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Portable Bluetooth speaker reviews

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Last updated: 06 August 2018

Portable Bluetooth speakers let you play music while keeping your smartphone or music player close at hand. We test and review more than 30 wireless Bluetooth speakers, priced from $78 to $899, from Bowers & Wilkins, Bang & Olufsen, Sony, Bose, Marshall, and more. We rate sound quality, ease of use and wireless range.

We've also tested the latest smart speakers, such as Google Home and Alexa. If you'd like to find out how they perform as home automation devices, head over to our smart speakers test.

  • Newcomers should check out our wireless speaker buying guide, which can help you understand these products.
  • You can look at what we found for added insights from our testing to help you buy the best speaker for your needs. 
  • How we test outlines our methodology.
  • Working with a budget? All models in our cheap bluetooth speaker reviews cost $100 or less. 
  • Alternatively, check out our Wi-Fi speaker reviews if you're looking for an advanced, good quality multi-speaker or multi-room set-up that uses your home network instead of Bluetooth.
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Our expert testers take to the CHOICE sound room to find the speakers that:

  • have the best sound
  • have the best wireless range
  • suit a large, open-plan home or are best for smaller spaces
  • weigh the least and are easy to carry around
  • are the easiest to use

Our interactive comparison tool helps you easily find the models that have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (or both), which speakers are 'ruggedised' for outdoor use, and which speakers come in under a kilo so you can comfortably carry them in a day pack. Our Recommended list will let you see at a glance which models come out on top.

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Weight (kg)

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Excluding power lead, rounded to nearest 100g.

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Bluetooth

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Bluetooth is a very simple connection in most cases because it's direct from one device to another. While the claimed range is usually limited to around 10m our testers found the figure to be much larger, in straight line tests achieving up to 30m as well as in tests where there were obstructions such as a brick wall or solid core doors where our tester comfortably played music more than 10m from the device.

Wi-Fi

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Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to connect a number of devices over a wireless network. It can also stream an uncompressed audio file which may help deliver better sound quality for some high-end speakers, although the improved quality may not be evident with most wireless speakers.  The big advantage with Wi-Fi over Bluetooth is the range, with Wi-Fi networks often able to project well over 30 metres.

Dust/water resistant

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Some speakers can handle the outdoors better than others, with some models able to comfortably handle rain, dust and the occasional dunking.

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  • Overall score
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  • Listening score
  • Ease of use score
  • Range score
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  • Price
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  • Model
  • Availability
  • Speaker grouping
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi
  • Apple AirPlay
  • aptX (codec)
  • Auxiliary input
  • USB can charge other devices
  • Speakerphone
  • Forward/Rewind
  • Play/Pause
  • Battery life indicator
  • Carry bag
  • Carry handle
  • Dust/water resistant
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