Ultimate Ears has a new waterproof Bluetooth speaker that's shorter and squatter than its popular UE Boom 2 speaker. For a sub-$100 Bluetooth speaker, the UE Wonderboom is near the top of the class for sound quality.
New for 2017, JBL's sub-$100 Flip 4 is fully waterproof and a little bigger than than the JBL 3. That extra size -- and a new set of drivers in side -- makes a significant difference in sound quality. The speaker also has a better battery life than its predecessor.
The second-generation Sonos Play:5 is a sleek, well-designed Wi-Fi speaker that delivers rich sound for its size, as well as strong bass. It offers the full Sonos wireless experience, controllable from iPhone, iPad and Android apps, with compatibility with nearly every key music service, including Pandora, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon and Apple Music. It comes in two colors -- white and black -- and can be placed either horizontally or vertically.
The UE Boom 2 is a compact, durable wireless Bluetooth speaker that plays louder than the original Boom and sounds a little better. It's stain-resistant, shock-resistant and now fully waterproof. Battery life is a strong 15 hours, and it can be paired with a second UE speaker for stereo sound.
The Sonos Play:1 is a big step up from your average wireless speaker. It's offered in both white and blue options, and both support streaming music services including Spotify, Amazon Cloud Player, Google Music, 7Digital, Deezer, Soundcloud and Napster.
The compact Raumfeld One S is even better than its modest "bathroom and kitchen" ambitions might suggest with better sound quality than its competitors. It's simply one of the best entry-level Wi-Fi speakers available, and its water resistance makes it a great choice for bathrooms, kitchens or anywhere else you want to listen to music.
If your priority is sound quality, you're better off with the more expensive SoundLink Mini II, which also has a more upscale metallic design. But if you value portability and don't want to spend the extra $70, the SoundLink Color II, which features improved sound over the original, is a solid choice. While not everybody will love its design, the majority of people should be impressed with the sound it puts out, particularly in smaller rooms.
Credit B&O Play for creating a Bluetooth speaker that doesn't look like anything out there already. The new dome-shaped Beoplay A1 is not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable at $249.
With a sleek look courtesy of well-known Danish furniture designer Cecilie Manz, the aluminum-clad A1 delivers relatively high-quality sound for its very compact size, has excellent battery life and works well as a speakerphone.
For anyone who wants a little extra help around the house, consider the Amazon Echo. The voice-activated speaker comes with digital companion Alexa, which can order paper towels from Amazon, turn up the music or tell you the capital of Indonesia, hands-free.
The waterproof UE Roll 2 plays 15 percent louder than the original Roll, has a longer wireless range of up to 30 meters (about 98 feet), and it ships with a UE Floatie, so you can take it into the pool with you right out of the box. Certain colors of this speaker often go on sale for less than $60, particularly now that the newer UE Wonderboom has been released.
V-Moda's Remix is a compact, premium Bluetooth speaker that also has a built-in headphone amp. Billed as "the world's first 3D-printed custom speaker," all six sides of the Remix can be personalized with optional accessories.
The affordable Fluance Fi50 delivers high-quality sound from a retro-style Bluetooth speaker. It's solidly built with a medium-density-fiberboard cabinet.
The two-way driver design features a tweeter mounted in the center of a 5-inch woofer. Equipped with a 40-watt amplifier, it plays loudly without distorting, and has a USB charging port and an integrated LED with touch controls.
Available in two colors -- Carbon and Pearl -- The Bose SoundLink Mini II offered some nice upgrades over the original SoundLink Mini. The price on this speaker has come down a little to $180 as Bose has released the all-new SoundLink Revolve ($200) and Revolve+ ($300).
The Amazon Echo Dot wins our Editors' Choice Award. How could it not? It's just as smart as the Echo, but it costs half as much. And, unlike the Echo, you can use it with whatever speakers you want. That's terrific news both for audiophiles and for people who don't care about sound quality and just want a cheaper way to bring Alexa into their homes.
Now in battery-powered form within the portable Amazon Tap, Amazon's digital assistant Alexa is as good as ever. You can play music, command your smart home, or add something to your to-do list -- all with your voice.
The JBL Charge 3 is a well-designed, fully waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker that features good battery life and doubles as an external charger for your portable devices. It also has built-in speakerphone capabilities, and plays loudly with strong bass for its size and price class.
Wireless multiroom systems have exploded onto the market in the last 18 months, but the Denon HEOS 1 is the first to offer something completely different: a rugged build and decent audio quality in an affordable package. Its HEOS app is also easy to use.
Adding the HEOS Go package, for $99, gives you more flexibility, including battery power, splashproofing and Bluetooth.
If you want to give your grad a little something extra special as far as a Bluetooth speaker goes, there's B&O Play's Beolit 17, which offers bigger sound than a lot of these smaller Bluetooth speakers in the gift guide. The only downside is that it costs $500.
No, it's not a wireless speaker, but at $35 Google's Chromecast Audio is almost a no-brainer for anyone looking for wireless audio. It makes it so you can stream from your phone to any old speaker, plus it uses Wi-Fi, which means better sound quality and a stronger connection than Bluetooth.
Bose's $500 SoundTouch 30 is a direct competitor to the Sonos Play:5 and features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming. In can be linked with Bose's other SoundTouch speakers to create a multiroom system.