Big bass isn't for everyone, but unless your speaker is downright tiny, it should be able to reproduce low frequencies accurately without distorting at high volumes. Clarity is more important than sheer power, and a balanced, clean sound should be your goal when shopping for a speaker. If you want a sound system that can drive a whole party instead of just fill a small room, keep the size of the speaker in mind; generally, the bigger a speaker is, the louder it can get while still sounding good. See How We Test Speakers.
As mentioned earlier, in the early days of wireless audio Bluetooth was far inferior to Wi-Fi standards because of limited bandwidth and audio compression. Those problems have been largely solved, and Bluetooth 4. Wi-Fi can still get an edge purely due to the available bandwidth, and if you want to listen to lossless music on services like Tidal you should probably go with Wi-Fi over Bluetooth.
Of course, a wired connection can be better than both thanks to either faster data speeds for digital signals or simply the fact that the wire is carrying the analog sound without any conversion. But this guide is for wireless speakers. Voice assistants let you simply tell your speaker what to play instead of looking through your smartphone. They were initially very limited, closed systems only available on first-party devices, like Alexa on the Amazon Echo and Google Assistant on the Google Home , but that's steadily changing.
More and more third-party speakers are integrating some form of voice assistant, either Google Assistant or Alexa. These voice assistants are useful for more than just playing music.
You can ask them for weather forecasts, sports scores, unit conversions, and even language translation. They also generally support third-party skills that let you do anything from order pizza to play trivia games. If you have other smart home devices , you might even be able to integrate them as well, letting you control the lights and thermostat with your voice.
Voice assistant speakers have one universal requirement: Wi-Fi. They need an internet connection, and without one voice recognition and all of the processing needed to find your music, answer your questions, and control your smart home devices simply won't work. These speakers can still be portable, and even offer Bluetooth connectivity when you're away from your network, but those features aren't certain.
The most prominent first-party voice assistant speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home don't have batteries. For more, see our picks for the best smart speakers. Speakers come in a wide range of prices.
Don't assume, however, that the most money always buys the best overall product. Generally speaking, higher-end models do sound better, but sometimes they lack the features you might expect for the price. The trick is to get the best sound, along with the features you want, at a price you can afford. And, of course, if you want to know about all of those things, you can read our reviews of each speaker.
The easiest way to get the best price: Shop around online. You'll often find prices well below list if you do a little bargain hunting on the web. Don't be afraid to look for similar speakers to the ones on this list, either; a number of the options included here have solid predecessors that you can now find for much less since they've been replaced.
For more, see the latest speaker reviews in our speakers product guide. And if you want to cut the cord without waking the neighbors, check out our favorite wireless headphones. Still the best inexpensive Alexa speaker. Alexa remains the best voice ecosystem for smart home control. Cons: Alexa isn't up to Google Assistant's level at answering broad information queries.
Pros: Affordable. Quality audio performance with rich lows, crisp highs, and adjustable bass. Built-in LED lighting. Cons: Various EQ modes don't really alter audio that much. Pros: Exceptional value.
Excellent audio performance, with strong bass presence and crisp highs. Alluring minimalist design. Cons: No aux input cable included. No playback or track navigation controls. Pros: Powerful audio performance with rich bass and crisp, clear highs.
Gets quite loud for its size. Cons: No speakerphone function. Mono audio output. Pros: Excellent audio performance with powerful bass depth and solid clarity in the highs. In-app EQ and adjustable bass and treble knobs. Handsome design. Cons: No included audio cables or accessories. Unattractive back panel. Pros: Powerful sound for its size. Built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Easily expanded with additional Sonos speakers. Cons: No Bluetooth. Optional subwoofer is expensive. Pros: Multi-room audio with flexible stereo and surround configurations.
Powerful sound for its size. Offers both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants. Supports AirPlay. Cons: Sound can distort at top volumes. No Bluetooth or wired audio connections. Pros: Powerful audio output with rich bass depth and bright highs. Fully waterproof. Solid mic clarity. Cons: Not for purists seeking accurate sound signature.
No track navigation controls. Pros: True stereo separation. Includes aux input and optical connections. Output for optional subwoofer. Cons: Not for those seeking serious sub-bass unless you plan to install a subwoofer. Pros: Powerful sound with good clarity in the high-mids. Rugged build. Long battery life.
Cons: Can falter with intense deep bass. No wired connection. The Best Computer Speakers for The Bose SoundLink Revolve is an excellent sound speaker for folks looking for true degree sound. If bass is your game, the JBL Charge 3 is an excellent fully waterproof speaker that sounds great, but is big and heavy along with it. Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Revolve. Weight: 2.
For the money, the JBL Charge 4 is a definite no-brainer.
While the JBL Charge 4 only offers minor updates to the previous generation, it remains an excellent value in wireless speakers - and is one of the best waterproof speakers around. Read the full review: JBL Charge 4. The new Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is a beautiful piece of design. Its price might put a bit of a damper on your wallet, but if you have audiophile tastes that extend into the portable speaker space, the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is the only speaker you should be considering. Read the full review: Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless.
However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. Anker has a history of making excellent budget wireless speakers. So what happens if you can stretch your budget?
For example, the built-in microphone and NFC support make it a perfect desktop companion, but the hour battery life and IP66 waterproof rating make it ideal for use on a deck or patio during the summer. In terms of sound and design, for a compact wireless speaker the Bose Revolve Plus is hard to beat. Other Interesting Functions. This rating means the speaker is mud-resistant and dust-resistant and waterproof to a depth of one meter for 30 minutes. Creative Stage Creative Stage. Sound Bars. But our top picks are sure to have at least one speaker that's right for you.
Competitors like the UE Wonderboom listed above give the Flare a run for its money in terms of build quality but we give the Flare the slight edge with sound quality. We recommend the Flare for anyone looking for a wireless speaker that can do it all without breaking the bank. Read the full review: Anker Soundcore Flare. Weight: 0. When someone asks us for a recommendation for a waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2 was always on the top of our list. Where it was lacking was in the bass department.
Read the full review: UE Wonderboom. However, the UE Wonderboom does offer degree sound and multi-speaker pairing if that matters to you.
The JBL Flip 4 is also a good alternative if you want more bass emphasis and degree sound but, if you're on a budget, you can't beat the XSound Go. Read the full review: Tribit XSound Go. Weight: 6 lb 14 oz Battery life: 12 hours Wireless range: Approx. This is a speaker that you can truly use on the go and in the home after a day of partying. On the go, the speaker is brilliant, playing loudly and for up to 16 hours.
To that end, the XBG is a good all-around compromise that fills multiple purposes. It's not the best wireless speaker , nor the best smart speaker , but it's a solid entry in both categories and one of a select few to exist in both camps.