RS Recommends: The 5 Bluetooth Speakers Our Product Editors Are Using This SummerMay 23, 2022
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Whether you’ve been asked to DJ a party, or want to share your music collection with people at a park or beach, you will need a good Bluetooth speaker.
While portable speakers have been around for years, companies both new and old have created wireless speakers with advanced audio features, longer battery life, and improved durability.
While you can’t deny the power (and the surround sound experience) of a full home audio system, these wireless speakers deliver when you’re out of the house, or moving from room to room. Some of the most popular speakers also come with smart home capabilities, letting you control your music and your connected devices using just your voice.
Best of all: the speakers on this list are easily paired with another speaker, letting you create a room — and house — full of rich, immersive and enveloping sound.
What Are the Best Bluetooth Speakers?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best Bluetooth speaker for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Bluetooth: We’ve chosen Bluetooth speakers because the wireless standard has been widely adopted, so our picks will work with your phone, tablet, or computer regardless of who makes it.
Battery: Most of the speakers we’re recommending are totally wireless, which means they run on battery power. Our minimum requirement was eight hours of music playback for charge, but many of our recommendations last a lot longer.
Size and Weight: One of the benefits of getting a wireless Bluetooth speaker is the option to carry it around with you. Only one of the wireless speakers in our guide weighs over three pounds, and is over eight inches tall. The rest can be easily tucked into a bag or even your pockets.
Durability: An electronic device’s resistance to dust and water is measured on the IP (Ingress Protection) scale. Our minimum requirement for this guide was an IPX4 rating, which means the speaker is protected from dust particles larger than 1mm (millimeter), and splashes of water.
Multi-Speaker Pairing: A relatively new feature to Bluetooth speakers is the ability to pair two or more of them together to create a multi-room wireless audio system. All of the Bluetooth speakers we’ve researched for this guide support this feature.
1. Tribit StormBox Micro 2
Best Portable Pick
We love Tribit because the brand makes great-sounding compact speakers, at reasonable prices.
The newest Micro 2 is a big update on its predecessor, now supporting Bluetooth 5.3, for a strong and stable connection with your mobile device throughout. Tribit says the speaker gets 12 hours of playback per charge, impressive for a speaker its size. This compact gadget is just one pound heavy and the smallest speaker in our guide — making it very easy to carry around.
Despite its size, the StormBox Micro delivers where it counts. It’s earned an IP67 rating, which means it’s dust-proof and can be held under 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. More importantly, it sounds very good.
Tribit touts the speaker’s bass, and they’re not wrong. The bass is surprisingly loud without overpowering the midrange and treble very much. We tried the previous-gen speaker and thought it was great for casual listening. You’ll even be able to pair two StormBox Micros together. Once connected, you can use the speakers as a stereo pair, or as two mono speakers playing the same song simultaneously.
Finally, the StormBox Micro 2 has a strap you can use to attach it to a bike (as seen in the picture above), or around a showerhead for bathroom listening. If you’re looking for a good-sounding ultra-portable speaker, this is our recommendation.
Buy:Tribit StormBox Micro 2at$59.99
2. JBL Charge 6
Best Sound Quality
JBL’s Charge 6 is the latest entry in the company’s much-loved mid-sized Bluetooth speaker series.
Like its predecessor, the Charge 6 supports Bluetooth 5.1, the cutting-edge version of the wireless standard. JBL says it gets 12 hours of battery life per charge. The Charge 6 is tube-shaped and measures seven inches long, and roughly 2.7 wide and deep. This speaker has earned an IPX7 durability rating, which means it’s totally dust-proof and can be totally submerged under up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
We’ve tried previous versions of this speaker and found the audio quality to be better than average, especially at high volumes. If you don’t like the way it sounds out of the box, you can adjust its EQ (equalization) settings inside the JBL Connect+ app. That same app allows you to pair up 100 JBL speakers together to create a massive wireless sound system. Another great feature carried over from the previous generation Charge speaker is the ability to pair two devices to the speaker at the same time. This allows multiple people to share DJ duties instead of one.
If durability and connectivity are your chief concerns, JBL’s Charge 6 is the best option in our guide.
Buy:JBL Charge 6at$129.95
3. Sonos Roam SL
You might’ve heard of Sonos Roam, our top pick for an outdoor Bluetooth speaker in our Audio Awards series. Now, the brand has released a more affordable, portable Bluetooth speaker that packs all the best features of the original Sonos Roam, featuring an even more portable design.
The Roam SL supports Bluetooth 5.0, which allows for increased range, better battery life, and a stronger connection than previous ones. This helps the Roam SL achieve about 10 hours of playback on a single charge. Plus, you can connect it to Wifi too allowing you to pair it with a second Sonos speaker for stereo sound. And, you’ll be able to play music through Apple AirPlay 2 as well.
Like some of the other options on our list, the Roam SL has an IP67 waterproof rating, meaning it’s dust-proof and can be held under 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The brand even says that it’s drop-resistant, so it can handle the occasional bump and bruise on your next hiking trail. Of course, its’ ultra portable too, weighing just under a pound, so you can easily pack it in your backpack or take it with you on your next beach trip.
If you want a compact, sharp-looking speaker that delivers big sound, Sonos’s Roam SL is our pick.
Buy:Sonos Roam SLat$159
4. Bose SoundLink Flex
Best Multi-Purpose Speaker
Bose has a rich tradition of creating some of the best-looking and sounding speakers available anywhere, and the latest Bose SoundLink Flex carries on that legacy.
The speaker supports Bluetooth 4.2 yet has a pretty stellar battery life at 12 hours per charge. It weighs about 1.3 pounds and has earned an IP67 rating like other Bluetooth speakers on our list.
Its best feature has to be its powerful sound, designed to sound immersive and clear even in the great outdoors. The brand says its innovative transducer delivers deep bass and well-balanced sound and that its custom algorithms help deliver optimum sound, no matter where in the room you’re seated.
You’ll even be able to pair it to another SoundLink or any other Bose speaker for stereo sound through Party Mode. This portable speaker also connects to Bose smart soundbars, allowing you to hear your music or the game from any part of your home. Plus, there’s a built-in microphone should you ever need to take a call in the middle of your jamming session.
No speaker is perfect, but the Bose SoundLink Flex is a well-rounded pick if you want a smart, small, great-sounding, and beautifully-designed Bluetooth speaker.
Buy:Bose SoundLink Flexat$149.00
5. Marshall Emberton II
Best 360-Degree Sound
The top-of-the-line Bluetooth speaker in our guide is Marshall’s Emberton II, designed to deliver full, multidirectional sound.
It supports Bluetooth 5.1, for fast and easy connection with all your devices and, up to 30+ hours of battery life per charge, according to the brand. That’s the best battery life of any Bluetooth speaker we recommend, and it still manages to remain extremely compact and portable, at just 1.5 pounds,
It’s even got an IP67 waterproof rating, which means it’s dust-proof and waterproof in up to 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Use it indoors or outdoors, your new Marshall speaker can handle it all.
On the audio front, the Emberton II is well-equipped. It has full-range drivers and passive radiators, which should result in well-balanced sound, and since it’s multi-directional, it will give you that 360-degree surround sound effect.
The Emberton II can be connected to Marshall’s other speakers to create a larger wireless audio system through Stack Mode — great if you’ve got a larger home or are trying to host a party.
If you’re looking for an all-round speaker with sound quality at its forefront, we recommend the Emberton II.
Note: The speaker is currently out of stock till June but you can buy the previous-gen Emberton right now.
Buy:Marshall Emberton IIat$169.99
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