As our lives start to get busier again, the best Bluetooth speakers can make listening to music, podcasts and anything else you might want more convenient and in keeping with our active lifestyles.
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 be aware of just how much. As smart home features become more accessible, for example, many Bluetooth speakers can offer the same upgrade as much more expensive smart speakers.
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 a 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 of course 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 how to choose the best speakers for your needs.
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The best Bluetooth speakers 2021
The vintage design of Marshall's smart and Bluetooth speakers has always been a unique selling point, and that's no different with the ultra-portable Marshall Emberton. Super lightweight and small enough to fit into your hand, it's ideal for carrying from room to room or out and about with you.
The battery life is impressive, lasting up to 20 hours. While testing we were able to stretch a single charge across several afternoons of work. The sound quality isn't hugely impressive, but certainly does the job, with True Stereophonic tech creating multi-direction sound that overcomes the speaker's size.
You have a choice of Black, Black & Brass and Cream finishes, and all of them look superb. All variations have a brass control on top, which is what you use to turn on the speaker, change the volume and skip forwards or backwards. There's also a light beside this indicating remaining battery life.
Perfect for use at home (it looks lovely on our desk!), the IPX7 rating means it'll also be fine outside in any weather.
Real Homes rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If you like your technology to have a more retro feel and design, then the Audio Pro T3+ should be one of your first stops. A good wireless speaker in its own right, with clear sound and Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity, what really stands out about the Add-On T3+ is its good looks.
Available in a few different colours, we were able to see up close and test the grey version. With rose gold accents (love!) and a lovely leather handle, it really does look the part and would look fantastic on any shelving unit. It is very heavy when compared to other portable speakers, however, so that handle will get a workout.
And while we weren't quite as enthusiastic as our friends at What Hi-Fi, who rated the speaker 5 out of 5 for its sound and sturdy design, it did rate highly for us based on its balance of style and quality.
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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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 0.72kg, the product is pretty 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. The IPX waterproof casing also makes it ideal for use outside, whether that's at the beach or under uncertain weather conditions. The Flip 5 can withstand a lot, so you're protected come rain or shine.
Bang & Olufsen is synonymous in the speaker world with luxury, but the portable Beosound A1 is an affordable entry point that ticks a whole load of boxes. Available in a range of lovely colours, it's lightweight and designed to be carried around for on-the-go sound, with a battery life that can go up to 48 hours.
The speaker doesn't support multi-room audio, but you can connect it to an Alexa smart speaker to use the two in conjunction. The IP67 rating also encourages outdoor usage, as the Beosound A1 will do fine in adverse weather, dirt and anything else the world has in store.
The Bose Soundlink Color 2 has been around since 2017 and has become a firm favourite 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 offers the perfect blend of sound quality, style and connectivity, and the unique design (an oval rather than a tower shape) really 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 little heavy on the bass, and this is thanks to its dual passive radiators and high-efficiency transducers. All in all, it proves that being small doesn't mean a compromise on quality.
A fantastic portable speaker for garden parties, the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 lands a place 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 colours 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 45m away, and the speaker boasts top class water, dust and drop proof specifications.
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How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker
When it comes to buying the best small Bluetooth speaker to suit your needs, and budget, there are a few factors worth considering. These include:
A major consideration when it comes to choosing a Bluetooth speaker, 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 a less than ideal battery life.
So if you're planning on using your speaker for things like camping or beach trips, you will want to opt for something with as long a 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 a whole host of colours and designs. This means you have a choice between something bright and outlandish, or a more muted style dependent on your taste.
For those residing in areas or parts of the world not known for their good 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/cook out.
Then again, if you're lucky enough to enjoy your fair share of sunny, warm weather, it can also be useful for a Bluetooth speaker to be able to withstand splashes from the pool or beach. There are many options ranging from water resistant to completely waterproof.
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