The 7 Best Speakers of 2021

Buy the top Bluetooth, budget and bookshelf speakers (and more) for your home

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Purchasing speakers can be a difficult decision for an audiophile. Speakers enhance music, TV shows, movies, video games, and podcasts. Even with a saturated market for wired and wireless speakers, it’s never been easier to enjoy your entertainment experience. Today’s external speakers have impressive sound quality, are easy to connect to, and have enough range to span across several rooms.    

Finding a speaker to provide superior sound may seem daunting, but luckily the extensive number of options available means you can find a speaker to meet your every need. Some of the best speakers deliver amazing sound without breaking the bank. 

Whether you want to rock an outdoor party or just need something to play lo-fi beats in your office, there's a speaker on our list that will suit your goals. We even have great budget picks if you want beautiful audio but don't want to spend a fortune—the speakers on our list range from $20 to a few hundred dollars. If you're looking for a home theater sound solution, our best surround sound speakers roundup evaluates all of the best speakers for your home, or you can continue reading for our curated list of the best speakers.

The Rundown
Whether you’re dancing to music or performing a duet, the LED grill and lighted dome disperse dazzling color over the dance floor.
Best Home Audio Subwoofer:
Polk Audio PSW10 at Amazon
The Bluetooth-compatible PSW10 can emit 85 decibels, which is more than a freight train.
Axess delivers a quality Bluetooth speaker for less than $20 with the small yet powerful SPBT1031.
Best for Office Desk/Workplace:
JBL Charge 4 at Amazon
The sleek Bluetooth speaker is compact enough to rest on your desk without taking up precious space.
Best for Travel:
Libratone ZIPP at Amazon
The 10.3 x 4.8-inch Libratone ZIPP Mini Speaker packs a powerful punch.
The speaker is IPX5 water-resistant, rainproof, sand-proof, and splash-proof.
Best Wireless/Bluetooth:
Marshall Acton II at Best Buy
The Acton II’s multi-host function allows two people to connect via Bluetooth and take turns playing their favorite tunes.

Best Overall: Ion Audio Party Rocker Max

What We Like
  • 8-inch woofer and wide-dispersion tweeter

  • Dual microphone inputs

  • Portability

What We Don't Like
  • Large size not suitable for small spaces

The Ion Audio Party Rocker Max speaker is guaranteed to be the life of the party. This 100-watt speaker packs a powerful punch with an 8-inch woofer and a wide-dispersion tweeter that produce a pumping bass and rich sound. Not only does the Party Rocker Max serve as a speaker, but you can also use it for karaoke. Ion Audio incorporated dual microphone inputs and a microphone for karaoke.

Whether you’re dancing to music or performing a duet, the Party Rocker Max’s LED grill and lighted dome disperse a shower of dazzling color over the dance floor. The dome light projects six different colors: red, green, blue, magenta, orange, and white. The varying colors change patterns and pulsate to the music. With 75 hours of playback time, you’ll be able to party all night long.

It’s Bluetooth-enabled, so you can access your carefully curated party playlist from a phone or tablet. For non-Bluetooth devices, you can connect to the Party Rocker Max with a 3.5-millimeter aux input. Regardless of how you decide to connect to the speaker, you can easily transport it from party to party thanks to the built-in wheels and telescoping handle. Coming in at 25 pounds and almost 2 feet high, you’ll appreciate being able to roll the Party Rocker Max between destinations.

Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: 3.5mm | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: No

Best Home Audio Subwoofer: Polk Audio PSW10

Polk Audio - PSW Series 10" Active Subwoofer - Black
What We Like
  • Impressive bandwidth

  • Klippel measurement technology

  • 5-year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively heavy

  • Not budget-friendly

The Polk Audio PSW10 brings the bass. Seriously, this 10-inch powered subwoofer comes with a warning for its power. The Bluetooth-compatible PSW10 can emit 85 decibels (dB), which is more than a freight train.

The subwoofer is equipped with a 10-inch polymer-composited dynamic balance cone driver to deliver a fully balanced, explosive sound. To further enhance the PSW10’s sound, Polk Audio designed the subwoofer with laser-based Klippel measurement technology to improve linearity and create a deep, precise sound. 

Due to its sheer power, the PSW10 has a non-resonant all-MDF enclosure. The cabinet’s 0.75-inch-thick baffles and internal bracing safeguard the system if played at maximum volume. If you manage to run into technical difficulties, you’ll have support from Polk Audio, as the PSW10 comes with a 5-year warranty.

With a bandwidth of 40Hz to 200Hz, 50 watts of continuous power, and up to 100 watts of dynamic power, the subwoofer is ideal for filling the bottom end of your home theater system. You may want to double-check if the PSW10 can fit within your system’s set-up, as the subwoofer measures 14 x 14.38 x 16.12 inches and weighs 26 pounds. But if the technical specs have your needs and the subwoofer fits within your entertainment system, you’re looking at paying a little over $100.

Channels: Woofer | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: RCA | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: No

Best Budget: AXESS SPBT1031 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Range of over 30 feet

  • Connectivity options

What We Don't Like
  • Lower battery life

Axess delivers a quality Bluetooth speaker for less than $20 with the small yet powerful SPBT1031. The speaker even shares some of the same qualities as other, more popular Bluetooth speakers for a fraction of the price. For example, the SPBT1031 has two 2-watt horn outputs, a five-watt subwoofer, a frequency range of 100 Hz and 20KHz, and delivers up to 4ohms.

You’ll be able to stay connected to the speaker as far away as 32 feet. If your device lacks Bluetooth capability, you can also connect to the SPBT1031 through a 3.5-millimeter auxiliary jack or USB port. Customer reviews claim connecting and operating the SPBT1031 is user-friendly.

While inexpensive, the SPBT1031 is versatile as it gets. The speaker, which is suited for indoor and outdoor use, weighs only 2.9 pounds and measures 11.5 x 6.3 x 6.7 inches. Its compact size and accompanying shoulder strap make it easy to transport. The SPBT1031 doesn’t have the most impressive battery. The 1500 mAh Rechargeable battery offers 14 hours of playback on a single charge.

Channels: 2.1 | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: USB | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: No

Best for Office Desk/Workplace: JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
What We Like
  • Can connect to multiple devices

  • 20-hour battery life

  • Bass quality

What We Don't Like
  • Takes a long time to charge

  • Not a stereo speaker

Do you enjoy working with background music? If so, the JBL Charge 4 is the perfect desk companion. The sleek Bluetooth speaker is compact enough to rest on your desk without taking up precious space for your other electronics, paperwork, and office supplies.

As the latest in the Charge series, the Charge 4 trades in dual full-range drivers for a single driver. Even with one driver, the speaker has two bass radiators contributing to a rich, driving bass. The Charge 4’s specs produce sound quality that is on par with many stereo speakers.

You can appreciate your music or podcast from clocking in until clocking out due to the speaker’s 7500mAh battery that provides up to 20 hours on a single charge. Although the Charge 4 has an impressive battery life, the speaker takes almost 5 hours to get a full charge. 

JBL’s versatile speaker makes it easy to transition from office to evening. With JBL Connect+, the Charge 4 can be connected with up to 100 other devices. If the thumping bass causes you to clumsily spill your morning coffee or tea onto your Charge 4, don’t fret. The speaker’s IPX7 rating makes it waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. If you decide to go for a late-night swim, remember the Charge 4 can float so you’ll have enough time to rescue your Bluetooth speaker.

Channels: Mono | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: USB | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: Yes (IPX7)

"Both the form factor and the materials of this speaker convey a feeling of portability, ruggedness, and high performance—and it delivers on all three." — Danny Chadwick, Product Tester

JBL Charge 4

Lifewire 

Best for Travel: Libratone ZIPP Mini Speaker

What We Like
  • 360-degree FullRoom sound

  • Can pair with six speakers at once

  • Integrated amplifier

What We Don't Like
  • Larger than most portable speakers

  • Expensive

Travelers, we have just the right Bluetooth speaker for you. The 10.3 x 4.8-inch Libratone ZIPP Mini Speaker packs a powerful punch. Libratone has included 360 degrees of FullRoom audio, a 4-inch woofer, dual 1-inch soft-dome tweeters, and two 4-inch low-frequency radiators.

In all, the Zipp Mini churns out 100 watts of total power. Multiple people can join in on the fun as you can pair the speaker with up to six speakers. Connectivity is smooth as users can connect through Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplay, DLNA, and Spotify Connect.   

With more than 10 hours of battery life, the Zipp Mini can get you through a standard workday and beyond. Taking the speaker from the office to your home is made convenient with a carrying handle. Need to take a call when on the move? The Zipp Mini also doubles as a speakerphone for conference calls.

The Zipp Mini has two features that aren’t found in other speakers we’ve reviewed. First, its touch interface makes controlling the speaker as easy as navigating a smartphone or any other 21st-century technological device. Secondly, the Zipp Mini has hush gesture detection, making it easy to lower speaker volume in a hurry. By just placing your hand over the touch interface, the volume will drastically decrease. You should note that these remarkable features come at a price, as the Zipp Mini will set you back a couple of hundred bucks. 

Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: 3.5mm/USB | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: No

Best for Outdoor Use: Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3

What We Like
  • Compact size for increased portability

  • Durability

  • Clarity of sound

What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for large spaces

If you want to enjoy music during your outdoor adventures, the Cambridge Soundworks OontZ Angle 3 is the speaker for you. The speaker is IPX5 water-resistant, rainproof, sand-proof, and splash-proof, and can play at two-thirds volume for half a day. The ultra-portable speaker weighs less than 10 ounces and measures 2.76 x 5.24 x 2.52 inches. 

While small in size, the OontZ Angle 3 is mighty in sound quality. With two precision acoustic drivers and a triangular shape that enhances audio clarity, the speaker delivers crystal clear sound whether you're streaming music at the beach, in your dorm room or in the shower.

Moreover, the OontZ Angle 3 features a proprietary passive bass radiator design that guarantees distortion-free sound. The radiator design knows no limits as you can enjoy music without distortion, even at the loudest volume.

Since you’re likely taking your OontZ Angle 3 on the go, Cambridge SoundWorks provides Bluetooth and wired connection options. Not only can you link with the speaker via Bluetooth with the usual devices, but you can also connect with Amazon Echo. According to customers, pairing is seamless and quick.

Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: 3.5mm | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: Yes (IPX5)

Best Wireless/Bluetooth: Marshall Acton II Bluetooth Speaker

Marshall Acton II
What We Like
  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Portable

  • Multi-host function

What We Don't Like
  • High-priced among Bluetooth speakers

You can take the legendary Marshall sound on the go with the Marshall Acton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker. The 6.3 x 10.2 x 5.9-inch speaker weighs in at just under 7 pounds. The compact size and top carry handle make it easy to transport. Wherever you take the Acton II, you’ll be sure to turn heads, as the speaker’s unique design is more classic than contemporary, setting it apart from most speakers. 

Listeners have two ways to connect to the speaker: plugin via the 3.5-millimeter jack or pair with Bluetooth 5.0 technology. The Acton II’s multi-host function allows two people to connect via Bluetooth simultaneously and take turns playing their favorite tunes. Whether you or a friend are wirelessly connected, you’ll enjoy the superior sound up to 30 feet away.

Powered by dual 3/4-inch dome tweeters and a lone 4-inch woofer, the Acton II adds a sound that lives up to its rock ‘n’ roll promise. Each tweeter and the sole woofer are powered by dedicated Class D amplifiers. Though Marshall sticks with an analog knob to fine-tune the sound coming from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer, listeners can also fine-tune sounds by way of the Marshall Bluetooth app.

Since the Acton II has nearly 20 hours of battery on a single charge, you won't have to worry if you’re not near a power source. Be mindful that the speaker isn’t waterproof, so if you take your Acton II near the beach or pool, you want to be careful not to get it wet.

Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Physical Connection: 3.5mm | Digital Assistant: None | Waterproof: No

Final Verdict

The Ion Audio Party Rocker Max (view at Amazon) is the best overall speaker. The Party Rocker Max has superior bass, can be used for karaoke, emits fun colors, and offers around three days of playback time. You’re able to take the speaker on the go as the Party Rocker Max is equipped with built-in wheels and a handle.

Even though the Marshall Acton II Bluetooth speaker (view at Best Buy) isn’t a party on wheels, it covers all the bases of a quality speaker. The Acton II has dual dome tweeters, a 4-inch woofer, and can be fine-tuned with a mobile app. If you decide to take it on the go, the speaker weighs less than 7 pounds and has a handle, so transporting is easy. Keep in mind that the Acton II is almost $50 more than the Party Rocker Max.

About Our Trusted Experts

Nicky Lamarco has been writing and editing for more than 15 years for consumer, trade, and technology publications about many topics including: antivirus, web hosting, backup software, and other technologies. 

Since 2008, Danny Chadwick has published hundreds of articles, reviews, and videos on Top Ten Reviews. He is an expert in mobile audio equipment.

FAQs

What’s the difference between is Wi-Fi speakers and Bluetooth speakers?

Today, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are common features on most speakers. While both are convenient features, speakers pair differently via each connectivity method. For Wi-Fi speakers, you can control the speaker via smart devices on the same Wi-Fi network. By being on the same network, users can play music across multiple speakers. On the other hand, Bluetooth sends signals within short ranges (normally between 15 feet to 30 feet) to a speaker from a particular smart device. 

Is there a difference in the sound quality of wired speakers and wireless speakers?

Yes. Bluetooth speakers are at the bottom of the totem pole, wired speakers are at the top of the pole, and Wi-Fi speakers fall in the middle. Compared to wireless speakers, wired speakers produce an unmatched sound. The physical wiring that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers lack emits more electrical data and is rarely subject to interference. As far as the wireless rivals, Wi-Fi is superior to Bluetooth because the manner in which Wi-Fi compresses data doesn’t affect audio quality.

How should you control your speaker?

You can control your speaker by remote, mobile app, voice, or manually. If you’re old-fashioned, you probably don’t desire the handiness of a smart speaker. However, if you’re sharing the speaker among others in your household, having the option to control your speaker with a simple command may be an important feature to have. 

JBL Charge 4

Lifewire 

What to Look For in the Best Speakers

Connectivity

How you intend to connect to your speaker is an important consideration before purchasing. If you’re on the prowl for speakers for your home theater, you need ones with coaxial inputs. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a wireless speaker to take to work or use in your yard, then Bluetooth is your best bet. Wi-Fi is also a connectivity option, which is commonly found in wireless home theater speakers. If you prefer having options, many speakers offer both wired and wireless connectivity. 

JBL Charge 4

Lifewire

Battery Life

Although battery life applies only to portable speakers, it can be make or break. The battery life of portable speakers can range from several hours to a few days. If you plan on using your speaker in the office, make sure to find a speaker that packs enough power to last the full workday. If you need a speaker for entertainment, you may want to search for one with a battery life of 16 or more hours. 

Built-In Amplifiers

If sound quality is essential to you, you’ll need a built-in amplifier. Your wireless speakers can sound as good as home theater speakers. For the most impressive wireless sound, choose a speaker with multiple integrated amplifiers to power both woofers and tweeters. If not, the sound quality will leave a lot to be desired.

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