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Best Bluetooth speaker 2023: Portable, waterproof and rugged options for every occasion

Andy White Matt Reed
6 Mar 2023

Enjoy exceptional audio at home or on the go with our pick of the best Bluetooth speakers

Modern life demands flexibility in how we consume audio and the best Bluetooth speakers are among the most versatile audio products on the market.

While a Bluetooth speaker's primary appeal remains its ability to play music from an audio source without a connecting cable, most are capable of a lot more than that. Waterproofing, voice assistant support and the ability to double up as a power bank are just a few of the features you'll find incorporated by the best Bluetooth speakers. With numerous features to consider and hundreds of options available, selecting the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs can be overwhelming.

That's where this guide comes in. We've tested a huge range of Bluetooth speakers and compiled a list of the best of them, including options that are suitable for use indoors and out. Before we jump into the list, you'll find a summary of our top picks followed by a buying guide detailing all the things to consider before making a purchase.

Best Bluetooth speaker: At a glance

How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker for you

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows communication between devices over short distances. As Bluetooth technology has developed, its range has increased, it's become more energy-efficient and the speed at which it transmits data has improved, allowing for higher-quality audio playback.

All new phones and tablets support Bluetooth, as will most laptops. Otherwise, an inexpensive USB dongle can add Bluetooth support. These will let you connect your music source of choice to your Bluetooth speaker, whether it's a CD in your laptop's drive, a locally stored MP3 file or streamed music from the internet.

What's the difference between Bluetooth and wireless speakers?

The terms wireless and Bluetooth are used interchangeably when referring to headphones, but they're different things in the speaker world. Bluetooth speakers typically only connect over Bluetooth, though you may find some that are capable of connecting to a Wi-Fi network, too.

Wireless speakers use Wi-Fi as their primary form of connection, with Bluetooth connectivity often a welcome extra. We've included a couple of these on the list below, but you'll want to head over to our roundup of the best wireless speakers for a more extensive list of options.

What are Bluetooth codecs and which should you look out for?

The transmission of data via Bluetooth is determined by the use of Bluetooth codecs. SBC is pretty much universal but some companies use their own proprietary codecs in addition to SBC. Apple uses AAC, Samsung has Scalable, while Sony utilises LDAC. You'll also find Qualcomm's aptX series of codecs used by a range of Bluetooth devices; if you're after higher-quality Bluetooth audio, look out for aptX HD and aptX Adaptive.

It's important to remember that both your Bluetooth speaker and streaming device must support the codec in question. So, if you buy a speaker with aptX HD hoping to use it with your iPhone, you'll be sorely disappointed.

How portable are Bluetooth speakers?

Most Bluetooth speakers are designed with portability in mind and house built-in batteries that allow you to take them with you wherever you go. These batteries can last anywhere from a few hours to over 20 hours depending on the size of the speaker and the amount of power it uses.

Bluetooth speakers that rely solely on mains power are less common and normally less portable, too. You may still be able to carry one around in your bag, but if you want to use it while out and about, you'll need access to an external power source.

Can I use my Bluetooth speaker outdoors?

Many Bluetooth speakers make great outdoor companions thanks to waterproofing and/or a rugged build. Rugged models will have shock-proofing, meaning they can handle being thrown around or dropped, which is handy if you're on an outdoor adventure.

Bluetooth speakers designed for the outdoors will all have an IP rating, which reflects a device's ability to withstand exposure to dust and water. An IP rating is comprised of two digits, the first of which relates to protection against the ingress of dust and the second of which represents water resistance.

You can find a full breakdown of what each IP rating means here. If you're after something extremely resilient, you'll want to look out for speakers with an IP67 rating.

READ NEXT: The best outdoor speakers on the market

Can I take calls and use my voice assistant with a Bluetooth speaker?

Lots of Bluetooth speakers will also have a built-in microphone, which enables you to use them for hands-free calls. This means they can serve a useful dual purpose and are a better option than using your phone's speaker. Some also support the use of voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa. These speakers allow you to control your audio with voice commands rather than using the physical buttons on the output device or speaker itself.

READ NEXT: The best PC speakers for gaming and music

The best Bluetooth speakers

1. Sharp GX-BT60: Best cheap portable Bluetooth speaker

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

With strong audio performance, a compact form and an affordable price tag, the Sharp GX-BT60 is an excellent choice if you’re looking to take your tunes with you wherever you go. The rugged build and IP67 rating only add to the speaker’s outdoor credentials, with the latter certifying it as both dust-tight and waterproof.

There’s no USB-C port, so charging is done via an old-fashioned micro-USB, but there is a 3.5mm port, which allows you to hook the GX-BT60 up to a variety of non-Bluetooth audio sources. If you buy two GX-BT60s, you can put them in “Duo Mode” to create a stereo effect. With a direct line of sight, the two speakers should be able to perform at a range of over 40 metres, giving you plenty of flexibility in creating the perfect setup.

Read our Sharp GX-BT60 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: Up to 13 hours; Speakers: 1; RMS power output: 6W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 101 x 101 x 44mm; Weight: 230g

2. Sonos Roam: Best Bluetooth speaker for most people

Price: £165 | Buy now from Amazon

This compact speaker from Sonos is a portable Bluetooth speaker with an ace up its sleeve: Wi-Fi connectivity. When out and about you'll be making use of Bluetooth and the Roam's 10-hour battery life but at home, you can hook it up to your wireless network and integrate it into an existing Sonos multiroom speaker system.

The Roam is one of the smartest Bluetooth speakers around, with support for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, though you can't use both simultaneously so you'll have to choose your preferred voice assistant platform. There's also support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, while the Sonos app provides access to pretty much every streaming platform you could wish for.

Sonically, the Roam hits all the right notes, delivering a wide soundstage for a speaker of its size with plenty of dynamism. Our main niggle with the Roam is how laborious it can be to get your voice assistant set up, but once you've overcome that hurdle, you'll be able to revel in what a fully featured and superb-sounding Bluetooth speaker it is.

Read our Sonos Roam review for details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: Up to 10 hours; Speakers: 2; RMS power output: Not stated; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 168 x 62 x 60 mm; Weight: 0.43kg

3. JBL Go 3: Best ultra-compact Bluetooth speaker

Price: £35 | Buy now from JBL

The Go 3 may be JBL’s smallest Bluetooth speaker, but it delivers crisp-sounding audio and boasts impressive output given its size. It’s extremely portable, fitting neatly in the palm of your hand, and can also be attached to a bag via its integrated loop strap. It’s one of the most rugged compact speakers on the market thanks to its anti-tear fabric housing, and with an IP67 rating, is dustproof and capable of being immersed in water of up to 1m in depth.

Available in a range of eye-catching colours, including pink, blue and “Squad” (camo), the JBL Go 3 is a speaker you can take anywhere, can withstand pretty much any conditions and sounds great for the price.

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 5 hours; Speakers: 1; RMS power output: 4W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 85 x 72 x 38mm; Weight: 210g

4. B&O Beosound A1 2nd Gen: Best Bluetooth speaker under £250

Price: £239 | Buy now from Amazon

This stunning little speaker builds brilliantly on everything that was so great about its predecessor, the five-star B&O Beoplay A1. Audio quality is superb, battery life clocks in at upwards of 40 hours at low volume (nearer 18 at moderate levels) and there’s even support for the Alexa voice assistant. It’s not technically a smart speaker but instead connects to the Alexa app on your phone to allow you to control it vocally. New to the 2nd Gen is IP67 certification, meaning it’s both dust- and water-resistant, and a repositioning of the control buttons makes them a lot easier to access than the original.

It lacks the 3.5mm port the Beoplay A1 had and sadly can’t be paired with its older sibling, but those minor drawbacks don’t stop the new and improved A1 from establishing itself as the Bluetooth speaker to beat in its price bracket.

Read our B&O Beosound A1 2nd Gen review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: Up to 43 hours; Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 30W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1 (AAC/aptX Adaptive); IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 133 x 133 x 46mm; Weight: 552g

5. Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3: Best Bluetooth speaker for holidays

Price: £170 | Buy now from Ultimate Ears

It may be getting on a bit now, but the Megaboom 3 remains a fantastic choice due to its ability to float on water while playing music, which means it’s the centrepiece of any pool party. It’s also IP67-rated, so can be submerged for 30 minutes at a depth of a metre.

As for sound quality, the Megaboom 3 has a great bass response and energetic treble to boot. It comes in a range of attractive colours and looks stylish. With its sonic capabilities and floating abilities, it's a fantastic mid-range choice.

Read our Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 20 hours; Speakers: 4; RMS power output: Not disclosed; Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC); IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 87 x 87 x 225mm; Weight: 925g

6. Tronsmart Bang: Best Boombox-style Bluetooth speaker

Price: £120 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for something powerful that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Tronsmart Bang. This boombox-style speaker outputs 60W of power, dwarfing the majority of portable entries on this list.

Louder doesn’t always translate to better, but the Bang’s audio is genuinely impressive given its price. Mids and treble take centre stage, which is surprising for a party speaker, but they’re delivered cleanly and don’t distort at higher volumes. Those wanting a low-end punch will definitely want to engage the Bass Boost EQ via the Tronsmart app, though.

Battery life could be better, especially if you have the RGB lighting effects engaged, but fortunately, these can be turned off to save juice for making use of the Bang’s power bank capabilities. With an in-built microphone for calls and voice assistant functionality plus an IPX6 rating for water resistance, there’s very little this rather large speaker can’t do.

Read our Tronsmart Bang review for more details

Key specs –Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: Up to 8 hours (LEDs on), up to 15 hours (LEDs off); Speakers: 4; RMS power output: 60W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0; IP rating: IPX6; Dimensions: 361 x 150 x 183mm; Weight: 3.08kg

7. JBL Flip 6: Best balance of power and portability

Price: £129 | Buy now from Amazon

If the JBL Charge 5 is too pricey but you still want a powerful and portable Bluetooth speaker, look no further than the Flip 6. As well as being cheaper, the Flip 6 is the more portable of the two and comes with a handy removable carrying strap. It’s also fully dust-resistant and waterproof, so you’re safe taking it on outdoor adventures.

Despite its petite frame, the Flip 6 produces high-quality audio, with a spacious soundstage and a pleasingly punchy bass response. It also gets loud enough to comfortably soundtrack your barbeque or beach party, though you may find certain treble frequencies distort a little at peak volume. If the standard tuning doesn’t work for you, the JBL Portable app has a graphic equaliser that you can tweak along with a few other handy options.

Battery life of around 12 hours is less than the Charge 5, and the Flip 6 can’t be used as a power bank, but at its lower price, the JBL Flip 6 is terrific value.

Read our JBL Flip 6 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 12 hours; Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 30W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 223 x 97 x 94mm; Weight: 980g

8. Tribit StormBox Micro: Best Bluetooth speaker for cyclists

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

If you like to listen to music while out on a leisurely bike ride, this is the Bluetooth speaker for you. It features a handy strap that can be used to mount it to handlebars, though it can also be attached to a belt or bag. Sound quality is good, with a tight bass response balanced nicely with clear vocal reproduction and no sign of distortion at higher volumes.

Battery life clocks in at a solid eight hours and the StormBox Micro is well equipped to resist just about any weather conditions thanks to its IP67 certification. There’s also the option to pair up two Micros to create a stereo sound experience if the audio output of this versatile compact speaker doesn’t quite meet your requirements.

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 8 hours; Speakers: 1; RMS power output: 9W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 98 x 98 x 36mm; Weight: 295g

9. Edifier D12: Best mains-powered Bluetooth speaker under £100

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

The Edifier D12 offers a lot of speaker for the money, both in terms of its physical size and the sound it’s able to output. Drawing on mains power, it can produce 70W RMS courtesy of two 4in woofers and a pair of 19mm tweeters housed in a fetching wooden enclosure.

The resulting sound quality is impressive, with crisp mids and treble backed up by a meaty bass response. The D12 distorts a little at maximum volume but given how loud it goes, you’re highly unlikely to want to have it at full whack very often. Three top-mounted knobs allow you to adjust volume and increase both the bass and treble response, while movie and music modes can be accessed using the included infrared remote.

Bluetooth 5.0 helps ensure there’s very little latency when watching video content and the speaker looks great positioned on a desk or bookshelf, though you’ll need a decent bit of space owing to its size. The D12 is well worth making room for, though, as its sonic output hits all the right notes and packs a real punch for a speaker of its price.

Key specs – Power source: Mains; Battery life: N/A; Speakers: 4; RMS power output: 70W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0; IP rating: No; Dimensions: 357 x 195 x 148mm; Weight: 4.34kg

10. Huawei Sound Joy: Best Bluetooth speaker for battery life

Price: £100 | Buy now from Huawei

If you own a Huawei smartphone and are looking for a well-priced portable speaker to pair it with, the Sound Joy should be your number one pick. It was created in conjunction with French audio manufacturer Devialet and sound quality is great, particularly if you’re a fan of a weighty bass response. Battery life is another big selling point, with the Sound Joy offering up to 26 hours of playback at moderate volumes.

An IP67 rating means you can use it just about anywhere in any weather conditions and there’s even RGB lighting around a ring on the crest of the speaker, which adds a colourful flourish if you’re using it in darker environments. This can sync up with whatever audio is playing via an option in the AI Life app, though the feature isn’t available on iOS. Customisation options are also limited if you’re not using a Huawei phone, but if you are, the Sound Joy audio can be tweaked to your heart’s content.

Read our Huawei Sound Joy review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: Up to 26 hours; Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 30W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.2 (AAC/SBC); IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 70 x 70 x 200mm; Weight: 680g

11. JBL Charge 5: Best mid-range Bluetooth speaker

Price: £150 | Buy now from JBL

The latest iteration of JBL's mid-range Bluetooth speaker is its best yet. It's now fully dustproof in addition to being water-resistant in water up to 1m in depth for 30 minutes and connects wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.1. The speaker arrangement has been revamped, with JBL adding a dome tweeter to work in conjunction with the woofer and audio is impressive, with the Charge 5 able to fill rooms and open spaces with crisp, well-balanced sound.

Build quality is excellent, too, while battery life clocks in at around 20 hours when listening to audio at moderate volume. That's plenty to get you through a weekend sitting in the park or lounging by the beach and as the Charge 5 can double up as a charger for your smartphone, you won't have to worry about taking an external power bank out with you.

The omission of a 3.5mm port and lack of a microphone are slight blots on the Charge 5's copybook, as is the inability to tweak the audio settings. But even with those minor issues, the Charge 5 is a great speaker for use at home and further afield.

Read our JBL Charge 5 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 20 hours; Speakers: 2; RMS power output: 40W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; IP rating: IP67; Dimensions: 223 x 97 x 94mm; Weight: 980g

12. LG XBOOM XO3: Best Bluetooth speaker for 360-degree audio

Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon

While the majority of the Bluetooth speakers on this list deliver sound in one direction, the LG XBOOM XO3 disperses it omnidirectionally thanks to an ingenious bit of design. A reflector located between the XO3's up-firing tweeter and mid-range speaker bounces sound outwards in a concentric manner and the effect is highly impressive: no matter where you're positioned relative to the speaker, you'll enjoy the same sonic experience. That experience is one characterised by plenty of mid-range detail and clarity, along with crisply controlled treble. Bass and volume are a little lacking in the default sound mode, but switch on Sound Boost and the XO3's low-end response gets a healthy bump.

Not only does it deliver effective 360-degree sound, but the XO3 offers a highly customisable light show to accompany its impressive audio performance. Party, Ambient and Nature modes allow you to tailor the LED lights exactly to your liking, and while not the brightest illuminations we've seen from a Bluetooth speaker, they're suitably atmospheric.

There's sadly no in-built microphone, which means you can't use the XO3 for calls or voice assistant activation, and we'd have liked the option to use the X03 as a power bank, but those minor issues don't prevent this attractive speaker from looking and sounding the part in just about any modern living space.

Read our full LG XBOOM XO3 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 24 hours; Speakers: 3; RMS power output: 50W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; IP rating: IP54; Dimensions: 165 x 165 x 327mm; Weight: 3.2g

13. Amazon Echo Dot (5th gen): Best cheap smart speaker with Bluetooth

Price: £55 | Buy now from Amazon

Amazon’s original Echo Dot was released back in 2016 and was a reasonably priced option for those wanting to enter the world of smart speakers, but it sounded pretty terrible. The speaker has come a long way since then and this fifth-generation iteration is the best yet. Like the fourth-gen version, it sports a spherical design but this time with a larger 1.73in speaker with bouncier bass and less distortion overall.

Elsewhere there’s a new temperature sensor as well as a touch-sensitive top – handy to avoid a shouting match when turning off an alarm – though you’ll have to go without the 3.5mm line in/out jack of the previous iteration. As with that 2020 release, spending £10 more will get you an LED clock built into the speaker's fabric housing.

Read our Amazon Echo Dot 5th gen (2022) review for more details

Key specs – Power source: Mains; Battery life: N/A; Speakers: 1; RMS power output: Unknown; Wireless: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi; IP rating: No; Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm; Weight: 340g

14. Ultimate Ears Hyperboom: Best Bluetooth speaker for house parties

Price: £359 | Buy now from John Lewis

This beast of a Bluetooth speaker sports serious audio muscle and delivers superb sound across the frequency spectrum. It's unashamedly big on bass but not to the extent where the low-end overpowers what are coherently communicated mids and treble. Physical controls are simple yet effective, while a pull-out strap enables the Hyperboom to be carried around, although its size and weight mean you won't want to lug it too far. It's water-resistant, too, so can be used outdoors without any worries, and you can tweak the audio to your liking using UE's Boom app.

Read our Ultimate Ears Hyperboom review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: Up to 24 hours; Speakers: 4; RMS power output: Unknown; Wireless: Bluetooth 5; IP rating: IPX4; Dimensions: 190 x 190 x 346mm; Weight: 5.9kg

Buy now from John Lewis

15. Tronsmart Halo 100: Best Bluetooth speaker for parties under £100

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

It might not have the roaring power of the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, but the Tronsmart Halo 100 is still a portable speaker with plenty of audio impact. It’s capable of outputting a healthy 60W (RMS) and if blasting out music at high volume doesn’t entertain your guests, its alluring light display should do the trick.

Despite being a comparatively large Bluetooth speaker, the Halo 100’s handle makes lugging it around it a simple task. Add in IPX6 waterproofing plus an impressive range of physical connection options (including a 3.5mm input, a TF card slot and a USB-A port), and you’ve got an appealing package for reasonable money.

Battery life isn’t the best at eight hours with the LEDs on, and we wouldn’t recommend it outside of parties as there’s an audible hiss when listening at low volumes. But its beefy output and sub-£100 price point make the Tronsmart Halo 100 well worth any budget-conscious partygoer’s attention.

Read our Tronsmart Halo 100 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 18 hours (8 with LEDs on); Speakers: 4; RMS power output: 60W; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.3; IP rating: IPX6; Dimensions: 198 x 150 x 287mm; Weight: 2.72kg

16. Audio Pro Addon T3: Best Bluetooth speaker for retro style

Price: £169 | Buy now from Amazon

If you like your speakers with a bit of character and visual interest, you might be fond of the Audio Pro Addon T3. It's reasonably large, leading you to think it might be just a mains-powered speaker, but there's a battery built in. While you might not take it out on the road, carrying it down to the end of the garden for your next barbeque is certainly a possibility, with its convenient and attractive handle.

Read our full Audio Pro Addon T3 review for details

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 30 hours; Speakers: 3; RMS power output: 25W; Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 (SBC); IP rating: No; Dimensions: 215 x 135 x 115mm; Weight: 2kg

17. Marshall Emberton: Best Bluetooth speaker for rock and roll lovers

Price: £109 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Marshall Emberton is a delightful combination of style and sonic substance. The logo emblazoned on the speaker’s front grille immediately conjures up images of the guitar amps the company is famous for, but don’t be fooled: this is a speaker you can take anywhere.

Build quality is not only eye-catching but rugged, too. The rubberised housing protects the Emberton from bumps and knocks and the speaker is IPX7-rated, meaning it can be submerged in water up to a depth of 1m for 30 minutes. Bluetooth pairing has a designated button, but everything else is controlled via a brass-finished multi-directional knob that adds a touch of vintage elegance. The LED battery indicator alongside it is a more modern inclusion but a welcome one, providing an accurate reflection of how much of the Emberton’s 20 hours of battery life remains.

Audio-wise, the Emberton packs a decent punch considering its compact form. The two 2in drivers and pair of passive radiators comfortably fill a small space with sound and audio is well-balanced. Marshall’s True Stereophonic multi-directional sound successfully ensures you get the same experience no matter your position relative to the speaker, making the Emberton perfect for small, outdoor gatherings. If there’s one sonic weakness, it’s that the bass feels a little lacking when you’ve got the volume cranked all the way up, but you shouldn't let that put you off what is otherwise a fabulous Bluetooth speaker.

Key specs – Power source: In-built battery; Battery life: 20 hours; Speakers: 2; RMS power output: Not disclosed; Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0; IP rating: IPX7; Dimensions: 160 x 76 x 68mm; Weight: 700g

Buy now from John Lewis

18. Naim Mu-so 2 (2nd Generation): Best premium wireless speaker with Bluetooth

Price: £1,299 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Mu-so 2 (2nd Generation) is an audiophile’s dream and the complete wireless speaker for those willing to part with a hefty chunk of cash. In addition to its Bluetooth connection, there’s also built-in support for AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Tidal.

Sonically, the Mu-so 2 is brimming with finesse, even when you start to push up the volume to ear-shattering levels, and the sense of scale and impact it creates is immense. It’s not a cheap option, but if you’re looking for a Bluetooth-compatible speaker with a wealth of alternative connection options, the Naim Mu-so 2 is as good as it gets.

Read our Naim Mu-so 2 review for more details

Key specs – Power source: Mains; Battery life: N/A; Speakers: 6; RMS power output: 450W; Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC, AAC codecs); IP rating: No; Dimensions: 122 x 628 x 264mm; Weight: 11.2kg

Buy now from John Lewis

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