Best Bluetooth Speakers

Updated November 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best bluetooth speakers

Smartphones and tablets are amazing devices, but they all have one major flaw: their speakers stink. Music from streaming services, or even your personal MP3 collection, will sound fantastic through a good set of headphones, but if you want to play music out loud, you’ll be stuck listening to your device’s subpar, tinny speakers.

Thankfully, there’s hope — in the form of Bluetooth speakers. Using a Bluetooth speaker, you can connect your smartphone or tablet and enjoy your music as it was meant to be heard: with proper bass and treble, and wire-free. Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from kid-oriented models that are just a few inches tall to boom-box-sized behemoths perfect for the beach.

If you’re ready to set up wireless streaming in your home, or you just want to set your music free, a Bluetooth speaker is your best bet.

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The Bluetooth standard requires only a small amount of battery power. This is the biggest advantage Bluetooth has over other wireless communication technologies.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that connects devices over a short distance.

Bluetooth technology can connect headphones or headsets to a smartphone wire-free, for example. Wireless keyboards can connect to a computer over Bluetooth, too.Bluetooth is one of the easiest wireless connection technologies to use. Simply turn on the Bluetooth capabilities on both devices to make the connection. The devices are then paired automatically.

Types of Bluetooth speakers

Most Bluetooth speakers fit into one of four design categories. Think about how you’ll use the speaker before picking the best design for you.

Indoor/home Bluetooth speakers

Indoor Bluetooth speakers offer better sound quality than portable speakers. Large, high-quality indoor speakers can approach the audio quality of traditional wired speakers. Some indoor Bluetooth speakers run from battery power or an AC adapter. For a Bluetooth speaker you’ll use primarily at home and indoors, an AC adapter works great. The battery option allows you to take the speaker outdoors if you want.

However, unless the speaker specifically carries a rating for weather protection, only use indoor speakers outdoors on a dry day.

Outdoor Bluetooth speakers

If you want to take your Bluetooth speaker to a picnic or poolside, look for a unit rated to work outdoors. Such speakers will offer water- or weather-resistant capabilities to protect them from the elements.

Some outdoor speakers are large enough to deliver high-volume sound while still providing good battery life.

Outdoor speakers sport a rugged design, too, which allows you to toss a speaker into a bag and carry it anywhere.

Portable Bluetooth speakers

Portable Bluetooth speakers are extremely small. As such, they don’t deliver top-end audio quality. They especially tend to struggle with loud bass sounds. However, they’re great for walking or biking while listening to music if you don’t want to use headphones.

Some portable speakers are small enough to clip onto a backpack or belt.

If you want a portable unit that also delivers good audio quality, consider an outdoor-rated Bluetooth speaker. It will probably be too large to clip onto a backpack, but it will fit inside a backpack and stand up to rugged treatment during a hike or bike ride.

Specialty Bluetooth speakers

Some Bluetooth speakers have a specific task incorporated into their design. For example, some shower heads come with tiny Bluetooth speakers that fit into them. If you want to connect multiple Bluetooth speakers to one source, you’ll need a speaker with this particular feature built into it.

Some specialty Bluetooth speakers also have battery-charging capabilities. With this option, you plug a USB cable into the speaker and use the extra battery power stored in the speaker to charge another device, like a smartphone.

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Did you know?
To cover more area, you may be able to connect multiple Bluetooth speakers. However, this is not a feature on all products.
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Why choose Bluetooth?

A large wired speaker typically outperforms a small Bluetooth speaker in terms of overall audio quality. However, Bluetooth has quite a few advantages over wired speakers in other areas.

Sound

A serious audiophile won’t get the type of high-end audio quality he or she wants with a Bluetooth speaker. But for many people, amplifiers built into Bluetooth speakers deliver more-than-adequate sound quality.

Ease of use

Bluetooth connectivity is one of the easiest ways to make a wireless connection. Just place the two devices in proximity of each other, turn on Bluetooth, and the devices pair with each other.

Portability

Perhaps the best aspect of Bluetooth speakers is their portability. You can take them anywhere, indoors or outdoors, allowing you to play music wherever you go with no wires needed. Bluetooth speakers run from either a battery or AC adapter. The battery gives them even more portability.

Connectivity

Bluetooth speakers can connect with a variety of different devices. You can connect a smartphone, MP3 player, laptop, or tablet to a Bluetooth speaker.

And considering the poor-quality speakers built into these devices, connecting a Bluetooth speaker greatly improves the audio quality of these devices.

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Testing Bluetooth Speakers
We spent 8 hours researching Bluetooth speakers before picking our top 5. We then purchased our top model and tested it in our lab.
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Bluetooth speaker tips

  • Many Bluetooth speakers include a battery that can power other devices. This means the speaker can charge your smartphone while you’re on the go.

  • A Bluetooth speaker has a maximum connection range of about 33 feet. A WiFi speaker has a maximum connection range of about 125 feet.

  • Some speakers can make use of both WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity options.

  • Bluetooth speakers designed to be used at home use an AC adapter that plugs into a wall outlet.

  • Portable Bluetooth speakers run from a battery for on-the-go power. Some speakers offer both battery and plug-in options.

For those who struggle with making Bluetooth connections, look for a Bluetooth app. An app manages your Bluetooth connections from your smartphone automatically.

Bluetooth speakers FAQ

Q. Why do I get static and poor sound quality from my Bluetooth speaker?
A.
Bluetooth speakers offer a maximum connection range of about 33 feet from the source. As you approach 33 feet, the audio quality drops. You also may see lower quality when the speaker’s battery nears empty. Charging the battery while trying to play music may cause static as well.

Q. Why are some Bluetooth speakers called water-resistant and others called waterproof?
A.
A water-resistant speaker will stand up to splashing or light rain. A waterproof Bluetooth speaker can handle full submersion in water or extremely heavy rain. Look at the IP rating to figure out a speaker’s resistance level. The first digit in the two-digit IP number is the dust-protection number, while the second digit shows water protection. On a zero-to-nine scale, the higher the number, the better the protection.

Q. Why won’t my Bluetooth speaker pair with my smartphone?
A.
There could be a few different reasons. First, make sure to turn on Bluetooth capabilities on the smartphone. Next, if the smartphone already has a few active Bluetooth pairings going, disconnect a couple of them. If that doesn’t work, try turning off the devices and turning them back on after a few minutes to reset. Finally, make sure the batteries on both devices are charged.

Q. Are Bluetooth speakers safe to use outdoors?
A.
You can use any portable Bluetooth speaker in dry outdoor conditions. Just keep it out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time to avoid damage to the case. However, if you’ll be using your Bluetooth speaker in wet weather or near water, you need a water- or weather-resistant model.

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