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.
Pop into any store and you’ll see everything from basic rugged speakers best-suited to student pool parties to audiophile-level options costing hundreds (and sometimes thousands), with brands touting everything from the best Bluetooth speakers for the home, the best wi-fi speakers, the best wireless speakers and everything in between. Even for the professionals, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Just to add an added layer of complexity, having reviewed more wireless speakers than we care to count, we can confirm that there are plenty of terrible options doing the rounds that simply aren’t worth your time or money. If a speaker isn't present on this list, chances are it's not worth your time or your cash, although some (such as the versatile JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi) are omitted because they're better classed as Bluetooth speakers than wireless ones.
All too often we’ve received promising-looking speakers in for review, only to have them fail to deliver (poor sound, patchy connectivity or flimsy build quality) when we put them through their paces in our dedicated test rooms.
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 reviewed in recent years.
The quick list
The best wireless speaker overall
Versatile, affordable and packed with features, we have no hesitation in recommending the enjoyable-sounding Sonos Era 100 to absolutely anybody.
The best budget wireless speaker
Apple doesn’t normally do budget, but the HomePod Mini’s price tag matches its tiny dimensions, while offering a sound that’s anything but small.
Best spatial audio
The best wireless speaker for spatial audio
The Era 300 makes Dolby Atmos tunes sound immense, but it performs brilliantly no matter what format you feed it.
The best mid-price wireless speaker
With wide-ranging multi-room skills and performance that outdoes more expensive speakers, the C10 MkII is an excellent mid-price option.
The best Apple wireless speaker
The superbly made second-gen HomePod sounds natural and spacious, but you need an Apple Music subscription to get the most from it, so only fully committed Apple disciples should consider owning one.
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Best wireless speaker overall
As the name suggests, Sonos’ range of wireless speakers promises a new ‘era’ for the American audio company. Released alongside the superb Era 300, the Era 100 keeps up with its bigger, more expensive brother by delivering a host of streaming playback features within another excellent-sounding speaker.
If you’re not keen on forking out the somewhat whopping £449/$449/AU$749 asking price for the Era 300, the Era 100 is a fine option as a wireless home speaker. Just like its heftier counterpart, the 100 delivers a big, open sound, a lovely sense of rhythmic drive and all the detail and precision you could hope for at this price point. The app is excellent to use, the number of streaming features is, frankly, vast, and everything is as well-made and reliable as you’d expect.
Again, Sonos rarely delivers what you’d call ‘budget’ options in the best wi-fi speakers category, and we’re still not delighted to be forking out extra for a wired connection, but if you’re still happy to spend a decent amount of cash without making as much of a dent in your funds as the 300, the Era 100 is a five-star banker.
Read the full five-star review: Sonos Era 100
Best budget wireless speaker
The HomePod Mini really is bijou, and 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 what a classy performer you've got 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. Not at all bad for a price that falls just under the £100 / $100 / AU$150 mark.
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 probably haven't heard before but which has been curated to fit in with your current listening habits and tastes. 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
Best wireless speaker for spatial audio
It seems that it isn't enough for the best wi-fi speakers just to deliver great sound and a decent array of features anymore. Ever since Apple's mighty HomePod 2 landed early in 2023 with the ability to deliver spatial audio, the race has been on to see who could challenge the biggest dog on the block when it came to integrating the much-vaunted tech into their own speaker designs.
Enter the Era 300, Sonos’ more expensive rival to the HomePod 2 that looks to beat Apple at its own game. With its unique, “cinched hourglass” shape, there’s no question that the Era 300 is a bit more of an acquired taste than most of the brand’s rather more conservative designs, but what isn't up for debate is how superbly the five-star Era 300 manages to perform. In short, it is absolutely excellent.
Throw whatever you like at the Era 300, chances are it has it covered, filling our testing rooms with cohesive, spacious sound without a hint of a struggle. Big choral numbers feel broad and immersive thanks to spatial audio, but the Era 300 excels seemingly with all genres and across every taste. Hip-hop, classic rock, soundtracks, it’s all covered with ease. Yes, it’s expensive and yes, it smacks of a rip-off having to pay 20 quid extra for a wired connector, but the Era 300 has earned the right to be cheeky.
A truly five-star performer, and one of the best wireless speakers we’ve tested in a good while.
Read the full five-star review: Sonos Era 300
Best mid-price wireless speaker
The 2021 update (sensibly titled MkII) to the multiple What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Audio Pro C10 adds AirPlay 2 and Google Cast to complete a multi-room home run and gain another yet more What Hi-Fi? Awards 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
Best Apple wireless speaker
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 the HomePod 2 to be one of the best-sounding smart speakers you’ll find, and listening to Apple Music’s Dolby Atmos version of The 1 by Taylor Swift unearthed clear, warm vocals. The HomePod has boundless energy, its enthusiasm is infectious, and its rhythmic drive is 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 procedure only took us a few minutes.
There's even 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's 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. Services like Tidal or BBC Radio still don’t work with Siri, something which will limit its appeal to those who aren’t Apple fans or fully ensconced in the iOS ecosystem.
Read our HomePod 2 review
Best premium wireless speaker
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 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 multiple 2022 What Hi-Fi? Awards for the best home wireless speaker over £500/$500. Give it a listen and you'll realise how richly deserved such accolades are.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
Best wireless speaker system
The original KEF LSX streaming system impressed us immensely when it 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 spectrum 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 taut and controlled, there’s a real sense of refinement and maturity to the sound without being showy, and you get a reassuringly 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
How to choose a wireless speaker
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 bigger model that can fill a larger space, or even act as your main sound system? Do you need voice control? If you want portability from your wireless speaker, you might want to pick something with a built-in rechargeable battery, too.
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. Many wireless speakers also come with their own control app so you can take command of all their tricks and features using your smartphone or tablet.
Wireless speakers can come in one-box units (Audio Pro, Naim) or as active stereo speakers with amplification and sources built-in (a complete system, if you will, such as the KEF LSX II).
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 here.
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, such as Sonos, Apple or Audio Pro, will serve you best when it comes to buying a wireless speaker.
Why is Sonos so popular?
Sonos' big claim to fame is popularising 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.
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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.