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Portable Bluetooth Speaker reviews

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Last updated: 12 June 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.

  • 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 speakers test cost less than $100. 
  • Alternatively, check out our Wi-Fi speakers test if you're looking an advanced, good quality multi-speaker or multi-room setup that uses your home network instead of Bluetooth or our Smart speaker test for speakers that support digital assistants from Google (OK Google), Apple (Siri) and Amazon (Alexa).
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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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Test results

Overall score

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The overall score is made up of listening performance (70%), wireless range (15%) and ease of use (15%) scores.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 40 and 87

Listening score

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Performance tests are based on our listening panel's appraisal of two pieces of music (classical, rock/pop and electronic). The speaker is positioned about two metres away from the listener, with the panel assessing overall quality.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 28 and 90


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We place each speaker in an identical position to assess the point at which musical signal is lost or the audio quality drops. Three measurements are taken including an unobstructed straight line test, obstructed test with up to three solid doors, and a test through a brick wall. The results are averaged to calculate an overall range score.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 49 and 93

Ease of use

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Ease of use is important for a wireless speaker, particularly with some of the more fully featured models that can take some time to learn the controls and options available. Our tester looks at initial setup, how the phone deals with an incoming phone call while the music is playing and any physical controls on the speaker.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 52 and 87



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Speakers with this feature allow you to take a call using the speaker to hear the call and an onboard mic to talk to the caller. Once the call is finished, the music will continue to play.

Auxiliary input


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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.


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Near field communication chips make connection to the speaker a simple tap and connect procedure.


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Playing a song over Bluetooth requires a file to be compressed before it is transferred wirelessly, but compressing a file can lead to a degradation in quality. aptx gets around this, claims its owners Qualcomm, by "reducing the bit rate without affecting audio quality or introducing latency issues". Both devices need to support aptX in order to reap the benefits of CD-like audio, such as the smartphone and the speaker to which the track is being streamed.

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Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Overall score
  • CHOICE Buy
  • Listening score
  • Ease of use
  • Range
  • Battery time (hours)
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Speaker
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Availability
  • Speaker grouping
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi
  • Apple AirPlay
  • aptX
  • Auxiliary input
  • USB can charge other devices
  • Speakerphone
  • Forward/Rewind
  • Play/pause
  • Battery life indicator
  • Carry bag
  • Carry handle
  • Dust/water resistant
  • Apps available
  • Dimensions h x w x d mm
  • Weight (kg)
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