The 7 Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2021

Take your music on-the-go with these portable wireless speakers

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The Rundown
Bose's Home Speaker 500 provides a modern smart speaker experience that sounds just about as good as it looks.
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
JBL Charge 4 at Amazon
The JBL Charge 4 is, in many ways, the brand’s flagship portable speaker.
B&O's A1 portable speaker aims to take the luxury audio brand’s namesake design language and shrink it down to a portable size.
Best Battery Life:
Anker Soundcore 2 at Amazon
For around $30, Anker has made an incredible device, delivering a surprisingly powerful 12W of volume.
Best Budget:
JBL Clip 3 at Amazon
Most of the build is taken up by a fairly large speaker driver, meaning there’s plenty of bass and power in its playback.
Best Waterproof:
JBL Flip 5 at Amazon
This speaker earns our best water resistance slot because of the IPX7 rating, but also because it feels remarkably well sealed.
Best With LED Illumination:
JBL Pulse 3 at Amazon
Rows of LED lights pulse, move, and morph with the beat of your music, providing a customizable light show that travels with you.

Bluetooth speakers, as a category, can feel pretty specific depending on your needs. These all-in-one devices sit somewhere between your in-home sound system and the phone that’s in your pocket (which likely has decent built-in speakers all on its own). Bluetooth speakers, on the other hand, provide a small, unobtrusive way to boost the volume and fullness of the music you want to listen to, without the need for a complicated, expensive speaker system. 

In recent years, the Bluetooth speaker space has really grown up, offering options such as adventure-safe, waterproof devices that you can bring to the beach or easy-to-use smart speakers that sit nicely on your bookshelf. In this roundup, you’ll find a few choice selections from all of those categories in a variety of different price points.

Best Overall: Bose Home Speaker 500

  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Controls
    4/5
  • Audio Quality
    4/5
What We Like
  • Full, rich sound

  • Sleek, elegant design

  • Nice controls with app and voice functionality

What We Don't Like
  • Pretty pricey

  • Not a ton of native app support

  • Could be louder

Bose has a lock on the premium audio space, particularly when it comes to consumers who want great sound without overthinking it. To be fair, Bose doesn’t provide in-the-weeds detail or even mind-blowing audiophile quality. What the Home Speaker 500 does provide is a modern smart speaker experience that sounds just about as good as it looks.

Occupying less than a square foot of space and coming in either a sleek black or an upscale white color, the Home Speaker 500 is a device that will look just as good in your office as it is on the kitchen counter. It connects via Bluetooth 4.2, which is perfectly adequate, though not quite as seamless as the more modern Bluetooth 5.0

Bose refers to the sound response as “wall-to-wall,” which doesn’t tell us much about the actual specs, but does give you a sense that Bose is trying to put rich, powerful sound on tap. The touch controls on top of the device are intuitive, and even offer six preset buttons to call back what you were listening to before. You can control the speaker with built-in voice assistants, and there are also options to use the Bose app to further personalize your experience.

Because the speaker can connect to Wi-Fi, Apple Airplay functionality is available if that’s your preference. Plus, the vibrant built-in LCD provides some nice visual touch points when listening to your music. At around $300, the speaker does have a steep price tag, and there aren’t a whole lot of native app tie-ins, but overall this is a solid choice on design and sound quality alone.

"The Bose Music app seems to be the weakest aspect of this home stereo system." — Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall: JBL Charge 4

  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    5/5
  • Controls
    5/5
  • Audio Quality
    5/5
What We Like
  • Powerful, bass-forward sound

  • Great battery life and power bank capabilities

  • Ten colors to choose from

What We Don't Like
  • Simplistic on-board controls

  • Sound can feel a bit muddy at times

  • Fairly heavy for daily use

JBL is an impressive audio brand, particularly when it comes to the portable Bluetooth speaker space. The JBL Charge 4 is, in many ways, the brand’s flagship portable speaker. That’s because it offers most of the same features as the Flip line, but also acts as a power bank, giving you the ability to charge your phone (hence the name “Charge”). That 7500mAh battery offers about 20 hours of playback when it’s fully topped off, though it’s important to note that that figure will likely drop if you’re charging your phone a lot or if you’re playing music loudly.

The sound quality is pretty impressive, too, especially given the size. It measures just about 8.5 inches in length. JBL has put in their “passive bass radiators,” which are essentially just two rubberized subwoofer ports on either end of the cylindrical speaker that actually move and pulse with your music. JBL’s speakers are always loud, and this one is no exception. JBL rounds things out with IPX7 water resistance (perfect for beach days), and a whopping ten colors to choose from, including zany options such as neon mint green or mustard yellow.

"You can expect this speaker to stand up to the elements, endure heavy usage, and last all day." — Jeffery D. Chadwick, Product Tester

Best Design: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    3/5
  • Controls
    3/5
  • Audio Quality
    4/5
What We Like
  • Balanced, detailed sound

  • Premium design and build quality

  • Plenty of battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Really expensive

  • Heavy and bulky

  • Not the loudest portable speaker

Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay A1 portable speaker aims to take the luxury audio brand’s namesake design language and shrink it down to a portable size. To be fair, while the speaker does fit nicely into a backpack, it sits roughly at the size of a normal household smoke detector and comes in at almost 2 inches thick, this speaker does feel fairly bulky. But the high-quality material choices and brushed finish (B&O calls it “pearl-blasted aluminum"), alongside a leather-like strap, do make the speaker feel premium. There’s even IP67 dust and water resistance to protect the device.

Of course, at a price point of $250, the sound quality is likely a bigger concern than it would be for the sub-$100 speakers out there. With premium portable speakers, manufacturers tend to put a stronger emphasis on detail and balance, not volume and bass. That is certainly the case here. With two 30W Class D speakers and a frequency response covering 55 to 22,000Hz, the sound quality is plenty full, and even though it isn’t the loudest, the 360-directional playback makes the speaker feel fuller than it is. There’s Bluetooth 5.1 here, 18 hours of battery life, and voice assistant functionality available, too.

Best Battery Life: Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    3/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    3/5
  • Controls
    3/5
  • Audio Quality
    4/5
What We Like
  • Excellent price point

  • Top-notch battery life

  • Premium sound and durability

What We Don't Like
  • Controls are pretty clunky

  • Sound quality isn't very detailed

  • Rubber feet tend to fall off

The Soundcore 2 is one of the best-selling portable speakers in the category. And that makes sense, because for around $30, Anker has made an incredible device. Available in black, blue, or red, this tiny rectangular powerhouse delivers a surprisingly powerful 12W of volume. It's supported by the capable connectivity of Bluetooth 5 and a rugged, durable design. That design is also fairly resistant to moisture with an IPX7 rating, making it perfect for outdoor use. The rubberized outer shell, while great for durability, does make pressing the controls a little awkward.

Perhaps the most impressive feature here is the 24 hours of battery life—handily outperforming most other speakers in the class. And, because the price is about half of what you'd spend on mid-tier speakers, and even less when you compare it to premium brands, this is basically a no-brainer for those who just need a quick grab-and-go speaker without emptying their bank account.

Best Budget: JBL Clip 3

JBL Clip 3
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    3/5
  • Controls
    2/5
  • Audio Quality
    3/5
What We Like
  • Great value

  • Impressively full sound

  • Cool design with a carabiner clip

What We Don't Like
  • Thick and heavy

  • Sound could be a little louder

  • Battery life is slightly limiting

JBL's Clip series combines functionality, portability, and decently powerful sound for an interesting offering in the Bluetooth speaker space. But, for under $70, with a top-notch build quality and JBL’s tried-and-true sound quality, we’re actually giving it our top spot for affordability. Let’s dig into why that actually is.

While the enclosure is really small, most of the build is taken up by a fairly large speaker driver, meaning there’s plenty of bass and power in its playback. Plus, JBL also manages to fit a 1000mAh battery in the device, billing the playback at about 10 hours on a single charge. Your mileage will vary on this front if you are playing music loudly, but that’s to be expected. Either way, the battery life is good, but not great.

The design is perhaps the other most interesting aspect, offering around ten colors to choose from and a unique carabiner-style clip. This feature allows you to clip the speaker to a backpack or a keychain, making it perfect for on-the-go listening. The IPX7 water resistance also means the speaker will survive the elements. The device is just a bit too bulky for truly portable use, and the sound could be louder if there was more of a ported design, but overall this is a solid offering for the price point.

Best Waterproof: JBL Flip 5

JBL Flip 5
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Controls
    3/5
  • Audio Quality
    4/5
What We Like
  • Great, powerful sound

  • Excellent IPX7-rated durability

  • Tons of color options

What We Don't Like
  • Limiting battery life

  • A bit pricey

  • Heavy and a little bulky

When you picture portable Bluetooth speakers as a category, you're likely think of the JBL Flip line first. The Flip 5 is one of our favorite entries in the space for a variety of reasons. First off, the 20W of power and fairly large 44mm main driver mean that this thing can pump some seriously full audio. Add that in with JBL’s well-known pulsing bass ports on either end of the cylinder, and it’s clear that it’s an impressive device for playback. While there is a 4,800mAh battery included, all that volume does mean that the battery life hovers around 12 hours—definitely not as good as we were hoping.

Then there’s the build quality. Weighing in at well over a pound, it isn’t the most portable speaker out there, but that weight comes from its rugged build. The hyper-durable, rubberized bumpers on either side mean that this speaker will survive reasonable drops and can withstand being bounced around in a backpack. The speaker grill is a hard shell with a breathable mesh covering.

This speaker is earning our best water resistance slot because of the IPX7 rating, but also because it feels remarkably well sealed—just getting this thing in your hand tells you how dense and protected it is. The $120 price tag is a little difficult to stomach, especially when you aren’t really in the premium end of the spectrum from a features standpoint. But the money could be worth it if durability and sound quality are your top priorities.

Best With LED Illumination: JBL Pulse 3

JBL Pulse 3
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    3/5
  • Controls
    4/5
  • Audio Quality
    4/5
What We Like
  • Incredible, vibrant light show functionality

  • Full, rich sound quality

  • Excellent durability

What We Don't Like
  • Huge and bulky

  • Not the best battery life

  • A tad expensive compared to other non-light show speakers

The JBL Pulse 3 is, simply put, one of the most unique-looking Bluetooth speaker offerings on the market. That’s because it isn’t just a Bluetooth speaker. The base of the design features multi-directional firing speakers that provide plenty of power, though they aren’t quite as big as the drivers found in JBL’s Flip and Charge lines. The pulsing bass ports on the end of the cylinder offer plenty of low-end support. The IPX7 water resistance puts it right on par with the rest of JBL’s portable speaker line, and the compatibility with JBL Connect+ allows you to pair it with other speakers from the line.

But where this speaker really shines (literally) is in its use of light. The rest of the chassis is covered in an opaque plastic shell, underneath which are rows of RGB LED lights. These lights pulse, move, and morph with the beat of your music, providing an impressively customizable light show that travels with you. You can pair the speaker with the JBL app to choose which light patterns you’d like, and you can even leave it on as a night light or color feature even without music playing.

The battery life does take a hit when you’re using the lighting features, but with 12 hours of playback it could be worse. The speaker is massive, and its weight and awkward shape make it fairly difficult to label as “portable." But overall, this is an impressive device, both visually and sonically.

Final Verdict

When choosing your ideal Bluetooth speaker, arguably the most important question is to determine whether you want something that is truly portable, or one that fits into your home more seamlessly. That’s why we’ve given our top slot to the Bose Home Speaker 500. As far as smart Bluetooth speakers go, it’s hard to top its rich sound quality and seamless integration into your home music listening.


Our runner-up is the JBL Charge 4 because it offers the best functionality for portability, with its full and loud sound quality, excellent water resistance, and even the ability to charge another device on the go. In short, which of these speakers you go with depends entirely on where you plan to use it.

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate Bluetooth speakers based on design, performance, connectivity, functionality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, from listening to music outdoors, to broadcasting podcasts while you work (from a variety of inputs). Our testers also consider each speaker as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jason Schneider is a writer, editor, copywriter, and musician with almost ten years' experience writing for tech and media companies. In addition to covering tech for Lifewire, Jason is a current and past contributor for Thrillist, Greatist, and more.

Alex Williams is a certified web developer and professional journalist with over five years of experience covering tech. His work has appeared in a range of top tech publications, and he's been writing product reviews and contributing to roundups for Lifewire since 2016.

As a musician and tech expert with over 20 years of experience, Lifewire contributor Benjamin Zeman knows his Bluetooth speakers. He thoroughly reviewed our top pick, the Bose Home Speaker 500, and found that it was both stylish and full of integrated features like Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Audible.

Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick has been reviewing audio equipment for over 10 years. He tested the JBL Charge 4 and gave it a perfect 5-star rating for its strong, clear sound.

Rajat Sharma is a technology journalist with over six years (and counting) of experience in covering/reviewing the latest and greatest gadgets out there, including everything from TVs to smartphones. Having been a contributor for Lifewire for almost two years now, he has worked with The Times Group and Zee Media Enterprises Limited, two of the biggest media houses in India.

Our own commerce and tech editor, Alice Newcome-Beill, owns and regularly uses the JBL Clip 3 on our list. She loves the lightweight design, portability, and massive battery life.

The Ultimate Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Buying Guide 

In much the same way that Bluetooth headphones have taken over the consumer sound market, Bluetooth speakers are becoming nearly synonymous with home audio systems. That doesn't mean that home theater systems, floor speaker sets, and the like, are not still prevalent, but particularly in the last 5 years or so, the market has seen an influx in sleek, premium speakers that deliver amazing sound and the convenience of beaming your music wirelessly from apps and phones.

Something that’s interesting with the Bluetooth speaker market is that you won’t see quite the transparency in spec info as you will on high-end, audiophile products. That’s for a couple reasons: First off, Bluetooth speakers tend to be small(ish), contained units that often don’t even feature multiple drivers. Therefore, these speakers tend to have a lot of proprietary digital audio processing and rely less on specs like impedance, sensitivity, and frequency response. In fact, many brands don’t even list what those numbers are—a fact that would be unheard of when advertising, say, a pair of floor speakers.

Bose Home Speaker 500 portable bluetooth speaker
 Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

With all that in mind, there are some core considerations when purchasing Bluetooth speakers, and oddly, this purchase has a lot more in common with Bluetooth headphones than it does with normal consumer speakers. Because sleek design is so common, and because a small footprint is important for aesthetic reasons, you’ll find a lot more manufacturers going in the whole home audio direction, and as such, many of the best speakers offer great smartphone software to support your system. 

Sound quality is a factor too, of course, but you have to look at it differently, mainly relying on a brand’s track record rather than the raw numbers we mentioned above. Read on for a breakdown of what to consider when making the purchase.

Form Factor: A Competitive Space

Design: Do They Look as Good as They Sound?

Design—what you might not initially consider a key feature in an audio product—is actually really important when you look at how people use Bluetooth speakers. Many of these units are meant to sit on a bookshelf or a kitchen counter, giving you quick access to music, but otherwise blending in as an appliance would. 

As such, you’ll see a lot of manufacturers offering really small, futuristic designs that do away with massive, utilitarian speaker enclosures. Take a brand like Bose, for instance, whose SoundLink and Home series of speakers look more like a Star Wars droid than a traditional speaker. Plus, if you’re purchasing a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker, manufacturers will often lean on sportier designs, giving you multiple color options. This all makes sense considering the spirit of a Bluetooth speaker—since we’re trying to do away with clunky wires and aux cords, why would the speaker itself be designed with a clunky aesthetic?

JBL Charge 4
Lifewire / Jeffery Daniel Chadwick 

Build Quality and Durability: How much ruggedness do you need?

This category largely hinges on what your main goal is for your speaker. Are you looking for something small and battery-powered to toss into a beach bag? Or are you looking for a more powerful at-home unit that can sit as a centerpiece in your office? These two use cases imply vastly different approaches on the build quality front. Portable speakers tend to feature rugged builds, often with rubberized bumpers and shells. They’ll also tend to throw in IP-rated waterproofing and dust resistance. This makes these speakers perfect for outdoor parties and quick listening sessions on the go, but you’ll definitely sacrifice some sound quality.

On the at-home side of things, build quality is part and parcel with the design conversation. Many top brands will build hybrid wood and composite enclosures that tend to be heavier than battery-powered speakers, but will stand up to years of at-home listening, even with the volume cranked. But these speakers will not respond well to drops, and certainly not to the elements. And as far as premium constructions go, the higher end of the price range will yield more finesse in the materials used, whereas one main corner that budget manufacturers cut is that they’ll lean on more plasticy builds.

Audio Quality: The Most Important Factors

Frequency Range: How much can you hear?

As a brief discussion in audiology 101, how high-pitched or bassy a sound is based on its frequency spectrum (measured in hertz and kilohertz). The human ear can hear as low as 20Hz and as high as 20kHz, theoretically—though most people’s range is much narrower due to outside forces. Most larger speakers will cover more than the full spectrum, where some smaller speakers will cover just barely the full range. 

An important note here is that just because a speaker can produce sounds as low as, say, 16Hz, doesn’t mean your ear can hear them. But rather, a speaker being rated to a range outside of the hearing spectrum means that the full human spectrum is covered by the speaker without it pushing its hardware to the extremes.

So what does this mean for a Bluetooth speaker? Well, if the manufacturer lists this range, it’s a good barometer of how much of the frequency spectrum you’ll hear, and how effective the speaker is at portraying the spectrum. But it’s not the whole story—most manufacturers in the space will include some digital audio processing in the speaker to boost or cut certain parts of the spectrum. Bose, for instance, provides tons of detail in the low-mid part of the spectrum, whereas portable speakers from brands like Anker will punch the bass really hard. So, even if the speaker you want doesn’t list the spectrum, it’s best to hear the speaker in person (or read a review from a reputable source) before purchasing, because all sound profiles are not created equal.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom shower speakers
  Lifewire / Jordan Provost

Drivers: The bigger, the bassier

Another important factor for frequency response is the physical size of the speaker cone inside the enclosure. Because there are portable and home options in the Bluetooth speaker category, there’s a wide range of offerings in the driver department. You’ll find small speakers in portable units that sometimes measure just a couple inches in diameter, but you could find larger 8–12-inch cones inside larger units. 

In general, the bigger a speaker is, the more capable it is at providing support and power on the bassier end of the spectrum—it’s why many speakers will feature tiny tweeter drivers tuned to the high end of the spectrum to add sparkle and clarity. While a brand isn’t always clear in the advertising what the measurement of a speaker is, you can get a good idea by looking at the dimensions of the enclosure. Just note that many speakers will employ larger, ported enclosures to create bass-friendly echo chambers that further boost the low-end.

Loudness: Don't rely too much on specs

Sensitivity and impedance are likely terms you’ve run across when shopping for speakers, and while all sound systems rely on these factors, you shouldn’t worry too much about the raw numbers in the Bluetooth speaker space. Impedance is the amount of resistance a speaker supports in relation to its amplifier (measured in ohms) and its sensitivity is more or a less a measure of its peak loudness. 

These two numbers work together to indicate the power and fullness of an amp/speaker pair. Because Bluetooth speakers feature, in almost all cases, a built-in amp, the loudness and impedance are paired already. What’s more is, because brands like Bose load in tons of processing effects, what you hear isn’t going to match up to the raw numbers anyway. If you want a really loud speaker, you can dig into these numbers, but in general, this is another category that is more important for sound systems than for wireless speakers.

Bose Home Speaker 500
  Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

Bluetooth and Audio Codecs: A sound quality tradeoff

One major oversight that people have when shopping for headphones or speakers is that Bluetooth, while convenient, has some inherent trade-offs with sound quality. That’s because, by definition, the Bluetooth protocol has to compress the source audio file in order to send it quickly and efficiently, wirelessly. 

The most typical codecs are SBC and AAC, but these codecs compress files with the most loss to the source data. This will be fine if you’re just streaming MP3s from Spotify or watching YouTube videos, but if you want to stream your high res audio files (like WAV or FLAC), you’d be better served with a speaker unit that supports a higher-quality Bluetooth codec like Qualcomm’s aptX

Amps and Space Considerations: Mostly all-in-one

One final note on amps: while speaker systems and home theater setups will usually center on a dedicated amp unit to power a series of multiple, passive speakers, Bluetooth speakers are almost always standalone units. This means the amp that the manufacturer has loaded into the speaker dictates how much power and control you’ll get. 

That doesn’t mean that you can’t find soundbars with Bluetooth functionality or standalone amps that have Bluetooth connectivity—and both can fold into a larger system. In fact, these are great ways to bring that wireless convenience to an otherwise traditional home theater setup. This is largely overkill for most users though. Sure, if you want tons of coverage for big spaces and parties, they can be helpful. But most small-format Bluetooth speakers are plenty loud and plenty rich, and because they often use multi-room app functionality, they make for great party systems.

Connectivity and Software: How it all works together

Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi

This is a guide specifically about Bluetooth speakers, so we won’t spend a ton of time on Wi-Fi speakers, but it’s an important category to consider. The biggest example here is Sonos. While normally, Sonos would be at the top of a wireless speaker list, the brand has opted to not include Bluetooth support in any of the speakers produced. That’s largely because of the proprietary software system that Sonos has become known for. Instead, speakers like this have to be connected to a Wi-Fi network and then controlled using an app or a computer on that same network. 

Bose also offers functionality in this way, but will give you the additional option for Bluetooth connectivity. You’ll get better lossless audio performance with Wi-Fi, but it’s much harder for guests to patch in and play music if they aren’t already a guest on your Sonos account.

JBL Charge 4
Lifewire / Jeffery Daniel Chadwick 

Bluetooth Pairing and Software: Standard across the board

The pairing process for most speakers is pretty straightforward if you’ve ever paired Bluetooth headphones to your phone. Most speakers will boot up for the first time in pairing mode, but almost all speakers have a very obvious Bluetooth pairing button. Then it’s just a matter of finding the speaker in your device’s Bluetooth menu. Some manufacturers like Bose have developed mobile apps to more easily control the speakers your phone is connected to, which is nice, but these apps tend not to be as robust as the Wi-Fi speaker apps from Sonos.

Range and Stability: How far can you wander? 

The other factor to consider is the Bluetooth version. Most speakers on the market today run on Bluetooth 4 or 5, and those two versions are more than adequate for in-home use. But, if you want to bring a portable speaker out to the field for a picnic or larger parties, Bluetooth 5 vastly increases the line-of-sight range that your speaker has. Another benefit of Bluetooth 5 is that you’ll get the option to tether two host devices to the same speaker, allowing you to more easily switch between audio sources.

Portability and Battery Life: How Long Can You Listen?

While the high-end speakers in the Bluetooth market are almost entirely at-home options, there are a ton of added benefits to going for a battery-powered option. The most obvious of these is that you can bring the speaker anywhere. This portability brings new considerations to the table. First off, you have the need for additional durability, particularly drop, dust, and water protection. JBL and Anker are great brands in this regard, but Bose also features a few rugged battery-powered options that aesthetically match the sporty headphones in the SoundSport line. 

The other side of the portability coin is battery life. The JBL Charge line hovers around 20 hours of listening, whereas Anker and Bose have offerings just a tad lower. The highest battery life on the market reaches upwards of 40 or 50 hours with products from Altec Lansing, but you’ll pay a premium for this.

Bose Home Speaker 500
 Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

Smart Speakers: An Added Layer of Functionality

While not exactly “Bluetooth speakers” unto themselves, smart speakers are probably the most widespread example of this product category. With most homes featuring at least one Alexa or Google Home, it begs the question—do you need an additional Bluetooth speaker? Most of the smart speaker options will work fine for at-home music streaming and give you the added benefit of voice control. 


Apple’s HomePod
is an impressive option because the designers have taken the time to provide a truly impressive sound response for a smart speaker. Beyond Apple, though, these speakers tend to pale in the sound quality department. But it’s also important to note that many Bluetooth speakers from outside brands have licensed Alexa and Google Assistant for their products—ready to use out of the box.

Price: How Much Budget Do You Have?

There is a vast range in price options, but a clear divide between small battery speakers and premium home speakers. At the high end, you’ll find premium systems from Bose, Marshall, and Bang & Olufsen that approach $1,000. Or, you can find budget-friendly portable speakers from JBL and Anker that don’t even break $100. 

Price isn’t always an indication of sound quality though, as there are tons of other features (from smart functionality to battery life to whole-home audio functions), so it’s important to weigh your preferences before setting a budget. If portability is your number-one priority, you can probably save a lot of money.

Popular Brands: Plenty of Choices

Bose

The premium audio staple Bose provides a ton of Bluetooth speakers for all parts of the price range. It’s not surprising considering how long Bose has been focused on wireless products. Today you can pick up small battery speakers, rugged canister-style units, and even full-sized stereo systems.

Sonos

While not strictly a Bluetooth speaker (again, please note that Sonos does not support Bluetooth out of the box), it’s hard to discuss wireless speakers of any kind without mentioning Sonos. If you are okay with not having the flexibility of Bluetooth, these speakers are truly impressive units for whole-home audio.

Anker

This budget brand known perhaps more for portable batteries is actually quite a capable producer of portable Bluetooth speakers. The SoundCore series gives you powerful, if bass-heavy, sound that fits right into your bag or even keychains to your backpack strap.

JBL

If you want the Anker ruggedness and portability, but would prefer a bigger name and notably better sound, go for the JBL Charge series that, to our ears, sound almost as good as an in-home system. The Clip version of the Charge actually lives in a carabiner-style build that easily attaches to a day pack or even a keychain.

Sony

Sony focuses mainly on portable speakers, and they feature a ton of color options like you’d find on portable speakers from Bose or JBL. Sony tends to be a bit pricey for what you get though, so only focus here if you have real brand loyalty for Sony.

Marshall & Fender

One interesting phenomenon that’s cropped up in the last few years is the addition of legacy guitar brands to the Bluetooth speaker space. Both Marshall and Fender offer mid-to-high-end Bluetooth speakers that look and feel like their classic guitar amps. Marshall in particular offers truly high-end options (like the Woburn) that will look perfectly at home next to a record player.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
Lifewire / Jordan Provost 

Accessories: Not Much Available

Accessories aren't super prevalent in this space for a couple reasons. First off, portable speakers tend to feature rubberized coatings, tons of protection from the elements, and even in some cases feature clips and attachments right on the device itself. So, while there are some cases available for bigger brands, you likely won’t need one. On the at-home side, the main accessories to consider are receiver units and cables. 

If you want to include your speaker as part of your larger sound system, or you want to add Bluetooth functionality to a non-Bluetooth system, you’ll have to purchase cables, adapters, and receivers. Bose, for instance, offers a SoundLink Bluetooth receiver that will help to link together non-Bose speakers using the app. There’s a lot that goes into audio cables, and seeing as this is a wireless speaker guide, it’s sort of out of the scope of the conversation here. But just know that many Bluetooth speaker packages don’t feature cables to connect, so you’ll have to purchase those if you want them.

Conclusion: How to Pick the Best Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speakers

We live in truly incredible times where our homes are full of wireless devices—from Wi-Fi routers to smart speakers to fully connected TVs. So it stands to reason that we’d take that convenience and extend it to our music listening. While the best sound is still achieved via full-on wired systems, you can get truly rich audio at home from tiny Bluetooth speakers. And, because many options are battery-powered, you can carry that sound quality with you on the go. 

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