Sometimes you get what you pay for, and this is often the case with audio products. Although there are some decent budget options, here we round up the best Bluetooth speakers that money can buy.
Prices start at £149 here, which is pretty good for a high-end device, and range all the way up to £499. Most are around the £250 mark, though.
In the Bluetooth speaker market there’s a wide range of devices available. You might be looking for the best portable Bluetooth speaker with the longest battery life, or perhaps the biggest speaker for your lounge to provide pumping sounds for a party. Then there are speakers which are somewhere in the middle and are big but still portable.
The difficulty in putting together a group test of the best Bluetooth speakers is that each brand offers a range of different products to suit those varying needs. We’ve made sure there’s a decent selection here and for each manufacturer, we’ve presented the options for other models from the respective range since we can only look at one each.
What to look out for when buying a Bluetooth speaker
So, what kind of things should you watch out for when on the market for a high-end Bluetooth speaker?
There are many different types of Bluetooth speaker so if you want to easily take one around with you then make sure it’s small and portable. And that it has a battery to power it rather than needing mains power.
Although you’re likely to connect your phone or tablet to the speaker over Bluetooth, having other connections can be really useful. For example, you might have a mp3 player like an old iPod which still works fine but doesn’t have Bluetooth. If so, look for a speaker with a 3.5mm jack (most of them have one). Some also offer ports like phono which are handy for connecting things like your TV or a record player.
Whereas Bluetooth used to be a primary way of connecting to a speaker without wires, some now feature Wi-Fi on the spec sheet which is useful for various reasons. It might mean you can connect your device to it over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth - this is how Apple’s AirPlay works (although not exclusively).
Having Wi-Fi might also add the ability to use the speaker directly with streaming services like Spotify or internet radio stations so you’re not limited to what tunes you’ve got on your device.
Note: Where we mention pairing up devices as a stereo pair or multi-room capabilities, this is not something we’ve been able to test every time as we’ve only been sent one of each speaker.
If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable then head over to our best budget Bluetooth speakers group test where you’ll find something cheaper, as all the speakers in that selection are under £100. What we’re focussing on here are the best high-end Bluetooth speakers which understandably fetch a higher price.
1. Kef Muo
Although it's one of the smallest high-end Bluetooth speakers available, don't judge it on this basis. For starters, the Muo has an exquisite finish made from a single piece of aluminum designed by Ross Lovegrove, the man behind Kef's iconic Muon speakers. It not only looks nice but is designed to eliminate vibration and project sound optimally.
You can pair devices to it easily with the NFC chip and despite being pint-sized, the Muo will keep pumping out tunes for up to 12 hours. If you're feeling flush, you can also buy two and create a stereo pair out of them. A Micro-USB port is for charging and there’s also a 3.5mm jack if you need a wired connection.
It's astonishing the punch that this tiny speaker achieves thanks to its two 50mm drivers - which benefit from Kef's Uni-Q technology - a bass radiator and the aptX Bluetooth codec. The drivers are actually tuned so one handles more bass than the other so it works quite nicely putting the speaker on its end.
The combination of precision craftsmanship and polished sound quality make the Kef Muo easily one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers around. Classy stuff.
2. Marshall Stanmore
If you're set on getting a good looking Bluetooth speaker then Marshall is here to help. The Stanmore is the middle of the range and comes in various colours including our favourite, brown. You get that iconic style of Marshall's guitar amps including all the little details which make it feel special like the toggle power switch and tactile dials - it's just a shame they don’t go to 11!
If you like a lot of choice when it comes to connectivity then the Stanmore is a decent choice. Aside from Bluetooth with aptX, it has 3.5mm jack with a nice cable included and RCA so you can connect devices such as a record player.
The Stanmore provides a big but balanced sound - rich bass comes from the 5 and 1/4in woofer but mids and highs aren't forgotten with two 3/4in tweeters. All of which are powered by Class-D amps. Even if the sound isn't quite to your taste or the speaker’s surroundings, you can easily make adjustments with dedicated bass and treble dials.
3. Ruark MR1 Mk2
Most Bluetooth speakers don't offer a true stereo speaker setup but if that's what you're after then Ruark is on hand. The MR1 speakers will go nicely with a PC, laptop or just as a pair of bookshelf speakers to use with a phone or tablet.
A new Mk2 model gives the speakers a fresh look with a Soft Grey lacquer or Rich Walnut veneer. You still get features such as Bluetooth aptX, a physical dial and a remote control.
New features include larger 25mm tweeters and an optical port so you can use the speakers with even more devices including TVs. We're still blown away by the big and powerful sound these tiny cabinets are able to produce. You won't be disappointed.
4. UE Megaboom
In Ultimate Ears' own words, the Megaboom is a 'portable wireless speaker on steroids'. It's the biggest of the range, as the name suggests, but it's not quite as large as we expected. Offering the same look and feel as the smaller option but packing more punch.
As usual it's available in a range of colours and the speaker is pretty durable with both shock- and waterproof credentials. Its got NFC for easily pairing devices over Bluetooth, a whopping 20 hour battery life and a 30m wireless range. There's also a handy 3.5mm jack and a standard camera mount in case you want pop it on a tripod or similar.
The main advantage of the Megaboom is the 360 degree sound which is surprisingly good - you can place it in any orientation and hear it nicely from any direction. If you like you can pair two as a stereo pair. It's not got the most amazing sound as standard compared to some rivals but you can use the app on iOS or Android to make tweaks with an EQ.
5. Urbanears Lotsen
At £179, the Urbanears Lotsen is one of the cheapest speakers in our Bluetooth speaker roundup, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to be here. First of all, the Lotsen is arguably the best-looking speaker in our roundup, sporting a combination of fabric wrapping (available in several colours) and physical knobs that blend the new and the old.
It may be wired, but the connectivity and functionality more than make up for it; alongside Bluetooth 4.2, the Lotsen offers aux-in and Wi-Fi capabilities, with the latter opening a new channel of connectivity for the speaker. With Wi-Fi, the Lotsen also offers Chromecast, AirPlay and Spotify Connect support, as well as the ability to stream thousands of internet radio stations without the use of a smartphone, tablet or computer. And, like other speakers in our roundup, the Lotsen offers multi-room/stereo playback for those that purchase more than one.
Oh, and the physical knobs let you select one of seven customisable presets, allowing you to play your favourite radio station or Spotify playlist without picking up your smartphone.
The audio quality is decent and it's more than loud enough for small-to-medium-sized rooms, though we did notice a distinct focus on bass. It's not necessarily a negative point, but it's worth keeping in mind when thinking about buying the speaker.
Find out more in our Urbanears Lotsen review.
6. Riva ARENA
The Riva ARENA is a small, stylish multi-room speaker that packs a punch.
First up, there’s a whole host of connectivity options: Once connected to your local Wi-Fi network, it offers support for Chromecast, AirPlay and DNLA alongside Bluetooth, USB (with support for high-res 24-bit audio) and auxiliary input. It can stream the likes of Pandora radio and Spotify thanks to the Wi-Fi connectivity, and you can charge your phone via the USB port too.
The Riva ARENA is also impressive in the speaker department: it boasts three ADX drivers and three passive radiators for a combined 50W of power and while it’s not quite a 360-degree speaker, they are present on three of the four sides. It also features ‘patented Trillium audio technology’ which Riva claims provides stereophonic sound from each speaker.
What does that mean in terms of sound quality? The Riva ARENA produces crisp, clear and punchy audio with decent levels of bass without overpowering the mid-range. It’s more than enough to produce room-filling audio without cranking the volume, but if you do turn it up it to max volume, you may find the sound becomes a little harsh.
7. Bose SoundLink Revolve
The Bose SoundLink Revolve is one of the newest arrivals in the Bose collection, and is the first to boast 360-degree audio. It’s designed to be portable and is easy to carry around in a rucksack, and the splash-proof design means it won’t give up when it rains either.
It’s Bluetooth-enabled and can wirelessly pair with other SoundLink Revolves to provide stereo playback, and also offers a handy 3.5mm port in the rear for those not ready to go wire-free. As with many Bose products, it’s available in black or silver, and it should last around 12 hours per charge, although that varies depending on volume and other factors.
The headline feature of the SoundLink Revolve is of course the 360-degree audio – and it sounds amazing. It features an omnidirectional acoustic deflector and a transducer to pump audio out in all directions, and does a fantastic job at providing room-filling audio. The quality is what you’d expect from Bose; rich, warm, bright with exceptional clarity.
8. JBL Xtreme
If you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker to take to places like the beach or on holiday then the Xtreme from JBL is a good choice. It's fairly big and heavy but still portable and benefits from splashproof design and comes with a carry strap, too. You can choose from three colours.
Like many rivals you can plug devices in via the 3.5mm jack if you don't want to use Bluetooth and you can connect multiple speakers together with JBL Connect. The 10,000mAh battery will last up to 15 but you can even use it to charge devices via two USB ports. Big clicky buttons are easy to use and you can play, pause and skip tracks straight from the speaker which is pretty handy.
The JBL Xtreme offers a sense of stereo field if you sit directly in front which is surprising given it's size. It's got plenty of oomph and booming bass so is s good option for dance music and parties. You can even see the two bass radiators working away at either end should you like that kind of thing.
9. Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless
The latest version of the Zeppelin is more expensive than most Bluetooth speakers but it's a great choice if you're looking for big sound and something of a statement piece for your home. Gone are the days of the arm with an Apple 30-pin connector, the new Zeppelin is as sleek as you like.
It's a shame that the remote control has also been ditched but the speaker is easy enough to control with the on-board buttons (which are slightly hidden away) or with the dedicated mobile and desktop apps. Not only does it have Bluetooth with aptX, the inclusion of Wi-Fi means you can stream music from Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music and AirPlay. There's even an Ethernet port if you need a stable connection. A 3.5mm jack is another input option while the USB port is just for service.
The Zeppelin is capable of filling even the largest rooms with sound with a total of 150W of power coming via five drivers - two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a subwoofer. The Zeppelin offers powerful and rich sound with excellent frequency response. It also has a bigger soundstage than a lot of wireless speakers.
10. Soundcore Model Zero
The IPX5-grade waterproof Soundcore Model Zero speaker (from parent company Anker) fashions a clean, modernist look with a fabric-bound exterior and portable, round-framed handle. Despite its handbag-like design, it is heavy at nearly 2kg so you may not wish to carry it around for too long.
In terms of audio quality however, the Model Zero packs a powerful sound with a particularly healthy bass. It has a 'BoostUp' feature that adds a layer of richness to whatever you're playing. The treble and mid-range can come off tinny at times though, depending on what you're listening to.
The controls on the device itself are fairly simple: a play/pause button (using the Soundcore logo instead of the standard symbol we're familiar with), volume controls, a Bluetooth power on/off, and the BassUp button. The power button itself though is on the side of the speaker.
Like a couple of the other selections on this list, you can adjust the quality of the sound with the free Soundcore app (for Android and iOS). The app is universal across all Soundcore audio devices. While the app's EQ options are far from sophisticated, you do get a choice between a few different audio presets, along with its corresponding waveform, so you can see the prominence of the the bass, mid-range and treble in each option.
The Model Zero charges via the provided power adapter and cable. There's an additional Aux-In port too.