Best Bluetooth speakers 2018: Portable, indoor waterproof and budget Bluetooth speakers

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While your smartphone or tablet might have a built-in speaker, these should really only be reserved for the occasional YouTube video or hands-free call. You don't want to listen to music through them if you want to do your tunes justice. Bluetooth speakers are a much better alternative, and the great news is there are plenty of options to suit different budgets or needs.

How to buy the best Bluetooth speaker for you

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard that allows communication over short distances. You might remember it from slightly unreliable handsfree headsets from years gone by. Nowadays, Bluetooth technology has gone through a number of revisions and is more reliable than ever and is capable of carrying enough data for high-quality music. As such, Bluetooth speakers have risen in popularity.

Every smartphone and tablet will have support for Bluetooth, as will most laptops. Otherwise, an inexpensive USB Bluetooth dongle can add support. These will let you connect your music source of choice to your Bluetooth speaker. Whether it's a CD in your laptop's drive, to a locally stored MP3 file or streamed music from the internet - such as BBC Radio via iPlayer or the latest songs on Spotify.

When it comes to different kinds of Bluetooth and codecs, it's worth keeping an eye out for Bluetooth aptX support. The aptX codec is usually only supported on more expensive Bluetooth speakers due to the licensing cost, but it allows for a higher quality transmission, resulting in CD quality songs to be played without any loss of detail.

Pairing a Bluetooth device is straightforward. You'll just need to put the speaker into pairing mode (the method will differ based on manufacturer, but it's usually obvious how) and then search for the speaker on your device. Otherwise, NFC (near field communication) can let you pair your device to an NFC-compatible speaker simply by touching the two together, automating the entire process.

Fixed or portable

If you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker you can carry around with you, you'll want one with a built-in battery. Any Bluetooth speaker worth its salt will usually last upwards of at least 8 hours and some will go into double figures. Most speakers will charge over a Micro USB cable, which is handy as you can often get by only carrying one charger for your smartphone, tablet and Bluetooth speaker (unless you're an 'iDevice' owner). Some Bluetooth speakers aren't designed for moving around, so don't have a battery and will instead need to be plugged into your mains. What these lack in portability they should make up with fuller and richer sound.

Ruggedised and waterproof

Bluetooth speakers make great holiday or outdoor companions, too. You can find waterproof and ruggedised models that are ideal to take beside the pool, or on outdoor adventures, without worrying about them getting damaged. The ruggedised models will have shock-proofing, so they can handle occasionally being thrown around or dropped. Where it comes to water resistance, be sure to check what the IPX rating is as that will tell you to what extent it can survive exposure to water. Some waterproof models will have IPX7, meaning they can survive being submerged in up to 1m of water for at least 30 minutes. Less waterproof models might only be IPX4 rated, meaning they can only handle a splash of water.

Speaker drivers

As Bluetooth speakers vary widely in size, they can have vastly differing numbers of drivers inside. The smaller speakers might only have two drivers but the larger ones can have significantly more. Different sized drivers will handle different frequency ranges. A woofer will handle the lower frequencies, so if you favour bass response look out for a speaker with a dedicated woofer. Mid-range and tweeters will handle the mid and higher frequencies, respectively. In terms of sound quality, it's typically better to have a dedicated driver for each frequency range, rather than fewer drivers performing double duties.

Hands-free calling

Lots of Bluetooth speakers will also have a built-in microphone, which means you can use them for convenient hands-free calls. This means they can serve a useful dual purpose and are usually a better option than using your smartphone on speaker.

Best Bluetooth Speakers under £50

Creative Muvo 2c: The best ultraportable, versatile Bluetooth speaker

Price when reviewed: £30 - Buy now from Amazon

This tiny palm-sized speaker packs a serious punch. The Creative Muvo 2c weighs just 159g and comes in eight different colours to suit your style. It has an IP66-certification making it water- and dust-resistant. It isn't short of inputs either, you can use the speaker via Bluetooth, a 3.5mm auxiliary cable, a microSD card (a slot is found on the side of the speaker), and best of all through a micro-USB to USB cable with your computer.

Its sound quality is surprisingly good. Its bass has a controlled slam, the mid-range is forward-sounding and the highs have an incredible extension at the top end. If you're looking for a small hand-sized speaker, get the Muvo 2c, it's the best, most versatile and affordable Bluetooth speakers we've ever come across.

Key specs Speakers: 1, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, Dimensions: 38x93x67mm, Weight: 159g

Tronsmart Element T6: An excellent 360-degree budget Bluetooth speaker

Price when reviewed: £37 - Buy now from Amazon

The Tronsmart Element T6 is a handy, camping-friendly Bluetooth speaker. Its rugged design means it can be taken with you on excursions. With a 5,200mAh battery, the speaker can be used for up to 15hrs without needing to be recharged.

Its impressive 360-degree speakers produce a loud and impressive sound. At a rated output of 25W, the speaker can get very loud - making it perfect for garden parties. Its downward-firing driver produces deep, low-end bass that rumbles an entire desk. Its ability to reproduce sub-bass tones is incredible. Its no slouch in its mid-range or highs either, with a relatively clear, albeit, recessed sound.

Key specs Speakers: 1, RMS power output: 25W, Wireless: Bluetooth, Dimensions: 75x75x195mm, Weight: 546.2g

Philips BT3900 EverPlay: Elegant, pocketable and loud

Price when reviewed: £50 - Buy now from Amazon

The Philips BT3900 EverPlay is a fantastic little speaker that has almost the same dimensions as a large-sized smartphone. The BT3900 can even withstand immersion in water up to 1m for up to 30mins. At 220g, it's extremely light to carry around. Its strap is also intelligently designed, as it doubles up as a USB to micro-USB charging cable - ingenious.

Its 2in full-range driver and passive radiator, deliver a 4W output. The sound quality is rather thin, with very little mid-bass impact and a non-existent sub-bass response. On the plus side, the mids and highs are accurately reproduced.

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 4W, Wireless: Bluetooth, Dimensions: 166x86x22mm, Weight: 220g

Best Bluetooth Speakers under £150

Anker Soundcore Flare: Best Bluetooth speaker with lights

Price when reviewed: £70 - Buy now from Amazon

Looking for a party speaker? Anker might have just the thing for you. The Soundcore Flare is a 360-degree sounding Bluetooth speaker has a beautiful ambient LED light that's located underneath the main driver. The lights are beat-driven, which means it'll respond to the music you're playing through it – there are five colour combinations to choose from.

It isn't just pretty, but this speaker sounds good, too. At the very top of the speaker, there's a 'BassUp' button, which delivers more bass and a warmer sound signature. No matter the setting you choose, it's a fun sounding speaker; making it a perfect match for house parties. As for the mids and highs, they're both impressive, though, not as accurate as the UE Wonderboom (below). To add the cherry on the cake, it's IPX7-certified and is Alexa compatible, too.

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: Not disclosed, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, Dimensions: 89x89x151.1mm, Weight: 531g

UE Wonderboom: Best Bluetooth speaker under £100

Price when reviewed: £90 - Buy now from Amazon

The UE Wonderboom is a small yet powerful Bluetooth speaker that can fill a large living room with sound. Its bright colours and stylish design make it stand out from other sub-£100 speakers in the market. The UE Wonderboom is also IPX7 certified, whereby it will survive being submerged at a depth of 1m for 30mins, better still, the speaker floats.

Its loudness, clarity and overall sound quality are what make this Bluetooth speaker truly special. With a loud mid-bass thump and an excellent clarity in its treble, the UE sounds spectacular. This is hands down the best sub-£100 speaker money can buy.

Read our full UE Wonderboom review for details

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: Not disclosed, Wireless: Bluetooth, Dimensions: 93.5x93.5x101.9mm, Weight: 430g

Philips BT7900 EverPlay: Powerful and elegant

Price when reviewed: £95 - Buy now from Amazon

The Philips BT7900 EverPlay is a stunning speaker, that's extremely loud for its size. The speaker is IP57 and IPX7-certified, which means it's waterproof (1m for up to 30mins), shockproof and dustproof.

Its two 1.5in 7W drivers deliver a total 14W output, which is plenty loud. Its sound quality is remarkably good; from its bass response, to its forward sounding mids and sparkly highs. The BT7900 delivers is impressive throughout the frequency range and has a wide soundstage, too.

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 14W, Wireless: Bluetooth, Dimensions: 210x72x71mm, Weight: 530g

Ultimate Ears Blast: The best portable smart speaker

Price when reviewed: £109 - Buy now from Amazon

The UE Blast is a portable Bluetooth speaker that doubles up as a smart speaker when connected to a Wi-Fi network. The Blast integrates Amazon's Alexa to become an incredibly versatile speaker; which is thanks to its IP67 rating that allows you to chuck the speaker in the pool. It's a rather unique feature, as there aren't many smart speakers that offer both a smart assistant and a waterproof design.

As for performance, the speaker outputs a loud, fun sound. It's perfect for garden parties or for your large living room. You won't be disappointed.

Read our full Ultimate Ears Blast review for details

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Dimensions: 188x68x68mm, Weight: 640g

Creative Omni: A portable multi-room speaker

Price when reviewed: £110 - Buy now from Amazon

The Creative Omni is a Wi-Fi multi-room speaker, that also connects through Bluetooth, a microSD card slot and an auxiliary jack. The speaker can be paired with another Omni to provide playback across the house. Is portable design and 460g weight, means it can be easily taken to the garden or the park.

The sound quality is incredibly impressive. With 4 drivers built-into its small shell, the Omni sounds fantastic across the entire frequency range. There's a strong bass slam, non-recessed mids, sparkly highs and a wide soundstage.

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, Dimensions: 200.8x71.1x68.5mm, Weight: 460g

Dockin D Fine: Best speaker for bass

Price when reviewed: £120 - Buy now from Amazon

The Dockin D Fine has a total output of 50W. Unsurprisingly, the speaker goes ridiculously loud. The real star of the show is its sound quality. The Dockin D Fine is able to reproduce an excellent sound - punching well above its suggested price tag.

Its bass extends sumptuously into the sub-bass frequencies, while the mid-bass slam has plenty of presence. Mids are accurate and forward-sounding. With tweeters within the speaker, the highs extend well. The overall soundstage is incredible, too.

At 2.6kg, it isn't very portable, though, in the package you'll find a nifty mesh carrying pouch, which doubles up as a lightweight backpack. With dust and slash protection, a 6,600mAh power bank and a solid build quality, the Dockin D Fine is quite frankly an incredible Bluetooth speaker.

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 50W, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0, Dimensions: 285x100x103mm, Weight: 2,600g

UE Boom 2: Best waterproof speaker

Price when reviewed: £130 - Buy now from Amazon

The UE Boom 2 is an IPX7-rated Bluetooth speaker that comes in different colours. Its cylindrical shape is useful too, as it'll happily fit into a bottle holder on a bike or in the side pocket of a rucksack.

The speaker packs a punch and its 12-hour battery life is great. If you're looking for a versatile, colourful Bluetooth speaker – this is it.

Read our full UE Boom 2 review for details

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: Not disclosed, Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC), Dimensions: 67x67x180mm, Weight: 548g

Libratone One Click: Adaptable styles

Price when reviewed: £139 - Buy now from Amazon

The Libratone One Click is about the size of a hardback book and has a removable frame you can use to adapt it for different uses. There's a handbag-style handle or a small hook included with the One Click model.

Sound quality is very good and as the speaker is splashproof, you don't have to stop the party if it starts raining.

Read our full Libratone One Click review for details

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: Not disclosed, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 (SBC), Dimensions: 120x41x205mm, Weight: 900g

Best Bluetooth Speakers: Money no object

Creative iRoar Go: A weatherproof, multi-purpose Bluetooth speaker

Price when reviewed: £160 - Buy now from Amazon

The Creative iRoar Go is a do-it-all Bluetooth speaker - it has a whole host of features, which make it one of the most complete portable speakers on the market: it has an IPX6-rating, an impressive sound, a portable design and isn't short of connectivity options.

It connects through Bluetooth, NFC, microUSB (for the PC/Mac and PS4), microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm jack input and output – which is incredibly impressive. As for its performance, the iRoar Go delivers a powerful bass slam and accurate mids.

Key specs Speakers: 5, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, Dimensions: 192x54x97mm, Weight: 810g

Audio Pro Addon T3: Big sound with a battery

Price when reviewed: £165 - Buy now from Amazon

If you like your speakers with a bit of character and visual interest, you might well be fond of the Audio Pro Addon T3. It's reasonably large, leading you to think it might be a mains-powered only speaker, but there is, in fact, a battery built-in. While you might not take it out on the road, carrying it down to the end of the garden for your next barbeque is certainly a possibility with its convenient and attractive handle.

Read our full Audio Pro Addon T3 review for details

Key specs Speakers: 3, RMS power output: 25W, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 (SBC), Dimensions: 215x135x115mm, Weight: 2,000g

JBL Link 20: Best waterproof wireless speaker with Google Assistant

Price when reviewed: £179 - Buy now from Currys

The JBL Link 20 is a rather large, yet portable weatherproof speaker with Google Assistant built-in. It means if you've paired it with your phone, you'll be able to interact with the speaker with your voice. Another key aspect is its IPX 7 rating, making it suitable for the pool – it'll survive 30mins at a depth of 1m.

As for its sound quality, the Link 20 features two 10W 50mm full range drivers. The speaker can go really loud and yet, won't suffer from any distortion. It has a V-shaped sound signature, so don't expect the clearest mids or great extension at the top end.

Buy now from Currys

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 20W (10+10), Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Dimensions: 93x93x218mm, Weight: 950g

Bose SoundLink Revolve: A portable, stylish, 360-degree speaker

Price when reviewed: £200 - Buy now from Amazon

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that has an impressive 360-degree sound. It has a powerful driver that'll fill a medium-sized room, too. Its sound quality is impressive, with its single full-range driver delivering a warm sound. It even has a trick up its sleeve, as Bose uses a clever volume-adaptive EQ algorithm, which maintains a strong bass response no matter the volume.

The speaker's multifunction button also works with Android and iOS devices, to activate either Google Assistant or Siri respectively. The speaker is also IPX4 water-resistant, too.

Read our full Bose SoundLink Revolve review for details

Key specs Speakers: 1, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0, Dimensions: 82x82x152mm, Weight: 660g

Tibo Sphere 2: A stylish Bluetooth multi-room speaker

Price when reviewed: £200 - Buy now from Amazon

The Sphere 2 is a stylish speaker that's reminiscent of the Audio Pro Addon T3. It carries the same speaker configuration and has a similar design. However, the Tibo speaker has the upper hand, as it can be paired with another Sphere speaker to create a multi-room setup (via the Tibo app).

The speaker has a beautiful design and with its conveniently placed buttons, you can quickly switch between modes and even have 5 pre-assigned radio stations at your disposal. It's battery powered and can be used while plugged into the mains. It doesn't sound bad either. It's accurate throughout the frequency range and has an impressive soundstage.

Key specs Speakers: 3, RMS power output: 30W, Wireless: Bluetooth & Wi-Fi, Dimensions: 256x125x155mm, Weight: 2,450g

B&O Play Beoplay A1: Bluetooth speaker with a stunning design

Price when reviewed: £200 - Buy now from Amazon

The B&O Play Beoplay A1 marries both a gorgeous design with wonderful sound quality. The aluminium construction and leather carry strap make the A1 an undoubtedly classy, premium Bluetooth speaker and the included microphone means it's a great conference speaker too. The sound is directed upwards, meaning it gets dispersed in every direction. If you have a smartphone that charges over USB-C, you'll be glad to see the A1 similarly uses the USB-C connection for charging.

Read our full B&O Play Beoplay A1 review for details

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 30W, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2 (SBC), Dimensions: 133x133x48mm, Weight: 600g

Libratone Zipp: Loud, wireless and customisable

Price when reviewed: £250 - Buy now from Amazon

The Libratone Zipp has five drivers that deliver 100W of power; perfect for a large living room or a garden party. Its sound quality is impressive throughout the frequency range, with deep pronounced bass that'll shake your floorboards to a detailed treble.

Better still, it's a wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 aptX connectivity options give the large cylindrical speaker versatility. You'll be able to stream via Spotify Premium, Apple AirPlay and even listen to your favourite internet radio stations.

Read our full Libratone Zipp review for details

Key specs Speakers: 5, RMS power output: 100W, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 (aptX), Dimensions: 122x122x261mm, Weight: 1,500g

Ultimate Ears Megablast: The most versatile smart speaker

Price when reviewed: £270 - Buy now from Amazon

The Megablast is an excellent smart speaker with Bluetooth technology also built-in. Very much like the Wonderboom and Blast (above), the Megblast can be used by the pool. It features four powerful drivers that go extremely loud without distorting. With a very strong mid-bass response and an energetic treble energy, the Megablast has a warm, fun sound signature.

If you're looking for a large-sized, powerful, portable Bluetooth speaker with Amazon Alexa built-in, this is it.

Read our Ultimate Ear Megablast review for more details

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Dimensions: 237x88x88mm, Weight: 1,190g

Bowers & Wilkins T7: A stylish Bluetooth speaker

Price when reviewed: £300 - Buy now from Amazon

The Bowers & Wilkins T7 is one of the most stylish Bluetooth speakers around. Its honeycomb bracing not only serves an acoustic purpose, it also looks lovely, too. The T7 has a built-in battery that lasts 18 hours but it's too heavy and unwieldy to carry out of the house. As a Bluetooth speaker to use around the home, it does wonderfully, though. Sound quality is what you would expect from an audio company with the heritage Bowers & Wilkins has.

Read our full Bowers & Wilkins T7 review for details

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: 24W, Wireless: Bluetooth (aptX), Dimensions: 210x54x114mm, Weight: 940g

Original Stormtrooper Bluetooth Speaker: The best Bluetooth speaker for Star Wars fans

Price when reviewed: £300 - Buy now from Amazon

Thumbs Up make fun tech products, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the company has created a like-size Stormtrooper Bluetooth speaker. If you were eager to wear it, you'll be disappointed to know that this full-size helmet can't be worn, instead, it can be used as an ornament that doubles up as a speaker – a must have for die-hard Star Wars fans.

However, it's not the most accurate, most accurate sounding Bluetooth speaker – especially not for its hefty price tag. Still, this isn't your everyday Bluetooth speaker, it's made for those who love Star Wars. There are only 450 of these limited edition speakers around.

Key specs Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 20W (2x 10W), Wireless: Bluetooth, Dimensions: Unknown, Weight: Unknown

Dali Katch: The most stylish, best sounding Bluetoloth speaker 

Price when reviewed: £325 - Buy now from Amazon

The Dali Katch is an incredible Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as it looks. Thanks to its finely-tuned drivers, the speaker reproduces some of the most impressive mid- and high-end frequencies we've ever heard from a non-mains powered speaker.

It also gets ridiculously loud and doesn't clip or distort at maximum volume, which is ideal if you want to enjoy music in the garden. With metallic paint, chamfered edged and an extending handbag strap, the Dali Katch is stunning to look at.

Read our full Dali Katch review for details

Key specs Speakers: 6, RMS power output: 2x25W, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 aptX, Dimensions: 268.5x47x138mm, Weight: 1,100g

JBL Boombox: The best Bluetooth speaker for bass

Price when reviewed: £400 - Buy now from Currys

The JBL Boombox is the epitome of cool. It meanders that retro boombox design with an elegant, modern-day twist. It's big, it's loud and it even has IPX7 waterproofing. That means you can bust out your moves by the pool, or have it sit by the dancefloor while it blasts plenty of bass towards your face.

In terms of its sonic qualities, the JBL Boombox very much appeals to bass-getters. It's not particularly suited for those who want to listen to a Mozart disk. If you want something cool with some serious bass-in-your-face sound, this is it.

Read our full JBL Boombox review for details

Buy now from Currys

Key specs Speakers: 4, RMS power output: 60W, Wireless: Bluetooth, Dimensions: 495x254.5x195.5mm, Weight: 5,250g

Orbitsound Dock E30: A multi-room, stylish and powerful Bluetooth speaker

Price when reviewed: £400 - Buy now from Orbitsound

The Orbitsound Dock E30 is a versatile Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth-enabled speaker. You can charge your smartphone through it too, as with a front-facing USB-C port and a Qi wireless charging pad at the top – it's perfect for home usage.

The E30 features six drivers, these combine to deliver an excellent sound; the bass rumbles and is precise. The mids are forward- and accurate-sounding. The highs extend well and provide plenty of sparkle at the top end. Its most impressive trait is its wide and deep soundstage; instrument separation is also incredible. The E30 has no trouble filling an entire room.

Buy now from Orbitsound

Key specs Speakers: 6, RMS power output: Unknown, Wireless: Bluetooth (aptX), Wi-Fi, Dimensions: 291x150x114mm, Weight: 4,000g

Studio19 Solo E500X-EQ: Best speaker for home

Price when reviewed: £400 - Buy now from Studio19

Studio19's Solo E500X-EQ is a unique-looking Bluetooth speaker. Starting from its shape and size, the speaker is a floor standing unit that looks absolutely amazing. It's made out of a solid aluminium shell with a speaker grille that's located at the very top. It even has a soft white LED at its base, that makes the speaker look stunning under low-light conditions (if you find it distracting, it can be disabled).

Its design isn't the only thing that stands out, but its 3 band EQ atop of the speaker is also rather unique. Here, the Solo E500X-EQ has a Bass, Middle, and Treble level sliders – allowing you to set the speaker's frequency manually.

As for the sound quality: it isn't as refined as the Orbitsound Dock E30 (above), but it certainly packs a punch. Its low-end rumble is wonderful, the highs extend well, and its 360-degree sound fills an entire room.

Buy now from Studio19

Key specs Speakers: 3, RMS power output: 200W, Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, Dimensions: 143x143x602mm, Weight: 3,200g

Naim Mu-so for Bentley: The most premium Bluetooth speaker

Price when reviewed: £1,199 - Buy now from John Lewis

If you're looking for a premium-looking Bluetooth speaker that delivers incredible sound, this is it. Naim Audio, the British Hi-Fi manufacturer, has teamed up with Bentley Motors to create one of the most stylish speakers we've ever seen. But, it's not just about the looks, it sounds fantastic, too. With six custom-designed drivers and its 450W amplifier, this speaker sets the benchmark for wireless speakers. The only caveat is its price. It's incredibly expensive, but if you want the best of the best, this is the price you'll have to pay. 

Read our full Naim Mu-so for Bentley review for details

Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs Speakers: 6, RMS power output: 450W, Wireless: Bluetooth aptX, Dimensions: 628x256x122mm, Weight: 13,000g

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