The best wireless speakers

Untether your tunes with our round-up of the best wireless speakers, courtesy of sound experts from Bose to Bang & Olufsen

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Whether you frequently have friends round for dinner and drinks or just like to have music on in the background as you go about your business on a Sunday morning, a proper sound system really is a joy to have in your home. But these days, that doesn’t mean shelling out and making way for an enormous hi-fi that’ll hulk in the corner of the living room and take up all the power points — it can be as simple as a wireless speaker.

What goes into making the best wireless speakers— well, the best, has changed quite a lot in the past few years. Where up to ten hours’ battery life was once the stuff of the future, it’s been left in the dust by newer speakers offering longevity up to and exceeding the 20-hour mark. Where we’d once have resigned ourselves to fiddling with aux cables, we can now pair speakers to our smartphones with the same simple tap that we use to make contactless payments in the shops. Cool, eh?

To cover all bases, we’ve included some old hands that are still leading the pack for sound and build quality but might lack some more cutting-edge features that make them ultra-portable or durable, and some new releases with exciting capabilities too. When finding the best wireless speakers for your setup, pay close attention to how it connects. All of our picks operate over Bluetooth, meaning they’ll play nicely with pretty much any device, but some also include USB ports to charge-and-play from your phone, or aux inputs to cater to that ancient iPod.

Aside from that, we’ve done our darndest to outline what makes each speaker shine, and what that means for you, so what are you waiting for? Keep reading for our list of the best wireless speakers for cosy living rooms, the great outdoors, and everything in between.

1. UE Boom 2

Sounds and looks fantastic — and absolutely anywhere, at that

Specifications
Best for: 360 sound
Power: Rechargeable
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery life: 15 hours
Reasons to buy
+ 360 degree sound + Looks fantastic 
Reasons to avoid
- Not the best for lots of bass

Ultimate Ears’ Boom 2 takes our top spot with its winning mix of design and functionality. Its all-round sound — literally, 360 degrees — is commended by happy owners for its richness and fullness, with some writing that it rivals the Bose Soundlink, but performs even better in open spaces, making it great for garden parties. It’s engineered to handle whatever can be thrown at it, within reason, shockproof and waterproof for up to thirty minutes — so make that great for pool parties, too. And with all that, it looks fantastic too, tall, slim and minimal with a range of colours to suit pretty much any room scheme. A really great all-rounder. 

2. Bose SoundLink Mini II

A mini system with a room-filling sound

Specifications
Best for: Filling the room
Power: USB port
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery life: 10 hours
Reasons to buy
+ Still the best sound + Tough, quality construction 
Reasons to avoid
- Tied for lowest battery life 

By all accounts, Bose are the industry-leading masters of sound, and we have to admit that when it comes to quality, there’s not much that keeps their SoundLink Mini II from our top spot. It really is very mini indeed, but heavy with it, giving a high-quality feel that reviewers have raved about, and the full sound it manages to produce from such a small body is pretty mind-boggling. As one of the more senior speakers on our list, it’s missing some newer functions like NFC pairing and waterproofing, and due to its age the battery life isn’t the longest out there, but as a permanent alternative to a home HiFi system it remains, for many, the best around. 

3. Dali Katch

This award-winning speaker looks fantastic and sounds even better

Specifications
Best for: Style and substance
Power: Mains charge
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery life: 24 hours
Reasons to buy
+ Positioning presets + Looks amazing 
Reasons to avoid
- A bit pricey 

With its two ‘sound profiles’ that allow you to choose between the perfect preset EQ for either tabletop of on-shelf play, and mean you can move it out of its usual home for a get-together without the sound suffering, the Dali Katch is pretty clever as portable speakers go. What HiFi voted it product of the year back in 2016, and according to those who have it at home it’s still going strong — really strong, with a heck of a sonic punch for a speaker so small, including superior bass and drive. We also think it looks superb, with its elegant blue and grey colourway and modern pill shape. 

4. Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2

Though they be but little, they are fierce

Specifications
Best for: Home sound system
Power: Chargeable
Connectivity: Bluetooth aptX 3.5 mm jack
Battery life: 12 hours
Reasons to buy
+ Fantastic retro look + Stereo sound 
Reasons to avoid
- Not the best panning 

Music-lovers who’ve already welcomed these Ruark speakers into their homes say they sound just as good as they look — and they look utterly gorgeous. With a tweed-look fabric grille and handcrafted walnut cabinet enclosures, this is a thoroughly modern solution that would still look at home in a retro living room, they have a quality feel that reviewers loved. While they might not deliver the deepest bass of any speaker on the market (you’ll want the UE speaker below for that) what they do deliver is room-filling sound in a very small footprint and an exceedingly handsome package. 

5. Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM

A suitably onomatopoeic speaker that packs a big punch

Specifications
Best for: Punchy little speaker
Power: USB charge
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery life: 10 hours
Reasons to buy
+ Loads of bass + Rugged and practical 
Reasons to avoid
- Not the nicest looking of the bunch 

This Ultimate Ears speaker looks a little like a high-tech grenade, and quite appropriately, we think. For up to 10 hours on a single charge, it provides a sound that UE have called “clear, crisp and full of big, elegant bass”, and users agree, adding that pairing with smartphones was a cinch. Like the UE Boom 2, this speaker is designed to be properly waterproof, plus drop-proof from five feet, and stay connected to mobiles up to 100 feet, so you could happily pack it up for on the go or take it outside for a barbecue. But in this case we’re most charmed by the simplest solution: the addition of the top loop, which means you can hang it anywhere. Inspired! 

6. B&O Play Beolit 17

This party animal keeps going and going from a single charge

Specifications
Best for: Big events
Power: USB C
Connectivity: 3.5mm aux input and Bluetooth
Battery life: 24 hours
Reasons to buy
+ 360 sound + Lots of oomph 
Reasons to avoid
- Tied for lowest battery life 

If you have an especially large living room, or an especially large group of adoring friends or family (we’re not jealous, honest) then you need a speaker that can keep up, and if its many fans are to be believed, the B&O PLAY Bluetooth Speaker from Bang & Olufsen is that speaker. It packs four active drivers and two passive bass radiators which, to the less geeky among us, means it’s made of pretty powerful stuff, resulting in a big sound that radiates a full 360 degrees. 

7. Marshall Stockwell Portable Bluetooth Speaker

A retro-look speaker modeled after the world’s most iconic amp

Specifications
Best for: Battery life
Power: USB charge
Connectivity: Bluetooth and 3.5mm input
Battery life: 25hours
Reasons to buy
+ 25 hour battery life + Loudest in its class 
Reasons to avoid
- Not the most versatile look 

No media room or music room — ‘garage’, to the rest of us — is complete without at least a little nod to classic rock. This beautifully designed Bluetooth speaker is more of a salute really, styled after the iconic Marshall amplifier, but it’s certainly not a case of style over substance. With a single charge it’s purported to offer a whopping 25 hours of playback, and it even comes equipped with a USB port so you can charge your phone while playing music from it. Traded in those rock star dreams for an office job? You can also use your speaker for conference calling with a press of the phone button.