Audio is one of the areas of tech where you do tend to get what you pay for, and getting a great sounding Bluetooth speaker often means spending a little more. And we have some of the best money can buy.
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.
With so many models on the market and loads from each brand, we could never test them all. But here are the top 10 that we've reviewed.
1. Kef Muo - Best Overall
Although it's one of the smallest high-end Bluetooth speakers available, don't judge it on this basis. It not only looks nice but is designed to eliminate vibration and project sound optimally.o
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.
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 combination of precision craftsmanship and polished sound quality make the Kef Muo easily one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers around. Classy stuff.
2. Sonos Move - Best Sound Quality
The Sonos Move is a long-awaited addition to the range - and it's understandable that the firm has taken some time to get it right.
We think it really achieves what it sets out to by being both an indoor part of the Sonos system, but also something you can take outdoors (or around the house) when needed. The addition - finally - of Bluetooth means that you can go even further than your garden. Wherever you like.
The design is robust, sound quality is excellent and powerful and Auto Trueplay makes sure the Move sounds good wherever you put it.
The price might put some off and it's not the Sonos speaker for everyone, but it's certainly the Sonos speaker we've been waiting for.
Read our full Sonos Move review
3. Bose SoundLink Resolve - Best 360 Sound
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.
The headline feature of the SoundLink Revolve is of course the 360-degree audio, plus 12 hour battery life. 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.
4. Marshall Stanmore - Best Style
If you're set on getting a good looking Bluetooth speaker then Marshall is here to help. 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 a 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. 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.
5. Ruark MR1 Mk2 - Best Stereo Speakers
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.
6. UE Megaboom - Best Portability
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. It's got NFC for easily pairing devices over Bluetooth, a whopping 20 hour battery life and a 30m wireless range.
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.
7. Bose Portable Home Speaker - Best Featureset
The Bose Portable Home Speaker is a welcome addition to the Bose smart speaker range, adding some much-needed flexibility thanks to a 12-hour battery life and IPX4 waterproofing, without compromising on audio quality.
Despite the portability it still delivers bass-heavy sound with plenty of oomph, so there's little compromise on audio.
Built-in support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa delivers the smarts, though be warned that this integration isn't as fully featured as on official products or even other third-party rivals, so it might not do everything you want it to.
At this price, it's just a shame that it doesn't come with the charging stand included, which takes the portability to the next level.
Read our full Bose Portable Home Speaker review
8. Riva Arena - Best Connectivity
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's also impressive in the speaker department with three ADX drivers and three passive radiators for a combined 50W of power. It's got decent levels of bass without overpowering the mid-range and while it’s not quite a 360-degree speaker, they are present on three of the four sides.
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.
9. JBL Xtreme - Best Durability
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 great choice thanks to its splash proof design, chunky buttons and carry strap.
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.
The JBL Xtreme offers a sense of stereo field if you sit directly in front which is surprising given its size. It's got plenty of oomph and booming bass so is a good option for dance music and parties.
10. Urbanears Lotsen - Best Value
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 including Chromecast, AirPlay and Spotify Connect support.
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.
Read our full Urbanears Lotsen review
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.
Find out how we test audio.