Best party speakers 2019: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best party speakers you can buy in 2019.
Out and out party speakers can be an interesting proposition. Anything marketed with the word 'party' in the title usually has flashing lights with pumped-up bass married to brash, harsh highs. But we can do better than that.
We've rounded up 13 of the best party-starters around. Sure, there are some boomboxes among them, but only those that past muster in our testing rooms.
When looking for a party speaker, your first question should be what kind of shindig will it be? If it's outside by a pool, you'll want a portable waterproof model. For a more sophisticated soiree, a mains-powered model will be the order of the day. If you want the same tracks pumping out of every room in your house, then it could be worth considering a speaker that can form part of a multi-room system.
All the speakers listed below have their own strengths but they also all share one common trait: brilliant sound quality. So, read on for our complete list of the best budget and premium party speakers.
You can link up to 150 Ultimate Ears speakers together in order to create an almighty sound. Should be quite the party, then. The Megaboom 3 is great to use, with the buttons sensibly placed. It's also dustproof as well as waterproof, and you can access playlists without having to talk to your phone. The sound quality is fun and punchy, great for pool parties and house parties alike: there's bags of detail and a good sense of rhythm. If your gathering could move outside, this is the party speaker for you.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
No, it's not a minibar, it's actually a multi-room speaker and subwoofer combination. And it's a belter: coated in faux leather with handstitched threads, it will add a touch of class to any gathering. Four preset buttons let you quickly select a playlist or radio station, while it sounds suitably heavyweight: bass is tight and considerable, and there's plenty of texture on show. Its timing is spot-on, and the midrange clean. Something for a more sophisticated soiree.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Drumfire
The Xtreme 2 is a modern take on those massive boomboxes you'd see hoisted on the shoulders of Bronx kids in the 80s. But its sound is anything but brash - if you buy it expecting thumping bass above all else, you'll be disappointed. Rather it offers a refined sound; yes, there's plenty of bass, but it's kept in check and never dominates. The treble is surprisingly clean and clear, creating a much more grown-up listen than its appearance would suggest. It's not short of features either: there's waterproofing, a shoulder strap, Bluetooth 4.2 and it lets you link up to 100 Xtreme 2s to create a monster sound. Shudder.
Read the full review: JBL Xtreme 2
It might look like Wall-E, but this speaker is much more capable than a rubbish-collecting robot. Splash-proofing means you can use it poolside with confidence (as long as it doesn't go in the drink), and there are two special sound modes finely tuned by high-end hi-fi specialists Meridian Audio. Sound-wise, it's a lot bigger than it looks, with lashings of bass and good dispersion. The midrange can be a little coarse, but chances are that won't trouble most partygoers. Well worth an audition.
Read the full review: LG PK7
Following the iconic B&W Zeppelin Wireless speaker is no mean feat, but thankfully the Formation Wedge is up to the task. It's as much a design statement as a sound machine, sure to draw admiring glances at any social gathering. But it's not just a pretty face - multi-room skills come as standard, so you can fill your house with sound. And what a sound it is: it supports hi-res audio and it puts in a dynamic performance, with clear, textured vocals and a great sense of timing. A worthy centrepiece to any party.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
If you want a smart speaker at the heart of your party, the HomePod is the best-sounding around. The industrial design is typically Apple - simple yet stylish, and it's smaller and heavier than you would expect. It gives a heavyweight sound too, weighty and authoritative at the low end, with a never-too-bright treble and clear midrange. It automatically adjusts its output depending on where you place it as well, meaning it's always optimised for whichever room it's in. Handy if you need to take the party elsewhere.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod
The Playlist is compatible with Google Cast, which means not only do you have a larger range than Bluetooth, you can also wirelessly play hi-res music files. Then it's a simple case of tapping the Cast icon in your music streaming service of choice. As you would expect from a speaker of this size, there's plenty of low-end grunt, but never at the expense of warmth or stability. Though the sound could use a touch more restraint, especially in the treble. But whoever put 'restraint' and 'party' in the same sentence?
Read the full review: JBL Playlist
The LSX come in five colours, so you're guaranteed to find one pair to suit your party decor. They're bookshelf speakers, and small enough to move to another room should the need arise. You can play a range of sources through them, including Tidal, Spotify Connect and stream music wirelessly via aptX Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2.
The sound is dynamic, with tons of detail and a lucid, agile bass. It makes for a cohesive listen that never feels condensed. A fantastic pair to get your party started.
Read the full review: KEF LSX
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant come built in to the One, letting you control it using your voice. Which is useful for a party if you've got your hands full. It's a subtle, unobtrusive design that blends into its surroundings, though the sound certainly makes it stand out - it's weighty, full-throated and loud, instantly filling the room with your party playlist of choice. And the soundscape is nice and spacious, with plenty of room for the vocals to breathe. An excellent choice for any gathering. If you want a multi-room system to move the party from room to room seamlessly, you could do a lot worse than using Sonos Ones as your building blocks.
Read the full review: Sonos One
This speaker's diminutive dimensions don't exactly scream 'party', but the Envaya Mini is not your average small speaker. It sounds much bigger than its size would suggest, with plenty of bottom end, even if things do become a bit muddled with more complex arrangements. But if it's lots of oomph you want from a speaker small enough to chuck in a backpack, look no further.
Read the full review: Denon Envaya Mini
Admittedly, the L100 Classics aren't for everyone, and we don't just mean that bright orange grille. They need amplification and a source, so set-up isn't as simple as the others on this list. But put the effort in and you will reap the rewards: they provide a fun listen without sacrificing detail or precision. The bass boasts class-leading agility, while the treble is clear and the midrange crisp. So while they might be styled like their 1970s counterparts, their performance is very modern indeed.
Read the full review: JBL L100 Classic
Bluetooth and wi-fi come as standard on this speaker, as does Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. The Scandinavian aesthetic oozes class, but its feature-set is anything but minimalist: as well as Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, you get a 3.5mm port for plugging in a pair of headphones. The circular design does a good job of dispersing sound around the room, the bass is satisfyingly solid and there's a healthy level of detail. One of the more stylish and elegant portable speakers around.
Read the full review: Libratone Zipp 2
The ultimate party speaker? Quite possibly. The Gold Phantom costs around £2500, but gives you an astonishing 4500W of power - that's the equivalent of a small aircraft. Which is enough to really annoy the neighbours. This wireless speaker also looks like a work of art, with 22-karat gold-plated covers on each side. And it sounds fantastic: authoritative, nimble, with tremendous tonal and textual variation. Maybe the neighbours won't be that annoyed after all.
Read the full review: Devialet Gold Phantom