As our lives once again become busier, the best Bluetooth speakers can make listening to music, podcasts, and anything else you want more convenient and keep up with a hectic lifestyle.
We don't need to tell you why wireless and portable speakers offer more flexibility than your standard wired sound system, but you may not know how much. As smart home features become more accessible, many Bluetooth speakers can offer the same upgrade as the best smart speakers without the high price tag.
And that's not all - kit your home out with multiple Bluetooth speakers, and you can create a multi-room sound experience, playing the same playlist or audiobook throughout the house, so you're never far enough away to miss something. Or, if you're planning an outdoor get-together this summer, many speakers on our list let you take the tunes outside.
The best Bluetooth speakers open up so many possibilities, and while there are some high-end options, they tend to be quite affordable, with a range of designs that fit different styles.
Scroll down to see which wireless speakers we rated top, as well as some advice on choosing the best speakers for your needs.
The best Bluetooth speakers: tried and tested by us
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The iconic design of Marshall speakers has always been a unique selling point, especially for the brand's relatively affordable smart and Bluetooth speakers. The ultra-portable Emberton is one of the company's key forays into outdoor offerings.
What we like
The speaker promises portability and is lightweight and small enough to fit into your hand and carry from room to room. This also makes it ideal for taking out and about with you, for the day or on longer trips. Waterproof, the Emberton will withstand less-than-perfect weather, too.
The battery life is impressive at 20 hours, and you can get a full charge in just 3 hours. While testing, we could stretch a single charge across several afternoons of work, playing music or podcasts at around half the volume. The 360-degree sound helps the audio compensate for the speaker's size.
You have a choice of Black, Black & Brass, and Cream (we tested it in Cream) finishes, which all look superb. Each variation has a brass control knob on top, which you use to turn on the speaker, change the volume and skip forwards or backward. There's also a light beside this indicating the remaining battery life, which was helpful to see when we were running low instead of waiting for it to switch off from an empty battery.
What could be better
Though the sound quality is by no means terrible, some understandably expect the best of the best from Marshall products. With 20W audio power, the Emberton will do fine for occasional use or for something you can take with you, but it won't take the place of your primary sound system.
That said, with ours placed at the base of a monitor in the home office, it's hard to argue with something so convenient with good - if not excellent - sound quality.
Real Homes rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If you like your technology to have a more retro feel and design, the Audio Pro T3+ should be one of your first stops.
What we like
A good wireless speaker in its own right, with clear sound and Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity, what stands out about the Add-On T3+ is its good looks.
Available in a few different colors, we were able to test the grey model. With rose gold accents (love!) and a lovely leather handle, it does look the part and would look fantastic on any shelving unit. It's also designed to be taken out of the house with an incredible 30 hours of battery life - the best stamina for a speaker on this list.
What could be better
The speaker's weight does hinder the portability claim of the T3+, which is a shame when you factor in the stylish and functional carry handle. Of course, it won't break your arm, but you don't want to carry it long distances, either.
It's also not water-resistant, which could be a problem if you plan to take the speaker on a camping trip or leave it in the yard during a family gathering.
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Many speakers claim to be portable, but the JBL Clip 4 means it. With a handle that will attach to almost anything and impressive sound for its small size, the speaker is the ultimate outdoor (or indoor) companion.
What we like
The little Clip 4 has only 5W of power, but you wouldn't know that to listen. There's a slight lack of depth, but the bass is strong enough to give a good overall feel. It's also straightforward to use, with large obvious controls that mean you can find them even if you're halfway up a mountain or have wet hands from washing up.
The biggest thing to recommend the JBL Clip 4 is its versatility. While the brand probably wants to position it as a speaker you can take on hikes or camping trips, it's also terrific to have around the house. Of course, given the waterproof rating, our first instinct was to take it in the shower with us, and, as expected, it held up against the soap and water being thrown its way.
What could be better
The large controls we praised will also turn some people off, as the fabric and rubber aesthetic of JBL devices isn't to everyone's taste. The Clip 4 does come in various colors, however, so you might be able to find one you like. The model we tested was dark green with purple and mustard (pictured), and we'll say that the finish is high-quality and attractive in real life.
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The best Bluetooth speakers: more top picks
A fantastic portable speaker for garden parties, the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 lands on this list for its compatibility with other speakers alone. Add in rich, crisp sound that maintains its quality even at top volume, and it can still be called one of the best Bluetooth speakers out there right now.
We especially love the range of bright, funky colors available, including a Unicorn version that would be great for maximalists. You can also buy a charging dock (sold separately or as part of a bundle) that ensures you're never caught out, even when away from a power source.
The Bluetooth range is super impressive, so you'll stay connected up to 146ft away, and the speaker boasts top-class water, dust, and drop-proof specifications.
It may not seem like the most impressive Bluetooth speaker on our list, but the JBL Flip 5 is still one of the best wireless speakers you can buy, and it won't put too much of a dent in the wallet either. Weighing in at just 1.1lbs, the product is very lightweight, making it easy to transport.
But don't be fooled into thinking this means shoddy construction - the 40mm drivers pack a punch, and the bass sound incredible. In addition, the IPX waterproof casing is ideal for outdoor use, whether at the beach or under uncertain weather conditions. The Flip 5 can withstand a lot, so you're protected come rain or shine.
It's also our recommendation for music and parties, with the PartyBoost feature enhancing the audio when you need it loud.
The Bose Soundlink Color 2 has been around since 2017 and has become a firm favorite for many. The fact that it still hits the mark makes it worthy of a spot on our list despite competitors with more modern features.
The Soundlink Color perfectly blends sound quality, style, and connectivity. In addition, the unique design (an oval rather than a tower shape) ensures it won't spoil the décor when placed on a mantelpiece, shelving unit, or even outside during a garden party.
The sound quality is good, though some have complained it is a bit heavy on the bass, thanks to its dual passive radiators and high-efficiency transducers. But, overall, it proves that being small doesn't mean compromising quality.
Caroline is the smart home editor for Real Homes, testing and reviewing the technology that makes its way into our daily lives. As a lifelong music junkie, Caroline relishes the chance to try out the best Bluetooth speakers from leading brands, ranking them on their sound quality, design, versatility and more.
How we test the best Bluetooth speakers
All product reviews on Real Homes are based on hands-on testing in the writer's own home. When deciding which of these devices and products are featured in our buying guides, we consider a number of things, including our experience of using them, and how many of our readers we believe they would suit. Real-world testing ensures that these recommendations are as fair and accurate as possible. Read our rundown on how we test for more.
Choosing the best Bluetooth speaker for your home
When buying the best small Bluetooth speaker to suit your needs and budget, a few factors are worth considering. These include:
A significant consideration when choosing a Bluetooth speaker is that the battery life needs to be good enough for your speaker to go from place to place without needing to be plugged in. The portability of a wireless speaker becomes completely redundant with less-than-ideal battery life.
So if you're planning on using your speaker for camping or beach trips, you will want to opt for something with as long battery life as possible. Just want something to play music at home? It's less of a priority.
Probably due to Bluetooth speakers' popularity amongst younger generations, they tend to be available in various colors and designs. This means you can choose between something bright and outlandish or a more muted style, depending on your taste.
For those residing in areas or parts of the world not known for their excellent weather, it may be wise to look for a wireless speaker with at least a little water resistance in case of a sudden downpour during your barbeque/cookout.
Then again, if you're lucky enough to enjoy your fair share of sunny, warm weather, it can also be helpful for a Bluetooth speaker to withstand splashes from the pool or beach. But, again, many options range from water-resistant to completely waterproof.
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