In this article:
- Best Bluetooth wireless speaker for 2023
- How we test Bluetooth speakers
- Bluetooth wireless speaker FAQs
Wireless Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes, and they range in price from $20 to upwards of $500 and even more for truly premium models. Needless to say, some speakers are better than others -- and some are better values, which is an important factor when we consider what products make our list of best Bluetooth speakers. We also evaluate sound quality, battery life and design, with a speaker's water-resistance and durability key attributes we look at. After all, these are portable speakers that should ideally be able to hold up to the elements.
CNET audio experts have tested all the Bluetooth speakers on this list and we update the list regularly as new speakers hit the market and some products become outdated. As I said, some of the premium models can get pretty expensive. But we also have a number of value picks for those on a tighter budget.
Best Bluetooth wireless speaker for 2023
Marshall's new-for-2023 Middleton speaker isn't exactly compact. But it also isn't so beefy that you get a workout carrying it around. Weighing 4 pounds (1.8kg), it's bigger than Marshall's Emberton speaker and smaller and more portable than its Kilburn II speaker. Any way you look at it, it sounds very good for its size and puts out a surprising amount of quality bass while offering good treble detail and natural-sounding mids (where vocals live). I also liked that it has equalizer controls on the speaker itself -- I did bump the bass a bit -- and is fully waterproof and dustproof with an IP67 rating.
Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours at moderate volume levels and Marshall says it takes 4.5 hours to fully recharge the speaker. Its USB-C charging port also has a charge-out feature that allows you to use the speaker as a power bank and charge your devices.
You can pair two or more speakers to amplify the sound but you can't pair two speakers together to create a stereo pair. Marshall says the Middleton uses True Stereophonic, "a unique form of multidirectional stereo sound" and I did think the soundstage was bigger than what you typically get from a speaker this size. The only downside to the speaker is that it's fairly expensive but I was otherwise impressed.
Anker's original Soundcore Motion Boom speaker (see below) has been on this list for a while and is still a decent value at a little more than $100. But the new-for-2022 Motion Boom Plus is significantly improved, particularly in terms of sound quality. It's easily one of the best Bluetooth speakers of 2023.
Weighing 5.29 pounds (almost a pound more than the Motion Boom), it uses Bluetooth 5.3 and is equipped with upgraded dual 3.5-inch woofers and newly added dual 1-inch tweeters, delivering up to 80 watts of audio output (60W for the woofers and 20W for the tweeters). Battery life is rated for 20 hours at moderate volume levels. It's also IP67 waterproof and dust-proof and floats if you happen to drop it in a body of water.
I was impressed with the sound quality, which measures up well against a few more expensive -- and some larger -- speakers on this list. You can tweak the sound profile (with EQ settings) and upgrade the speaker's firmware in Anker's Soundcore companion app for iOS and Android. There's a button on the speaker to activate bass boost. I tended to go with the bass boost engaged and found that the speaker delivers full sound with good clarity in the mids and highs and good bass definition. For its size, the speaker is able to put out a lot of sound and mostly manages to avoid distorting at higher volumes. (I tended to keep the volume in the 50%-to-75% range.)
If you're sitting within a few feet of the speaker, there's a bit of stereo separation. But if you really want to improve the sound quality, you can wirelessly pair two Soundcore Motion Boom Plus speakers to create a real stereo pair. It's currently selling for $180 at Amazon, but you can save $20 by activating the instant coupon on the product page.
When the SoundLink Flex speaker launched, Bose made some bold claims about its new Bluetooth speaker, particularly its extra bass performance. But it mostly lives up to the hype and arguably is the best-sounding wireless speaker for its compact size. Available in three color options -- black, white smoke and stone blue (pictured) -- it's equipped with Bose's PositionIQ technology to automatically detect the speaker's orientation and deliver optimized sound based on whether it's upright, hanging or flat on its back.
The speaker is IP67 dust-proof and waterproof, and rated for 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. The Flex also floats and Bose says it can survive drops and bumps, with a soft silicone back and powder-coated steel grille that "won't peel or flake and is resistant to corrosion and UV light."
Bose's SoundLink Micro also delivers impressive sound for its tiny size and this speaker is bigger, weighing just over a pound (0.45 kg) and measuring 7.9 inches wide, 2.1 inches deep and 3.6 inches high (20 by 5.3 by 9.1 centimeters), so it sounds significantly better than the Micro. For some reason, it uses the older Bluetooth 4.2 instead of 5.0, but I didn't have any problems with connectivity.
Bose says it can fill a living room with sound. From my tests, I'd say it would have to be a relatively small living room -- a single speaker can only output so much sound. However, if you pair two of them together in stereo mode, the sound gets to a whole other level and indeed fills a larger room.
Back in 2020, Tribit released the StormBox Micro, a budget version of Bose's excellent SoundLink Micro speaker that delivered surprisingly good sound for its size and modest price. Now we get the StormBox Micro 2, which offers improved sound and battery life, along with a charge-out feature that turns the speaker into a power bank for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. An integrated strap allows you to clip it to your backpack or your bike's handlebars.
Like the original, it's an excellent value and easy to recommend if you're looking for a supercompact portable wireless speaker.
While Anker's Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 it remains one of best-sounding speakers for around $100. It's larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, but it's still compact. It manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition in its price range, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It's also fully waterproof (IPX7-rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung's Galaxy phones that support it.
With each new version of the Flip, JBL makes small improvements and while the Flip 6 doesn't look much different from the Flip 5 on the outside, it does feature improved sound. It has two-way drivers with a woofer and tweeter and dual passive radiators that help the Flip 6 deliver much deeper bass than you'd think it could.
It's fully waterproof and dust-proof with an IPX67 rating. Like the Flip 5, it's rated for up 12 hours of audio playback at moderate volume levels and charges via USB-C. Available in multiple color options, it's one of the best-sounding speakers for its compact size.
JBL Pulse speaker is now on its fifth generation and both the sound quality and 360-degree light show have been improved. JBL has "expanded the transparent outer body" so the customizable light show (there's a companion app for iOS and Android that allows you to alter the colorful lighting effects) looks more impressive. The speaker is also IP67 dustproof and waterproof, and it offers up to 12 hours of battery at moderate volume levels.
The speaker now has a separate tweeter and a passive bass radiator that delivers fairly punchy bass. I'd say the speaker delivers very good but not great sound for its size and price (it distorts a little at higher volumes). For sound, it's sort of in between JBL's Flip 6 and Charge 5, so you'll arguably get slightly better sound from the Charge 5. But you're really buying this speaker for the light show -- that's what makes it unique and special and it does look mesmerizing.
Note that you can pair this with another JBL PartyBoost compatible speaker for stereo sound or link multiple JBL PartyBoost speakers for augmented sound. Also, you can find this speaker on Amazon as part of bundle with a protective carrying case thrown in for the same price as the speaker by itself.
I've long been a fan of Sony's smallest Bluetooth speaker, which has been modestly upgraded for 2021 with some design refinements and slightly improved sound. This portable Bluetooth speaker is both dust- and waterproof with an IP67 certification and is rated for 16 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels (it has USB-C charging while the older XB12 didn't). The speaker plays bigger than you'd think for its small size, with some punch to its bass, but it can only output so much sound -- yes, it has its limitations. If you add a second XB13, you can get stereo sound.
The XB13 is available in multiple color options and includes a strap so you can attach it to various objects. It also has speakerphone capabilities with an integrated microphone. It lists for $60, but is sporadically discounted.
The Tribit MaxSound Plus is about 30% bigger than its sibling, the XSound Go, and costs almost twice as much, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best-sounding speakers in its size and price class. It has a long-lasting rechargeable lithium-ion battery and superior sound quality for a Bluetooth speaker.
JBL's Charge 5 offers a good balance of size, performance and durability. It's bigger than some of the mini speakers on this list, like the Flip 5, but is still compact and packs more bass punch and overall volume. Featuring a built-in USB charging port for juicing up your mobile devices, it offers improved audio and a dust-proof and waterproof design that's elevated from the previous Charge. According to JBL, the speaker is equipped with a "racetrack-shaped driver," with a separate tweeter and dual passive radiators, to improve both clarity and bass performance over the Charge 4. (In my tests, this indeed proved to be the case.)
Battery life is rated at 20 hours at moderate volume levels. This model is also equipped with JBL's PartyBoost feature that allows you to connect it to other compatible JBL portable speakers to augment their sound. The Charge 5 comes in six color options: black, blue, gray, red, teal and "squad" (which looks like a kind of camo).
Despite being on the market for a few years, the Tribit XSound Go remains one of the top Bluetooth speakers for the money. Besides sounding decent for streaming your favorite music and more, this affordable Bluetooth speaker is also fully waterproof. It has had some small upgrades over the years.
Bose's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Portable Home Speaker is more compact and easier to carry around than the Sonos Move and costs a little less. This Bose speaker delivers big sound for its relatively small size (the Sonos does sound better, however) and links with other speakers in the brand's Wi-Fi Home speaker line to create a multiroom audio system.
Ultimate Ears' Boom Bluetooth speakers come in a few different sizes, but none of them are as big as the all-new Hyberboom. A supersize wireless speaker that tips the scales at a hefty 13 pounds, the Hyperboom makes the UE Megaboom 3 look unquestionably puny. It's not cheap, but its sound quality is better than a lot of the jumbo portable speakers on the market right now.
UE Boom reps told me the Hyperboom was created after the company got feedback from its customers looking for a bigger speaker that could play loud enough and have deep enough bass to power a party. The speaker can do just that -- Ultimate Ears says it's three times as loud and has six-and-a-half times the bass of Megaboom 3 -- and has no trouble filling a fairly large room with sound.
For its first three generations, JBL's Clip micro Bluetooth speaker had a circular design. But for the fourth-gen Clip 4, JBL has moved to a more oval shape, bulked up the speaker slightly and added USB-C charging. This portable Bluetooth speaker does seem more durable, with a sturdier integrated carabiner clip. Also, it sounds a little better, with more volume, clearer sound and more bass. With an IP67 water-resistance rating, it can survive being dunked in shallow water and is dust-proof. The Clip 4 is right up there with the best overall micro Bluetooth speakers.
We liked Ultimate Ears' Wonderboom 2 and the third-generation model, the Wonderboom 3, offers some small improvements, including slightly better battery life (up to 14 hours instead of 13 at moderate volume levels) and a new Bluetooth chip that allows for extended wireless range of 131.2 feet (40 meters). The design has not changed though the speaker now comes in different color options.
Like its predecessor, the Wonderboom 3 carries a list price of $100 but sometimes sells for a little less. Its IP67 rating that means that it's not only waterproof but also dust-proof (and able to float).
This model retains the special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble and you can link two together (or pair a Wonderboom 3 to a Wonderboom 2) to create a stereo sound pairing by simply pressing a button on each speaker. As far As I can tell, the Wonderboom 3 sounds very similar to the Wonderboom 2 and features very good sound for its small size.That said, while there's some punch to the bass (being short yet squat helps it produce more low end), it can only delivers so much kick.
Alas, Ultimate Ears, which is owned by Logitech, has not upgraded the charging port to USB-C. The speaker still charges with a micro-USB cable, which is a bit of a bummer.
Released in 2021, JBL's PartyBox 110 packs some serious punch and delivers bigger sound than some of the portable boom box speakers on this list, including JBL's own Boombox 2. There's an integrated handle for toting the speaker, but the PartyBox 110 is pretty hefty, weighing in at 23 pounds and measuring slightly more than 22 inches tall. You can put it up vertically as shown in the picture above or place it horizontally, as it has rubber feet on both sides of the speaker.
It's rated for up to 12 hours of playback time at moderate volume levels and has a redesigned light show that syncs to the beat of your music -- you can customize the light show from the speaker itself or use the JBL PartyBox companion app.
The speaker has Bluetooth or a wired USB connection and there are guitar and mic inputs. It's also worth noting that speaker is IPX4 splash-proof and you can wirelessly link two PartyBox 110 speakers together for stereo sound. I didn't test the stereo mode, but I was impressed with the sound of a single PartyBox 110 -- it puts out lots of well-defined bass with good overall clarity in the highs and mids -- and I suspect that pairing two of these together would be pretty awesome.
I also liked how the speaker has no external AC adapter brick and only requires a cord for charging (the power adapter is in the speaker). For longer parties during which you're really cranking the tunes, you'd want to plug the speaker in if possible. But it does deliver enough volume to fill a spacious living room with sound and also plays loud enough for a small pool or beach party.
The PartyBox 710 ($800) is a massive party speaker that has integrated wheels and requires a power source to operate; it does not have an integrated rechargeable battery. This is your best bet if you want a portable speaker that can deliver big, quality sound and operates on battery power. To be clear, this offers bigger and better sound than the JBL Boombox 2 -- but it is harder to carry around.
Anker's more expensive Soundcore Motion Boom Plus (see above) is a substantial sound upgrade over the original Motion Boom but this model remains a very good mini boom box for the money. Equipped with a handle and weighing a little over 4 pounds, the speaker reminds me of one of those giant flashlights or "floating lanterns" that were in vogue about 30 years ago. For the record, the Motion Boom actually does float and is fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating.
Anker says the Motion Boom delivers "huge stereo sound" and yes, it plays pretty loud and has a decent amount of bass with reasonable clarity. I kept the bass boost on at all times because it sounds better that way. The Motion Boom can't compete against bigger and more expensive speakers like JBL's Boombox 2 and Ultimate Ears' Hyperboom, but it packs a lot more volume and punch than more compact Bluetooth speakers like JBL's Flip 5 and Flip 6. It also travels well, so it's ideal for a beach excursion or a little tailgating.
Available in white or black for $179, the Roam is currently the smallest and most affordable Sonos speaker (if you don't count those $99 Sonos-compatible Symfonisk Ikea Wi-Fi bookshelf speakers), though it's fairly expensive for a mini wireless speaker. This Sonos Roam model, like Sonos' earlier Move portable speaker ($400), is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can tap into an existing Sonos multiroom audio system and link with other Series 2-compatible Sonos speakers.
Tribit's StormBox speaker looks like a cross between a UE and a JBL speaker. We suspect that's not an accident. This fully waterproof speaker costs about significantly less than the JBL Flip 5 and Flip 6 and produces bigger sound. Its rechargeable battery offers up to 20 hours of battery life for playing music and more. Tribit's XSound speakers are probably a better value, but the StormBox is more stylish.
Marshall's little mono Willen speaker is similar to Bose's SoundLink Micro and other micro speakers like the Tribit StormBox Micro 2. Also like those speakers, it also has an integrated strap on its base so you can clip it onto a backpack or a bike handlebar for that matter. Its 2-inch full range driver and two passive radiators put out more sound than you'd think it would for its tiny size and offer decent clarity as well just enough bass to avoid sounding tinny (you can choose from three preset sound modes).
Battery life is good at around 15 hours of playback time at moderate volume levels and the speaker is IPX67 dust-proof and waterproof. The main strike against it is its price -- it would ideally cost around $80. But it's nicely designed, feels rugged and fits in a jacket pocket, weighing in it at 0.68 pound (308 grams).
The Willen can be stood up vertically or laid down horizontally and has a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls. It comes in a couple of color options and can be linked wirelessly with other Willen speakers to augment the sound.
Last year Bang & Olufsen upgraded its dome-shaped aluminum-clad A1 speaker with improved battery life, better speakerphone performance (it now has a three-microphone array) and slightly improved sound. It's not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, it's technically the most affordable.
While the speaker drivers remain the same, the Qualcomm chipset that powers the speaker has been upgraded (the speaker uses Bluetooth 5.1), bumping the sound quality a tad, particularly at higher volumes, with better digital signal processing. It remains one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speakers, with richer, more tonally balanced sound than other Bluetooth speakers its size -- and it should sound good, considering its elevated price.
It's also worth noting that the A1 has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect this to your PC and smartphone at the same time and easily switch back and forth between the two if a call comes in on your phone. Additionally, the smart speaker is Alexa-enabled, meaning you can activate Amazon's voice assistant by just saying, "Alexa."
Battery life is rated at up to 18 hours at 50% volume (the earlier A1 didn't live up to its battery life claims but this number is more accurate) and if you can afford it, you can link two A1 speakers to create a stereo pair. The speaker is waterproof with an IP67 rating, which means it can be submerged briefly in shallow water.
Over the last few years, Tribit has made several Bluetooth speakers that deliver a lot of boom for the buck. Add its new XSound Mega to the list.
Tribit is billing the XSound Mega as more of an outdoor speaker -- a lanyard is included for toting it around as a sort of mini boom box -- but it works just fine indoors. It has an LED light show that you can turn on or off and there are three EQ settings for sound: XBass, Music and Audiobook. Additionally, it can be used as a power bank to charge your mobile devices.
In my tests, the speaker compared pretty favorably with more expensive speakers like the JBL Charge 5. There's plenty of bass and the speaker plays loud for its size, with decent clarity. That said, it's a mono speaker with a single driver and two bass radiators -- that's how you get all that bass. So while you can expect big sound, the soundstage doesn't feel all that wide, particularly at lower volumes. It actually sounds better at higher volumes.
Watch this: JBL Boombox 2 vs. UE Hyperboom: Battle of the Portable Bluetooth Speakers
The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements for 2021 is among the company's smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look -- it's now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors -- and that new design coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size makes the Go 3 one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.
Available in multiple colors, this pick from our list of best Bluetooth speakers has an IP67 water-resistance rating (it can be dunked in water and is dust-proof). Battery life is rated at up to 5 hours.
Although a little pricey and due to be upgraded, the Bose SoundLink Micro sounds remarkably decent for its tiny size, delivering more bass than other pocketable speakers. It's a fully waterproof Bluetooth speaker and available in three color options, although the blue version appears to be hard to find.
While this model is truly pocket-size -- and that's certainly an appealing feature -- the bigger but still compact SoundLink Flex sounds significantly better and is also the better value though it costs more.
How we test Bluetooth speakers
In assessing what the best Bluetooth speakers are, we consider the design of the speaker, and particularly how durable it seems, along with sound quality and overall value. The list includes everything from compact mini models and pocket-size micro versions to heftier models with powerful audio. For more, check out our lists of the best smart speakers and the best Wi-Fi speakers and music systems.
Bluetooth wireless speaker FAQs
How do I choose a Bluetooth speaker?
When choosing a Bluetooth speaker, what it really comes down to is size and price. If you're looking for a very portable speaker, you'll want to get something very compact, but remember that smaller speakers usually produce less sound and bass than larger ones. So while there are plenty of mini Bluetooth speakers that deliver bigger sound than you might expect, they do have their sonic limitations. For a lot of people it's a question of finding a speaker that's not too big or too small -- one that travels well but also is capable of producing good sound for its size. But finding the best portable Bluetooth speaker also comes down to your budget.
Price can be a limiting factor. You may not want to spend $150 or more for a small speaker. Luckily, there are plenty of good options for $100, and some decent mini Bluetooth speakers can cost less than $50. Also, certain "value" brands that sell primarily on Amazon are strongly worth considering because they do offer a lot for the money.
If you're looking for the best sound quality, as I said, bigger is usually better, and some larger portable Bluetooth speakers -- sometimes referred to as Bluetooth boom boxes -- can put out a lot of sound and have an integrated handle for toting them around.
How do I connect a Bluetooth speaker with my TV?
Well, first of all, you need a TV, video streaming device or set-top cable or satellite box that has Bluetooth. You connect a Bluetooth speaker just like you do Bluetooth earbuds: through the Bluetooth settings menu on your TV or those aforementioned devices (Apple TV, for instance, has Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to connect your AirPods).
The only issue with connecting a Bluetooth speaker to your TV is that there can be some audio-video syncing issues due to Bluetooth lag. In some cases, where your Bluetooth speaker has an audio input (a few high-end Bluetooth speakers even have digital audio inputs), you can use a wired connection to the speaker via the audio outputs on your TV.
Soundbars tend to use the optical or HDMI connection on your TV to get sound. Many soundbars have a Bluetooth option so you can wirelessly stream music from your phone to the soundbar.
What is the loudest Bluetooth speaker?
The loudest Bluetooth speakers are the biggest ones. Sometimes they're referred to as boom boxes or "party" speakers. Some of those speakers are portable and have built-in rechargeable batteries while the biggest party speakers literally have wheels on them for transport and need to be plugged in with an AC adapter because they require so much power.
We have a list of best wireless boom box speakers if you're looking for a bigger Bluetooth speaker. It's also worth noting that Bluetooth speakers from the same company can be daisy-chained together to augment their sound or paired together as a left-right stereo pair. Often, the best way to get bigger sound is to pair two Bluetooth speakers together in a stereo pair.