Best Bluetooth Speakers 2017

Electronics & Computers

Most modern consumers dread owning speakers because of the hassle of hooking up wires. What if you could own a great speaker without the need to fix up wires? That’s what Bluetooth speakers are for. These devices are conveniently wireless, highly affordable, and also very stylish to own.

Wired speakers traditionally deliver better audio. But Bluetooth technology has come a long way in recent years, so you can get nearly as good audio quality with wireless speakers as well. In addition to lack of wires, Bluetooth speakers offer the convenience of connecting the gadget to a myriad of devices, including essentials like smartphones.

You can use Bluetooth speakers to blast music at a pool party, on a camping trip, or to just listen quietly to music in the privacy of your room. You can buy a waterproof wireless speaker for better durability. Here is a list of suggestions for the best Bluetooth speakers:

Creative iRoar

Why we like it: This super affordable gadget is small, but delivers powerful sounds with minimal distortion. It even comes with its own SDK!

This Creative iRoar is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer of Bluetooth speakers. In that it looks small and inconspicuous but is surprisingly loud and powerful. You can hold this speaker in one hand, but it can still fill up a room with booming music. It works with computers, tablets, and just about anything that can play music, and it connects via Bluetooth. We’ve never seen a speaker this versatile. You can connect this speaker via a USB or an optical audio port as well. The speaker itself has a built-in media player that can play music stored on a microSD card.

While this Bluetooth speaker offers many connections and comes with a corresponding smartphone app, the deciding factor you may care about is, of course, the sound. As mentioned before, it can blast music at high volume. But the speaker reduces audio distortions and noise, so you can experience crisp and clear sound. Simply put, the audio is phenomenal. The speaker delivers lows, mids, highs, and bass very accurately. You can easily use this speaker with a home entertainment system. Plus, if you can code, you can expand the speaker capability with the software development kit provided.

JBL Charge 3

Why we like it: This inexpensive pill-shaped Bluetooth speaker delivers strong audio performance and up to 20 hours of battery life. What’s not to like?

If you want a simple and good-looking Bluetooth speaker to keep by your bedside, then you won’t go wrong with this gadget. This JBL is pill-shaped and is intended for personal use. However, you can still rock the house with the high volumes that this little gadget is capable of. JBL is a well-known brand in the professional audio scene. And we think this little speaker lives up to the name. You can get a wide range of audio with this wireless speaker, including deep bass. This is the perfect all-genre speaker for music lovers.

This speaker comes with an auto connect button to sync another JBL speaker to create a dual speaker set. It’s very convenient if you have a home entertainment center, or just want better sound when watching a movie on your laptop. There are multiple USB ports, so you can easily use this speaker with everyday gadgets like your laptop, smartphone, or a gaming console. Battery life is decent and lasts long on low to moderate levels of volume. This is a wonderful, no wire-mess speaker that will be great for use in apartments and dorm rooms.

EcoXGear EcoCarbon

Why we like it: This is the outdoor Bluetooth speaker we have been looking for all our lives. It’s tough and rugged and is perfect for summer outings.

Have you ever wondered about going camping or on an outing with a speaker that doesn’t have to be plugged in? This EcoCarbon Bluetooth speaker is that wireless speaker of your dreams. It’s designed especially for outdoor use. Most Bluetooth speakers are designed for indoor use, where walls can trap sound. A speaker has to be particularly powerful to deliver the same effects outdoors. And this EcoCarbon speaker wonderfully lives up to those expectations. It’s not huge by any means, but has a very rugged and tough exterior. It will definitely last alongside camping gear and other traveling items.

The speaker is effortlessly portable and lightweight. It’s covered in a rubber exterior, so this speaker can float. It’s waterproof and dustproof, so you can take this Bluetooth speaker just about anywhere. The speaker can reproduce sounds highly accurately. You can enjoy great highs and lows even in the windy areas outdoors. Thanks to the rear speaker that acts as a subwoofer, you can enjoy great bass as well. This is the perfect speaker for that boat party or for listening to music while camping. The battery can last about 12 hours. In addition to everything, this speaker also has a built-in flashlight.

Fugoo

Why we like it: Not only is this Bluetooth speaker utterly gorgeous, it can deliver excellent, well-balanced audio. We loved the long battery life too.

We are not ashamed to gush over the good looks of this Bluetooth speaker. If you want a well-designed wireless speaker that actually complements the interior décor of your home, then this product will not disappoint. You can choose the style you want from three options. The speaker is also quite compact, so it’s highly portable. This Fugoo, of course, is not about looks alone. Regardless of the small size, it’s an audio powerhouse that delivers very accurately reproduced sounds. The speaker balances the audio, so you won’t hear one noise over the other. Mainly, the bass won’t overpower the other sounds.

There’s another aspect to really love about this Bluetooth speaker: the battery life. The rechargeable battery can last near 40 hours at half volume! At full volume, you can get around 20 hours of non-stop music. You won’t have to plug these speakers in when you are partying all night with friends. This Fugoo is waterproof too, so you won’t have to worry too much about durability issues. It comes with a simple user interface and easy controls for people who don’t like complicated button pushing. The speaker is compatible with voice-activated AI like Google Now and Siri as well.

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JBL Clip 2

Why we like it: This tiny wireless Bluetooth speaker is very affordable, super portable, and delivers audio just like any bigger, higher-end Bluetooth speaker.

This is a clip-on Bluetooth speaker that you can literally wear to wherever. It has a lovely round shape that is only four inches in diameter. The top of the speaker has a small rectangular carabiner that you can use to secure the speaker to a top. So this is basically a speaker you can travel around with like headphones. Except that there’s no hassle with wires, and you can blast music for multiple people to hear. Obviously, this wireless speaker is extremely portable, and you can fix it on tent loops or backpacks on outings.

The audio is not miniature just because the speaker is small. While you won’t get booming bass as with a bigger speaker, this tiny gadget can faithfully reproduce well-balanced audio tones. You can listen to clear and crisp audio. We recommend this speaker highly to audiobook lovers because of the higher clarity and size. The Clip 2 is water resistant too, so you can wear it while doing the dishes or while canoeing in a river. Another big advantage of Clip 2 is that it’s highly affordable. So when it comes to the size and price ratio, this is one of the best Bluetooth speakers around.

Libratone Zipp Mini

Why we like it: This mini speaker is an audio powerhouse that has extensive connectivity to support a wide network of up to 16 speakers.

This mini speaker is designed like a cute cylinder, but there’s nothing cute about what this gadget can deliver. This speaker is optimized for wireless home entertainment systems. It can be connected to a multi-room home entertainment network like AirPlay or Sonos. This speaker works with both Bluetooth and streaming Wi-Fi. It’s rare for a speaker to connect in both manners, so for that, the Zipp stands out. You can connect over a dozen other speakers to this one, creating a giant audio network in your home. If you like throwing house parties or enjoy surround sound when watching TV, then this is the speaker for you.

A Zipp unit is quite inexpensive, so you can create a network with just these. But we think the mini speaker is best used for individuals who want to privately listen to music. If you are connecting to a voice-activated personal assistant like Siri, this speaker would be a great choice. It’s compact, so it doesn’t require much space. As for audio, it’s surprisingly powerful for a small speaker. Audio is solid across the spectrum, so you won’t get too much bass or too much treble. Also, the speaker can shift to speakerphone, an added convenience for busy homemakers.

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Marshall Kilburn

Why we like it: This uniquely different speaker delivers truly awesome sound with treble control and board bass—perks that are hard to find.

The first thing we noticed about this Bluetooth speaker is how different it looked to everything else. This wireless speaker is uniquely shaped like a boom box. It even has a carry handle to complete the design. So this is definitely the wireless speaker that will pull at your classic rock heartstrings. The speaker has a cloth grill and amp-like controls. So you know the designers were serious. You can play rock ‘n roll all night and enjoy high-quality sounds as you would with an actual boom box. The speaker favors the bass, naturally, but other sounds play quite well too.

As the looks suggest, this speaker is capable of rocking out serious volume. Audio performance is well-balanced and smooth on all notes. With about 20 hours of battery life, this is the perfect party speaker. Interestingly, if you want more treble or bass, there are separate controls for adjusting those. Understandably, some people don’t like the high bass most speakers offer. This can be adjusted on this gadget. It’s very rare to find a speaker that allows audio fine-tuning like this. For that reason alone this speaker is worth every penny in our opinion.

Sony SRS-XB3

Why we like it: This is a highly versatile Bluetooth speaker with awesome sounds and great connectivity. It comes with a bass boost feature.

Get ready to rumble and party loudly with this Sony Bluetooth speaker. It’s quite big, like a wired speaker, compared to other products on this list. The size delivers a major advantage: booming bass and audio. You don’t have to crank this up to the max to fill a room with music. You can fill the whole house, or even the entire street, with loud music at max volume on these speakers. This is the ultimate wireless speaker for music lovers. It delivers accurate audio impressively. If you want to up the bass to booty-shaking levels, you can use the bass boost feature.

The big size also means that this speaker comes with a huge battery. A single charge can last nearly 24 hours. It can last half a day at least at max volume. The speaker has its own power adapter, and there are two USB outputs to charge your smartphone. All jacks are smartly hidden behind a panel in the back. The speaker is also splash-proof, so you can use it near a shower or a pool without worrying about a short circuit. The controls are on the top panels and are really easy to understand. This speaker offers excellent versatility and we highly recommend this as a reliable wireless speaker.

Ultimate Ears UE Boom 2

Why we like it: This relatively small speaker can reproduce huge bass sounds, highs, and lows surprisingly accurately. Plus, this Bluetooth speaker is waterproof.

This Bluetooth Speaker is the answer to the prayers of audiophiles who have long prayed for a wireless speaker that can play bass sounds without a subwoofer. If you love to dance away to loud and booming music, look no further than this speaker. It’s specially designed to reproduce bass sounds. You can enjoy a quality that comes wonderfully close to a subwoofer. Not only the bass, this speaker can deliver other notes crisply without distortions as well. If that’s not enough, the speaker is entirely waterproof. Bring on the pool party and sing-along in the shower.

You can use this speaker in the shower, near a pool, or any other water source. If you accidentally spill some water on it, this speaker would still work. You can even drop it in the pool and it will still work. The speaker, therefore, would last longer with prolonged use. You can technically use the speaker underwater, but don’t expect to hear clear audio. This speaker has a lovely exterior as well, so you can definitely show it off to friends. It comes with a generous battery that can last 15 hours straight! All in all, you cannot go wrong with this speaker.

Vifa Oslo

Why we like it: It’s hard not to love this Bluetooth speaker that can reproduce sounds with high-end clarity and frequency. It’s also quite stylish.

This sleek and stylish Bluetooth speaker is designed in Scandinavia, a region famous for music (ABBA anyone?). This speaker is definitely designed for music lovers. The unit can reproduce sound with amazing clarity that is quite surprising for a wireless speaker. The sounds are rich and well-balanced. The speaker reproduces truly excellent highs. The bass isn’t bad either, despite the lack of a subwoofer speaker. This Danish unit is actually optimized to play genres with low-frequency sounds, like classical or jazz. When you want highly clarity in the music you play, then this is the unit you need.

This speaker is also very beautifully designed and will not look out of place in a sleek and modern living room. The unit is lightweight and very easy to carry. We could tell that the designers really paid attention to the detail. The controls are really simple. There are LED bulb indicators for added convenience. The battery is small but generous enough. It can last for about 8 hours of non-stop playback. This Bluetooth speaker is perfect for individual users who want to relax and listen to music. But it can double as a speaker for an entertainment center too.

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Best Bluetooth Speakers – Buyer’s Guide

Freedom from wires is a marvellous development, not only for music listeners, but for speaker designers as well. Making the transition from older music equipment may feel somewhat unusual, since Bluetooth speakers often present features in different ways.

To help develop a Bluetooth vocabulary, let’s look at how Bluetooth devices approach concepts in audio playback. Review these before you hit the stores, online or downtown.

Stereo vs. Mono

The idea of portability dictates that a wireless, go-anywhere speaker should be a single unit. Since the 1950s, stereo sound has dominated popular music. Stereos take advantage of the way our ears hear to create three-dimensional sounds. To accomplish this, two speaker sets play coordinated musical programs. Think about headphones for a minute and you’ll get the idea.

Home stereos were traditionally permanent fixtures and large pieces of furniture. The listener would set up a stereo with speakers in a fixed position relative to where the music would be enjoyed, generally a triangle with equal distances between speakers and listener. Such an arrangement preserves the stereo image when playing music back.

There are three approaches that Bluetooth speakers follow. The most basic is the speaker that sums left and right audio, and plays back as mono sound from a single unit. Since a single unit design is common to many of the best Bluetooth speakers, this provides all the audio from a stereo track in a single source.

Other Bluetooth speakers preserve left and right output, mini stereos in a single unit. These could be front-facing or shot out of the sides. You’d have to be relatively close to the speakers to perceive any stereo picture, but it’s a step up from a point source.

The last approach is a Bluetooth speaker that operates as a single source until you connect a second unit. Some models permit left and right signal separation. If stereo imaging is important to you, then this is the way to go.

Frequency Response

One of the characteristics the manufacturers like to throw around is frequency response. This is largely a red herring, however. Here’s why: the human ear is, on average, able to discern sounds from 20 to 20,000 Hz (20 kHz). The spec you’ll see most often is – you guessed it – 20Hz to 20kHz. Occasionally, you’ll see speakers with other numbers, perhaps 50Hz to 18kHz.

The tendency for consumers who know nothing about audio is to think that 50 Hz to 18 kHz is not as good as 20Hz to 20kHz. If all speakers were measured the same way, that would be true. However, listing a frequency range says only one thing: the speaker will reproduce those frequencies. It says nothing about how efficiently the speaker works. If a manufacturer gives numbers other than 20 to 20k, they are referring to the effectively flat portion of the speaker’s response. In other words, you’re getting more useful information and a better speaker.

While deep notes can go to 20Hz and below, 50 to 65Hz is around the lowest that we perceive. Below that, any output starts to interfere with “good” bass. You may be surprised to find that some of the deepest tracks have virtually no content under 50Hz.

It’s similar on the top end as well, but for different reasons. Hearing declines over time and it’s high frequencies that go first. When you’re young, 20kHz is almost a sensation, rather than a sound, but as hearing diminish, 20kHz is not even heard. Even if a speaker is putting out 20kHz with efficiency, most listeners won’t hear it.

Frequency response is largely a false statistic. Trust your ears when you listen, not the paper.

Bluetooth Versions

Anyone who tried Bluetooth products a few years ago may recall bad sound and frequent interference. This stemmed largely from low bandwidth, meaning that to successfully stream audio, aggressive compression had to occur. This affected sound quality and made for poor playback conditions.

When Bluetooth 2.1 hit, it added a feature called Enhanced Data Rate. Essentially, it was a way of tucking more information into a Bluetooth signal alongside existing data. The result was faster data transfer and less need for compression.

Since then there have been additional improvements, and quality issues are gone if you’re using 2.1 EDR or later. Most contemporary Bluetooth speakers meet this mark, but make sure you find it; it’s a much more useful spec than frequency response for ensuring high quality.

Bluetooth Speaker Glossary

Here’s a quick look at features and terms used to describe the best Bluetooth speakers.

Water Resistance: Some Bluetooth speakers boast IP codes. These are standards for dust, dirt, and water resistance, indicating how tough a particular unit is. These codes change over time, with a two-digit code used currently. Taking the form of “IP66,” the first digit represents protection against solid objects and the second shows water resistance. The higher each number is, the better.

Speakerphone Functions
Since many Bluetooth speakers act as playback devices for smartphones, they also have features that answer calls and act as a hands-free speakerphone.

NFC: Discussed in greater depth below, NFC stands for Near Field Communication, which is the technology behind tap-and-pay credit and debit cards. For Bluetooth speakers, it’s predominately used to establish the link; simply hold your music device near an NFC-enabled Bluetooth speaker and the two become tethered.

Additional Ports – USB and 3.5mm: Some Bluetooth speaker devices permit charging of other products. Not only can your speaker play music, it can extend your smartphone’s battery life. That comes at a cost to the speaker’s charge, but the extra charging capability comes in handy.

Devices with 3.5mm jacks usually, but not always, allow input of an auxiliary device. For example, you can use an older iPod or MP3 player to feed your Bluetooth speaker. In other cases, the 3.5mm jack may be used to connect an additional speaker.

Battery Life: You’ll probably have more trouble keeping your smartphone charged than you will a Bluetooth speaker. Not only are speakers larger than phones, they’re also heftier. Batteries provide a natural weight, and the bigger the battery, the longer the charge.

Differences Between Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi

Each of these technologies deal with wireless data transfer. Each has its own strengths and capabilities.

NFC: Near Field Communication depends on close proximity of devices. Its range is under two inches. Also used in contactless payment systems, NFC is practical in wireless speakers if a user regularly places their smartphone near the speaker, for example. This closeness gives NFC an inherent security, since data is only possible between compatible devices at very short distances. File sharing of photos and videos between friends or playing games in close proximity is possible with minimal effort. Not all manufacturers incorporate NFC due to its expense. This aids security, but limits compatibility.

Bluetooth: Range and data rate place Bluetooth in the middle of the wireless connection pack. With a maximum range of 30 meters, or about 98 feet, Bluetooth is very suitable for use with wireless speakers. Bluetooth 4.0 offers data transfer up to 25mbps, though earlier versions are fine for streaming compressed audio. Bluetooth connections electronically match keys in a simple process. It’s not an inherently secure data transfer platform, but its short range of transmission offsets this weakness. Its power consumption is much leaner than Wi-Fi, extending battery life for wireless audio streaming. As well as wireless speakers, Bluetooth has many other applications for short-range devices. Computers and laptops now add Bluetooth capability, and the medical field adopts its use to add portability and wireless connectivity. This extends the usability of smaller diagnostic equipment, which can now move room-to-room efficiently.

Wi-Fi: Data transfer capability for Wi-Fi is potentially 10 times that of Bluetooth, a bit of an overkill situation for compressed music streaming. Data range is about three times that of Bluetooth, in the neighborhood of 328 feet. Again, that’s a bit more than what’s commonly needed for wireless speaker use. Wi-Fi security can be far more robust, supporting a variety of encryption methods. Connecting devices over Wi-Fi can also be much more complex than Bluetooth. Wi-Fi power consumption isn’t practical for portable wireless speakers, where extended listening time is a common selling point. Wi-Fi Direct is more akin to Bluetooth in terms of a short distance wireless transfer protocol. Holding many of the advantages of Wi-Fi, it has lower power consumption. To date, it’s not been used much in consumer audio, since Bluetooth is already so pervasive.