This article is our list of the best Bluetooth speakers of 2021. Featuring our top recommendations for loud and portable wireless Models.
What are the best Bluetooth speakers in 2021?
The answer isn’t so simple. There are thousands of Bluetooth speakers on the market, and it’s not easy telling the bad ones from the good ones. In addition, it’s almost impossible for buyers to compare more than a limited few speakers at a time in your local electronics store due to limited availability.
Luckily we have had access to some of the best Bluetooth speakers & portable speakers for both home and travel use. We have tested and reviewed most of them, and we have put together this list of the best ones together to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.
The Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2021 Buyers Guide
Minirig 3.0 – The best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker
- Class-leading build quality
- Extremely loud and distortion-free
- Amazing bass
- Ability to link with other Bluetooth speakers to create a surround sound system
- Separate subwoofer available for the extremely loud bass
I really can’t recommend the new Minirigs 3.0 enough if your budget allows it. This is the best Bluetooth speaker I have ever used, and it travels with me to every country I visit.
For me, it is the gold standard of travel speakers because it gets louder than any other for its size. It has the ability to remain distortion-free when doing so. Bass response is also amazing and perfect for electronic and rap music.
Going the route of putting a single large and very high-level diaphragm inside the Minirig 3.0 produces magnificent sound. Other manufacturers mess about with multiple inferior and smaller drivers to achieve a stereo effect, but it’s clear this doesn’t work as well. Minirigs single driver is the way to go.
The other good points for the 3.0 are the outstanding 100-hour battery life, which is the best on the test, and class-leading build quality and design. The only thing we didn’t like was the barrel-shaped charger; USB-C would be far preferred. However, that can be forgiven as no other Bluetooth speaker on the market comes close to sounding so good.
The Minirig 3 can be used in combination with a subwoofer unit and other Minirig speakers in a daisy-chain configuration to make them sound very loud. Oh, and they are available in 8 different color options to match your own style.
For more information, please read our full 2019 review of the Minirig 3 speaker linked above.
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4
- Dual connectivity
- Top of the line sound
- Stunning design
- Smart assistant enabled
A gorgeous-looking home speaker that backs it up with incredible sound from one of the world’s best speaker makers. The Onyx looks simply stunning when place on a bedside or kitchen countertop. It has all the design cues you would expect from one of the world’s most stylish speaker brands, but it backs it up with excellent performance.
It works with both Google Assistant and Siri, and you can chain multiple speakers wirelessly to make for a multi-room sound system. I used this method multiple times to play the same music inside my living room kitchen and patio area, and it was seamless.
Battery life was around 8 hours in tests, but it can quickly charge to 80% in around an hour. However, most people who buy this speaker will enjoy using it around the home as something like the Minirig listed above is more suited towards travel.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
- Stylish Design
- Hanging loop
- Can be used as a stereo speaker
Ultimate ears are one of the world’s most popular consumer Bluetooth speaker brands. They have a focus on creating fun and well-thought-out products that fit well into an active lifestyle.
The Wonderboom 2 is their best portable speaker to date, and many features make it a great travel speaker.
Firstly the sound is excellent. It’s not as refined as the Minirigs 3, but it gets deafening and has a nice bass response despite its small size.
It is also build to go with an excellent hard-wearing cloth exterior, meaning it won’t show up scratches like a plastic speaker, and I really like the huge volume control buttons on the outside.
It’s IPX67 rated, so it is waterproof and dust resistant, and it will actually float if you throw it in the pool.
Additional bonus functions are the lanyard loop at the top to clip the speakers to objects, and you can also pair two speakers together to create a true stereo experience.
Battery life was 12 hours in our test, which is good but not exceptional. Thankfully there is a fast-charge function to recharge quickly when you run out of juice.
4. JBL Clip 4
- Extremely small
- Built-in carabiner clip
The JBL Clip 4 is very similar in design to the UE Roll 2 but is much smaller and lighter. It isn’t going to blow you away with the sound, but for its size, it’s amazing and far louder than any of our smartphones,
One of the smallest speakers on this list did impress us with several cool tricks. A built-in carrying clip that we thought was a gimmick at first, but we ended up using it all the time when traveling and camping. I found that I would clip it to one of the molly straps on my backpack or a belt loop when without my bag.
It is waterproof with an IP68 rating that improves on the previous modes IPX7 rating, so there is no need to worry if it gets left outside, and the speaker can even survive being fully submerged for a limited period of time.
The body is very lightweight and durable, so it will disappear in a bag if you don’t want to use the integrated carabiner.
The sound is perfect for the size, but it does start to thin out slightly in the low end. However, if you are coming from clip r, this is a huge step up as the larger diaphragm driver does get significantly louder on clip 4. The battery life wasn’t great at just 10 hours playback from a single charge, but that is an extra 2 hours than we got in testing with the JBL Clip 3, and now we have fast charge and a USB-C cable as upgrades.
It’s funky. It’s cool. It’s cheap.
Bose Soundlink Micro
- Awesome design and build
- Strong sound with decent bass
- Only 6-hour battery life is very poor We reviewed the Soundlink Micro in full last year and loved it. Bose put together a solid little Bluetooth speaker with better sound than the JBL Clip 3 above and UE2 roll that was previously on this list but costs just a bit more.
We were big fans of the rugged rubber finish that we think will do a great job of keeping the Soundlink micro safe. Yet again, this is another waterproof speaker, and just like the others, there is a hanging/carry strap to make life a little easier.
Of course, there has to be one massive letdown, and that is that the Bose Soundlink Micro only holds a total of 6 hours charge, which was by one of the poorest we have used at any price point.
JBL Flip 5 – Cheap and loud
- Good sound
- Very good value for money
- Battery life is bordering on unacceptable
The JBL Flip 5 is one of the best value speakers on the list because for the price it was extremely hard to find fault with it. However, just like the Bose Soundlink, it suffers from woefully poor battery life. 5 hours of music is all you get from a single charge.
That’s a shame because the sound and build are really befitting of a much more expensive speaker.
Still a good buy if you are on a tight budget as it has good sound and is capable of pushing volume quite loud without distortion.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1
- Gorgeous design
- Top of the line sound quality
- Very expensive
- IPX7 Waterproofing
Bang & Olufsen are premier speaker makers, so it’s no surprise that their portable travel speakers inherit that eye-watering price tag of a premium product.
However, it does show in the design as the Beoplay A1 is the best-looking speaker on our test by far.
The sound is awe-inspiring thanks to its ability to throw music in every direction, and this thing gets very loud without distortion.
When played at moderate levels, battery life will easily exceed 20 hours, which makes the A1 our second-best performer on this list.
One thing that was really missing from the first-generation Beoplay A1 was waterproofing and dust resistance. The biggest upgrade on this new 2nd gen model is the IPX7 rating which now makes it a true travel speaker capable of being used anywhere.
House of Marley Bag of Riddim 2
- Beautiful housing
- Built-in carry strap
- Loud and bassy
- Beautiful housing
The House of Marley Bag of Riddim 2 is awesome because it’s an old-school ghetto blaster made modern. The speaker is one of the best-looking full-size models on this list, and it looks great in any home with a light wood finish.
It comes with a carry case with a shoulder strap that allows you to take it with you to parties, parks, etc. The sound is excellent, full-bodied with deep bass, and deafening.
This speaker is also splashproof and comes with an outstanding 2-year warranty.
JBL Boombox 2 – The beast
- A full-size portable sound system
- Great sound for a wireless speaker
- Extreme Bass
If you really want to have a portable speaker that gives a huge sound, then the Boombox 2 is the way to go. Taking inspiration from the 80s boombox concept, the JBL is a big beast of a speaker, but with that size comes some insanely loud sound.
The unit is a full-size speaker and comes with a whopping 24 hours of battery life. Don’t worry if it gets left outside after the party has finished as, like the other speakers on this list; it is also waterproof.
Not content to be a beast of a speaker with the best bass on our test, it also has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. You can use the JBL Boombox 2 as an external power supply for your phone, and it can be hot-linked to other speakers to create a surround sound system.
JBL Extreme 2
- Good quality loud sound
- Hanging loops for a carry strap
- Top-mounted controls
The JBL Extreme 2 is an absolute bass canon of a portable speaker. It can get deafening and yet remains very clear. It’s waterproof so you don’t have to worry if you leave it outside and it can easily fill a party or campsite with your music.
This speaker also has a built-in carry strap and a 15-hour battery life.
Anker Soundcore Flare 2
- Some of the best sound under $100
- IPX5 outdoor certified
- Amazing battery life
The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is a top-rated travel speaker because really it can do hardly anything wrong.
Its price is spot on and makes a lot of the big-name speaker companies look pretty foolish.
You get good battery life and IPX5 waterproof certification that keeps both water and dust at bay. There are even flashing lights that keep in tune with your music.
The sound is loud and clear, and the bass actually has some depth to it, unlike the often tinny rattle at around this price.
Wireless Speaker Buyers Guide and FAQ
What size is best for a wireless speaker?
For this list, we will include three types of Bluetooth speakers!
First will be small Bluetooth speakers, which we consider to be ultra-portable. These are the kind you would want to take traveling or on holiday. They are lightweight, compact, and rugged.
Secondly, we want to cover some mid-sized speakers that will fit in a bag or backpack. We consider these transportable. When I say in a bag, I don’t mean filling up the full volume of your backpack either. These speakers are meant to be an accessory you bring with you when you travel. These will usually trade-off some portability in exchange for a fuller sound and better battery life.
Thirdly, we will recommend full-size Bluetooth speakers that are designed for home use. These are usually plugged into the mains but have a battery allowing you to move them from room to room. They typically are the most feature-rich and offer the best sound quality.
When choosing Bluetooth speakers, you first want to consider how and where you will use them. For example, if you think you will be traveling a lot, do you really want to carry something big, bulk,y, and heavy? Conversely, say you can take a larger speaker in your luggage would it be worth it to have better sound quality when you get to your destination?
Whether you want to buy a wireless speaker to be us around the home or when you are traveling, camping or hiking, there are plenty of great options below for every budget.
Things to consider before purchasing a Bluetooth Speaker!
Making this list was not easy as there are many great options available in 2021. Often we are not simply evaluating the sound but a whole range of factors we believe to be important when making a purchase. Therefore, to help you decide on the best wireless speaker for your needs, you should probably know what we consider important.
I have had plenty of speakers over the years and have a well-defined idea of what I think makes the best ones. Of course, what might be best for you could be completely different, but here are some key areas to consider before buying.
- Sound Quality – Consider how you listen to music (loud, bassy, etc.)
- Build Quality – Are you particularly rough on your equipment.
- Size – Large, Medium, or Small. What fits your needs?
- Battery Life – How long will you listen? Will the battery last? How fast does it charge?
- Bonus features – SD card inputs, Using as a Portable battery bank, External DAC connections, remotes, etc. These bonus features may be important and useful to you.
Sound Quality – What is the best-sounding Bluetooth speaker?
By far, the most common question we get asked on this topic is :
What is the best sounding Bluetooth speaker?
Of course, the answer to this can relate to size and price, but there are some really good-sounding cheap speakers if you look hard enough and do the research. In my opinion, the Minirigs 3.0 is by far the best-sounding speaker for its size. It’s unparalleled in its balance of the above factors and is my personal favorite Bluetooth speaker.
For home use, we recommend the iLoud speaker by IK Multimedia. We found that while it might not be the best-looking speaker, it performed better in our tests than many big name brands like Bose and Creative.
Build Quality – What is the most durable Bluetooth speaker?
Build quality is essential. Especially if intending to travel with your speaker. A travel speaker is destined to lead a far tougher life than a speaker that never moves from your home.
Inevitably over time, these speakers will take a few knocks, so you want something that will hold up well. As a result, we are looking for high-quality build materials and a strong chassis as a base. However, we should not be overlooking things like waterproofing, robust control buttons, and scratch-proof finishes.
In the case of wireless home speakers, then build is still important. However, far more important is the aesthetics; most people will want a good-looking speaker that doesn’t feel out of place in their home decor.
Size – A Question of portability
I touched on this above but size is pretty important and not just how you intend to transport the speaker. Size plays a big role in a lot of the other factors we listed.
Smaller-sized speakers usually have a smaller driver and (the majority of the time) a degradation in sound quality as a result.
Bonus features will also take a hit in lightweight, portable speakers as there is less room in a smaller chassis to store extra functionality.
Finally, size usually has a big impact on battery life. Again, it’s common sense; the smaller the housing, the less room for a large capacity battery and, therefore, the less runtime the speaker will have between charges.
Battery life – What Bluetooth speaker has the best battery life?
Battery life should play a huge role in your buying decision as I assume most of you will be using the speaker via Bluetooth. Therefore, to make this list of the best portable speakers, I set an absolute minimum of 8 hours of playback from a single charge for portable and transportable models and a minimum of 6 hours for wireless home speakers.
These are the bare minimum numbers in my eyes, and I would consider 10+ hours to be the starting point for decent battery life. Be aware when you add in higher quality components, battery life is going to suffer. It is perhaps the biggest trade when comparing Bluetooth speakers.
Additional Features and Considerations –
Some of these speakers have bonus features that may or may not be useful to you when choosing between two different models. I focus on sound, build, and battery life in that order, and if there are any extra little tricks, then fine, it’s a nice little bonus,s but I don’t prioritize them during the buying process.