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(Pocket-lint) – Bluetooth speakers come in all different shapes and sizes – from larger options that have the power to fill your whole living room, to smaller portables that are great for taking to picnics or moving from room-to-room.
Finding the right speaker for you and your needs is no easy task, so we’ve rounded up our pick of the best portable speakers currently available to buy. You’ll find a mix of styles, power, sizes and budgets.
There can be some crossover with Wi-Fi or wireless speakers, but in this roundup we’ve concentrated on units that are predominantly designed to stand alone and use Bluetooth for a direct connection with your phone or another device.
Bang and Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen
If you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker – and can forgive the lack of Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and a 3.5mm port – then the Bang and Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen is unrivalled. With added Alexa voice control and waterproofing it’s clearly superior to the already awesome original.
For many the elephant in the room will be the Beosound A1 2nd Gen’s asking price. No, this isn’t a low-cost speaker. But, yes, it most definitely is a high-quality one that delivers huge sound from a beautifully made package.
It might be small, but the Beosound A1 2nd Gen packs a big punch that makes it worth every penny. We can name no better portable at this scale.
The Sonos Move is both a Bluetooth speaker and a Wi-Fi speaker – offering a toggle on the rear to switch between the two modes. In Wi-Fi mode, it connects to other Sonos speakers for a multi-room audio experience, while in Bluetooth mode, it delivers a fantastic sound experience with plenty of bass and a durable and water-resistant design. It will also automatically tune itself to its surroundings.
It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination and it’s weighty too, which means while it is portable – there’s an integrated handle on the back – it’s not the kind of device you can pop in your backpack for a picnic. That said, if you take it to the park or the beach, its sound and volume will impress most around you.
It’s a great option for those with a Sonos system, offering the best of both worlds – an excellent Wi-Fi smart speaker with AirPlay 2 support that you can move around as you please.
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
The UE Megaboom is a standout product; one only really limited by the high price point. But even the high price can’t muddy the raft of good points that see it swim along – literally if you dunk it in the bath, thanks to waterproofing and floatability.
This bass-booming cylinder sounds great (with even better bass than before), looks great, and is tough enough to tackle music in the office, for that summer picnic or festival, or whatever else you happen to throw at it. It’s Bluetooth speaker bliss.
Marshall Stockwell II
It’s not a party speaker – we’ll leave that to the bigger Kilburn II (below) and larger-than-life Tufton, but this is a super-portable unit that provides you with powerful audio on the go. It’s ideal for camping and picnics (both tried and tested by us). It probably isn’t going to be your main speaker at home – though it’s totally capable of being that if you so require.
As well as the standard Marshall bass, treble and volume controls there’s also a battery level indicator, too. You’ll get well over 20 hours of listening time out of it. Indeed, you’ll try hard to remember the last time you had to charge it.
Bang and Olufsen BeoPlay A1
With a slightly different name to the more recent Bang and Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen (which replaces this device), the BeoPlay A1 is a savvy option if you can find it for a bargain price. Like the next-gen version, its big sound makes it stand out.
Sure, there’s no Wi-Fi, AirPlay, waterproofing or 360-degree design like some of its competitors, but the solid battery, build quality, extra bass punch and sheer audio clarity give this speaker the upper hand when it comes to sound quality. It’s well worth saving up to buy.
Ultimate Ears Boom 3
The UE Boom 2 was excellent – taking one of our favourite portable Bluetooth speakers, the original UE Boom, and makes it even better. There was also IP67 waterproofing and a sharper sound. The Boom 3 takes this on a notch – for a cheaper price, too.
If you’re looking for portable, premium sound wherever you are, then the UE Boom 2 hits the nail on the head. Have reasonable expectations for bass delivery and it’s one seriously hot Bluetooth speaker.
Marshall Kilburn II
The beauty of the powerful Kilburn II is its simplicity and portability. The Kilburn II is truly a wall of sound; a bass blaster that turns it up to 10 (not 11 sorry). Mind you, if you get up to anything like that volume level you’ll be doing well to still be next to it.
We have listened to cleaner-sounding models and if you need 360 sound then plump for the UE Megaboom 3 instead. Battery life is impressive at around 20 hours though and naturally, being a Marshall product, the whole speaker has a very distinctive look and feel.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
If you want to invest in UE’s range of portable Bluetooth speakers, but want something smaller than the Boom 2 or Megaboom, the Wonderboom is the boom for you – now available in this improved version. When you turn it on, prepare yourself for an explosion of 360-degree sound that belies its size. It’s palm-sized, and like other speakers in the range, is protected against knocks, bumps, drops and splashes thanks to its rubberised casing and IP67 rating.
It can float too, so you can comfortably take it in the pool with you. What’s more, several colours are available – black, grey, red, blue and pink. It can tackle all genres of music with aplomb and will add life to any social scenario. You can even stereo pair two together.
Delivering sensational sound, there’s lots to like about the P6 including its beautiful sound quality and pleasant-to-use physical controls. It’s also dust and splash-proof and has a rechargeable battery that lasts a thoroughly decent 16 hours.
The only real disadvantage is the high asking price (which has come down a bit) and you may want to look at the cheaper A1, above. There’s also no 3.5mm auxiliary input, either, which is a little disappointing.
JBL Xtreme 2
This highly portable speaker is loud and crisp and, even though it doesn’t have 360-degree sound, it’ll give you some pretty impressive bass from the dual woofers.
It’s undoubtedly a party speaker and also features a large carry handle plus it’s IPX7 water-resistant as well. There are only two disadvantages – a reasonably hefty price point for one, while it’s also rather weighty, too.
Denon Envaya DSB-250
Denon is a well-known name from the world of Hi-Fi. And true to these roots, Envaya is a great-sounding speaker that balances fidelity and power. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best-sounding small wireless speakers around.
By the way, Denon has three models available, the 250BT being the largest and naturally the beefiest. The Envaya Mini (150BT) and Envaya Pocket (50BT) slot in underneath. The DSB-250 is semi-rugged, with IP67 water resistance. It can handle being submerged in water a metre deep for half an hour.
Writing by Dan Grabham. Editing by Max Freeman-Mills.