgets. There should be something for everyone here...
Given that the Flip 5 (listed, below) 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 now 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 waterproof 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
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. 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 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
Although portable enough to be your travel speaker (and boasting a stylish retractable travel handle plus a 30-hour battery) the Katch G2's dedicated mains charging port and adapter with bundled UK, EU and US adapter plugs makes it an easy fit for your lounge too – and once there, it'll sound as detailed, clear and expansive as this money can buy.
It's at the pricey end of the market, yes, but it's a stone cold stunner, delivering excellent clarity, impressive bass weight and good looks in spades – so much so that we recently handed it a What Hi-Fi? 2021 Award. This is a speaker that not only fills a room despite being the width of a paperback, it oozes class sonically.
Read the full review: Dali Katch G2
Ultimate Ears has really made a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colorful, fun-sounding and portable models. And the follow-up to the five-star Wonderboom 2 is the Wonderboom 3.
It's waterproof and dustproof; plus, it's also designed to float, so it should withstand the most lively of pool parties and outdoor adventures. Battery life is 14 hours and a full charge takes around 2.6 hours on average.
Sonically, the Wonderboom 3 is an exciting listen. Bass is impressive given its small form factor, and the sense of dynamics on display is similarly impressive. You also get a ‘boost’ button on the underside of the unit that's a rollover feature from the Wonderboom 2. When pressed, it restricts the bass frequencies, allowing the UE to play louder through the midrange, which in turn makes the sound easier to hear when the unit is used outdoors, making it all the more attractive a speaker to bring with you on a trip.
There's no built-in mic or app, like the Wonderboom 2, but even still, the Wonderboom 3 is an eminently portable, great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that won't break the bank at its £90 / $100 retail price.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
The JBL Xtreme 3 is a versatile, talented wireless speaker that’s as happy chilling at home as it is being the life and soul of a party. Yes, it's rugged, it's IP67 dust- and waterproof certified and you’d be forgiven for thinking at first glance that it might be more preoccupied with the amount of bass it’s producing rather than musical quality. But let us reassure you: the JBL Xtreme 3 proves to be a careful and considerate performer from the lowest of lows to the highest highs.
Bassheads should be more than satisfied with the healthy low-end clout on offer, but there’s quality as well as quantity. The JBL Xtreme 3 gained five stars across the board during our rigorous in-house testing, never appearing out of its depth no matter how complicated the musical arrangement.
Read the full review: JBL Xtreme 3
If all you want is a portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as you can currently buy for around £100 ($100, AU$119), you’ll be hard-pressed to better the fantastic Flip 5. JBL’s offering sounds great for the price and is more than rugged enough to cope with a day at the pool.
The Flip 5 is waterproof to an IPX7 rating, boasts a 12 hour battery life and has a USB-C charging port, meaning it goes from flat to fully juiced in just 2.5 hours. It's a pleasure to use and scores highly for portability, with a wrist strap that slips comfortably over our hand. There's also a PartyBoost button that helps you pair two PartyBoost-enabled speakers to create a stereo pair, or link over 100 PartyBoost-compatible speakers in mono.
Sound is impressively weighty and agile, with a good punch of bass and a real sense of openness and texture. Assuming you don't mind the lack of an aux-in port or inbuilt microphone (as seen in the Flip 4), you'll almost certainly be wowed by this speaker's sonic chops. A superb performer.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 5
If you want a satchel-friendly Bluetooth speaker that won’t break the bank, then the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 is the best we’ve tested yet.
The small-form-factor speaker doesn’t have the 360 grill design of many of its rivals, like the dinky UE Wonderboom 3. But during our tests we found it is one of the best value options on the market right now.
It builds on the success of the original Stormbox Micro, featuring an all but identical woven finish design. But firing it up in our listening rooms we found its audio and battery life is night and day better.
We easily coaxed 12 hours of listening out of a single charge and the IP67 rating let one of our testers use it in the bathroom/shower without any issue or damage.
Audio is immediately bigger, punchier and louder than you’d expect from such a small Bluetooth speaker.
Juice by Lizzo the audio does justice to the song’s upbeat tempo with her vocals being much for vibrantly portrayed than most of the competing speakers we’ve tested this price. Our listening tests showed the midrange in particular is dealt with in a much more appealing manner than anything else we’ve seen this price.
Legend Has It by Run The Jewels also performed well and really showcased how much more dynamism and accurate timing the Micro 2 offers than any similarly priced rival.
The only issue is that it can start to suffer from distortion at louder volumes, but truth be told, based on our head-to-head checks, you’ll have to pay more and invest in either a JBL Flip 6 or Wonderboom 3 to get better.
Read the full review: Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro 2
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 "premium" and "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)
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
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 even better.
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.
You won't be short of streaming options, thanks to Chromecast Built-in and Apple AirPlay 2 alongside Bluetooth for streaming from a device, as well as Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, internet radio and Tidal. You’ll also be able to access files up to 32-bit/384kHz anywhere on your home network via the updated Naim app
With punchy bass and sparkling and rich tones across the frequencies, we had no hesitation in awarding the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation our 2022 What Hi-Fi? Award for the best home wireless speaker over £500 – for the fourth year running.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
The 2021 update (sensibly titled MkII) to the three-time Award-winning Audio Pro C10 (also listed, below) adds AirPlay 2 and Google Cast to complete a multi-room home run – and gets itself a What Hi-Fi? 2021 Award in the process.
When we tested its older sibling, we pitted it against models almost double its price and found it bettered them. We’re happy to report that it's still the case today – if £500 ($500) is your maximum budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a speaker that comes close to the Audio Pro C10 MkII.
We miss the leather handle and fun, slightly rock'n'roll aesthetic and sonic presentation of the original, but we can't argue with three options for multi-room streaming (AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Audio Pro's own slick and functional app) or the levelled-up grippy bass and improved hi-fidelity performance.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII
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 – plus it's a What Hi-Fi? 2021 and 2020 Award winner.
Sound is focused yet open and airy, meaning you can fill a decent sized room with immersive, weighty sound. It has a fantastic sense of refinement for such a small speaker, not to mention a rear-firing bass reflex port that delivers plenty of low-end grunt.
This model won't charge your smartphone but it does feature an ethernet port, giving you the option to hardwire it to your home network. The battery serves up around 15 hours playback (less if you crank the volume up to the max).
The C3 supports streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and Apple Music, and while there's no built-in voice assistant, you can control the speaker via the Alexa app.
If you're after something more rugged and portable, we might suggest rivals from Ultimate Ears or JBL's Xtreme. But as a sensational-sounding multi-room proposition, this speaker gives Sonos a serious run for its money.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
The Echo Show 5 is one of the more unusual Amazon products. Yes, it is intended to get us all invested in its virtual assistant, Alexa, but where much of the Alexa-enabled kit out there is audio based and 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
Want a Sonos speaker you can drop in a backpack? Meet the Sonos Roam, the multi-room titan's first truly portable battery-powered speaker (the 2019 Sonos Move is technically portable but weighs a hefty 3kg to the Roam's 430g).
The Roam works perfectly well as a standalone Bluetooth speaker but it's also designed to be immersed in the company's burgeoning multi-room ecosystem. Features includes support for AirPlay 2, voice controls and Sonos' Trueplay tech, which uses the built-in mic to tune bass and treble to suit your surroundings.
Headed to the beach or the pool? You'll be pleased to note the IP67 rating, which gives it complete water and dust resistance. The built-in battery offers a pretty decent 10 hours playback and support for Qi wireless charging.
Sound is confident, bold and better than you might expect from an outdoor/party speaker at this price. Other Bluetooth speakers offer a more expressive and detailed sound but if you're invested in the world of Sonos, the Roam is a smart buy.
Read the full review: Sonos Roam
How we choose the best 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.
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 many JBL speakers on the above list, don't assume that everything JBL makes is better than everything Bose makes.
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.