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 (for more on those, take a look at our rundown of the best 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.
The best Bluetooth speakers 2021
An upgrade from the first generation Ultimate Ears Wonderboom, this wireless speaker boasts better battery life (up 30% from the original), stronger bass, and a new outdoor feature that tailors your audio to sound louder outside.
The UE Wonderboom 2 is rugged and waterproof, making it ideal for use during the warmer weather when it might get a little too close to the pool. In fact, our friends at TechRadar rate it as one of the best waterproof speakers on the market, thanks to its immersive 360 degree sound capabilities and 100ft range. That's your next pool party covered.
When it's not working hard outdoors, the Wonderboom does a great job of looking pretty in whatever spot you put it in. Colours like Unicorn and Concrete give it a stylish edge that, combined with its impressive sound quality, make it worthy of a spot on our list.
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
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 1.2lbs, 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.
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 smart home compatibility 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.
With a design that nods to classic rock, this beautiful Bluetooth speaker from Marshall has been styled after the iconic Marshall amplifier, modernised to ensure it's not a case of style over substance.
Compact (though a little heavy) and with a handle attached to the top, the Stockwell II can travel with you on adventures offering long battery life and top-notch sound. Multi-directional sound immerses you in whatever you're listening to, and its IPX4 rating protects it should you find yourself in bad weather.
With a whopping 25 hours of playback from a single charge, it also comes equipped with a USB port for charging you phone. Traded in those rock star dreams for an office job? You can also use the speaker for conference calling.
You don't need to spend a lot of money to get a decent Bluetooth speaker, which the Creative Muvo Play proves. While you won't get the same quality as from some of the speakers higher on this list, the offering from Creative is more than acceptible if you want a lightweight option that can travel with you.
The Muvo Play is completely waterproof, so whether you want to use it without worrying about the weather, need a stress-free way of listening to music by the pool, or even if you want to use the speaker in the shower, it will be fine. With a IPX7 waterproof rating, it will survive in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes.
The battery life may only stretch to 10 hours, but the sound quality is impressive for the price. Dual micro drivers and dual bass radiators give a full, clear sound, and you can boost this even further by pairing two speakers for a surround sound effect.
What is the best Bluetooth speaker?
The best Bluetooth speaker (in our opinion) is the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 wireless speaker, which provides a significant upgrade from the previous model with boosted battery life, audio quality and other features. It's also waterproof and boasts an impressive 100ft range.
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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