Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our
review process here.
We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Somehow, Bose has become a go-to name not only for sound quality but for aesthetically pleasing design, as well. One of the most recent additions to the SoundLink line, the Revolve+ features a cylindrical, kettle-like design — available in Triple Black and Lux Gray — which looks sleek and at-home in your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom. Plus, a flexible fabric handle on the top means that taking the three-pound speaker on the go is no issue.
Bose promises deep, striking sound, and because the speaker works a circular silhouette, it fires in all directions, giving you 360 degrees of coverage. The seamless aluminum body offers IPX4 water resistance, and the rechargeable battery offers up to 16 hours of straight play time. It works with a wireless range up to 30 feet, connects via Bluetooth, and even employs a built-in mic that allows it to sync up to Google Play and Siri. You can also control it using the Bose Connect app, and if you pair it with a second one, you can create stereo surround sound for larger settings.
If you don’t have much room to work with in your apartment or house, but still want a well-rounded sound system, the Yamaha MCR-B020BL is the perfect stereo for you. The Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro-Component System has all the features and booming sound you’d want in a stereo, but it only measures 11 x 11.9 x 5.6 inches and weighs 6.9 pounds.
This unit offers incredible flexibility for however you want to enjoy your music, with a CD player, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity and an AUX input. And there’s even more flexibility, as the two speakers on the side of the console detach so you can position them elsewhere or create a surround-sound effect. Despite its compact size, it can still fill the room with sound and offers up deep bass, clear mids and splashy highs.
Less is more, and with the Bose Home Speaker 500, what takes up less space can make significantly more sound. The wireless speakers are sleek, modern, can be a piece of décor in their own right, and are unobtrusive even in small offices or rooms. Two custom drivers point left and right, intended to negate the need for a second speaker. Depending on your commitment to audio quality, however, it might not be sufficient. Though the speakers are pricier than others, from them emerge clear high frequencies, thumping bass, and impeccable overall balance, no matter the song.
The screen on the front speakers is a little old-school compared to the smart displays offered by Google and Amazon products, showing only album artwork and the time. However, the technology is far from outdated, with built-in Google Assistant and Alexa along with an eight-microphone array that can pick up your voice even when you’re across the room or drowning in vibes. The Home Speaker 500 also supports AirPlay 2, for the ultimate Apple Music experience.
Many tech companies have their own smart speakers. Apple, Amazon, and Google all have entries in the voice-controlled space, and they do, themselves, technically constitute a speaker system. But, if you want superb sound quality and voice-control support, Sonos is the brand to turn to. The Play 5 is their flagship stereo speaker, and it does a lot really well. At its core, it’s part of the Sonos Connect protocol, which means that if you have multiple Sonos speakers, you can control them all and play different music between them using the Sonos Connect app. If you have an Alexa, you can control the Sonos Play 5 seamlessly with your voice, too.
There are six dedicated speakers and six independent class D amps that run the system, so there’s plenty of depth, body, and volume. Three of those speakers are bass-optimized woofers, allowing for a truly impressive bass response given the unit's small size. And, because it’s an app-controlled system, you can access more than 30 streaming services, including Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and more. Beyond this, there’s also an aux line in for more added control, and you can mount it on the wall should you choose.
The bedroom stereos of the early 2000s have gone a bit by the wayside, mostly due to the popularization of connected wireless and smart speakers. As such, many of the best options at the entry level price point on Amazon are decidedly cheap, and usually specifically designed to look like something they’re not. This Innovative Technology system doesn’t provide the best sound quality you can get, but it does offer a surprising number of features, even considering its slightly gimmicky design.
First, the look hearkens back to 80s-era units, supported by the fact that there’s a built-in CD player ready to play any collections you've been holding onto for sentimentality's sake. Each of the included speakers is 50W, which should provide a good amount of oomph, and you can choose whether or not to use them with speaker grills. There are even backlit VU meters to show you your sound level and further solidify the retro vibe. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, a 3.5mm aux input, an FM radio tuner with 20 presets available, and you can even opt for a turntable added to the unit for true all-in-one functionality. This all comes at a price that’s under $70, which is pretty impressive when you consider the costs commanded by older Sony and Aiwa units.
Connectivity - When shopping for a stereo, think about how you’ll be listening to music. Do you love showing off your CD collection or are all your tunes on your smartphone? If they are, what kind of connectivity options do you have on your phone? Take a look at your music library and purchase a stereo that will play all the music you want it to — in all the formats you have.
Footprint - Because space is a major consideration for this purchase, pay attention to how much room the stereo takes up. While all the systems on our list are small, those without built-in CD players or AM/FM radios are by far the smallest. Translation: if you don’t need those features, you can likely buy a more compact stereo.
Sound quality - Sometimes, small speakers have incredibly poor sound quality. While that’s not a problem with any of the speakers we’ve selected, audiophiles may be more choosy. If getting the best sound quality is a top priority, you may want to opt for a model with a built-in subwoofer.