Choosing the best wireless speaker from the sea of options out there can be tricky. What defines a "wireless" speaker can mean many things to people: Does it use Bluetooth or your home's Wi-Fi network (or both) to connect and stream music and podcasts from your phone or other sources? Does it have a battery or do you need to plug it in? Is it portable or more of a homebody kinda speaker that's part of a bigger multiroom network music system? Yes, yes, and yes.
We're going to include all of the above here, because we think that you like to have options. With additional features like battery life, durability, availability of voice assistants, and sound quality to consider, the task of finding the best wireless speaker for your needs gets even more layered. But worry not. We've put together this roundup of the best wireless speakers you can buy right now, and for our money, we still think that the Sonos One (Gen 2) ranks as one of the best wireless speakers for most people when it comes to quality, sound, and price. Apple also makes it way back to the list with the recently launched Home Pod 2, which we think is also pretty excellent.
There's also no shortage of other options here as well, from high-end KEF bookshelf speakers to a rugged JBL to a pretty great all-around versatility pick from Q Acoustics. Hopefully, this helps in your search for wireless bliss.
Sonos One (Gen 2)
The best wireless speaker overall
- Small footprint
- Impeccable Wi-Fi performance
- Excellent companion app
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
- On the expensive side
- Trueplay tuning is iOS-only
Sonos has long been considered one of the leading wireless speakers on the market, and for a range of excellent reasons. For starters, Sonos One (2nd Gen) speakers are built from the ground up to deliver an immersive audio experience, regardless of what room it's placed in. Utilizing Sonos Trueplay, iOS device owners can effectively calibrate their Sonos One to sound its best, with walls, floors, and furniture obstructions all considered when establishing your One's final mix.
The Sonos One (2nd Gen) is also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to call up all your favorite music services with simple voice commands, as well as giving you a command center for controlling all of your smart home devices. Additionally, the Sonos One is also compatible with Sonos' new in-house voice assistant, Sonos Voice Control, which allows you to control playback functions such as pause, skip tracks, and volume control with your voice. But the coolest part is that it's voiced by Breaking Bad actor Giancarlo Esposito! On top of voice assistant support, the Sonos control app (for iOS and Android devices) gives you access to hundreds of additional radio stations, as well as plenty of ways to customize your Sonos listening experience.
If you're planning on expanding your wireless music system at some point, or plan on building a wireless Sonos surround-sound system, the Sonos One (2nd Gen) is one of the most adaptive, multi-use speakers you can have in your Sonos arsenal, and it's our favorite wireless speaker of all time.
JBL Flip 6
The most rugged wireless speaker
- Solid build quality
- Loud and clear sound
- Lightweight and portable
- Excellent water and dust protection
- EQ offers some sound tweaking
- Works with JBL Portable app and PartyBoost
- Can't stereo pair with non-Flip 6 JBL speakers
- Doesn’t work as a speakerphone
- Not drastically different from Flip 5
Building upon the rock-solid foundation of the JBL Flip 5, the new and improved Flip 6 is slightly smaller than its predecessor (measuring 7-inches tall, 2.6-inches wide, and 2.8-inches deep), but doesn't sacrifice sound for the smaller package. In fact, the JBL Flip 6 sounds fantastic! And this time around, soundstaging puts mids and high frequencies a bit higher in the audio hierarchy, while still delivering JBL-recognizable bass and plenty of volume.
But the most important thing to consider for a speaker we deem as "the most rugged" are what protective considerations JBL is using to shield the Flip 6 from dirt, drops, and the elements. Going a step beyond the Flip 5's IPX7-rating, the Flip 6 is IP67-certified, protecting the speaker from all forms of dirt and debris, as well as full submergence in water up to one meter deep.
Then, when you add in the tough outer shell and rubberized side-bumpers, it becomes clear why we awarded the JBL Flip 6 as the toughest wireless speaker of the bunch.
KEF LSX II
The best premium wireless bookshelf speakers
- Big and clear KEF sound
- Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth connectivity
- HDMI ARC, USB-C, 3.5mm, TOSLINK inputs
- Compact design
- Cheaper than the KEF LS50
The first generation of KEF's superb LSX wireless hi-fi speakers were on this list for some time, and we've found no reason to take them off — but we have updated our choice with the improved second generation, the KEF LSX II.
We made the comparison to the popular and premium KEF LS50 Wireless II, which are still among the best-sounding bookshelves you can buy for the money, and their wireless convenience makes them among our favorite speakers we've encountered. And KEF's LSX II still offer much of what's to like about the KEF LS50 Wireless for less than half the price.
The KEF LSX II stick with their tradition of offering sound that's big, crystal clear, and expressive, with a wide soundstage that defies what should be capable from speakers so small. But that's KEF for you.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity is only the start with the LSX II, with the second gen improving the speakers' connection stability with its W2 technology. The optical 3.5 mm AUX, subwoofer out, and Ethernet connection options are now joined by USB-C and HDMI ARC in the LSX II. It is also now compatible with a whole bunch of third-party services including Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Amazon Music, Qobuz, Tidal, and Spotify Connect. DSD and MQA audio codec support is on tap too, for audiophiles who want to hear the best digital sound possible.
The KEF LSX II benefit from KEF's proprietary Uni-Q speaker driver tech that sets the tweeter in the middle of an 11-inch woofer for what KEF says is a more natural sound. The LSX II are available in five colors: Carbon Black, Mineral White, Cobalt Blue, Lava Red, and Soundwave.
Apple HomePod (2nd Gen)
Best wireless speaker for Apple fans
- Great sound quality
- Incredible bass performance
- Dazzling Spatial Audio surround
- Plug and Play wireless
- Slick design
- Limited connection options
- No direct Spotify playback
No one really knows why Apple discontinued the first generation of the HomePod, but the point becomes moot when the comeback version of this wireless speaker is so great, especially if you're a user of Apple products.
While on the surface, the second-gen HomePod doesn't look much different than its predecessor, things have gotten markedly better on the inside (and my mom always said that's what counts). Driven by Apple's advanced S7 processor, the HomePod 2 pulls off a ton of cool "computational audio" features, like automatically sensing the room and its position in it (it knows when it's in a corner or jammed between books on a shelf), and adjusting its sound accordingly.
This is also great for maximizing sound for Apple's Spatial Audio, which sounds great in one HomePod, but even better when pairing two HomePods together (they must be the same model and generation) and connecting them to an Apple TV 4K. This setup can be a great solution if you're also looking to bring better sound to your TV and home theater experience, but don't worry, if music is your main thing ,the HomePod (single or stereo pair) sounds great and supports Apple Music's Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio tracks, too.
Delivering this big sound in such a small package is a big 20mm woofer and five beamforming tweeters, which our own Caleb Denison vouches for in his review, describing the bass as "full-bodied, present, and punchy," and the midrange as "lush, full-bodied, and clear, if not a bit forward in the mix, especially with vocals."
Apple fans will love the HomePod for its deep integration with the Apple ecosystem, but others might find that frustrating — Apple Music is the only music service supported natively, and the only voice assistant available is Siri, for example. But the HomePod is dead simple to set up (like most of Apple's products) and is a competent smart speaker that, with full compatibility with the Matter standard, works seamlessly with HomeKit and other smart home accessories. It even has new built-in temperature and humidity sensors for automating smart thermostats and blinds, for example, and it can listen for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to alert you when you're out of the house. Not bad for a $300 wireless speaker.
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
The best portable wireless speaker
- Loud, dynamic sound
- Easy to use
- Great battery life
- Some functionality only supports Apple Music/Deezer
Why you should buy this: With 20 hours of battery life, the ability to withstand both dust and water, and sound quality that makes you forget it's a Bluetooth speaker, the UE Megaboom 3 is an ideal portable companion.
Who it's for: Those who need a portable speaker that can withstand the elements, yet still pump out tons of high-quality sound.
Why we picked the UE Megaboom 3:
The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 lacks a lot of features you might find in some other Bluetooth speakers, like the ability to take phone calls, plug in an external music source, or charge up your phone. So why would we pick it?
Simple: The UE Megaboom 3 sounds amazing — so good in fact, that we'd happily give up those extra features to get this kind of sound. Then there's the weekend's worth of battery life, and the Megaboom 3's beach-proof construction. Add its attractive design and clever multifunction button, and you've got a Bluetooth speaker that will make any setting feel like your own private listening lounge.
Q Acoustics M20 HD Powered Wireless Music System
Best mid-range desktop speakers with inputs galore
- Clear, refined sound with any music
- Wide soundstage in any room
- Versatility of placement
- Tons of connectivity options
- aptX HD Bluetooth
- A bit big for desktops
- Better with a subwoofer
As music lovers are mixing and matching technologies and formats spanning analog and digital to create their unique perfect audio solutions, we're seeing components and speakers that are making old things new and new things play nice with old things, too. One such set of speakers is the Q Acoustics M20 HD Wireless Music System, which is essentially a set of very good-sounding Bluetooth bookshelf speakers that refuses to stay in its lane by offering a ton of connections and audio tech so they can be used, well, almost any way you like.
In my review of the Q Acoustics M20s, I put them everywhere I could — on my office desk, in my dining room on a bookshelf, with my vinyl record collection, with my TV -- using its wide range of inputs including RCA, optical TOSLINK, USB, 3.5mm AUX, and aptX HD Bluetooth for high-resolution streaming at 24-bit/48kHz. True to its name, this set of speakers can be a true wireless music system that you can connect to turntables, DVD players, CD players, computers, TVs, smartphones, and more.
Some innovative digital processing also does a great job of adapting the M20s to those setup locations. Whether they're in a corner, against a wall, or out in the open, there's a toggle switch on the back that lets you tell the speakers where they are so they can adjust. You can even designate the left and right orientation of the main powered speaker and its connected pair to make for easier access to controls on the back and the location of power outlets.
While they don't stand toe-to-toe with the premium KEF LSX II on our list, they sound great and are a good value at $600.
The best portable Sonos speaker
- Excellent design
- Lightweight and portable
- Totally water and dustproof
- Very good sound for its size
- Choice of smart speaker assistants
- Wireless charging
- No Bluetooth stereo pairing
- Doesn’t work as a speakerphone
- Less battery life than some other speakers
Sonos has arguably done more than any other brand to popularize and normalize wireless, multiroom speakers. But until recently, these Wi-Fi speakers have been confined to use in and around the home. Last year, however, the company set them free, launching the Sonos Move and Roam, two battery-powered portable speakers with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and wireless charging, that take much of Sonos' famed features and untethers them.
And while the Sonos Move (which is similar in size and form as the above-mentioned Sonos One) could easily be included on this list, as far as portability goes, we're going to focus on the Roam as it's rugged (IP67 rated), lightweight (0.95 pounds), and ultra-portable (about the size of a sleeve of cookies), but surprisingly packs a sizeable punch when it comes to sound and soundstage.
Sonos users will love how the Roam easily integrates into their existing Sonos ecosystem over Wi-Fi and can be controlled with the excellent Sonos app. And when you're ready to hit the road or are out of the range of Wi-Fi, you can easily pair the Roam just like any other Bluetooth speaker and control it through the Sonos app or Spotify, AirPlay and more.
There are a couple of limitations, however. While you can pair multiple Roams together, you cannot stereo pair two Roams over Bluetooth — for that you'll need to be connected to Wi-Fi. That, and you can't pair the Roam to any of your existing Sonos speakers, such as using them as surround speakers for a Sonos Beam, Sonos Arc, or the new Sonos Ray.
But that's neither here nor there, the Sonos Roam is a great-sounding, portable Sonos speaker with Google Assistant, Alexa, and the new Sonos Voice Control assistants, a 10-hour battery, wireless charging, and it's available in a bunch of cool colors. What else do you want out of a Wi-Fi Bluetooth speaker for under $200?
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
The best for bass
- Simple setup, easy music playback
- Variety of source options
- Excellent battery life
- Impressive low end
- Lacks Wi-Fi compatibility
- Less portable than predecessors
If you're looking for a speaker you can chuck in your swimming pool, the Hyperboom isn't the pick for you. But this IPX4-protected party monster is one of the best sounds with big bass you're going to find outside of a dedicated stereo or home theater system.
Under the armor, the Hyperboom houses precision woofers, passive radiators, and soft dome tweeters to achieve one of the best overall soundstages of any speaker on our list. This is also thanks to the Boom's adaptive EQ. Indoors or outdoors, the Boom knows when it's moved, and balances sound output based on the environment it's placed in.
The pullout strap of the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom makes it easy to load and unload the speaker at your next gathering. This is also one of our favorite speakers for sharing. Four dedicated inputs mean you can have four devices all paired at once, so you can switch between devices and playlists with ease.
The 24-hour battery guarantees undisturbed listening sessions no matter where you go and the USB charge-out port is a convenient add-on for giving your phone a quick battery boost.
Frequently Asked Questions
We test wireless speakers the same way you would use a wireless speaker. No fancy measuring equipment, no anechoic chambers, just our ears, the speakers, and some of our favorite music sources. If the speaker is designed to go outside, we take it outside. If it's waterproof, we throw it in a pool or the ocean. If it's a smart speaker, we see how well it responds to our voice commands.
Despite its casual nature, this process is highly comprehensive and includes checking out things you might not have thought about, like range, connection stability, and performance in areas with a lot of radio frequency interference (i.e., the Digital Trends offices).
Finally, we compare each speaker to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above, to find out if they can punch above their weight.
NFC: Shorthand for Near Field Communication, this oft-touted feature is actually quite limited when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, allowing select phones to pair with a speaker with a quick touch. Since pairing is often as simple as pressing a button, and speakers will be remembered by your device once paired, it’s not seen as a must-have feature.
AptX: Another feature limited to phones and devices outside of Apple’s periphery, aptX is a codec (or group of codecs) that allows Bluetooth streaming at “near CD quality” resolution. Apple products do not use aptX, but Android users may find it improves performance when paired with high-quality tracks and high-performance speakers.
Passive radiator: A passive radiator is a type of driver used to enhance bass in a speaker. In a sealed speaker enclosure (no portholes) a passive radiator responds to fluctuations in air pressure within the enclosure, creating sound. Since a passive radiator doesn’t have to be powered by an amp, it has no magnet or voice coil, and is, therefore, lighter and smaller than a traditional driver. This saves space and cost while increasing the speaker’s performance.
Pairing (or Bluetooth pairing): In the case of Bluetooth speakers, pairing is the act of making a wireless connection from a speaker to your wireless device via Bluetooth.
Stereo pairing: The ability to treat two individual wireless speakers as the left and right speakers of a stereo pair. This is usually accomplished using an app, and the speakers need to be compatible with the stereo pairing function.
Hi-res music: These are audio tracks that have been created from master recordings at much higher levels of detail and range than typical MP3 files. They contain up to four times as much information per song, and when played back through high-quality speakers that support them, they deliver more detail, less overlap between instruments and frequencies, and generally better sound when played at higher volumes. Hi-res music files require Wi-Fi, Bluetooth aptX HD, Sony’s proprietary LDAC wireless codec, or a wired connection from the source to the speaker, so not all wireless speakers are compatible.
Multiroom audio: The ability for a wireless speaker to become part of a centrally controlled, multispeaker whole-home sound system. In these systems, each speaker can play a different source, all speakers can play the same source in perfect sync, or you can combine the two. A good example of a wireless, multiroom audio system would be Sonos.
WiSA: An acronym for “Wireless Sound and Audio,” this standard for wireless audio eliminates excess audio cables for multiroom setups with up to eight speakers. Over 60 popular audio brands, including Klipsch, Bang & Olufsen, and Harman Kardon, offer WiSA products.
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