Best wireless speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best wireless speakers you can buy in 2020.
The category of wireless speakers seems to evolve and multiply at a rate akin to new titles on Netflix. When it comes to driver-housing sonic boxes, cylinders, oblongs and jewels, if you just want something for blasting out tunes in the kitchen, there are now some splendid options out there for not a lot of money. If, however, you're after something with a bit more versatility and have a slightly stretchier budget, you can get a whole host of features plus better sound and multi-room capabilities for marginally (or substantially) more outlay.
Increasingly, wireless speakers boast smart skills too, if you want them, with voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant baked in for good measure. That means they'll be at your beck and call when it comes to shopping, weather forecasts or taking charge of smart home appliances like your lights and thermostat.
Whatever your needs, we have a great recommendation for you. And with several What Hi-Fi? Awards winners in this list, it's an excellent opportunity to check for bargains.
At What Hi-Fi?, we know full well the value of revisions. Yet still, it was quite the surprise when first we heard about one made by Naim, with its second generation of the Mu-so Qb wireless speaker. The previous iteration was great, earning five stars when it was first reviewed. This version, however, is is truly phenomenal.
You can now choose between an Olive, Terracotta or Peacock grille alongside the standard black, but the best tweaks Naim has made go far deeper. Remove whatever colour grille you've gone for and you'll be rewarded with upgraded and optimised midrange and bass drive units, all powered by a total of 300W of amplification.
Belying its box-like dimensions with a punchy bass alongside sparkling and rich tones across frequencies, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation scooped up our most recent 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award for the best home wireless speaker over £500.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
If all you want is a portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as £100 can currently buy, you’ll be hard-pressed to better the Flip 5. Truly, JBL’s newest offering sounds great for the price. If you don’t mind the lack of aux-in port or inbuilt microphone (as seen in the Flip 4) or the inability to partner it with older JBL speakers (the PartyBoost function is not backwards compatible with Connect+ enabled speakers, like the JBL Charge 4), it’s an excellent proposition for the money.
It may be low on added extras, but the Flip 5 gets away with it. Once you're actually listening to it, JBL's latest Flip easily betters the competition at the price – even the award-winners. The solid sonic chops JBL has managed to deliver at this level simply cannot be denied.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 5
Let's address the elephant in the room: the Series 3 is the most expensive wireless speaker we have tested. It’s over three times the price of the B&W Formation Wedge (listed below) and its looks are just as divisive. Can such an outlay be justified? Well, yes. And Linn’s proprietary Exakt technology helps. Linn Exakt aims to reduce phase errors by intentionally delaying higher frequencies so they arrive at your ear at the same time as lower frequencies. It also keeps the music signal’s data in the digital domain for as long as possible to avoid any degradation caused by signal processing. We’ve heard Exakt do its thing in many a Linn product before, and here again it contributes to an absorbing performance. What’s immediately striking is the stunning midrange clarity. The Series 3 is a sharp performer, and we don’t just mean tonally.
The Linn’s low-end agility ensures the accompanying bassline bobs along with bounce and interest. Where there’s quality there’s quantity, too. Whatever we throw at it, the Series 3 appears at ease – partly down to its balance and clarity but also the seamless integration of its drivers. Its insight sets it apart from its more affordable competitors, too.
At nearly £3k, we can hardly describe the Series 3 as a bargain, but we are left convinced of its appeal.
Read the full review: Linn Series 3
Yes, it's expensive, 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
The Dynaudio Music 5 is the second-largest one-box speaker in the company’s inaugural, four-strong Music series. Love or loathe the way it looks, (think huge, Indiana Jones-style ruby or the objects in the abstract chamber in Pixar’s Inside Out) we can’t help but be won over by how the Dynaudio Music 5 sounds. The Dynaudio Music 5 is a powerful proposition, but one that still displays the sonic nous to keeps things refined. While the Award-winning Naim (above) just edges it for both subtlety and a slightly livelier sound, there isn't much in it – and the Dynaudio Music 5 boasts superiority in other ways. In a larger room, it boasts better weight, scale and authority. It also offers something smooth, detail-rich, refined and resoundingly listenable – a sonic performance that will suit many tastes.
Depending on your room size and requirements, the Dynaudio Music 5 brings a meatier – and more easily adaptable – performance to the table.
Read the full review: Dynaudio Music 5
Once fully charged, you'll get a whopping 20 hours of playback from this little five-star performer. The fact that we really like the JBL Charge 4 should come as no surprise to those who read our Charge 3 review. JBL has fine-tuned the sound in this latest iteration to please even pickier ears and battery capacity has increased. We can’t reasonably ask for any more at this price. Obviously there's a limit to the bass floor in a speaker of this size, but the low-end is tasteful – and there's still plenty of punch.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 4
Audio Pro currently makes some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market and the Addon C10 is another impressive Award-winning model. Connectivity is among the most thorough you can expect at the money, with wi-fi, Bluetooth and AirPlay, plus aux and RCA inputs. It has all the major music streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz. The Addon C10 sounds big and bold, but is equally able to capture the subtler, more nuanced tracks as it is firing out big bassy numbers. Every inch a 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award winner.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10
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
Such is the breadth of choice when it comes to wireless speakers, you can spend under £100 or well over £1000. Take the Naim Mu-so-2: it'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
This is actually an all-in-one system, comprising a network streamer, Bluetooth receiver and amplifier, all built into a pair of stereo speakers. The speakers talk to each other wirelessly, so there's no need for a joining ethernet cable, and they come in a range of bright but stylish colours. But you will need to plug them into the mains.
You have plenty of choices when it comes to sources: streaming comes either over DLNA or from Tidal (both from within the KEF Stream app), while Spotify Connect, Roon compatibility and Apple AirPlay 2 are also part of the package. And the sound? As beautifully expressive, tonally even and rhythmically astute as you would expect given their lineage.
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
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? 2019 Awards winner.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
This is proof that smart speakers don't have to cost the earth. While the Echo Dot won't replace your main system, it is a great little portable addition that's perfect for the kitchen or bedroom. That's thanks to its Alexa voice assistant smarts - just speak, and you can control all manner of streaming services, including Spotify, TuneIn and Amazon Music. Lots of 'proper' speaker manufacturers are getting onboard too, meaning you can control your better speakers through the Echo Dot. And if you're out of range, just speak to the Alexa app on your phone. One of the best budget speakers around.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)
Apple may have taken its time launching its own entrant into the crowded smart speaker market, but boy was it worth it. Rivals might tout their smart credentials first, with the speaker part a bit of an afterthought, but not the HomePod: it delivers a weighty, authoritative sound worthy of a bona fide speaker maker. That it has wireless skills and the Siri voice assistant onboard are the icing on the audio cake. Downsides? You'll have to buy into the Apple ecosystem to get the full benefit, and in typical "brave" Apple fashion, it relies heavily on voice commands. But for dedicated Apple users, this smart speaker should be top of the shopping list.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod
The main selling point of this speaker is the whopping great 6,000mAh battery. Not only does that power it for a marathon 20 hours, it also lets it charge up your phone or tablet. It's small enough to chuck in a backpack, and will survive being submerged in up to 1m of water for half an hour. It sounds satisfyingly weighty, too. Outdoorsy types would do well to seriously consider this.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 3
This is one of the less portable speakers in this list, but it can still be carted around thanks to the carry handle. It's robust rather than heavy, and boasts a battery life of up to 30 hours at half volume or 12 at full blast. The bass, made feasible by that larger chassis, doesn’t ruin the balance, instead it does just what it should, offering extra stability. And that is where the upgrade on something such as the Roll 2 is justified – the noticeable leap in audio quality will have you enjoying music much more readily than on a smaller speaker.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon T3
Audio Pro has switched up the design for the A10, stepping away from the more industrial-looking Addon range. But you'll be pleased to hear it has the same winning sound quality – it's versatile, dynamic and has an impeccable sense of timing. The cylindrical design disperses sound throughout the room, too. It might not be quite up there with the best Audio Pro has produced, but the A10 is still a viable option, especially considering it costs less than £200.
Read the full review: Audio Pro A10
With their retro wood-and-grey styling, these speakers will look at home on almost any surface, be it an office desk or a kitchen work surface. But they're not just lookers – for our money they're the desktop speakers that come closest to sounding like a proper hi-fi set-up.
The soundstage is gloriously spacious, giving each instrument enough room to breathe, and the sound is bathed in rich detail and fluid dynamics. Their timing is also a highlight. Put them in any room, and they'll immediately add character along with some brilliant sonics.
Although we’re prepared to give it some good-natured ribbing for an aesthetic that abandons the dashing handsomeness of other Audio Pro speakers, the Drumfire is put together very well. The big bottom portion of the Drumfire houses a 20cm subwoofer powered by a 200W Class D amplifier to pump bass into the room. And you can hear it. If you want a seriously powerful, seriously impressive sound – look no further. You get plenty of volume and weight but don't be thinking this speaker can't also do subtle; it's a highly-accomplished wireless speaker, whatever you throw at it. Add in multi-room connectivity and the option to extend the Audio Pro family and you have an enticing, excellent high-end speaker.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Drumfire
The LS50 Wireless speakers aren't completely wireless – both master and slave speaker need to be plugged into the mains, and there's a cable connecting them. But still, it's a lot neater than a full hi-fi set-up with lots of separate boxes.
And the sound is very impressive indeed – there's a ton of detail to get your teeth into, and it's all delivered in an organised and stable manner. It's a refined listen, too, able to handle dynamic shifts without breaking a sweat, with a soundstage that opens up like a vista in front of you. A brilliant buy.
With Bluetooth, a 3.5mm headphone jack, compatibility with TVs, and an optical input that supports 24-bit/96kHZ files, you're not short of choice when it comes to sources you can add. You're also spoiled when it comes to placement – the Xeo 10s have a switch that optimises their performance depending on where you put them, be it close to a wall, in a corner or out in open space.
For speakers so small, they have an impressively panoramic soundstage, and they stay sounding clean even at high volumes. The low-end also packs plenty of weight, while the timing remains spot-on whatever you throw at them. Compact, versatile, great sounding... these speakers have it all.
Read the full review: Dynaudio Xeo 10
DSP and analogue combine to great effect in these wireless wonders, and there are some nice design flourishes to show off (such as the ability to change volume by running your finger along the front edge of the top panel). To get the most from them, you'll need Dali's £549 Sound Hub, which is basically a wireless preamp that adds Tidal, Qobuz and Deezer music streaming, plus Bluetooth.
It won't leave you disappointed – the sound is dripping with drive and energy, while the bass has plenty of precision, agility and texture. The imaging is also handled with aplomb, making for an expansive soundstage. Worth every penny.
Read the full review: Dali Callisto 6 C
Another Megaboom, another five-star product from Ultimate Ears. This model adds a redesigned top button (called the Magic button) that can control music and summon playlists without you having to look at your smartphone. You can also link up to 150 Ultimate Ears speakers of all types for one almighty party. Better warn the neighbours. Or you could just link two Megabooms for stereo mode, which might be more sensible. The Bluetooth range has increased from 30m to 45m too. Its predecessor was a stellar speaker, so these additions just make it an even more tempting proposition.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3