A great Bluetooth speaker is a must-have piece of kit if you don’t already have one in your audio-visual arsenal.
They’re the best way to take your tunes with you to picnics, beaches and outdoor adventures, and some of the best portable speakers sound just as good as almost any wired speaker that you’d buy.
In 2020, the best Bluetooth speakers even come with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, doubling as smart speakers that can be used to control your smart home gadgets.
These hard-working models are ideal for those of us can’t afford a new speaker for each occasion; and the best portable speakers need to serenade us from the bedroom, to the beach, and everywhere in-between. That’s why we’ve put together this buying guide, which will help you find the right Bluetooth speaker for your needs (and your budget).
The best Bluetooth speakers you can buy
Here’s the thing about the Sonos Move – it’s so good, you might want to consider it not only as your on-the-go party station, but also as your main in-the-home speaker too.
With two quality drivers, a solid app that unlocks playback from hundreds of wireless sources, multi-room capabilities and smart audio-tuning tech which tweaks the output based on the speaker’s immediate surroundings, the Sonos Move is engineered well beyond your average Bluetooth speaker. It’s a versatile speaker, one that stands solidly alongside the built-for-home Sonos speakers that the company made its name on.
It’s not perfect – it’s heavy as a byproduct of its incredible sound, it’s expensive due to its rich feature set, and it sadly can’t be used as rear channels for a home cinema set-up. But if you’ve got the money, it’s hard to fault the Sonos Move when it comes to hunting down the very best Bluetooth speaker in the world.
Read the full review: Sonos Move review
While we weren’t as impressed with the UE Boom 3 as we were with its predecessor the UE Boom 2, this is still one of the best Bluetooth speakers money can buy in 2019. This is a speaker that can get loud and not distort at higher volumes; be light enough to carry on a camping trip but remain durable enough to tumble in a bag unprotected.
It’s both water and dust-proof, and now has a one-touch mix button that lets you pull up your favorite playlists without ever picking up your phone.
There are certainly more detailed speakers out there, but at a price that’s relatively affordable to all, the UE Boom 3 hits all the right notes for the third year in a row.
Ultimate Ears now lets you customize your UE Boom 3, so you have even more options when it comes to color and pattern combinations.
Read the full review: UE Boom 3 review
For the money, the JBL Charge 4 is a definite no-brainer. For just $150 / £160 / AU$200, you get a speaker that lasts all day, sounds great, can put up with all kinds of abuse, and tops your phone up in a pinch. Yes, there are better sounding speakers but you’ll have to spend much more money.
While the JBL Charge 4 only offers minor updates to the previous generation, it remains an excellent value in wireless speakers – and is one of the best waterproof speakers around.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 4 review
If 2019 was the year of the smart speaker, then 2020 is set to be the year of the portable smart speaker – and with the Bose Portable Home Speaker, along with competing models like the Sonos Move offering the smarts of Google Assistant and Alexa alongside Bluetooth connectivity, the market is already growing fast.
The Bose Portable Home Speaker isn’t the brand’s first outdoor-friendly speaker, and it shows: gorgeous minimalist design meets weather-ready robustness, with a light build and handle that lends itself to listening on the go.
It doesn’t quite meet the sonic dexterity of the Sonos Move, or the value for money of the UE Boom 3 and JBL Charge 4 – but if you love that Bose sound and build quality, this is the speaker for you.
Read the full review: Bose Portable Home Speaker review
Anker has a history of making excellent budget wireless speakers. While we weren’t entirely impressed with the Anker SoundCore 2’s sound, we couldn’t be too mad since the speaker was so affordable.
So what happens if you can stretch your budget? For around $20 more you get the Anker Soundcore Flare, an excellent waterproof Bluetooth speaker that can stand toe-to-toe with the competition.
The Soundcore Flare is an amazing value in the sub-$100 wireless speaker segment. Competitors like the UE Wonderboom (listed above) give the Flare a run for its money in terms of build quality but we give the Flare the slight edge with sound quality. We recommend the Flare for anyone looking for a wireless speaker that can do it all without breaking the bank.
Read the full review: Anker Soundcore Flare review
The original UE Wonderboom has been at the top of our best waterproof speaker list since its debut and for good reason: it’s rugged, plays louder than its diminutive sound suggests, and could be paired to other UE Wonderboom speakers to amplify sound.
And although the UE Wonderboom 2 looks nearly identical to the original, Ultimate Ears packed in a slew of upgrades that make the Wonderboom 2 even better, like the increased battery life (up 30% compared to the original), better bass response, and the new Outdoor Boost feature that helps the speaker get even louder than before.
The UE Wonderboom 2 is a fantastic rugged and waterproof speaker you’ll actually want to take with. Its small size doesn’t mean small sound, however, as the speaker gets extremely loud and sounds great. While it can’t match the bass response of larger speakers like the UE Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve, the improved bass adds warmth and intensity to music that the original was lacking.
All said, for $100 (£90 AU$129), the UE Wonderboom 2 is still one of the best waterproof speakers you can buy – and our recommended option for those looking to bring their speaker to the beach or pool.
Read the full review: UE Wonderboom 2 review
The Tribit XSound Go shouldn’t sound this good for the price, but it does. The speaker impressed with balanced sound, is near distortion-free at high volumes, and lasts and incredible 20+ hours of playtime at medium volume.
Plus, the speaker is IPX7 water and dust resistant so it’ll put up with a day at the beach or pool without a problem. While its design may be forgettable, you won’t care once you hear how good the XSound Go sounds.
In terms of competition, you’ll have to spend a lot more for better sound quality. The UE Wonderboom is an excellent outdoor speaker, but will cost twice the money and doesn’t last as long as the Tribit.
Read the full review: Tribit XSound Go review
The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers.
That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound, and other Bose conveniences like a charging pad.
Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II review
The SRS-XB501G is a big speaker that offers a light show, tripod mount, big sound, and Google Assistant. This is a speaker that you can truly use on the go and in the home after a day of partying. On the go, the speaker is brilliant, playing loudly and for up to 16 hours. But at home, it’s dated design and average voice detection are compromises compared to dedicated home speakers.
Competitors like the LG PK7 sounds slightly better and has a light show that actually reacts to your music, however it doesn’t have the Google Assistant built in. If you’re looking for an actual portable speaker that you can fit in a bag that also supports Google Assistant, the JBL Link 20 is a good choice. Just don’t expect it to pump out as much bass or offer as wide of a soundstage.
To that end, the XB501G is a good all-around compromise that fills multiple purposes. It’s not the best wireless speaker, nor the best smart speaker, but it’s a solid entry in both categories and one of a select few to exist in both camps.
Read the full review: Sony SRS-XB501G review
The Bose SoundLink Revolve is an excellent sound speaker for folks looking for true 360-degree sound. It’s great for sharing music during a party or for moving around the room without losing audio fidelity. However, the Bose SoundLink Mini II sounds slightly better and is slightly cheaper to boot.
On the debit side, it’s also not fully dust or waterproof so you’ll want to think twice before bringing the Revolve to the beach.
For half the price, the Wonderboom is a great speaker that is completely dust and waterproof and while it can’t match the audio fidelity or features of the Bose, it’s still great for on-the-go listening. If bass is your game, the JBL Charge 4 is an excellent fully waterproof speaker that sounds great, but is big and heavy along with it.
Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Revolve review
The most recent speaker in the Denon Envaya line was one of the first speakers to absolutely blow us away in 2018 – and it’s still a great purchase two years on. It offers powerful, room-filling sound that will sound great to most ears, plus comes with an IP67 rating, make it both dust and waterproof. It’s also built like a tank, making it one of the most durable speakers we’ve ever laid our hands on.
Despite a nearly flawless performance, the Envaya isn’t perfect: While sound quaity is full, powerful and rich, it doesn’t have the treble bite some like and the buttons located along the side can feel stiff and difficult to operate. These are ultimately minor complaints, however, and the Denon Envaya remains a great Bluetooth speaker – easily among the best you can buy this year.
Read the full review: Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT) review
The Urbanista Brisbane might not look exciting, but beneath its unassuming package lies a powerful Bluetooth speaker. Loud and rich-sounding, it’s a well-priced addition to anyone’s home, with a good battery life and the option to pair it with another Brisbane for true stereo sound.
For the price, the Urbanista Brisbane is ultimately a bit of a bargain. You’ll find better sound quality out there, but it’ll cost you a lot more. All in all, this mid-range speaker could be a great choice for anyone who wants the freedom of wireless listening without sacrificing volume levels.
Read the full review: Urbanista Brisbane review
Best Bluetooth speakers at a glance
- Sonos Move
- UE Boom 3
- JBL Charge 4
- Bose Home Portable Speaker
- Anker Soundcore Flare
- UE Wonderboom 2
- Tribit XSound Go
- Bose SoundLink Mini II
- Sony SRS-XB501G
- Bose Soundlink Revolve
- Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)
- Urbanista Brisbane
How to pick out the best Bluetooth speaker
There are so many new speakers on the market these days with great designs and the latest tech built-in that it can be tricky to figure out which one you need. Although it may seem like the choice is endless, there are plenty with unique selling points that’ll suit you.
First up, some speakers are built with ultimate durability in mind, others are weather and waterproof for camping and tunes by the pool; however, some aren’t fit for the outdoors and would look pretty inside your home instead.
If you’re having trouble figuring out which speaker might be best for you, start by picturing where you’re going to use it and find a speaker that matches that setting. That means if you’re a beach person, water and dust-proofing in your outdoor speaker are key.
Or, if you’re a party person, you might want the ability to connect two speakers together or a speaker with multi-point pairing that allows multiple devices to connect at a time. Battery life, sound quality, and design are paramount for all speakers, and we’ve done our best to take these in the utmost consideration when creating our list.