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.
Our expert testers take to the CHOICE sound room to find the speakers that:
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.
List of brands we tested in this review.
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Recommended speakers have earned overall scores of 70% or above, as well as listening scores of 80% or above. Speakers with listening scores above 70% may also be worth considering if the price is right.
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Standard speakers are used to play audio via Bluetooth, WiFi, physical cable etc from an external device. Smart speakers deliver additional features such as online information (weather, music, news and so on) and the ability to control other smart devices, via voice commands such as "OK Google," "Alexa" and "hey Siri."
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 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.
How long does the battery last?
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Excluding power lead, rounded to nearest 100g.
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A Similar model is identical in most aspects except for a few. This means that a majority of its test results are identical so you can reasonably expect to get the same results from the model we tested, but for those aspects which aren't identical, we'll note these as "Not Tested" in the Compare tables.
A Tested model refers to a model that is still current and available in the Australian market. You should be able to order this model through your local retailer, or find it online.
These models can't be found in retailers or online or are no longer manufactured. You may still find these models on second hand websites, or in second hand dealers. Test methods may change over time, so criteria which can't be directly compared will contain an N/A.
An Identical model is exactly that. Performance characteristics will be identical and the only difference will be something trivial such as colour, which won't have an impact on performance.
These are models we haven't yet tested but that are available.