Buying a wireless speaker is a tricky business. In the current climate, there’s a sea of options covering pretty much every use case and budget you can think of.
Jump into any store and you’ll see everything from basic rugged speakers for use by pools to audiophile-level options costing hundreds (and sometimes thousands).
As an added layer of complexity, having reviewed more wireless speakers than we care to count, we can safely confirm that there are plenty of terrible options doing the rounds that 100 per cent aren’t worth your time or money.
All too often we’ve gotten decent-looking, affordable speakers in for review, only to have them fail to deliver when we put them through their paces in our test rooms. Common issues include everything from poor audio, to terrible connectivity and flimsy build quality.
Here to make sure you get the best wireless speaker possible for your specific needs and budget, we’ve created this guide detailing the top performers we’ve tried and tested.
How to choose the best wireless speaker for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
When choosing a wireless speaker, besides setting and sticking to a budget, you need to think about where you'll be using it and what you want from it. Will a small wireless speaker for a second room suffice, or do you want a big speaker that can fill a larger space? Do you want portability from your wireless speaker? In which case you might want to pick something with a built-in rechargeable battery.
Wireless speakers tend to include Bluetooth in their feature set for basic streaming, but many can be connected to your home wi-fi network so you can use features like AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect and any multi-room features they might have. If you subscribe to a streaming service it's worth bearing in mind.
Many wireless speakers come with their own control app so you can take command of all their features using a smartphone or tablet. Some apps work better than others which will affect how easy they are to use.
Once you've decided what you're looking for, you'll want to draw up a list of candidates, and to help with that, we've got you covered below with a great selection of wireless speakers across different price points. There should be something for everyone and anyone...
The 2021 update (sensibly titled MkII) to the multiple What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Audio Pro C10 (also listed, below) adds AirPlay 2 and Google Cast to complete a multi-room home run and gain a 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award for the best home wireless speaker at £250 - £500.
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 HomePod 2 is the latest speaker from big tech heavyweight Apple that we’ve reviewed. It’s the pricier option in Apple’s current lineup, sitting well above the smaller HomePod Mini featured in this list, and a successor to the first generation HomePod we tested all the way back in 2018.
Though it looks a lot like its predecessor, under the hood it’s a completely different beast and a clear sonic step forward for the brand. Our tests revealed it to be one of THE best sounding smart speakers you’ll find, with it blowing its closest rival, the Amazon Echo Studio, out of the water and offering a much more precise low end than the first generation HomePod.
Listening to Apple Music’s Dolby Atmos version of The 1 by Taylor Swift, the vocals held a wonderful clarity and warmth. Really pushing it with SBTRKT’s Trials Of The Past in Apple Lossless quality, the speaker managed to deliver equally precise audio and avoid falling victim to sibilance, which is a common issue we encounter playing the song on speakers this price. The new HomePod has boundless energy; its enthusiasm is infectious, its rhythmic drive always exciting and engaging.
The deep integration with Apple’s ecosystem also makes it blissfully easy to set up. Paired with an iPhone all you have to do is scan for the speaker and run through a few on-screen commands to get it fully up and running and integrated with your smart home setup. The entire process only took us a few minutes.
This includes a clever process where the speaker uses in-built sensors to optimise its sound settings for its position in the room. Testing the feature by moving it closer to a wall in our listening room, our reviewers could hear the HomePod 2 adjusting its sound in real-time. Very impressive.
The only real downside to the HomePod 2 is that it is very much designed for people embedded in Apple’s ecosystem. Its primary connection is locked to Apple’s AirPlay 2 tech, Apple Music is the only music streaming service natively supported and Siri is your only option for voice commands. This is a minor annoyance as services like Tidal or BBC radio still don’t work with Siri. This will limit its appeal to those who aren’t Apple fans or fully ensconced in the iOS ecosystem, and might favourite more platform-agnostic options like the more affordable Sonos One.
Read our HomePod 2 review
The HomePod Mini really is bijou. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s quite a bit smaller than the similarly spherical new Amazon Echo. In fact, it’s even dwarfed by the new Echo Dot. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running (when Siri is listening or processing) though, and you realise you've got a classy performer on your hands.
It goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the HomePod Mini comfortably outperforms its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound.
Siri is your voice assistant, and after a short period of learning it'll respond to the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” not by streaming your most played track of the last few weeks, but by playing something that you may have never listened to before but is a good fit for what you often do listen to. It’s a really powerful way to discover new music, and Alexa is nowhere near as good at it.
Apple's HomePod Mini: every inch the What Hi-Fi? 2021 and 2022 Award-winner.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod Mini
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 2020 and 2022 What Hi-Fi? Awards for the best home wireless speaker over £500 ($500).
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
This 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 embossed leather carry handle, but the wireless tech adds a whole new dimension to your listening. It's just a shame that controlling it using the smartphone app isn't a bit better thought through. Still, this is a belter of a speaker, make no mistake, and a fine addition to any home set-up. A What Hi-Fi? 2022 Awards winner.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
Classical linguists know that ‘Omnia’ means ‘prepared in all things’ (and now we know too – thank you, Google), and it is a fitting name for such a versatile product. Living up to its name, the Omnia can also accommodate a TV through its HDMI ARC socket, as well as an audio source – including a turntable – through its dongle-like MiniDin switchable phono/line input adapter.
Sonus Faber suggests giving the Omnia 10cm of clearance behind it and to the sides, and it’s advice we’d follow if you possibly can. Given just a little space in which to shine, the Omnia is one of the biggest and most open sounding examples of its type we’ve heard. Close your eyes and it is not difficult to believe that the sound is coming from a pair of standmounters. That depth and breadth means instruments can work comfortably with space around them, even in denser mixes – and the Omnia impressively refrains from hardness or distortion at high (and even maximum) volume levels.
The strengths of both this and the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation (listed above) would combine to be the ideal system – wouldn’t it be nice to pick and choose like that? – but if you value openness and clarity and your listening habits are compatible with what the Sonus Faber has to offer, the Omnia is one of the finest products of its kind. And arguably, it is the better looking of the two...
Read the full review: Sonus Faber Omnia
Yes, it's a high-end one-box proposition (at around £900 / $900), but the B&W Formation Wedge offers the kind of detailed, balanced, cohesive sound that cannot be ignored – making it a class-leader in its category. Offering 24-bit/96 kHz hi-res audio playback and B&W's proprietary mesh system for a basically-imperceptible microsecond between speakers when used with other Formation products (like the Formation Duo, below) the Wedge leaves the competition for dust.
Its looks can be divisive and you'll need to consider investing in a Roon subscription to get it at its glorious best, but even if you forgo Roon entirely, it's an excellent standalone performer.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
They're not cheap and the aesthetic won't appeal to everyone, but if you want a wireless pair of standmounts that nothing comes close to right now in terms of sound, you've just found them. The Duos are deadly precise speakers with excellent clarity and a performance that makes you want to dig out tune after tune just to hear what they can do.
The multi-room feature set, while not perfect (we'd prefer a single app to handle every function), is more than made up for by the superb audio performance.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo
The Naim Mu-so-2's extensive feature set includes all manner of wireless streaming technologies such as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. Tidal and Spotify are also supported, as is high-res audio to the tune of 24-bit/88kHz. It's not just about streaming, though, with a HDMI ARC input allowing you to hook up a TV and boost its sound at the same time.
The Naim looks like a premium wireless speaker and it sounds like one too, with a rich, confident sound, packed full of detail and delivered with immense rhythmic drive. Bass is plentiful and of a high quality.
If your budget allows, you'll be suitably impressed.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2
The second-generation Sonos One is really a Sonos Play:1 in new clothing, but that's no bad thing. It now boasts Amazon's Alexa smart assistant for voice controls, and it's all the better for it. In fact, with its room-filling sound, it stands apart from the glut of smart speakers that are smart first and speakers second. Throw in Apple's AirPlay 2 tech and the fact that the One fits seamlessly into a multi-room set-up, and you've got a winner on your hands.
Read the full review: Sonos One
The original KEF LSX streaming system impressed us immensely when they dropped in 2018, and it’s a similar story with this multi-talented, dynamic-sounding sequel. A certified What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner, the LSX II (tested at £1199 / $1400 / AU$2195) didn’t make any visible departure from their predecessors’ petite and sleek design (no bad thing), but beneath the surface, KEF has improved on a great recipe with some mouthwatering new ingredients.
The DSP software has been completely redesigned and the streaming platform is updated (and it’s now fully Roon Ready). The LSX II brings in a host of connectivity options ranging from wi-fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Bluetooth, to a wide range of streaming services like Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal. There are also new physical inputs in the form of HDMI ARC and USB-C connections for hooking up to a TV and laptop respectively.
Most importantly, KEF hasn’t lost a step when it comes to producing great sound in small spaces. Capable, layered, dynamic and as tight as your old skinny jeans, the LSX II once again delivers superb sound no matter what you’re listening to. Bass is tight and controlled, there’s a real sense of refinement and maturity to the sound without being showy, and there’s a natural warmth to the whole presentation. As we’ve said before, little else really comes close at this level.
Read the full review: KEF LSX II
A Sonos One without voice control is still a great wireless speaker, whether stereo paired, added to a home theatre set-up or used solo. For the uninitiated, this is a product that looks identical to Sonos' latest five-star smart speaker, the Sonos One (above), but without the smart aspects – ie. those little microphone dots around the top and the built-in voice assistant.
How is it better than its older brother, the wireless-but-not-voice-activated Sonos Play:1? You’ve guessed it: you can now pair a One and One SL in stereo, a set-up that looks and sounds good for the money. For those who either already own a Sonos One or want to buy into Sonos but don't care about speaking to their speakers, this should be on your radar.
Read the full review: Sonos One SL
An innovative and entertaining sequel (you'll find the originals below) that became a What Hi-Fi? Award winner in 2020 and retained it for 2021. With this update, KEF brought hi-res streaming support all the way up to 24-bit/384kHz. DSD256 music files are now on the menu too, as well as MQA decoding for the playback of compatible downloaded files and hi-res Tidal Masters.
Tidal is one of many streaming services directly accessible from the new KEF Connect app – you have Amazon Music, Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify, as well as internet radio and UPnP servers, at your fingertips too.
Their Uni-Q driver array, beautiful Carbon Black, Titanium Grey, Mineral White and Crimson Red Special Edition finishes, and curved front panel all combine to create a thorough head turner – and really, they ought to be. As a new product following in the footsteps of such a huge success, the KEF LS50 Wireless IIs arrive with a world of expectation on their shoulders – but they well and truly live up to those expectations. Make no mistake, this is a sequel of rare quality.
Read the full review: KEF LS50 Wireless II
The Sonos One (featured towards the top of this list) delivers superior audio, but it's not portable. If that's one of your dealbreakers, consider the battery-powered Sonos Roam.
The multi-room titan's first travel-friendly speaker (the 2019 Sonos Move is technically portable but weighs a hefty 3kg to the Roam's 430g) isn't short on connectivity or features. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is joined by support for AirPlay 2 and voice controls. Headed to the beach or the pool? The IP67 rating means the Roam is both water and dust resistant. The built-in battery offers a pretty decent 10 hours playback and support for Qi wireless charging.
When it comes to sound, the Roam makes an impact with a bold presentation and superb mids. It's let down a bit by timing and dynamics, but given the portability and feature set, plenty of users will make allowances. A welcome addition to the Sonos family.
Read the full review: Sonos Roam
How we test wireless speakers
The What Hi-Fi? team reviews hundreds of products every year, including no small amount of wireless speakers – all shapes, sizes and types have graced our dedicated listening facilities located in London, Reading and Bath. We review products as a team, ensuring no voice goes unheard, while our team is filled with experts in the audio world with a wealth of experience.
Aside from the raw audio quality of a wireless speaker, we also test and evaluate every aspect of its performance, including battery life, connection quality, ease of use, and versatility. Our review philosophy doesn't change based on price or brand reputation, either.
All wireless speakers are tested and reviewed in the context of their value on a performance-per-dollar basis, and as part of our testing procedure, wireless speakers are compared against similarly-priced class leaders to see how they perform and help us figure out an appropriate rating.
There's absolutely no input from PR companies or sales teams (internal or external) that influence our scores, as What Hi-Fi? has a sterling reputation for delivering honest, unbiased feedback for decades.
Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between Bluetooth and wireless 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 Bluetooth. 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 a Bluetooth-only speaker won't be able to connect to the internet at all.
While this will depend on the kit you are using and your wi-fi limitations, 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 audio).
However, Bluetooth-only speakers are generally more portable (as they don't require an internet connection to work) and often more affordable.
Are JBL and Bose good brands?
At What Hi-Fi?, we've reviewed many products from both JBL and Bose, and we've liked products from both brands. Though, while Bose speakers are often stylish and have lots of features, sometimes JBL can offer up better value for the money in terms of performance.
However, while JBL is very dominant when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, as you'll see with the list above, we tend to find wireless speakers from other brands, like Apple or Audio Pro Addon, will serve you best when it comes to buying a wireless speaker.
Why is Sonos so popular?
Sonos' big claim to fame is popularizing multi-room audio, i.e. being able to play music across your entire house instead of in a single room.
Of course, Sonos wasn't the first company to do this, but Sonos did manage to design stylish, performant, feature-rich speakers that were never too tough to set up, bringing high-quality multi-room audio to the masses.
Now, the company offers a variety of products from smart speakers to soundbars, many of which we've found to offer up strong performances and good values. All of this, together, adds up to why Sonos is so popular.
What's up with wifi direct not being a thing on portable speakers?
Kef LS50 II and LSX II also have wifi and Ethernet connections. LSX II have HDMI up to 1.411Mbps PCM
I don't think you understood but maybe you did. In case you didn't, WiFi Direct doesn't use a router... You connect directly from device to device without router (similar to Bluetooth).
In other words, if I was in the middle of the woods with just the speaker and my phone, would I be able to connect to it and stream to it using WiFi?