Best Bluetooth Speakers 2018-2019-Under 100-50-500
Best Bluetooth speakers 2018-2019–Under 50-100-500–Bluetooth speakers have come a long way, gone are the days where you would face several issues such latency issues, low battery, and terrible sound quality. The good thing about these Bluetooth speakers is that they happen to be a lot better in terms of the features that were lacking in the predecessor.
Best Bluetooth speakers 2018-2019-Over the past couple of years, the Bluetooth speakers are back in trend, and the reason why they weren’t hailed as good before is very simple to understand. Bluetooth standard never really reached the heights it was supposed to in the first place, sure, it was a great option for people who were using the single piece Bluetooth headsets back in the day to receive calls, but to have proper audio transmitted over Bluetooth is something that was possible, but wasn’t good enough.
A wireless speaker like the UE Boom 2 is cylindrical and you an easily put it into your pocket, or you can fit it bottle holder without difficulty. Others come in more conventional rectangular.
Today, we will be taking you through the ten best Bluetooth speakers that you can buy in the market right now. In order to make sure everything is covered, we will be pointing out 3 key factors of each Bluetooth speakers; build quality, sound, and battery life. So, without wasting anymore time, let’s take a look at the best portable Bluetooth speakers 2018 in the market.
Best Bluetooth speakers 2018-2019–Under 50-100
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Best Bluetooth Speakers 2018-2019
BEST PORTABLE SPEAKERS 2018
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- Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker 2018-2019 Best Seller
- 1. UE MEGABOOM BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
- 2. UE Boom 2 BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
- 3. JBL Pulse 2 BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
- 4.BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER -B&O PLAY A1
- 5. Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II
- 6.BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER-JBL Charge 3
- 7. Bose SoundLink Colour
- 8. JBL Flip 3
- 9.AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
- 10. Anker SoundCore – Best Budget
- Which Bluetooth speakers is Right for You?
Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker 2018-2019 Best Seller
1. UE MEGABOOM BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
When it comes to the peripherals, Logitech is a company that is quite popular, as a matter of fact, anything that has left Logitech’s factory in the past couple of years has managed to find great success among the masses, and the case with the UE MEGABOOM is no different. The Bluetooth speaker by Logitech is one of the finest we have seen, and the reasons you should buy are listed below.
The good thing with Logitech is that they are very consistent with build quality, as well as design, they don’t believe in making a lot of unnecessary changes, and in all honesty, that’s how it should be. As for the UE MEGABOOM, it will remind you of some of the older Bluetooth speakers by Logitech but that’s not a bad thing considering how they were such a success. However, there is a slight change that Logitech doesn’t market, at least not in the name, the UE MEGABOOM is a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, that is built like a tank, and will stand the wear and tear easily, and by wear and tear, we don’t necessarily mean that you can throw it around as you please. Needless to say, we have no issues with how it’s designed and built.
From a speaker that is this big, and costs quite a lot of money, you’d expect it to perform incredibly with the sound, well, the good thing is that it does. The MEGABOOM is bigger than the original BOOM, and for those expecting it to perform better than the predecessor, the good news is that it does, and does a great job at it. Now you may be wondering what the sound is like, and well; the speaker is louder, packs more punch, and has an overall greater fidelity. Tracks out clearer, and crispier, making it one of the best performers in the market.
The original BOOM from Logitech had a great battery life, and the good thing is that this one doesn’t disappoint either, the battery life hovers between 15-20 hours on consistent playback, and depends on the volume you set this on. Keep in mind that the higher the volume, the shorter the battery life. However, don’t worry, even if you’re booming this at max volume, you’ll be getting great battery life. It charges using a micro-USB and will charge with pretty much any charger, however, it’s best if you use the included AC charger for better results.
- Excellent sound quality.
- Solid build quality.
- Waterproofing with attractive design.
- Great battery life.
- A bit expensive for some.
2. UE Boom 2 BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
The next Bluetooth speaker we have on our list is the UE Boom 2, and yes, it is a revised version of the original Boom, and can be considered a younger brother of the MEGABOOK. Now the good thing is that this is based on the same legacy as the older UE Bluetooth speakers, and the reason why that’s a good thing is because UE speakers are without a doubt some of the best speakers in the wireless industry. Without wasting anymore time, let’s get down to the business.
First thing first, how is the build quality? Well, for those who have used the original Boom, you would be pleased to know that the build quality remains satisfactory through and through. Yes, the speaker still uses bright colours, and to be honest, the colours do suit the speaker very well. Design, again, is a reminiscence of the original Boom, however, this time, you’re getting full waterproofing, something that is really, really good for a Bluetooth speaker. Overall, there were absolutely no issues with the build quality, or the design.
For those wondering whether or not it’s an incremental upgrade, then you should know that it’s not, at least when sound is concerned. The Boom 2 is obviously louder than the original version, and offers a lot crispier, and detailed bass than the original. Sound appears more detailed, and all the genres fit well with the Boom 2’s wireless capabilities. Needless to say, it is one of the best Bluetooth speakers I the market.
For the masses who is always looking for Bluetooth speakers, having the best battery in the speaker is one of the most important factors there are, with that said, the good thing about the battery on the Boom 2, the rated battery is around 15 hours on moderate levels, and while people may prefer to play on a higher volume, the higher you go, the more battery you’ll give away. Needless to say, the battery levels are no less than impressive.
- Excellent sound quality.
- Great looks and build quality.
- Great battery life.
- Pricey for some.
3. JBL Pulse 2 BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
The next Bluetooth speaker on our list is the famous JBL Pulse 2, for those who don’t know, this is an upgraded version of the original JBL Pulse, and there are obvious upgrades here and there, for starters the sound quality has improved, and so did the battery life. The good thing is that the amazing pulse lighting is still there, and even though the battery drain is insane, it’s a nice feature to have. With said, let’s move on and take a look at how good the JBL Pulse 2 is.
When it comes to the build quality, one thing is certain that JBL knows how to work with it, the speaker is built like a tank, although hurling it around isn’t something we’d suggest, in addition to that, you should also know that the speaker is quite amazing when it comes to weigh distribution with the weight being evenly distributed through and through. Now the good thing about the JBL Pulse 2 is that the design doesn’t look too much out of the place. Yes, it’s designed like capsule, and this is the style many Bluetooth speakers usually go for, but at the core, it still looks good, and thanks to that Pulse lighting, things only get more interesting.
Sound quality has always been the pressing matter whenever we are talking about a Bluetooth speaker, we all know and love the sound quality of the original JBL Pulse, and the good news in this current situation is that the sound quality here remains top notch, upon our testing, it was revealed that Pulse 2 backs a lot of bass for the size, and every single note is well detailed, and this is something really, really impressive for a Bluetooth speaker of this size and stature. No complaints with the sound quality.
Now comes another important factor, and that is the battery life. Well, when compared to the UE Boom series, the battery life may not be as good, but it at rated 10 hours, it’s still a lot better, after all, no one really plays music for 10 hours straight. However, one thing is worth noting is that the battery life works for both the speaker, and the lighting system as well, so turning on the lightshow will take at least 50 percent of the total battery. So, battery life with the light show on would be around 5 hours, still, very respectable for the speaker of this size.
- Great sound and bass for the small size.
- Solid build quality.
- Lightshow is a rather fun to watch gimmick.
- Decent enough battery
- Speaker doesn’t come with a carrying case.
4.BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER -B&O PLAY A1
For those who don’t know, B&O Play is a series by Bang & Olufsen that is popular for creating some of the most famous, and highly regarded audio products. They are known for their headphones, earphones, and even the wireless speakers. As for today, we are going to take a look at the famous B&O Play A1, one of the most famous Bluetooth speakers currently available in the market. Is it any good? Well, let’s find out.
The first thing first, how is the build quality and design of this speaker? Well, for those who don’t know, the B&O Play A1 is one of the smallest speakers on our list, it can be said that it is can be compared to a size of a puck, and while some may think that the size will be holding it down in terms of performance, it’s actually not true. As for the design, it’s a rather tiny speaker but that’s a good thing because it allows for a lot of portability, and the build quality manages to remain as sturdy as possible thanks to the aluminum construction.
This was something that concerned us when we first laid eyes on the Play A1, the size of this Bluetooth speaker is so small that you’d wonder that this speaker won’t be giving a good performance, however, wait till you actually hear this speaker. The good thing about this speaker is that the sound quality is very, very natural, and clear at the same time. Unlike some other speakers, it doesn’t one note over the other, and everything feels natural. Of course, this isn’t the best speaker for outdoor use, but if you want to keep this in your room, or even your living room, this is certainly a great choice. One thing we noticed is that the speaker starts to heat up as the volume is cranked to maximum, but not unbearably hot.
Now, another impressive thing about this speaker is of course the battery, we were wondering about having a terrible battery life, but the good thing is that the rated 24-hour battery timing holds really, really well. However, one thing you should keep in mind is that the battery is tested at a medium volume to create an evened out baseline, obviously, the higher you go, the lower the battery gets. That’s the simple science behind pretty much any wireless product.
- Small, compact, and sturdy build quality.
- Amazing natural sound for the small size.
- Great 24-hour battery life at moderate volume level.
- Somewhat pricey.
- No carrying case.
5. Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II
We’re halfway through the list, and finally, we are going to take a look at one of the best companies when it comes to audio products, and in case you haven’t guessed it already. We are talking about Bose. The speaker in concern today is the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II, and as you can tell, this is an upgraded version of the original SoundLink Mini, and it happens to be one of the best speakers that are available in the market at the moment. Why? Let’s find out why.
If you’re wondering whether or not you’re getting a good build quality then you should know that yes, you are getting one of the finest built Bluetooth speakers, the SoundLink Mini II uses a unibody aluminum enclosure that looks good, and feels even better in hands. Do keep in mind that it’s not rugged, so if you’re wondering about hurling it around, it’s better not to go that way. Overall, the construction is really good, and the design is simple, kind of something you always expect from Bose but we’re not complaining.
The original SoundLink was known as one of the best sounding speakers in the market, and in all honesty, not a lot has changed, obviously, you’re getting slightly higher bass, and more clarity, but put those things aside, and you get a speaker that sounds great regardless of the volume level you are putting it on, the speaker will perform like a beast it is, and you won’t be disappointed with the amount of clarity, bass, and details there are.
Battery is obviously another pressing concern in almost every single wireless speaker, and lucky for you, and us, the battery on this one managed to be really, really well. The original SoundLink mini gave us a respectable enough 7 hours of battery life, and for those wondering about how well the SoundLink II performs, it performed rather wonderfully, and gave us a 10 hours of battery life on a moderate volume, as for people who prefer music on maxed out setting, a small tradeoff won’t be much of a problem.
- Satisfying unibody aluminum construction.
- Great, natural sounding quality.
- Improved battery life over the original.
- Comes with a charging cradle.
- Doesn’t come with any stereo separation.
- Speakers can’t be paired.
6.BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER-JBL Charge 3
We have another amazing speaker from JBL on our list, and this time, it’s the famous and beloved JBL Charge 3, for those who don’t know, the Charge series is one of the most renowned series that is available in the market at the moment, having some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the list, and today’s case is no different either. The speaker we have is amazing at what it does, and it does everything pretty well. How well? Let’s find out.
At this point, it’s safe to admit that most high end Bluetooth speakers regardless of the company they are from are usually with the same shape and size, however, we are not saying it’s a bad thing at all. This design language is one of the best we have seen, and gives the speaker an ability to be louder than normal, and that is certainly a good thing. As for the build quality, we have absolutely no issues whatsoever, the speaker looks as good as things get. It’s obviously larger than the previous Charge 2+, but we’re not complaining because it plays music louder than before. As a cherry of top, JBL has also provided full waterproofing to this speaker.
Consider how the JBL Charge 3 is definitely bigger and larger than the predecessor, you’d wonder that it is louder as well, and you’d be thinking right. The speaker is actually louder than the predecessor, and while it definitely is a good thing, we realized that the loudness doesn’t equate for a better sound quality. Sadly, in our testing, and comparison of both the Charge 3, and Charge 2+, we realized that the Charge 3 is just not as good when it comes to sound quality, and this maybe a deal breaker for some. However, if you don’t care about quality all that much and just want the loudness, then there’s nothing wrong with Charge 3.
Now the good thing about JBL Charge 3 is the battery life it gives us. Sure, for the size, one would be expecting a decent battery anyway, but the JBL Charge 3 provides 20 hours of battery life on a moderate volume levels, for those willing to louder can do so without breaking a sweat but do keep in mind that you’d have to pay in battery timing for the louder volume output. Overall, the battery is very satisfactory, and the speaker doesn’t take a lot of time to charge itself. It’s a win-win situation in our opinion, and a very good one at that.
- Satisfying build quality and design.
- Fully waterproof.
- Great battery life.
- Louder than the predecessor.
- Disappointing sound quality as compared to the Charge 2+
The next up on our list is the Bose SoundLink Colour, when it comes to top of the line audio products, nothing can better than Bose, and while a lot of people have gone on the board and stated that Bose products are expensive, they are way better when it comes to engineering, as well as all the good things that go into them. So, in one way or another, the price is actually justified. As for the SoundLink Colour, it’s an attractive Bluetooth speaker that is surely a good one. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the speaker itself.
There are a lot of things Bose is consistent about and one of the biggest out of all is the build quality they feature in their products, the SoundLink Colour might be a cheaper version of the SoundLink series, but doesn’t mean that Bose will be compromising in the build quality. The end result presents us with one of the best looking speakers in the market that comes with an attractive, and sturdy design. The speaker is compact, making it easier to carry around, and still look quite attractive thanks to the attractive colour. Sadly, the compromise made was basically no waterproofing in this speaker.
Looking at a speaker this small, you’d wonder about what type of loudness and quality it would be offering, and the good thing is that there’s plenty. However, do keep in mind that it’s still quite a small and compact speaker, that ultimately means that the sound separation isn’t as good as someone would want. Still, the speaker manages to remain relatively impressive at the size it offers.
For a speaker this small, the battery life also tends to be smaller, however, the good thing is that the battery life isn’t as small as some would think it is. The marketed battery timing is around 8 hours on moderate volume, and the good thing is that it actually lives up to that. Still, as the general rule suggests, the higher you go with the volume, the lower battery you will be having. The good thing is that the battery is pretty solid for a speaker of this size, and charges comparatively fast too.
- Compact, attractive, and solid design.
- Powerful sound quality and loudness for the small size.
- Impressive battery life.
- No waterproofing.
8. JBL Flip 3
The reason why JBL has a speaker series called Flip is very simple to understand, and even though some may find it ridiculous, it’s actually a really good idea. The Flip series of speakers can basically be used horizontally and vertically, and while it may make no sense to the ordinary user, it is actually really good, especially when you want the sound to travel throughout the entire area. For those who want the sound to stay within a place, using the horizontal positioning is the way to go, however, if you want the sound to travel everywhere, simply place it in a vertical position, and you’re good to go. With that out of the way, let’s see how the speaker fairs.
The build quality of this speaker is just as you would expect, it’s built with great finesse, and JBL has put proper effort in making sure that placing the speaker horizontally or vertically doesn’t create any sort of the issue. It does look quite a lot like the original, and that’s not a bad thing by any measure considering how it was one of the best looking speakers we have tested. Overall, the build quality remains solid, and satisfying at the same time, making this one of the best speakers to hit the market, and yes, the speaker does come with water resistant as well.
Considering how this is basically a 3rd generation speaker, a lot of people were wondering about wheter or not it will sound as good as the predecessors that were loved for top notch audio quality. Well, the good thing is that it sounds every bit as better as the older models did. Thanks to the bigger speaker that goes inside it, however, you need to keep in mind that the speaker does suffer a bit when you turn the volume to max, but that’s just in a very few tracks. Bass is good, treble is perfect, and vocals come out detailed, and natural. JBL has truly created an amazing speaker.
This may come as a disappointment to some but when compared to the competition, the battery on the JBL Flip 3 isn’t as good as we had expected. Sure, it’s every bit improved than the original versions, but the 2-hour upgrade doesn’t make a lot of sense when the total battery timing you’re getting is just 10 hours on moderate volume. Still, this part is something that is completely subjective, and a lot of people actually compliment it for the battery life it gives.
- Striking design, and a great build quality.
- Water resistant.
- Great sound both horizontally and vertically.
- 10-hour battery life seems less when compared with the size.
9.AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
We’re taking a break with high end speakers now and will be looking at something that is a bit more affordable, and still offers enough to keep everyone happy. In comes the AOMAI Sport II, and while a lot people haven’t heard about this relatively cheap Bluetooth/NFC speaker, it has managed to create a decent amount of hype in the industry, and left many of us wondering whether or not it can be a good option for those who are looking at the best Bluetooth speakers in the market. Is the choice worthy of buying? Well, we are going to find that out.
The important and the good thing about this Bluetooth speaker is that while it may have similar dimensions with the other speakers, the design manages to be a little different thanks to the coloured accents you can find on the speaker itself. But that’s not it, perhaps one of the most important thing about this speaker is the fact that the speaker is being marketed as a “Sport” suitable, which means that it should have abilities such as waterproofing, and some other bells and whistles. The good thing is that it does, you’re getting a speaker that is rated IPX7 rating, and on top of being waterproof, the body is designed in such a way that it also happens to be mud, snow, and shock proof. Definitely a great way to earn top marks. Overall, we have had absolutely no problems with how the speaker was constructed, and the design manages to be a fresh air for us. As a bonus, the company has also included an inflatable bed that you can use to put this speaker between a swimming pool without the worry of drowning it. This is something we find very impressive.
Sound quality happened to be a major concern for us when we first laid eyes on this speaker, the reason behind this is simple, we never heard of this company before, and that raised more concerns. However, we’re happy to report that the speaker managed to pass the test with flying colours. We won’t call it the next big thing from Bose or JBL, but do keep in mind that for the price you’re paying for this speaker, things don’t get better they already are. Our only complaint is that the mids felt like they were being sandwiched between the highs and the lows, and while it did not please us as much, for some other people, it may be the exact combination. Overall, the sound was really, really satisfying, prominent, and natural, even at louder levels.
On the box, the company advertised the battery to be at 10 hours, however, you do need to keep in mind that the 10-hour battery timing means that the volume must be at a moderate level, that’s actually how the batteries are tested. In our testing, we were never really able to sit through the entire playback time because sitting at one place and listening to music for 10 hours straight is something that can be tiresome. But we can confirm that you can use this speaker for more than 1 day with a single charge, and that is rather impressive. It certainly doesn’t provide you with 24 hours of battery timing, but given the price you’re paying, it’s more than respectable.
- Great price to performance ratio.
- Amazing sound quality with details highs and lows.
- Shock proof, water proof, mud proof, and snow proof.
- Includes a free inflatable bed to put the speak in water.
- Battery life is somewhat disappointing for the size of the speaker.
10. Anker SoundCore – Best Budget
The last speaker on our list may come as a surprise to some people because it’s from Anker, and pretty much everyone knows that Anker is a company known for creating some of the best power banks, still, it didn’t stop us from giving the SoundCore a shot, and we got one for the review. The early impressions were really positive as we found the SoundCore to be the reminiscent of the amazing build quality and price to performance Anker has to offer. With that said, let’s dive in.
Anker did right by making the speaker all black, and while some may think it’s way too simple for its own good, we actually prefer this design. The entire speaker looks like a brick, and the front of the speaker has “Anker” written in white, may look odd at first, but it’s not very upsetting to the eyes. The overall build quality is solid, and despite the build being plastic like almost all the Anker products, it still doesn’t show any sign of wear and tears. However, do keep in mind that soft plastic finish is prone to fingerprints. Overall, the build quality is pretty good despite some minor hiccups here and there like the soft plastic finish and lack of waterproofing, but considering the price, the tradeoff isn’t huge.
Now this is something that raised some eyebrows for us, considering how this was a first time testing a speaker from Anker, we were a bit curious about how good the sound is, and apparently, it turned out to be really, really good. Believe it or not, the speaker provided one of the best sound qualities we have heard on a Bluetooth speaker, the lows, the mids, and the highs were smooth, and detailed. There was some harshness in the highs especially when the volume was maxed out but apart from that, nothing major really pulled this speaker behind.
There’s no denying that Anker is well aware of the batteries, after all, they have created some of the best power banks that are available in the market, and to be fairly honest, we didn’t pay much attention to it either. As per Anker’s official statement, the battery will last you about 24 hours at a moderate volume, and while that is certainly an impressive number, it can’t be tested properly. So, in order to test it, we used the speaker at maximum volume, for a couple of hours to make sure it runs dry soon, and it managed to last quite well.
- Minimalistic, solid, and attractive build quality.
- Amazing detailed sound quality.
- About 24 hour of battery timing on moderate volume.
- Great price to performance ratio.
- Soft textured plastic is fingerprint prone.
Phones can connect to wireless speakers in two ways, depending on the connectivity technologies supported by them and the speaker; Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Most wireless speakers will work with Bluetooth, but the more expensive models will go one step further with support for Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth connections use a “pairing” arrangement, where the two devices (music player or smartphone and wireless speaker) connect. Generally, connecting via Bluetooth is easy and doesn’t require any network support, which means you can pair to a speaker just about anywhere. The downside is that Bluetooth requires the music files to be compressed due to limited bandwidth (whereas Wi-Fi is able to stream uncompressed music) and some audiophiles feel this is a big compromise. While the claimed range for Bluetooth is usually limited to around 10 metres, we’ve found the range to be higher when tested in a straight line, and even in tests where there were obstructions such as a brick wall or solid core doors.
- Wi-Fi: The big advantage of Wi-Fi speakers is that you can control a number of them over a network (we recommend no more than five). Music can flow throughout a home as the same song is played on each speaker when they are in a different room. Two musical zones can be created to play different tracks or, if you’d rather, a song can be beamed to a solitary speaker. You can play the same music over a number of speakers scattered across a home, play different music from specified speakers (if you have more than one), or even play in stereo by making two speakers play the left and right channels. In some cases you can take this to extremes and create a multi-channel (5.1) scenario, but this isn’t a cost-effective option given the price of these products.It also has enough bandwidth to support uncompressed, high-fidelity streaming, but lacks the convenience of Bluetooth as you must connect the speakers to a network. Networking via Wi-Fi is often tricky. The best speakers we’ve tested manage to connect to a network in minutes, but the worst can take many attempts – you may even need technical help.
- AUX-IN: An auxiliary input lets you connect media players that don’t connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, such as a CD player or a direct output from a computer. The USB connection on some wireless speakers may behave like an AUX-IN for some players, but sometimes it’s only there for firmware upgrades or charging the device, so check before you buy. All models in our latest wireless speaker reviews have an auxiliary input using a standard 3.5mm cable connection.
- Ethernet (LAN): Some wireless speakers offer Ethernet (wired) connection to a network, which can be handy to eliminate interference from other Wi-Fi sources and it may increase bandwidth – important if you’re transferring video as well as sound. Some wireless speakers have a video out port making them a useful part of your home entertainment system.
- Wi-Fi direct: Wi-Fi direct lets you make a connection between the music player and the speaker without it having to be part of a home wireless network. AirPlay is an Apple feature that uses Wi-Fi to stream audio throughout your home network. So as long as your speaker’s within the Wi-Fi network, you can enjoy your music from your PC or Mac and online, as well as from your iPhone or iPod. Models that use AirPlay in a home wireless networking environment require a router for listening to music, and an internet connection if you want to enjoy online music.
- Additional speaker support: Some wireless speakers we’ve tested offer extra features and functionality such as stereo separation. This means two or more wireless speakers can be paired together to form one multi-speaker sound system.
- Speakerphone: Several speakers in our tests include microphone support, which lets you use your speaker to talk to someone instead of having to pick up your mobile. This is also a handy feature for conference calling. When a call comes through the mobile, the music pauses and resumes playing once the call has finished.
- Dust/water resistance: This can be a handy feature to help extend the life of your wireless speaker if you want to take it to the park, beach or pool. Most models use an IP rating to denote dust and water resistance, which is displayed as IPXX (the first x refers to dust resistance, the second refers to water). The higher the number, the greater resistance, for example, some of the UE Boom range have an IPX3 or IPX4 rating, which basically means they can cope with some splashing water when placed by the pool. The UE Megaboom and UE Boom 2 have IPX7 support, a rating that certifies they can be submersed in fresh water a metre deep for a period of 30 minutes. If a speaker has an X in place of a number, it does not have a rating in that category (e.g. IPX7 means it has not been rated for any kind of dust resistance).
Use our recommendations below to help you choose the speakers that are right for you.
Highly mobile: You need something light and portable, with a battery as well as mains power that’s Bluetooth-enabled.
- Look for a speaker that can fit in your backpack or coat pocket. The outer casing is often rugged to protect it when you’re out and about, and you may also want an built-in mic as the speaker would be useful as a speakerphone.
- These types of speakers should deliver acceptable quality audio at low to medium volume levels, but don’t expect too much from them when the volume is turned up to 11.
- All these models could be used for outdoor parties or travelling and so would need to be fully portable with good battery life. A Wi-Fi Direct or Bluetooth connection is important as you need to be able to use the speakers without being connected to a home network.
Seriously networked: Portability is a bonus, but your emphasis is on being able to have speakers in separate rooms that can be controlled from a single point.
- They can play from all sorts of sources other than your mobile device (e.g. music saved to your hard drive or a NAS, or network attached storage).
- You might want to look at models that provide more bass than the pocket speaker models.
- Sonos pioneered this sort of system, but it has real competition now. LG, Samsung and Sony, along with brands more commonly associated with hi-fi equipment such as Bose and Denon have recently come to the market with speakers that let you have them as part of your home network environment.
Stand alone: A single personal speaker for use in one room (e.g. bedroom, kitchen), and when you’re out and about. Possibly powerful enough for entertaining at picnics, BBQs and so on.
- Premium audio brands are releasing stand-alone Bluetooth speakers powerful enough to deliver your favourite music with gusto.
- Some brands will support the AptX audio codec to retain the detail typically lost when transferring a file over Bluetooth.
- Our listening panel believes the implementation is good enough to compete against expensive networked speakers, but these speakers are significantly easier to use.
Bluetooth speakers can be bought for less than a hundred dollars, but audiophiles can spend a thousand dollars on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable speakers.
WiFi or Bluetooth—or Both?
There are two ways to go wireless—Bluetooth and WiFi. WiFi speakers connect to your home network; they usually run on AC power, so they require an outlet. Bluetooth speakers connect directly to a device like a phone or a laptop. They tend to be compact and battery-powered, making them more portable. Some models offer both connection options.
Most portable speakers use Bluetooth wireless technology to stream music from another device—say, a cell phone or a laptop.
Pros: The technology works with a wide range of mobile devices, including Apple iPhone and Android smartphones. Bluetooth speakers also tend to be less pricey than WiFi options.
Cons: You can stream audio from your device to only one speaker at a time, and range is limited, usually to around 33 feet.
Setup: In general, connecting via Bluetooth requires fewer steps than connecting via WiFi. Some Bluetooth speakers now include NFC (near field communication) technology, which enables two devices—one of which is usually portable, such as a smartphone—to establish communication. How does the pairing work? You simply tap an NFC-equipped device to the NFC tag on the speaker.
See Which Bluetooth Speakers Rated Highly
WiFi speakers let you take advantage of your home network, typically giving you a stronger, more stable signal.
Pros: With WiFi, you can stream to multiple speakers at once. And this technology has a longer range than Bluetooth, up to as much as 200 feet, although 100 to 150 feet is a more reasonable expectation.
Cons: You’re subject to bandwidth limitations, which means that the volume of traffic on your network (people streaming videos, surfing the net, downloading content) can affect the quality of your audio streaming.
Setup: Typical setups require downloading an app and following several steps, which will probably include selecting a network ID and entering its password as part of the process.
Check Out Our WiFi Speaker Ratings
Bluetooth and WiFi Speaker
Several of the highly rated models in our testing have WiFi and Bluetooth.
Pros: With both technologies, you have more choice. That includes the flexibility to take advantage of your strong home network, and if, for example, a visitor wants to play some songs from a phone or laptop, the simplest way to connect is over Bluetooth. In general, these models are fairly easy to use.
Cons: WiFi-enabled models tend to be more expensive, and you might pay more for a speaker with both features.
Setup: If your intention is to take advantage of Bluetooth and WiFi, be prepared to go through the individual setup for both, although it’s not generally that difficult.
Some Models Tested Have WiFi and Bluetooth
WiFi Tech Terms
If you opt for WiFi when you’re shopping for a speaker, you’ll come across terms such as Apple AirPlay, DLNA, DTS Play-Fi, Heos, and Sonos. These are the wireless standards a speaker uses to access content on a network. Many speakers can use more than one. But be sure that the speakers you want to link together all share at least one standard. The main things you need to know are:
• Apple AirPlay can access content from Apple mobile devices and any computer with iTunes installed on it. For Android devices, you’ll have to use a third-party app. The same goes for streaming to multiple AirPlay speakers from an iPhone or iPad. You do not, however, need the third-party app when you’re using a computer.
• The other standards—including DLNA, DTS Play-Fi, Heos, and Sonos—can usually work with iOS and Android devices, plus PCs and some Mac computers.
• If you want to play music on multiple speakers, those speakers can come from different brands. However, they both have to use the same wireless technology standard. In other words, if you have one speaker that uses AirPlay and another that’s Play-Fi only, they won’t play together nicely.
Wireless and Bluetooth Speaker Placement and Signal Strength
Before you choose a speaker, think a little about where you’re going to be using it.
If you’ll be using your speaker outdoors, consider a portable Bluetooth model that can sit near the barbecue grill while you flip burgers, then follow you around the yard if you want to listen to tunes or the ball game. Pick a compact model and you’ll conserve space on the patio table, or choose one that comes in fun color that matches your tablecloth. And in the great outdoors, a rugged model that’s water-resistant can reduce your worries about accidental damage.
If your new speaker is likely to live indoors, consider its proximity to electrical outlets and a robust WiFi network before deciding between a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker and a WiFi mode powered by AC.
Placement can also affect a speaker’s performance. You’ll typically want the music source to stay within 33 feet of a Bluetooth speaker. Bluetooth models also work best with a clear line of sight to the source. Walls, large objects, and even people between your speaker and the source can cause those annoying sonic dropouts.
WiFi is better at handling greater distances and physical obstructions between the router, music source, and speakers. Under ideal conditions, you might maintain a connection with a speaker that’s more than 200 feet from the router, but 100 to 150 feet is a more typical range.
Form Follows Function
Plain and boxy or strikingly sleek, the form on many wireless speakers is more than merely aesthetic; it affects sound quality and portability.
Important Wireless and Bluetooth Speaker Features
Whether you’re all about the bass or your prefer a more refined presentation, you’ll want certain functions so that you can take control of your wireless speaker.
Inputs and Outputs
Most wireless speakers have auxiliary audio inputs that can be used to connect gear such as a portable audio player or a TV. Some speakers can even charge other devices via a USB port. An optical digital audio input can connect to devices such as a Blu-ray/DVD/CD player. Outputs allow you to add a subwoofer when you’re watching video from a docked iPad on your TV.
Connectors and Docks
Depending on the model, you may also get an iPod dock or the ability to connect an iPhone, an iPod, or another device via USB. Some units have connectors or docks that accept the old-style 30-pin connections found on older iPads, iPods, and iPhones. The latest 9-pin Lightning connector on the Apple iPhone 5 and beyond requires a separately purchased adapter for many models.
Remote Control and Voice Recognition
Voice recognition seems like a fun way to control the volume when you don’t want to leave the dance floor, but in reality it can be hit or miss; a standard remote or an app on a smart device often provides a more reliable way to operate your speaker from a distance. Some new models are taking voice recognition to the next level with full-blown smart-speaker functionality. Though many first-generation smart speakers seemed to almost approach audio quality as an afterthought, some newer models also feature seriously good sound.
Online Music Services
In addition to streaming digital audio from a computer, several WiFi models can access a handful of premium music services, such as Pandora and Spotify.
Hands-Free Speakerphone Functionality
Available only on certain Bluetooth models, this feature lets you take phone calls on your speaker.