Best Bluetooth Speakers 2017: The 13 you should consider

We’ve listened to dozens of great, and not so great, wireless speakers. Here are the picks we think are worth your money from ultra-portable, to rugged and waterproof, and Bluetooth speakers that will even keep audiophiles happy.

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There’s no longer any excuse to make do with the disappointing sound from your smartphone or tablet. Bluetooth speakers are a simple and often effective audio upgrade that doesn’t have to break the bank. Unless you want it to.

A simple Bluetooth speaker is worth considering just for around the home, or you can look at more ruggedised, easily transported models for taking on your next holiday.

If you care about sound quality, however, a small portable Bluetooth speaker might not be for you. As you’ll see from our list, the better-sounding models generally aren’t going to fit in your pocket. A Bluetooth speaker can also be another device you’ll need to charge if it’s designed for portable use.

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Best waterproof speaker

Many Bluetooth speakers are water-resistant, which makes them a great companion to use beside the pool. Not only can many of them survive being splashed, many of them can even handle being submerged complete.

Be sure to check the water-resistance of your particular model before putting it to the test, however. Right now, one of the best Bluetooth speakers for poolside is the UE Wonderboom by virtue of it not only surviving being submerged but the fact that it also floats, which is particularly useful for your next visit to the pool.

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Great for gorgeous styling: B&O Play Beolit 17

Key features:

  • Bluetooth aptX
  • Battery life up to 24 hours
  • 3.5mm aux input
  • Review price: £449

B&O products don’t skimp on the design front, but even by their standards the B&O Play Beolit 17 is a really nice thing. There’s a leather handle, plus metal grille and fixings – and a deeply dished rubber top provides a nice place for your phone to sit without slipping off. Everything has been beautifully put together.

It’s not just a pretty face; it’s practical too. The Beolit 17 has a 2200mAh battery, which lasts up to 24 hours from a 2.5-hour charge, and an app even tells you precisely how much juice is left. It charges by USB-C, so you can use the cable from the latest phones and laptops.

As for the sound? It’s huge – far bigger than you’d expect for a box you can carry. It’s also wide, with a 360-degree soundstage. There’s a healthy serving of bass for its size, and minimal distortion even at high volumes.

Basically, one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy.

 

Read the full B&O Play Beolit 17 review

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Great for room-filling: Bose SoundLink Mini II

Key features:

  • Up to 10-hour battery
  • Charge dock
  • Dual passive radiators
  • Review price: £169

Bose used to be an easy company to sneer at, selling almost bizarrely expensive radios advertised in the back of broadsheets. However, now that its audience has become truly mainstream it offers class-leading performance with some of its gadgets.

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is a great mini speaker, offering thundering bass for its size matched with coherent, lifelike mids you just wouldn’t expect from a small portable speaker. What this particular model does better than a lot of the competition is in making the sound seem to come from a much larger source. The drivers are tiny, but they don’t sound it, as the sonics expand way beyond this little guy’s dimensions.

Bose doesn’t talk about exactly how it achieves this sort of secret sauce, but it’s partly down to psychoacoustic processing tricking your ears. Clever. It also comes with a very neat charging dock.

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Read the full Bose SoundLink Mini II review

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Best budget buy: Jam Heavy Metal HX-P920

Key features:

  • Top for value
  • Up to 8-hour battery
  • Aluminium frame
  • Review Price: £119.99

Until fairly recently, it was hard to get a good deal among Bluetooth speakers. Cheap ones sounded rubbish, others were expensive. The Jam Heavy Metal changes that.

It costs just £59, but is made of metal and offers sound as big and loud as some of the competition costing well over £100. Like most of the best small wireless speakers, it uses passive radiators to squeeze big bass out of a tiny box.

Other than its amazing value, the highlight of the Heavy Metal is its very clear, detailed treble. Unless you’re willing to spend over £100, you can’t do much better than this.

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Read the full Jam Heavy Metal HX-P920 review

JBL Charge 3

4 of 13

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Great for keeping your phone alive: JBL Charge 3

Key features:

  • IPX7 waterproofing
  • 20-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • Review price: £134.99

A battery pack with a speaker built in, or a speaker with a battery pack built in? Either way, you can listen to tunes and keep your phone juiced at the same time. The JBL Charge 3’s 6000mAh is double the capacity of some of the world’s best phones.

What’s more, you can do that at the pool and not worry about killing the speaker, because its IPX7 rating means it’ll survive a dunking, accidental or otherwise. It can sit in 1m of water for 30 minutes.

Despite the shape, it’s not a 360-degree speaker. Sit in front of it and you’ll enjoy a good performance with well-controlled bass and a crisp, taut treble. It’s a nicely balanced sound, which might lack excitement at low volumes – this speaker is best served loud.

Read the full JBL Charge 3 review

UE Wonderboom

5 of 13

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Best waterproof speaker: UE Wonderboom

Key features:

  • 10-hour battery
  • Water resistant (IPX7) and floats
  • 40mm active drivers
  • Review Price: £89.99

Ultimate Ears’ range of Bluetooth speakers are famed for their incredible volume and rugged designs and the Wonderboom is no different. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker to accompany you on your travels, you’ll struggle to find better value.

The Wonderboom is available in a range of vibrant colours meaning you can find one to your taste. Like UE’s other speakers, one of the draws is the speaker’s water resistance. The Wonderboom can survive submersion to 1 metre for 30 minutes, meaning it’ll be great for poolside use. It also floats, too, which is now something we wished UE’s other speakers were all capable of.

Sound quality is very respectable for a speaker of this size, with plenty of bass to live up to the speaker’s name. With 10 hours of battery life, you get a very respectable amount of stamina before you need a charge.

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Read the full UE Wonderboom review

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Best large portable speaker

Key features:

  • Metal carry handle
  • 8hr battery
  • Hi-fi-scale sound
  • Review Price: £249.99

The most popular portable speakers today are quite small, but the Harman Kardon Go + Play 2 takes us back to the glory days of iPod docks. It’s big, the sort of size normally tethered to a power cable.

This may automatically rule it out for many of you, but this speaker has bass weight and sheer scale of sound most battery-powered speakers can’t touch.

It has refinement, too, and may be enough to use as your main hi-fi as well as a speaker for BBQs, days out at the park and so on. While large, the chunky carry handle makes transporting the Harman Kardon Go + Play 2 easy. The battery lasts for up to eight hours, and the volume/power doesn’t drop off a cliff when running off the battery either. This is a pure Bluetooth wireless speaker, so there’s no multi-room on offer, though.

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Read the full Harman Kardon Go + Play 2 review

Riva S

7 of 13

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Best sound in a small speaker: Riva S

Key features:

  • 13-hour battery
  • Water resistant (IPX4)
  • Seven drivers
  • Review Price: £199

With probably the best sound quality per square inch you’ll see anywhere among wireless speakers, the Riva S is something special. It’s not just down to clever tuning, either – the Riva S has more drivers than any speaker of this size we’ve reviewed.

Inside a speaker smaller than a house brick are three active drivers and four passive bass drivers. That’s right, seven in total.

This is easily the most musical-sounding speaker in this class, offering a remarkably complete tonal picture considering we’re still dealing with tiny speaker drivers. If you truly care about sound quality, the Riva S is tops, but it’s not cheap and isn’t as loud as some.

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Read the full Riva S review

Dali Katch

8 of 13

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Hi-fi fans’ choice

Key features:

  • 2x 25W Class-D digital amp
  • 2x 21mm soft dome tweeters, 2x dual 3.5-inch woofers, 2x passive bass radiators
  • aptX support
  • Review Price: £329

While the Dali Katch is undoubtedly a pricey speaker, this is the Bluetooth speaker you should be looking at if you value sound quality above all else.

Dali has packed in some serious speaker tech into a delightful package that ensures your music sounds its best. You’ll instantly know where all your money has gone as soon as you start playing your favourite songs. There’s an impressive level of volume on offer as well yet it maintains its composure and control.

You also get an impressive 24 hours of battery life meaning the party won’t stop abruptly if you’re entertaining.

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Read the full Dali Katch review

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Best for size: Creative Muvo 2c

Key features:

  • MP3 player via microSD
  • Splashproof
  • Passive radiator
  • Review Price: £40

If you’re looking for a compact Bluetooth speaker just to get better sound out of your smartphone, the Creative Muvo 2c is a good choice. At around £40 it’s not going to break the bank yet packs in some useful features including a built-in MP3 player. A passive bass radiator means it still has some serious oomph for a speaker of its size, too.

The speaker is splashproof too, so you don’t have to worry too much about it getting wet. Thanks to Creative smarts, you can even plug the speaker into your laptop over USB and it’ll work as an external soundcard as well as speaker. It’ll sound much better than your laptop’s speakers.

Battery life at around 5-6 hours isn’t the greatest stamina, but it’s understandable considering the Muvo 2c’s small size. You have a choice of four different vibrant colour finishes so you can pick one to your tastes. If you buy two you can pair them in stereo mode, too.

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Read the full Creative Muvo 2c review

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Longest stamina: Bluetooth Minirig Portable Speaker

Key features:

  • Up to 50-hour battery
  • 3-inch driver
  • Aux input
  • Review Price: £129

One of the first portable speakers we really fell in love with was the original Minirig. It was almost all-speaker, and sounded better than anything its size. Now there’s a Bluetooth version.

Driver smarts mean some of the slightly larger rectangular speakers you’ll see here will sound much bassier, but the MiniRig is still hard to beat among speakers that’ll only fill your palm. It has a 3-inch driver, the sort of size used in speakers many times the size. This driver is also super-efficient, helping the Minirig offer up to 50 hours of use between charges.

This figure applies when using a wired connection instead of Bluetooth, but the Bluetooth Minirig will still outlast just about any rival speaker out there when using wireless too.

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Read the full Bluetooth Minirig Portable Speaker review

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Great for true stereo hi-fi sound: Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2

Key features:

  • Bluetooth aptX
  • Remote control
  • Optical input, sub output
  • Review price: £329.99

 

The winner of the 2017 Trusted Reviews award for best home audio product.

Ruark is perhaps best known for its class-leading DAB radios and all-in-one hi-fi systems, but this pair of Bluetooth stereo speakers perhaps offer’s the best sound-per-pound of any of the company’s impressive line-up.

In addition to offering truly excellent hi-fi sonics from gorgeous retro-chic cabinets, the MR1 Mk2 have a ton of versatility tucked behind their designer wool grilles. For a start there’s an optical input, which means they can be hooked up to a TV for boosting audio like a soundbar, and they have a subwoofer output for adding extra meat if you fancy.

Their other neat trick is the optional battery pack, which offers up to 12 hours of portable playback. You don’t have to carry both speakers around, either; the battery can be bolted to just one that becomes a more rucksack-friendly mono unit. Neat.

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Read the full Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 review

Fender Monterey

12 of 13

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Great for retro rock vibes: Fender Monterey

Key features:

  • Bluetooth aptX
  • Looks like an amp!
  • 3.5mm and RCA phono line inputs
  • Review price: £299.99

When is a guitar amp not a guitar amp? When it’s a Bluetooth speaker. Fender has two guitar amp-themed speakers and the Fender Monterey is the larger, mains-powered one.

It really is like a proper little classic Fender guitar amp in almost every way, from the cloth grille to the faux-leather skin over its hefty frame. The whole unit feels beautifully built, and it’s deceptively heavy. The working EQ knobs are a particularly nice touch.

It sounds great, too. There’s an impressive scale from such a small box, and it reaches high volumes with little distortion. There’s even some decent stereo separation going on. Whether you’re a rocker or a rocker in spirit, there’s plenty to love here.

Read the full Fender Monterey review

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Great for big sound in all weathers: Bose SoundLink Revolve+

Key features:

  • Review Price: £279.95
  • Bluetooth
  • 16-hour battery life
  • IPX4 water-resistance
  • 3.5mm line input
  • Siri and Google Now support

Everyone is boasting about 360-degree sound these days, and Bose has clearly been wanting to get in on that omnidirectional-audio act.

The result, then, is not one but a pair of new portable speakers: the SoundLink Revolve and SoundLink Revolve+. Both share an almost identical set of features, but with the Revolve+ being bigger, louder and having longer battery life.

This is one of the most attractive Bluetooth speakers around, and the 360-degree sound seems to work very well. Sound quality is excellent for the size and portability.

It’s not cheap, but to get to the next level sonically, you really need to start look to something bigger and more expensive, such as the B&O Play Beolit 17 – which is still portable but not water-resistant.

Read the full Bose Soundlink Revolve+ review

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