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Best Bluetooth speaker 2021: Portable, waterproof and rugged audio devices for every occasion

Enjoy exceptional audio at home or on the go with our pick of the best Bluetooth speakers

Modern life demands flexibility in how we consume audio, and the best Bluetooth speakers are among the most versatile audio products on the market.

While a Bluetooth speaker's primary appeal remains its ability to play music from an audio source without a connecting cable, most are capable of a lot more than that.

Waterproofing, voice assistant support and the ability to double up as a power bank are just a few of the features you'll find incorporated by the best Bluetooth speakers.

With numerous features to consider and hundreds of options available at various price points, selecting the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs can be overwhelming.

That's where this guide comes in. We've tested a huge range of Bluetooth speakers and compiled a list of the best of them, divided into portable devices cut out for use outdoors – all of which have some form of water resistance – and those that should only really be used inside.

The latter category features a number of products that aren't strictly classified as Bluetooth speakers but possess the ability to play audio wirelessly over Bluetooth.

Before we jump into the list, you'll find a summary of what we deem the best Bluetooth speakers followed by video and written buying guides running you through the things you should consider before making a purchase.


Best Bluetooth speaker: At a glance

Outdoors:

Indoors:


How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker for you

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard that allows communication between devices over short distances. It's regularly undergoing revisions and version 5.2 is the most recent version available, though not all that many devices have adopted it just yet. As Bluetooth technology has developed, its range has increased, it's become more energy-efficient and the speed at which it transmits data has improved, allowing for higher-quality audio playback.

All new phones and tablets support Bluetooth, as will most laptops. Otherwise, an inexpensive USB dongle can add Bluetooth support. These will let you connect your music source of choice to your Bluetooth speaker, whether it's a CD in your laptop's drive, a locally stored MP3 file or streamed music from the internet.

The terms “wireless” and “Bluetooth” are used interchangeably when referring to headphones, but they're different things in the speaker world. Wireless speakers may offer Bluetooth connectivity, but their primary method of connection is over a Wi-Fi network, whereas Bluetooth speakers can only connect over Bluetooth.

Pairing a Bluetooth device is straightforward: you'll just need to put the speaker into pairing mode and search for the speaker on your device. Otherwise, near-field communication (NFC) can let you pair your device to an NFC-compatible speaker simply by touching the two together, automating the entire process.

What are Bluetooth codecs and which should I look out for?

The transmission of data via Bluetooth is determined by the use of Bluetooth codecs. SBC is pretty much universal, while some companies choose to use their own proprietary codecs in addition to SBC. Apple uses AAC, Samsung has Scalable, while Sony utilises LDAC. You'll also find Qualcomm's aptX series of codecs used by a range of Bluetooth devices; if you're after higher-quality Bluetooth audio, look out for aptX HD and aptX Adaptive.

It's important to remember that both your Bluetooth speaker and output device must support the codec in question. So, if you buy a speaker with aptX HD hoping to use it with your iPhone, you'll be sorely disappointed.

Should I buy a fixed or portable Bluetooth speaker?

If you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker you can carry around, you'll want one with a built-in battery. Any Bluetooth speaker worth its salt will usually last for at least eight hours and some will go into double figures. In the past, most portable Bluetooth speakers were charged via a micro-USB cable, but with the emergence of USB-C, we're starting to see many manufacturers move over to that as their preferred charging method.

Certain Bluetooth speakers aren't designed for moving around, meaning they don't have a battery and will instead need to be plugged into your mains. What these lack in portability they should make up for with fuller and richer sound.

Can I use my Bluetooth speaker outdoors?

Some Bluetooth speakers make great outdoor companions. You can find waterproof and ruggedised models that are ideal to take on outdoor adventures, without worrying about them getting damaged. The rugged models will have shock-proofing, meaning they can handle occasionally being thrown around or dropped.

When it comes to water resistance, be sure to check the IPX rating as that will tell you to what extent it can survive exposure to water. Some waterproof models will have IPX7, meaning they can survive being submerged in up to a metre of water for at least 30 minutes. Less waterproof models might only be IPX4-rated and so can only handle a splash.

How important are a Bluetooth speaker's drivers?

As Bluetooth speakers vary widely in size, they can have vastly different numbers of drivers inside. Smaller Bluetooth speakers may only have one or two drivers, but larger ones can have significantly more. Different sizes of drivers will handle different frequency ranges. A woofer will handle the lower frequencies so, if you favour bass response, look out for a speaker with a dedicated woofer. Mid-range and tweeters will handle the mid and higher frequencies respectively. In terms of sound quality, it's typically better to have a dedicated driver for each frequency range, rather than fewer drivers performing double duties.

Can I take calls and use my voice assistant with a Bluetooth speaker?

Lots of Bluetooth speakers will also have a built-in microphone, which means you can use them for hands-free calls. This means they can serve a useful dual purpose and are a better option than using your phone's speaker. Some also support the use of voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa. These speakers allow you to control your audio with voice commands rather than using the physical buttons on the output device or speaker itself.

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The best Bluetooth speakers for outdoor use

The following Bluetooth speakers all feature an IP rating, meaning they're water-resistant to some extent. They also all have an in-built battery so don't need to be connected to the mains to function.

1. B&O Beosound A1 2nd Gen: Best Bluetooth speaker under £200

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

This stunning little speaker builds brilliantly on everything that was so great about its predecessor, the five-star B&O Beoplay A1. Audio quality is superb, battery life clocks in at upwards of 40 hours at low volume (nearer 18 at moderate levels) and there’s even support for the Alexa voice assistant. It’s not technically a smart speaker but instead connects to the Alexa app on your phone to allow you to control it vocally. New to the 2nd Gen is IP67 certification, meaning it’s both dust- and water-resistant, and a repositioning of the control buttons make them a lot easier to access than the original.

It lacks the 3.5mm port the Beoplay A1 had and sadly can’t be paired with its older sibling, but those minor drawbacks don’t stop the new and improved A1 from establishing itself as the Bluetooth speaker to beat in its price bracket.

Read our B&O Beosound A1 2nd Gen review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 30W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1 (AAC/aptX Adaptive); IP rating: IP67; Battery life: Up to 43 hours; Dimensions: 133 x 133 x 46mm; Weight: 552g


2. JBL Go 3: Best cheap compact Bluetooth speaker

Price: £35 | Buy now from JBL

The Go 3 may be JBL’s smallest Bluetooth speaker, but it delivers crisp-sounding audio and boasts impressive output given its size. It’s extremely portable, fitting neatly in the palm of your hand, and can also be attached to a bag via its integrated loop strap. It’s one of the most rugged compact speakers on the market thanks to its anti-tear fabric housing, and with an IP67 rating, is dustproof and capable of being immersed in water of up to 1m in depth.

Available in a range of eye-catching colours, including pink, blue and “Squad” (camo), the JBL Go 3 is a speaker you can take anywhere, can withstand pretty much any conditions and sounds great for the price.

Key specs – Speakers: 1; RMS power output: 4W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; IP rating: IP67; Battery life: 5 hours; Dimensions: 85 x 72 x 38mm; Weight: 210g


3. Tronsmart Force 2: Most powerful Bluetooth speaker under £50

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

Tronsmart products often outperform their price tags and that’s certainly the case with the Force 2. It delivers 30W RMS and gets seriously loud for a speaker of its size but surprisingly, doesn’t overdo the bass. The soundstage begins to lose shape towards maximum volume but overall, the Force 2 is an enjoyable listen, with an audio profile that favours clean articulation of mids and treble over earth-shattering low-end reproduction.

An IPX7 rating ensures the Force 2 can withstand a rainstorm or being dunked in the swimming pool, while battery life of 15 hours is pretty decent given the speaker’s size. Additionally, the Force 2 houses an internal microphone that enables it to be used to hail your voice assistant or for phone calls. Mic quality proved a bit hit and miss but it’s a very welcome inclusion at this price.

If you’re looking for something with plenty of power and handy functionality for not much money, this is the Bluetooth speaker for you.

Key specs – Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 30W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IPX7; Battery life: Up to 15 hours; Dimensions: 163 x 72 x 64 mm; Weight: 0.63kg


4. Sonos Roam: Feature-rich and stupendously good

Price: £179 | Buy now from Sonos

This compact speaker from Sonos is a portable Bluetooth speaker with an ace up its sleeve: Wi-Fi connectivity. When out and about you'll be making use of Bluetooth and the Roam's 10-hour battery life but at home, you can hook it up to your wireless network and integrate it into an existing Sonos multiroom speaker system.

The Roam is one of the smartest Bluetooth speakers around, with support for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, though you can't use both simultaneously so you'll have to choose your preferred voice assistant platform. There's also support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, while the Sonos app provides access to pretty much every streaming platform you could wish for.

Sonically, the Roam hits all the right notes, delivering a wide soundstage for a speaker of its size with plenty of dynamism. Our main niggle with the Roam is how laborious it can be to get your voice assistant set up, but once you've overcome that hurdle, you'll be able to revel in what a fully featured and superb-sounding Bluetooth speaker it is.

Read our full Sonos Roam review for details

Key specs – Speakers: 2; RMS power output: Not stated; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IP67; Battery life: Up to 10 hours; Dimensions: 168 x 62 x 60 mm; Weight: 0.43kg


5. Tribit StormBox Micro: A versatile speaker that packs a punch

Price: £53 | Buy now from Amazon

If you like to listen to music while out on a leisurely bike ride, this is the Bluetooth speaker for you. It features a handy strap that can be used to mount it to handlebars, though it can also be attached to a belt or bag. Sound quality is good, with a tight bass response balanced nicely with clear vocal reproduction and no sign of distortion at higher volumes.

Battery life clocks in at a solid eight hours and the StormBox Micro is well equipped to resist just about any weather conditions thanks to its IP67 certification. There’s also the option to pair up two Micros to create a stereo sound experience if the audio output of this versatile compact speaker doesn’t quite meet your requirements.

Key specs – Speakers: 1; RMS power output: 9W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IP67; Battery life: 8 hours; Dimensions: 98 x 98 x 36mm; Weight: 295g


6. JBL Charge 5: Rugged, powerful and with plenty of stamina

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

The latest iteration of JBL's mid-range Bluetooth speaker is its best yet. It's now fully dustproof in addition to being water-resistant in water up to 1m in depth for 30 minutes and connects wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.1. The speaker arrangement has been revamped, with JBL adding a dome tweeter to work in conjunction with the woofer and audio is impressive, with the Charge 5 able to fill rooms and open spaces with crisp, well-balanced sound.

Build quality is excellent, too, while battery life clocks in at around 20 hours when listening to audio at moderate volume. That's plenty to get you through a weekend sitting in the park or lounging by the beach and as the Charge 5 can double up as a charger for your smartphone, you won't have to worry about taking an external power bank out with you.

The omission of a 3.5mm port and lack of a microphone are slight blots on the Charge 5's copybook, as is the inability to tweak the audio settings. But even with those minor issues, the Charge 5 is a great speaker for use at home and further afield.

Read our JBL Charge 5 review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 40W RMS; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; IP rating: IP67; Battery life: 20 hours; Dimensions: 223 x 97 x 94mm; Weight: 980g


7. Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3: A first-rate floating speaker

Price: £169 | Buy now from Ultimate Ears

The Megaboom 3's standout feature is its ability to float on water while playing music, which means it’s the centrepiece of any pool party. It’s also IP67-rated, so can be submerged for 30 minutes at a depth of a metre.

As for sound quality, the Megaboom 3 has great bass response and energetic treble to boot. It comes in a range of attractive colours and looks stylish. With its sonic capabilities and floating abilities, it's a fantastic mid-range choice.

Read our Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 4; RMS power output: Not disclosed; Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC); IP rating: IP67; Battery life: 20 hours; Dimensions: 87 x 87 x 225mm; Weight: 925g


8. Tribit StormBox Pro: Highly portable and feature-rich

Price: £120 | Buy now from Amazon

The StormBox Pro is an appealing alternative to the JBL Charge 5. It’s cheaper, has longer battery life, features a handy carrying handle, supports the use of Siri and can be used as a speakerphone while on calls.

However, it loses out to the Charge 5 when it comes to sound quality. It performs well at low and moderate volumes but low-end frequencies begin to distort when you push it to its limits, which is an issue when blasting out tunes outside. You can remedy this by turning off the XBass mode but we found doing so left music feeling a bit flat.

If you can overlook those sonic shortcomings, the StormBox Pro has a lot going for it. It’s highly portable, rugged and waterproof and can be used to charge external devices via a USB-A port. Siri and speakerphone support are very welcome inclusions too. If such functionality is important to you, the StormBox Pro may well be the mid-range Bluetooth speaker you’re looking for.

Key specs – Speakers: 3; RMS power output: 40W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IP67; Battery life: 24 hours; Dimensions: 96 x 96 x 180mm; Weight: 970g


9. Marshall Emberton: Most stylish compact Bluetooth speaker

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

The Marshall Emberton is a delightful combination of style and sonic substance. The logo emblazoned on the speaker’s front grille immediately conjures up images of the guitar amps the company is famous for, but don’t be fooled: this is a speaker you can take anywhere.

Build quality is not only eye-catching but rugged, too. The rubberised housing protects the Emberton from bumps and knocks and the speaker is IPX7-rated, meaning it can be submerged in water up to a depth of 1m for 30 minutes. Bluetooth pairing has a designated button, but everything else is controlled via a brass-finished multi-directional knob that adds a touch of vintage elegance. The LED battery indicator alongside it is a more modern inclusion but a welcome one, providing an accurate reflection of how much of the Emberton’s 20 hours of battery life remains.

Audio-wise, the Emberton packs a decent punch considering its compact form. The two 2in drivers and pair of passive radiators comfortably fill a small space with sound and audio is well balanced. Marshall’s True Stereophonic multi-directional sound successfully ensures you get the same experience no matter your position to the speaker, making the Emberton perfect for small, outdoor gatherings. If there’s one sonic weakness, it’s that the bass feels a little lacking when you’ve got the volume cranked all the way up, but you shouldn't let that put you off what is otherwise a fabulous Bluetooth speaker.

Key specs – Speakers: 2; RMS power output: Not disclosed; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0; IP rating: IPX7; Battery life: 20 hours; Dimensions: 160 x 76 x 68mm; Weight: 700g


10. Ultimate Ears Hyperboom: Best Bluetooth speaker for parties

Price: £359 | Buy now from John Lewis

This beast of a Bluetooth speaker sports serious audio muscle and delivers superb sound across the frequency spectrum. It's unashamedly big on bass but not to the extent where the low-end overpowers what are coherently communicated mids and treble. Physical controls are simple yet effective, while a pull-out strap enables the Hyperboom to be carried around, although its size and weight mean you won't want to lug it too far. It's water-resistant, too, so can be used outdoors without any worries, and you can tweak the audio to your liking using UE's Boom app.

Read our Ultimate Ears Hyperboom review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 4; RMS power output: Unknown; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IPX4; Battery life: Up to 24 hours; Dimensions: 190 x 190 x 346mm; Weight: 5.9kg

Buy now from John Lewis


The best Bluetooth speakers for indoor use

While some of these speakers are still portable, they don't have IP ratings for water resistance, so you won't want to use them outside if it looks like rain is on the way. In some cases, the speakers below are designed solely for use in your home and don't have an internal battery, meaning they always have to be plugged into a power source.

11. Edifier D12: A muscular, mains-powered Bluetooth speaker

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

The Edifier D12 offers a lot of speaker for the money, both in terms of its physical size and the sound it’s able to output. Drawing on mains power, it can produce 70W RMS courtesy of two 4in woofers and a pair of 19mm tweeters housed in a fetching wooden enclosure.

The resulting sound quality is impressive, with crisp mids and treble backed up by a meaty bass response. The D12 distorts a little at maximum volume but given how loud it goes, you’re highly unlikely to want to have it at full whack very often. Three top-mounted knobs allow you to adjust volume and increase both the bass and treble response, while movie and music modes can be accessed using the included infrared remote.

Bluetooth 5.0 helps ensure there’s very little latency when watching video content and the speaker looks great positioned on a desk or bookshelf, though you’ll need a decent bit of space owing to its size. The D12 is well worth making room for, though, as its sonic output hits all the right notes and packs a real punch for a speaker of its price.

Key specs – Speakers: 4; RMS power output: 70W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0; IP rating: No; Battery life: N/A; Dimensions: 357 x 195 x 148mm; Weight: 4.34kg


12. Audio Pro Addon T3: Best Bluetooth speaker for retro style

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

If you like your speakers with a bit of character and visual interest, you might be fond of the Audio Pro Addon T3. It's reasonably large, leading you to think it might be just a mains-powered speaker, but there's a battery built in. While you might not take it out on the road, carrying it down to the end of the garden for your next barbeque is certainly a possibility, with its convenient and attractive handle.

Read our full Audio Pro Addon T3 review for details

Key specs – Speakers: 3; RMS power output: 25W; Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 (SBC); IP rating: No; Battery life: 30 hours; Dimensions: 215 x 135 x 115mm; Weight: 2kg


13. Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen): Best cheap smart speaker with Bluetooth

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

Amazon’s original Echo Dot was released back in 2016 and was a reasonably priced option for those wanting to enter the world of smart speakers, but it sounded pretty terrible. The speaker has come a long way since then and this fourth-generation iteration is the best yet. Like the third-gen version, it houses a 1.6in speaker but sound quality has been improved. Tracks sound crisper and clearer, the speaker can pump out higher volume audio without distortion and there's better instrument separation, too.

The spherical design means it also looks better than its predecessor, and if you're willing to spend an extra £10 you can benefit from the newly added LED clock built into the speaker's fabric housing.

Read our Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen) review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 1; RMS power output: Unknown; Wireless: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi; IP rating: No; Battery life: N/A; Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm; Weight: 328g


14. Huawei Sound: An eye-catching speaker with impressive audio credentials

Price: £200 | Buy now from Huawei

The Huawei Sound was created in partnership with Devialet, and the French company’s eye for design along with some technical wizardry make it an appealing home speaker if you’re not fussed about smart functionality or portability.

The speaker looks and sounds great no matter where it’s placed thanks to Hi-res audio certification and a clever driver arrangement that delivers 360-degree sound. Bass is particularly well handled, with real richness present in the Sound’s low-end reproduction.

Support for Huawei’s OneHop technology allows you to quickly switch between your NFC-enabled phone’s output and the speaker, and touch controls are kept nice and simple. Were the Sound to offer support for voice assistants and house an internal battery it would be the complete package, but even without those features it’s still worth a spot in this roundup.

Read our Huawei Sound review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 4; RMS power output: 55W; Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC, AAC and LDAC codecs); IP rating: Not stated; Battery life: N/A; Dimensions: 147 x 147 x 187mm; Weight: 2.2kg

Buy now from Huawei


15. Google Nest Audio: Best Bluetooth smart speaker under £100

Price: £89 | Buy now from Currys

Though the Nest Audio's big selling point is built-in Google Assistant, it doubles up as a Bluetooth speaker and delivers very impressive sound quality for a smart speaker costing under £100. Thanks to its 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter – a significant step up from the single 50mm driver housed in its predecessor, the Google Home – the Nest Audio is able to communicate rich, textured sound across most musical genres. It goes pretty loud, too, though it does begin to sound a little strained when playing raucous tracks at maximum volume.

Touch controls are a little fiddly and sadly there's no AUX-in port, but if you're looking for an affordable Google Assistant speaker with Bluetooth functionality, you won't find better than the Nest Audio.

Read our Google Nest Audio review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 2; RMS power output: Unknown; Wireless: Bluetooth (AAC and SBC), WiFi; IP rating: No; Battery life: N/A; Dimensions: 124 x 78 x 174mm; Weight: 1.2kg

Buy now from Currys


16. Naim Mu-so 2 (2nd Generation): Best all-in-one wireless speaker with Bluetooth

Price: £1,299 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Mu-so 2 (2nd generation) is an audiophile’s dream and the complete wireless speaker for those willing to part with a hefty chunk of cash. In addition to its Bluetooth connection, there’s also built-in support for AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Tidal.

Sonically, the Mu-so 2 is brimming with finesse, even when you start to push up the volume to ear-shattering levels, and the sense of scale and impact it creates is immense. It’s not a cheap option, but if you’re looking for a Bluetooth-compatible speaker with a wealth of alternative connection options, the Naim Mu-so 2 is as good as it gets.

Key specs – Speakers: 6; RMS power output: 450W; Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC, AAC codecs); IP rating: No; Battery life: N/A; Dimensions: 122 x 628 x 264mm; Weight: 11.2kg

Buy now from John Lewis

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