The Best Bluetooth Speakers You Can Buy Right Now

Plug-and-play audio is here to serve us when we need it most. Remember the days when lining your iPod directly to an external speaker felt like a big deal? While wired connections from your mobile devices, laptops, and other A/V gear are still reliable ways to get your tunes from point A to point B, an even more convenient way to experience your playlists is through a Bluetooth speaker.

Today’s leading Bluetooth speakers offer top-shelf sound quality, impressive battery life, and peace-of-mind portability, among other popular features. If you’re thinking of buying one for yourself or as a gift, the shelves of digital and brick-and-mortar establishments are chock-full of Bluetooth speaker options, which can make selecting one quite the undertaking — but that’s where we come in.

As experts in all things audio, we’ve spent plenty of time with the greatest wireless sound solutions, and our choice as the best Bluetooth speaker you can buy right now still goes to the Marshall Emberton. It’s powerful, stylish, and still well-priced.  But of course, there are tons more out there to suit every need. So to help make your next shopping venture an easier one, we’ve assembled this roundup of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy right now.

If you’re looking for a sale, we’ve also found some of the best Bluetooth speaker deals available now.

The best Bluetooth speakers at a glance

The best Bluetooth speaker overall: Marshall Emberton

A person holding the Marshall Emberton.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why should you buy this? Marshall’s latest speaker offers great sound and strong battery life.

Who’s it for? People looking for the best sound in a small package.

Why we picked the Marshall Emberton:

Marshall’s Emberton speaker may lack some of the features of its biggest competitor, Ultimate Ears. However, the Emberton’s focus on being the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker without all the bells and whistles is where it excels. It doesn’t have an aux line-in or a mic, nor can it pair with additional speakers, but it offers a robust 360-degree sound pattern with plump bass and boasts a 20-hour battery life.

Taking its looks from the classic Marshall guitar amp, the Emberton is actually the company’s smallest speaker to date. It also has some great modern features like an LED battery display and USB-C charging. If you want the best sound in a small, compact package, the Marshall Emberton offers the best sound and battery for the price.

Read our full Marshall Emberton review

The runner-up: Sonos Roam

Person carrying the Sonos Roam 4 on the beach.

Why should you buy this? You want a top-notch Bluetooth speaker with plenty of features and a great price.

Who it’s for? Sonos devotees who have long-awaited an ergonomic, on-the-go speaker that costs less than the Sonos Move.

Why we picked the Sonos Roam: 

When it comes to wireless audio excellence, Sonos is one name that grabs plenty of limelight. And in terms of sound quality, battery life, and smart capabilities, the Sonos Roam edges pretty close to the No. 1 spot on this list (a throne claimed by the aforementioned Marshall Emberton). So what’s all the fuss about this new grab-and-go Sonos speaker? For starters, it offers unparalleled sound quality for both indoor and outdoor settings, with articulate midrange and treble frequencies, rich bass, and little to no breakup at the loudest volumes.

In terms of music streaming, you can send audio to the Roam over Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth connections, with a simple long-press of the button on the back of the speaker to switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can expect decent battery performance, too, with up to 10 hours of juice on a single charge. If you’ve been looking around for a smart speaker, the Roam is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant (Wi-Fi connection required), allowing you to fire up your favorite playlists, check the weather, and add to your shopping list, all through simple voice commands.

Best of all, the IP67 rating means the Sonos Roam is fully capable of taking a dunk in your swimming pool, but be aware that this wireless Sonos entry does not float.

Read our full Sonos Roam review

The best cheap Bluetooth speaker: Tribit Stormbox Micro

The Tribit Stormbox Micro mounted to a bike.

Why should you buy this? You want a small speaker with a big sound at a low price.

Who’s it for? Anyone looking for a portable and competent Bluetooth speaker without spending a lot of money.

Why we picked the Tribit Stormbox Micro:

Whether you’re an avid mountain biker, rock climber, or an all-around nature-lover, the Tribit Stormbox is the perfect, compact Bluetooth speaker to take on your next wilderness outing. Rocking an IP67 rating, this tiny titan can stand up against full water submergence and is totally protected from dirt and debris of any kind. If you’re planning on making a day out of your next outdoor adventure, the Stormbox will deliver up to eight hours of playtime on a single charge and features an LED battery indicator for letting you know just how much juice you have left.

Don’t let the size fool you when it comes to sound, either. The Tritbit Stormbox Micro’s patented XBass tech provides a deep low-frequency underbelly, with plenty of shine in the midrange and treble layers, too. Sure, it may not get as loud or provide as much clarity as some of the other offerings on this list, but for the size, durability, and quick-access USB-C recharging, the Stormbox is a solid contender for those that don’t want to break the bank on their next speaker purchase.

The best high-end Bluetooth speaker: Bose SoundRevolve+ II

The Bose SoundRevolve Series II in a person's hand.

Why should you buy this? It has a wide soundstage and support for multi-room audio and smart assistants.

Who’s it for? Anyone looking for a Bluetooth speaker that can function as a smart home speaker.

Why we picked the Bose SoundRevolve+ Series II:

The smart home speaker niche is quickly growing, and Bose’s SoundRevolve+ Series II is one of the best all-around. While you can still get your hands on the original SoundRevolve+ for about $100 less, the latest iteration sees a decent boost in battery life, netting you 17 hours on a single charge as opposed to 13 hours.

With an IP55 rating for dirt, debris, and water-splash protection, the Revolve+ Series II is perfect for a day at the beach and pool parties. And not to worry if you’ve got a big yard to fill with sound, for like its predecessor, the Series II is designed for an immersive 360-degree sound that sounds great no matter where you place it. The speaker is also smart enough to remember the last eight Bluetooth devices that were linked to it.

Speaking of smart: The Bose SoundRevolve+ Series II also features built-in Alexa support for controlling your smart home, managing your daily schedule, streaming your favorite music services, and more. While it’s one of the higher-priced offerings of our roundup, the portability, performance, and feature-set of the Revolve+ Series II is hard to beat.

The best rugged Bluetooth speaker: JBL Flip 5

JBL Flip 5 waterproof Bluetooth speaker

Why should you buy this?  It offers great sound in a rugged, portable, and affordable package.

Who’s it for? Those who want versatility and serious durability on a budget.

Why we picked the JBL Flip 5:

When it comes to wireless audio, durability is a big factor for those always on the move. After all, taking your sound everywhere is kind of the big seller for Bluetooth. JBL’s Flip 5 fits that bill, and it’s more than just another run-of-the-mill waterproof option.

JBL significantly upped the Flip 5’s power when compared to the earlier fourth generation of this speaker. With more than double the power of the Flip 4, the Flip 5 gets impressively loud, while generating a copious amount of bass.

Like the Flip 4, it is waterproof with an IPX7 rating, meaning you can submerge the speaker in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Battery life, while not massive at 12 hours, is still plenty for an entire day’s worth of tunes.

Using JBL’s PartyBoost feature, you can two PartyBoost-compatible speakers for stereo sound, or even more for a synchronized sound that can be spread around a whole house.

Want to make a fashion statement with your speaker? When you buy the Flip 5 from you can order it in one of 12 colors, or you can have it custom-printed with a photo that you upload to the JBL site. This option costs a bit more, but no one will ever be able to claim it isn’t your speaker.

The JBL Flip 5 is the right choice for a durable go-anywhere Bluetooth speaker for those who place a premium on big, bold sound, However, the Flip 4 might be a better option for some. With its speakerphone function, voice assistant-button, and line-in capability, it trades absolute power for enhanced practicality. It’s cheaper too.

The best outdoor Bluetooth speaker: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 in a pool.

Why should you buy this?  For its size, this latest version of the Wonderboom is still the most capable micro waterproof speaker you can find that still produces decent sound.

Who’s it for? Those who value portability but aren’t willing to sacrifice sound quality or durability.

Why we picked the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2:

Mini Bluetooth speakers often suffer from terrible audio quality and volume levels that simply can’t keep up with their larger cousins. The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 defies this tendency and does it in a fully floating, waterproof package.

If you need a boost in bass for your next outdoor event, hit the boost button to get a push in volume and clarity. As many images will indicate, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is a floating water companion like no other, thanks in part to its IP67 rating that covers full submergence. And with 13 hours of battery life, you can have the Wonderboom 2 in the pool with you all day long before recharging the speaker. While it may not touch the sound quality of speakers like the JBL Flip 5 or the SoundRevolve+ Series II, the Wonderboom 2 is perfect for getting tossed around and thrown in your beach bag.

The best multiroom-capable Bluetooth speaker: Sonos Move

The Sonos Move being carried by a person.

Why should you buy this? It’s a Sonos speaker that can also do double-duty as a rechargeable portable Bluetooth speaker. Need we say more?

Who’s it for? Sonos owners who want a portable Bluetooth speaker that will work with their whole-home sound system.

Why we picked the Sonos Move:

Multiroom audio is something several companies claim their wireless speakers can do, but we’ve never come across a multiroom system that is as easy to use or as powerful as Sonos. So when Sonos finally introduced a battery-powered portable speaker that can effortlessly switch between Wi-Fi-based whole-home audio and go-anywhere Bluetooth connectivity, we were all ears.

The Sonos Move is pricey at $399, but it justifies that price through a build quality that goes well beyond most of the products on this list. Despite looking like the rest of the Sonos line of indoor-only speakers, the Move is just at home outside, with an IP56 rating for dust and water resistance. That means get-togethers, unexpected rainstorms, or even trips to the beach are no problem for the Move. Just don’t immerse it in water — it isn’t waterproof.

It has a big, bold sound that easily fills a room with warmth and depth that surpasses most of its competitors in this size range. Cleverly, the Move integrates a new form of Sonos’ excellent TruePlay EQ technology — one which requires no user intervention. It simply measures the room acoustics via the built-in mics and adjusts accordingly, and will do so every time you move it.

Of course, those mics would be under-utilized if they were only for Auto-TruePlay. They also serve as your smart speaker interface. Like the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, you get a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant. This won’t work when using Bluetooth, but it’s pretty handy when at home.

The Move’s battery is good for 10 hours of use between charges, which is frankly a little underwhelming for a portable speaker. But we have to give Sonos props for its decision to make the battery user-replaceable — a rarity in this category and a huge help in keeping the Move from an early trip to the landfill.

Filling out the Move’s benefits is AirPlay 2, which lets you stream directly to the speaker from any iOS device or MacOS computer. It’s a higher stream quality than Bluetooth and makes the Move an ideal for better-than-iPad sound quality for YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, or any other video you can think of.

If we have one criticism of the Sonos Move it’s that you don’t actually want to move it much. It’s very heavy compared to every other portable model on this list and its built-in carry handle isn’t comfortable for anything beyond a trip from the kitchen to the patio.

Read our full Sonos Move review

The best compact Bluetooth speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd-gen)

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) on a table.

Why should you buy this? You’re an audio connoisseur that wants incredible sound from a small chassis.

Who’s it for? Those that don’t mind investing in premium audio, regardless of the real estate that’s available.

Why we picked the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd-gen):

Flagship sound can cost thousands of dollars and usually involves quite the medley of equipment to complete the connoisseur’s listening experience. But if you’re lacking the space to host a proper hi-fi system and still seek the best audio possible, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd-gen) should be at the top of your list.

Featuring a regal design with a durable shell, the water- and dust-proof Beosound A1 is IP67 rated, making it great for both indoor and outdoor settings. In terms of sound, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another portable speaker this size that provides the kind of elegant sound-staging that the Beosound A1 is capable of. A mesmerizing balance of highs, lows, and volume would lead one to believe this speaker is actually much bigger. Onboard Alexa controls are here as well, allowing you to tap into your favorite playlists and artists with voice commands or through the Alexa app. Plus, 18 hours of battery life will keep this bad boy going all day.

If you need as much volume as possible, you’ll want to look at one of the bigger speakers on our list. But if it’s space you’re lacking and quality sound you desire, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd-gen) is our go-to.

How we test

We test Bluetooth speakers the way normal people live.

We run every speaker through a rigorous process over the course of several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios, be it in the park or at the beach (for portables), in the listening room, or at the office, and playing back from our device library and streaming services like Spotify. We also test range, connection stability, and interference in areas with a lot of radio frequency interference (i.e. the Digital Trends offices).

Finally, we compare each speaker to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above to find out if they can punch above their weight.

Further research

How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs

These days, it seems like you can’t turn around without knocking over a Bluetooth speaker. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to nail down which is best for your needs. The first things we recommend thinking about before deciding are how and where you’ll be using your Bluetooth speaker.

If you’re primarily using it indoors and leaving it there, for example, then the field of choices opens up dramatically in terms of size and durability considerations — you can go as big and feature-filled as your budget will allow.

If you’re an on-the-go type, you’re going to want to consider portability and ruggedness. There are plenty of portable Bluetooth speakers with durable rubber features that can withstand being dropped and banged around inside a backpack. And if your travels should take you to the great outdoors, poolside, or beachfront, consider getting a speaker with a good IP rating to stave off any water or dust. IP67, for example, will actually let you submerge the device for a short period of time (read below for more on that).

When it comes to sound features, give some thought to how you want to use your Bluetooth speaker. If you’re fussy about sound, put sound quality at the top of the list. If you want something loud to fill a room at get-togethers, you may want to err on the bigger side, although there are several smaller speakers that pump out some volume, too, and even compact speakers that can be chained together and placed around the room for the ultimate in flexibility and a big sound.

The good news is that there are plenty of Bluetooth speakers to choose from that are bound to hit on every one of your priority needs, making it easier than ever to find the right fit.

How to decipher Bluetooth speaker terms

  • Pairing (or Bluetooth pairing): When using Bluetooth speakers, pairing means the literal process of connecting wirelessly between your speaker and your specific device.
  • IPXX: IP stands for “Ingress Protection,” and this number serves as a rating for electronic devices. This first number represents exactly how resistant your tech is to dust; the second number measures water resistance. It’s a simple process to follow, and the higher the number, the most resistant it is to that environmental influence. For example, a device with an IP67 rating means that this device is dust-tight and can be submerged underwater for up to one meter, or about three feet, for 30 minutes. If you’re hoping to bring your Bluetooth speaker to the pool, lake, or anywhere near water, we recommend you consider only using devices with a rating of at least IPX7. Park it here for a full explanation of what it all means.
  • NFC: Shorthand for Near Field Communication, this oft-touted feature is actually quite limited when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, allowing select phones to pair with a speaker with a quick touch. Since pairing is often as simple as pressing a button, and speakers will be remembered by your device once paired, it’s not seen as a must-have feature.
  • AptX: Another feature limited to phones and devices outside of Apple’s periphery, AptX is a codec (or group of codecs) said to allow Bluetooth streaming at “near CD quality” resolution. Apple products do not use AptX, but Android users may find it improves performance when paired with high-quality tracks and high-performance speakers. AptX Adaptive is the latest and greatest version of this codec, but both device and Bluetooth speaker must support it for you to get any benefit.
  • Passive radiator: This term represents a kind of driver that helps magnify bass within your speaker. If you have a sealed speaker enclosure, which means there are no portholes, a passive radiator essentially reacts to slight changes in the air pressure within the enclosure. Each fluctuation results in sound. Passive radiators do not have to be powered by amps. Furthermore, the device is often lighter than other traditional drivers or speakers because it comes with no magnet or voice coil. That production design saves you a bit of cash, creates a more compact and portable device, and upgrades your speaker’s overall sound. 

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Above article first published by . We curated and re-published.

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