I tested some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market — here are my favorites broken into 8 categories

Moriba Cummings
·6 min read

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When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, the buying options have expanded over the past few years. Established brands have released updated versions of their classic products and newer brands have added modern contributions to a tech industry that’s becoming smarter, sleeker and more user-friendly.

As a lover of all things tech and a vintage speaker collector, I’ve made it my duty to test out a few products I have in my arsenal to simplify your shopping experience for your first or next Bluetooth speaker.

Whether you’re looking for an option that’s ideal for everyday use or one that strikes the perfect balance between chic home decor and powerhouse performance, I’ve got you covered with eight of my favorites, broken down into the following categories:

1. Best Overall: Marshall Acton II Bluetooth Speaker, $249

Credit: Marshall
Credit: Marshall

Also available at Marshall for $249

Top features:

  • Compact form factor

  • Classic Marshall design

  • Three dedicated amplifiers

  • Small package with large sound

  • No wires

Why I like it:

This speaker provides the luxe, iconic Marshall aesthetic and premium stage sound quality for a relatively affordable price. Marshall speakers, in particular, are more than just audio gems — they’re works of art. So show this off on your entertainment center or side table. It will easily elevate any room both sonically and visually.

2. Most Portable: Tribit StormBox Micro Bluetooth Speaker, $49.99

Credit: Tribit
Credit: Tribit

Top features:

  • Pocket-sized

  • Big sound in small package

  • Waterproof

  • Attachable (thanks to the included silicone strap)

Why I like it:

If you’re looking for an easy, no-frills listening experience that can be easily be enjoyed both at home and on-the-go, this is the speaker to get. While the sound quality certainly does not rival that of the Marshall Acton II, this option from Tribit has a level of charm that can’t be overlooked. Get a more detailed review of this speaker here.

3. Most Stylish: Urbanears Rålis Bluetooth Speaker, $199.99

Credit: Urbanears
Credit: Urbanears

Also available at Amazon for $199.99

Top features:

  • Stunning design and craftsmanship

  • Easily accessible control buttons

  • Front and back speaker grills

  • Sturdy carrying handle

  • Water-resistant

  • Dual-host play

  • Doubles as a power bank

Why I like it:

This beautiful Bluetooth speaker is feature-packed, but somehow, its layered functions don’t overpower its performance. Aside from being one of the sleekest and trendiest speakers I’ve ever seen, the Urbanears Rålis features powerhouse sound quality with crisp trebles and rustling bass.

The only con I’ve found with the Rålis, however, is that its distracting low battery notification sounds off periodically until it’s plugged in for a charge. Other than that, this is an absolute stunner. Get a more detailed review of this speaker here.

4. Best For Everyday Use: JBL Charge 4 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, $119.95 (Orig. $179.95)

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Top features:

  • Long-lasting battery life

  • Compact

  • Several color options

  • Waterproof

  • Multi-host play

Why I like it:

When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, you really can’t go wrong with JBL. The brand offers some of the most reliable and user-friendly products on the market and the Charge 4 is no exception. In addition to its adequate sound quality, this speaker is fully waterproof and can even survive being fully submerged in water (I’ve tried).

It should be noted, however, that a wall adapter for the JBL Charge 4 must be purchased separately.

5. Most Affordable: Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $43.99

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Top features:

  • Affordable

  • Compact and travel friendly

  • Bass-heavy

  • 24-hour playtime

  • Water-resistant

  • Built-in microphone

Why I like it:

Anker is known for producing quality products at affordable prices and the Soundcore 2 is the perfect example of this philosophy. The sound that comes out of this speaker is surprising given its size. While definitely not groundbreaking and not as crisp as more high-end options, it delivers ample performance for both its price and size. In fact, this may be one of the best palm-sized speakers I’ve tried to date.

6. Best Vintage Speaker: Marshall Stanmore II Bluetooth, $338

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Also available at Marshall for $349.99

Top features:

  • A piece of art

  • Premiere craftsmanship and sound quality

  • Booming bass

  • Dedicated volume, bass and treble knobs

  • Aux cord compatible

  • Multi-host functionality

Why I like it:

In case it wasn’t already made obvious, I’m quite a fan of Marshall’s Bluetooth speakers — both for their quality of sound and quality of design. The Stanmore II boasts a luxe and high-grade professional outer design with its textured vinyl covering and brass plating.

Outer aesthetics aside, this one’s a monster. It is perhaps the most versatile speaker I’ve used as it perfectly executes both larger-than-life room-shaking sound and softer, more contained emissions with ease.

The only con I have for the Stanmore II, however, is that it’s not portable as it doesn’t have a battery. This is, however, perfect for stationary use at your apartment or home. I would describe this one as a stunning showstopper.

7. Best For Parties: Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, $399.99

Credit: Ultimate Ears
Credit: Ultimate Ears

Top features:

  • Epic, room-shaking sound

  • Convenient tall build

  • Perfect for gatherings

  • Well-rounded app for easy wireless control

  • Customizable equalizer

  • Surprisingly portable (thanks to its tucked-away strap)

  • One-touch music controls

  • App sync with Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer and other music services

Why I like it:

The name says it all — this speaker is explosive. When you’re hosting your next gathering (post-COVID-19, of course), this piece of tech is a must-have as it’s easily and wirelessly controlled via the Ultimate Ears app — just set the speaker down in a corner and operate the device from your phone. This arguably boasts the most powerful sound of all of the devices mentioned in this list.

8. Best Voice-Controlled Option: Sonos Move, $385

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Also available on Sonos.com for $399

Top features:

  • A customer favorite

  • Minimalistic design

  • 10 hours of continuous playtime

  • Weather-resistant

  • Built-in Amazon Alexa voice control capabilities

Why I like it:

Though on the pricier end of the spectrum, the Sonos Move is a premium quality speaker that, as several shoppers say, “checks all the boxes” — and I’d have to say that I agree. The high sound quality emitted from Sonos products is to be expected (nothing short of stellar) and with thousands of Amazon shoppers dubbing it “the best Sonos speaker ever,” it’s clearly a winner among the people.

For those who require portability, however, this may not be your best choice as, in addition to being a bit large in size, the speaker does not feature any dedicated method for easy carrying. Get a more detailed review of this speaker here.

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