The best Bluetooth speakers in 2021 all tick three key boxes: they’re portable, durable and they offer superb audio quality in all kinds of environments. Sure, a few have some cool one-of-a-kind features, but if you want to score a place on our list, you at least have to stand out and provide solid performance in each of the three categories we’ve listed above.
It’s a great time to think about buying a Bluetooth speaker, too. Black Friday 2021 falls on November 26, and early deals are already starting to land. You can be sure that Bluetooth speakers will be discounted during the sales period, which runs right through to Cyber Monday on November 29.
But why do you need a Bluetooth speaker in the first place? Well, portable speakers that stream music from your devices via Bluetooth are a great idea if you want high quality audio at home.
They’re also a solid option if you like to listen to music outside, whether that’s while you’re entertaining outdoors or working out, as well as if you like to be able to take a speaker to social events – like a party in your local park or down at the beach. Although if you’re planning on paying a visit to the beach, you may want to check out our guide to the best waterproof speakers, too.
Many of the best portable speakers you can buy today are multi-functional and may also feature voice assistant integration alongside audio playback. Assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and more often come built into Bluetooth speakers, which enhances their value even more. Because this means your wireless speaker can double as a smart speaker, which can then be used to control your smart home devices, or you can ask it to play your music using voice commands.
In fact, our latest addition to this list, and our new pick for the very best portable speaker you can buy in 2021, is the Sonos Roam. This device can seamlessly switch from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth, integrate into a Sonos system, and it comes with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant onboard.
That said, you don’t have to buy a smart speaker if you don’t want one – they’re not for everyone, after all. JBL makes a number of non-smart speakers – like the newly announced JBL Flip 6 – that won’t listen to you when you don’t want them to.
There’s a huge range of portable Bluetooth speakers out there to pick from, which means you might not know where to begin or what to look for. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and the testing, which means we’re in a prime position to select the very best Bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2021.
Our top picks
The best Bluetooth speakers you can buy
The Sonos Roam is our pick for the best Bluetooth speaker on the planet, with a powerful sound, rugged design, excellent connectivity features, and smart home control. A bass-heavy audio performance makes it ideal for use outdoors, while a clever Automatic Switching feature means it’s easily used indoors, too – though audiophiles may dislike the overwhelming low frequencies and rhythmic handling.
Following in the footsteps of the Sonos Move, the Sonos Roam comes with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which means it can work as a portable speaker as well as part of your wider multi-room Sonos system – and with Google Assistant and Alexa onboard, it doubles up a smart speaker too.
In spite of its (relatively) low price you’re getting a lot for your money here. Its slick design means the Sonos Roam won’t look out of place in your home, while a rugged, waterproof and dustproof build and a decent battery life make it ideal for listening to music outdoors.
Read more: Sonos Roam review
With two quality drivers, a solid app that unlocks playback from hundreds of wireless sources, multi-room capabilities and smart audio-tuning tech which tweaks the output based on the speaker’s immediate surroundings, the Sonos Move is engineered well beyond your average Bluetooth speaker. It’s a versatile speaker, one that stands solidly alongside the built-for-home Sonos speakers that the company made its name on.
It’s not perfect – it’s heavy as a byproduct of its incredible sound, it’s expensive due to its rich feature set, and it sadly can’t be used as rear channels for a home cinema set-up. But if you’ve got the money, it’s hard to fault the Sonos Move when it comes to hunting down the very best Bluetooth speaker in the world.
Read the full review: Sonos Move review
While we weren’t as impressed with the UE Boom 3 as we were with its predecessor the UE Boom 2, this is still one of the best Bluetooth speakers money can buy in 2021. This is a speaker that can get loud and not distort at higher volumes; be light enough to carry on a camping trip but remain durable enough to tumble in a bag unprotected.
It’s both water and dust-proof, and now has a one-touch mix button that lets you pull up your favorite playlists without ever picking up your phone.
There are certainly more detailed portable speakers out there, but at a price that’s relatively affordable to all, the UE Boom 3 hits all the right notes for the third year in a row.
Ultimate Ears now lets you customize your UE Boom 3, so you have even more options when it comes to color and pattern combinations.
Read the full review: UE Boom 3 review
The JBL Flip 5 is proof that the best Bluetooth speakers aren’t always the ones with the most impressive specs.
JBL’s Flip 5 is a simple soul with Bluetooth-only playback and modest features, but if you desire a rugged, great-sounding portable speaker and can sacrifice voice control or hands-free call functionality, you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks to its neat design and IPX7 rating this JBL Bluetooth speaker is suitable for use outside as well as in, making it an ideal outdoor speaker, too – and it’s not too pricey at $119.95 / £119.99 / AU$149.95.
Coming in a range of cool colors – including an eye-catching camo print – there’s now a limited Eco Edition that’s made from 90% recycled plastic, while the portable speaker’s entire packaging is biodegradable.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 5 review
[Update: Don’t miss our JBL Boombox 2 review – we were mightily impressed by this portable speaker’s IPX7 waterproof rating, long battery life, and distortion-free sound.]
The portable smart speaker market is booming, with the Bose Portable Home Speaker offering the smarts of Google Assistant and Alexa alongside Bluetooth connectivity, the market is already growing fast.
The Bose Portable Home Speaker isn’t the brand’s first outdoor-friendly speaker, and it shows: gorgeous minimalist design meets weather-ready robustness, with a light build and handle that lends itself to listening on the go.
It doesn’t quite meet the sonic dexterity of the Sonos Move, or the value for money of the UE Boom 3 and JBL Charge 4 – but if you love that Bose sound and build quality, this is the portable speaker for you.
Read the full review: Bose Portable Home Speaker review
The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is an excellent go anywhere, do anything Bluetooth speaker. The design fits well in the home and its rugged construction allows it to join you at the beach or poolside. While it lacks a built-in voice assistant, its sound, build quality and excellent app make it a great value.
Compared to the competition, the Flare 2 fits better in the home and sounds better than the UE Wonderboom 2. However, the UE is more rugged and smaller, making it easier to toss in a bag or backpack. Those wanting more bass but still want a party speaker with lights will want to check out the JBL Pulse 4, which gets louder, has more bass impact and a full-body lightshow but is over twice the price.
Read more: Anker Soundcore Flare 2 review
The original UE Wonderboom has been at the top of our best waterproof speaker list since its debut and for good reason: it’s rugged, plays louder than its diminutive sound suggests, and could be paired to other UE Wonderboom Bluetooth speakers to amplify sound.
And although the UE Wonderboom 2 looks nearly identical to the original, Ultimate Ears packed in a slew of upgrades that make the Wonderboom 2 even better, like the increased battery life (up 30% compared to the original), better bass response, and the new Outdoor Boost feature that helps the speaker get even louder than before.
The UE Wonderboom 2 is a fantastic rugged and waterproof speaker you’ll actually want to take with. Its small size doesn’t mean small sound, however, as the speaker gets extremely loud and sounds great. While it can’t match the bass response of larger speakers like the UE Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve, the improved bass adds warmth and intensity to music that the original was lacking.
All said, for $100 / £90 / AU$129, the UE Wonderboom 2 is still one of the best waterproof speakers you can buy – and our recommended option for those looking to bring their speaker to the beach or pool.
Read the full review: UE Wonderboom 2 review
Looking for a portable speaker that can charge your phone while it’s blasting music? Check out the new JBL Charge 5 that launched in 2021 and is available now around the world for $179 / £159 / AU$229.
In terms of features the JBL Charge 5 is relatively basic compared to something like the JBL Pulse 4 – which provides a customizable lightshow for users – but for this fifth generation JBL has incrementally improved sound quality and volume while still offering all-day battery life.
Physical controls remain the same with slightly raised buttons on top of the speaker. There are buttons to control playback, volume, power, Bluetooth pairing, and “Party Boost” that turns the volume up to 11.
Around the back, the JBL Charge 5 has a waterproof USB-C charging port as well as a flap hiding the USB-A port that can be used to charge up your smartphone. The Charge 5 drops support for the 3.5mm aux jack from the JBL Charge 4, which is a bummer for some who have legacy devices they want to hook up.
Overall, the JBL Charge 5 sounds like a bigger portable speaker than it is. It dishes out an impressive amount of bass for its size without sacrificing on the mids or highs.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 5 review
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom is a powerful party speaker that will ensure the party atmosphere, both indoors and outdoors. Its Ultimate Ears’ largest Bluetooth speaker to date, but still keeps the company’s stylish and discreet design, and adds two Bluetooth radios so you can switch seamlessly between two phones.
Despite being party-centric (read: packing tons of bass), it also delivers a very well-balanced soundscape. Here you never get the feeling that you are playing bass to make a party at the expense of other elements in the music, and almost no matter what you put on music, you get a pleasant experience.
In terms of features, the Ultimate Ears app allows you to connect the Hyperboom to other UE speakers and use them together, you can switch audio source and adjust volume, and you can select four different playlists in Amazon Music, Deezer or Spotify that can be started by holding down the Play button in three seconds.
For parties small and large, this Bluetooth speaker box is a great pick.
Read the full review: UE Hyperboom review
The entry-level Sony SRS-XB23 is a rock-solid $99 (around £80 / AU$150) portable Bluetooth speaker that features an IP67 rating and a 12-hour battery life.
In terms of performance, it can get pretty loud without a massive amount of distortion and the passive radiators help the bass to sound clearer than it has on any of Sony’s previous models. That’s because the XB23 uses Bluetooth 5 and supports three major codecs – SBC, AAC and LDAC, the latter of which you’ll find on newer Android devices and sounds absolutely great.
Outdoor adventurers will love the ruggedness of this Sony Bluetooth speaker while us kick-back-and-relax folks will enjoy how snugly it fits into a lawn chair’s cup holder.
Read the full review: Sony SRS-XB23 review
Looking for something a little bigger? Check out our Sony SRS-XB33 review, where we put the more powerful Bluetooth speaker to the test.
Visually near imperceptible from the original A1, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) is an appealing and highly portable Bluetooth speaker that comes with (admittedly flawed) Alexa support.
Ultimately, we were impressed with the B&O Beosound A1. A marked improvement over its predecessor, there’s better battery life, and waterproofing, although we’re not so sure how much we’d like to take it outside the home.
With a consistently crisp sound and a chic design, the Beosound A1 is still a fine example of why Bang & Olufsen’s good reputation precedes it.
Read more: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)
The Urbanista Brisbane might not look exciting, but beneath its unassuming package lies a powerful Bluetooth speaker. Loud and rich-sounding, it’s a well-priced addition to anyone’s home, with a good battery life and the option to pair it with another Brisbane for true stereo sound.
For the price, the Urbanista Brisbane is ultimately a bit of a bargain. You’ll find better sound quality out there, but it’ll cost you a lot more. All in all, this mid-range speaker could be a great choice for anyone who wants the freedom of wireless listening without sacrificing volume levels.
Read the full review: Urbanista Brisbane review
The 1MORE Portable BT Speaker sounds great for the price. It has an impressive amount of bass at low volumes but drops off at higher volumes.
This Bluetooth speaker is good for traveling professionals who want better sound quality, a speakerphone, and some water resistance, but those who want a more rugged speaker should look elsewhere – the IPX4 rating won’t really cut it if you’re expecting your speaker to get wet.
Read more: 1MORE Portable BT Speaker review
Bluetooth speaker FAQs
How do I choose a Bluetooth speaker?
There are so many new Bluetooth speakers on the market these days that it can be tricky to figure out which one you need. However, there are plenty of specific features to look out for, even if it does feel like the choice is endless.
The first thing to consider is where you want to use your new Bluetooth speaker. Some portable speakers are built with durability in mind, and will feature rubberized builds to prevent damage from drops and lightweight designs to make them easy to carry around.
To ramp up that durability, many Bluetooth speakers come with waterproof and dustproof designs – look for an IPX4 rating or higher if you want to take your portable speaker outdoors.
Of course, you can absolutely use your new portable Bluetooth speaker solely inside your home – and that means you can choose from a wider range of designs that will look great with your decor.
You should also consider how you’re going to use your new portable speaker. If you’re a party person, you might want the ability to connect two speakers together or a speaker with multipoint pairing that allows multiple devices to connect at a time.
With any Bluetooth speaker, battery life, sound quality, and connectivity are features you don’t want to overlook. Sure, some concessions can be made for budget models, but we’ve done our best to take these in the utmost consideration when creating the list above.
What’s the best Bluetooth speaker brand?
Sonos Bluetooth speakers are great if you want to bridge the gap between indoors and outdoors, with the ability to form part of a wider multi-room system – and you can be sure that they’ll sound fantastic, too.
JBL is well known for making rugged, outdoor speakers at affordable prices, and it’s line of party speakers even come with built-in light shows.
If waterproofing is a priority then look out for models from Ultimate Ears, which combine fun, colorful designs with rugged builds – many of which can withstand a dip in the pool.
Consider high-end audio brands such as Bose and Bang & Olufsen if you want a combination of stylish design and great sound – but be prepared for relatively high prices. If you want to save money then Urbanista, Tribit, and Anker offer brilliant speakers that won’t break the bank.
Looking for more?
There are lots of speaker styles to choose from – that’s why we’ve put together lots of guides on the best speakers you can buy in 2021.
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