Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

The best wireless speakers for streaming audio at home

14 Oct 2021
Advertisement

Enjoy better quality audio at home with our pick of the best wireless speakers for every budget

Integrating one of the best wireless speakers into your home audio setup can transform how you enjoy music and doesn't cost as much as you might think.

Granted, a premium wireless speaker packed with features and connection options will put a big dent in your bank balance but there are plenty of great options catering for those with more modest budgets.

The best wireless speakers deliver exceptional audio quality in your lounge, kitchen or bedroom, and while playing music remains their primary function, the more advanced among them deliver an array of useful features.

Internet radio, podcast player, TV soundbar and smart technology control hub are just some of the roles the best wireless speakers can play. All-in-one wireless speaker systems capable of all of that aren't as cheap as a regular Bluetooth speaker but there are plenty of reasonably-priced, feature-rich options for those on a budget.

We regularly test new releases and keep this list up to date with the best wireless speakers available. If you need a bit of additional help working out what to look for when choosing a wireless speaker, you'll find a comprehensive buying guide prior to the list of entries.


Best wireless speaker: At a glance


    How to choose the best wireless speaker for you

    There are a few key things you should consider when purchasing one of the best wireless speakers. Depending on your needs, some will prove more important than others, and as ever, make sure you set yourself a budget before splashing out.

    Wireless connections and inputs

    This is probably the most crucial aspect when you’re looking at buying a wireless speaker. All of the options on our list can play audio over a Wi-Fi connection but not all have Bluetooth functionality. You’ll typically find the pricier a speaker is, the more options it offers.

    Modern wireless speakers do sometimes come with physical analogue connections but don’t expect the earth. Most affordable wireless speakers will be limited to a stereo 3.5mm input; don’t expect extras until you move up to more expensive, audiophile-class gear.

    Size and form factor

    The best wireless speakers range considerably in size, from compact, desktop speakers to large systems that will take up a significant proportion of your living room. As alluring as a beefy setup may be, sometimes less is more.

    Smart features and voice assistants

    Google and Amazon speakers support their own voice assistants, but you'll find plenty of other wireless speakers offering smart functionality.

    The key is to look for one that fits with the devices you already own. Although some support multiple digital assistants, the vast majority support one or another so be careful which you buy if this is a priority.

    It’s also worth noting the range of features on a third-party smart wireless speaker can be curtailed compared with first-party devices produced by Amazon and Google. Non-Amazon Alexa-enabled smart speakers, for example, can’t be used to make calls to mobile phones and other Echo devices in your home.

    READ NEXT: The best smart speakers

    Companion apps

    While many wireless speakers allow you to simply stream audio to them directly from your favourite music app most also come with a companion app that lets you control various aspects of the speakers’ functionality. Not all of these are made equal, however, and it’s worth checking if they allow you to do what you expect.

    Things to think about here include support for the streaming services you use. Most will work well with Spotify, for example, but how about Tidal, Qobuz or Amazon Music HD? You’ll want the widest support for these as possible because although you may not need something now, you may well do in the future. The last thing you want to do is have to buy a new speaker just because you switched streaming platforms or your phone from iPhone to Android.

    Streaming standards

    The same thing applies to streaming standards. The best wireless speakers will support a range of these so you can send audio directly from your phone, tablet or laptop over your home Wi-Fi network to your wireless speaker. The big three standards are Spotify Connect, Google Cast, and Apple AirPlay but others such as DTS Play-Fi and, for audiophiles, Roon Ready support are worth looking out for as well.

    Finally, if you already have a selection of music files somewhere at home, maybe on a shared network drive or folder on your PC, you’ll also want to look for DLNA and UPnP support so your speaker and its app can recognise those sources and browse/play music from them.


    The best wireless speakers you can buy in 2021

    1. Sonos One (Gen 2): Best wireless speaker under £200

    Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

    The Sonos One offers voice command support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, although not both simultaneously. It’s Wi-Fi only, so there’s no Bluetooth connection option, but the Sonos One delivers balanced, well-defined sound across all music genres and truly shines when two are paired to create a stereo setup.

    Perhaps the most attractive aspect of Sonos speakers is the Sonos app, which supports a huge variety of streaming services and platforms. Most of these are fully integrated so there’s no need to go skipping around different apps as you play your tunes or listen to the radio. There’s no Google Cast support but both Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2 work.

    The Gen 2 model listed here added increased memory and updated the speaker’s processor but it’s otherwise identical to the original, which sounds great wherever you position it thanks to Sonos’ TruePlay feature, which tunes the EQ automatically according to the resonances of your room. The effects aren’t always dramatic but Trueplay always manages to improve the Sonos One’s already impressive audio output.

    Read our full Sonos One review for more details

    Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect; Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 162mm; Weight: 1.85kg


    2. Google Nest Audio: Best wireless speaker under £100

    Price: £80 | Buy now from John Lewis

    This long-awaited successor to the original Google Home is an absolute crackerjack of a smart speaker and exceptional value for money. It delivers far richer, fuller sound than its predecessor and goes pretty loud considering its size, though it does start sounding a little strained at maximum volume.

    Google Assistant integration works as well as you’d expect, reliably picking up your voice via the speaker’s triple microphone array and interpreting your commands accurately. The Nest Audio looks great, too, with a fabric-covered housing consisting of 70% recycled plastic. In addition to connecting over Wi-Fi, the Nest Audio can also connect over Bluetooth: a very welcome feature the original Home speaker lacked.

    Read our full Google Nest Audio review for more details

    Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast; Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: No (controlled via Google Home); Dimensions: 175 x 124 x 78mm; Weight: 1.2kg

    Buy now from John Lewis


    3. KEF LSX: Best wireless bookshelf speakers

    Price: £849 | Buy now from Amazon

    Unlike the other entries on this list, the LEF LSX isn’t just a single speaker unit, it comes as a pair that connects wirelessly to provide exceptional stereo sound. It’s also, perhaps, the best looking wireless speaker product on the market.

    Created with assistance from designer Michael Young, they’re both modern and elegant, with KEF’s signature Uni-Q driver taking centre stage. The driver features a tweeter at the centre of the midrange and bass cone and creates a powerful yet extremely detailed sound, with tuneful bass delivery and a broad stereo soundstage.

    There’s no voice assistant but there is support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, which allows for high-quality streaming, in addition to support for Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and the TIDAL streaming service. You also have the option to connect the speakers to your TV or console via optical S/PDIF and add a subwoofer via a dedicated single phono output.

    Available in black, green, blue, red and white, the KEF LSX is a pair of beautiful, great-sounding speakers to grace any living room.

    Read our full KEF LSX review for more details

    Key specs – Speakers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 155 x 180 x 1240mm; Weight: 3.6kg per speaker


    4. Sonos Move: Best portable wireless speaker

    Price: £399 | Buy now from Hughes

    The Sonos Move is a portable wireless speaker similar in design to its little brother, the Sonos One (above). It’s significantly bigger than the One due to the incorporation of a battery that’s recharged via a docking cradle and will give you up to ten hours of playtime per charge.

    But it’s not just in the size department that the Move improves on the One, it’s got a few neat additional features, too. In particular, you don’t have to set up Trueplay – Sonos’ room EQ function – manually by waving your phone around as you do with its smaller sibling; it tunes itself whenever it senses you’ve moved it.

    Sonically, the Move is a step up, too. Its mid-woofer and downward-firing tweeter provide a better-balanced sound, wider soundstage and overall, the Move sounds cleaner than One, which is just as well, given it’s twice the price.

    Read our full Sonos Move review for more details

    Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect; Voice Assistant: Alexa and Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 160 x 240 x 126mm; Weight: 3kg

    Buy now from Hughes


    5. Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation): Best cheap wireless speaker

    Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

    If you want an attractive, affordable speaker that you can hook up to your Wi-Fi connection, the Amazon Echo Dot is hard to beat. The fourth-generation iteration is the best-sounding yet and also the best-looking thanks to its new spherical design.

    While it won’t deliver room-filling audio like the majority of the entries on this list, its audio is crisp and clear and instrument separation is impressive for a speaker of its size. Regardless of how much you expect to use the in-built Alexa virtual assistant, the Echo Dot is a fine choice if you're looking to add wireless audio to your home without breaking the bank. And if you're after a smart wireless speaker for your kids, there's the Amazon Echo Dot Kids, a child-friendly version of the speaker available in panda and tiger-themed designs.

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

    Key specs – Drivers: 1; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa; Remote: No; Companion App: No; Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm; Weight: 328g


    6. Audio Pro G10: Scandinavian style combined with Google smarts

    Price: £230 | Buy now from Currys

    The G10 is Scandinavian manufacturer Audio Pro's first attempt at a Google-enabled wireless speaker and a highly impressive one at that. Audio quality is excellent, with a sound signature that's engaging, well-balanced and delivers plenty of detail. The G10 also packs a punch for a speaker of its size and shows no signs of distorting even when blasting out tunes at maximum volume.

    AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in give you a huge range of streaming options and with Google Assistant onboard you can control the speaker (and any others in its Google Home group) with voice commands. Those commands are picked up very effectively on the whole, though the G10's microphones do struggle to hear you when the speaker's being pushed to its limits.

    Read our full Audio Pro G10 review for details

    Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth; Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: No; Dimensions: 140 x 140 x 193mm; Weight: 1.43kg

    Buy now from Currys


    7. Ikea Sonos Symfonisk picture frame speaker: A Wi-Fi speaker disguised as a piece of art

    Price: £179 | Buy now from Ikea

    If you're short on space or simply fancy a Wi-Fi speaker you can mount on your wall, this could be the product for you. Ikea and Sonos' third audio collaboration isn't as discrete as the Wi-Fi-enabled bookshelf speaker and table lamp that preceded it, but sonically, it hits all the right notes.

    Audio quality is impressive regardless of whether you have it on your wall, a desk or on the floor and the Sonos app provides a quick and easy way to stream content from a huge range of services including Tidal and Spotify. There's also support for Apple AirPlay 2 and if you own other Sonos speakers, the Symfonisk can be integrated into your existing multi-room setup. Were you to buy two, you could even use them as rear speakers in a surround sound system with Sonos' Arc or Beam soundbars.

    Unfortunately, the Symfonisk's strong audio performance isn't matched by its credentials as a picture frame. In fact, calling it a picture frame is a little misleading as it can't be used to display your own pictures. Instead, you'll have to make do with the design pictured above (in either black or white) or buy one of the alternative clip-in artwork panels being sold separately.

    Though it will divide opinion aesthetically, there's no questioning the Symfonisk picture frame speaker's merit as a wireless streaming device.

    Read our full Ikea Sonos Symfonisk picture frame speaker review for details

    Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: No; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 406 x 60 x 559mm; Weight: 4kg

    Buy now from Ikea


    8. Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation: Best premium wireless speaker

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

    The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation is an all-in-one wireless speaker for those with no budgetary constraints. Delivering 450W of audio power, the Mu-so 2nd Gen is a muscular speaker that can be used in place of a soundbar for your TV thanks to its HDMI ARC input but it’s a bit bulky so check your measurements before splashing out.

    That’s just one of a number of inputs, with the Mu-so 2nd Gen also housing a 3.5mm analogue input, USB Type-A port and Optical SPDIF. Sonically, it’s a powerhouse across the frequency range and can reach extremely high levels of volume with no noticeable drop off in quality or clarity. There’s no support for voice assistants but the Mu-so 2nd Gen is a room-filling wonder of a wireless speaker.

    Read our full Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation review for more details

    Key specs – Speakers: 6; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 628 x 122 x 264mm; Weight: 11.2kg

    Buy now from John Lewis


    9. Ruark R5: Legacy features meet modern technology

    Price: £995 | Buy now from Amazon

    In many ways, the Ruark R5 is a blast from the past. It houses a CD player, a detachable DAB-FM antenna and a pair of phono inputs along with an integrated phono preamp for hooking up a turntable.

    However, it blends these seamlessly with its more modern wireless and Bluetooth streaming features and is delightfully designed, borrowing heavily from the radiograms that were popular with affluent families in post-War Britain.

    Not only does it look the part, the Ruark R5’s two full-range drivers, combined with its integrated subwoofer, deliver excellent sound across the full range of musical genres. It’s a big financial investment, but if you’re looking for a supreme wireless speaker that incorporates retro features, the Ruark R5 is as good as it gets.

    Read our full Ruark R5 review for more details

    Key specs – Speakers: 3; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, DLNA; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 520 x 300 x 140mm; Weight: 9.5kg


    10. Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i: Best compact wireless speaker for Hi-res streaming

    Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon

    The Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i delivers audio far larger than you’d expect from a speaker of its size. It’s capable of filling a room with great-sounding, high-resolution audio and supports a whole host of wireless streaming services, including Amazon Music HD, Tidal and Deezer. The BluOS app is comprehensive, allowing for easy control of the speaker through your phone or computer and features plenty of ways to adjust your sonic experience.

    There are a decent range of physical connections, too, with an Ethernet port, USB-A drive for FAT32 and NTFS memory sticks, 3.5mm headphone out and analogue in. All the connection options, coupled with an attractive, minimalist design make the Pulse Flex 2i an enticing prospect for those wanting high quality 24-bit audio streaming without breaking the bank.

    Read our full Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i review for more details

    Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2; Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (through Blue Voice); Remote: Yes (sold separately); Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 125 x 100 x 183mm; Weight: 1.23kg


    11. Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation: Elegant, effortless wireless streaming

    Price: £749 | Buy now from Peter Tyson

    Naim’s original Mu-so Qb was a roaring success and its second-generation iteration is a significant upgrade both in terms of features and sound quality. Although it lacks in-built voice assistant support, you can plug a smart device into one of the many inputs, which include a USB Type-A port, a 3.5mm analogue jack and optical S/PDIF.

    Other features include support for music streaming services Spotify Connect, Tidal and Roon, in addition to Google Cast and Apple AirPlay 2.

    Unlike its predecessor, the 2nd Gen comes with a handy remote, although you can also control the speaker via the Naim Audio app on your smartphone. With connection flexibility, sensational sound and a compact, cuboid design, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation cements its position as one of the best wireless speakers around.

    Read our full Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation review for more details

    Key specs – Drivers: 4; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 210 x 218 x 212 mm; Weight: 5.6kg

    Buy now from Peter Tyson

    Read more

    Best Buys