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You can’t beat the convenience of going wire-free. Sure, for the best audio quality, you’ll still need to use wired speakers and input. But since you’re more likely to stream music on your phone, Bluetooth speakers are a must-have accessory nowadays.

Broadly, you can break down Bluetooth speakers into three categories:

  • Portable speakers that travel with you, and double up as speakerphones or chargers for other devices.
  • Primarily home speakers which include a built-in battery.
  • Home speakers that require a power cable and are part of your entertainment system.

These categories fall into low-end, mid-range, and high-end budgets, respectively. When you’re buying Bluetooth speakers, you need to know how you’re going to use them. But at the end of it all, the sound matters most.

Depending on your budget, here’s a quick guide to the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy at the moment.

For $25: VicTsing Waterproof Shower Speakers ($19.99) (UK/CA)

If you’re spending less than $25, then you probably just want a set of speakers to hang in your shower. You’re not going to get good audio quality in this range. The sub-$25 budget also restricts you to mono output.

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Forget the big brands here and go with the VicTsing waterproof shower speakers. It features a handy clip as well as a removable suction cup to hang or stick it in place. There’s also a built-in microphone for hands-free calls.

The rechargeable battery lasts for the advertised six hours of playtime, according to multiple customer reviews on Amazon. It’s the nifty gadget to make workouts less boring 5 Gadgets You Should Get to Make Working Out Less Boring 5 Gadgets You Should Get to Make Working Out Less Boring Bored at the gym? Yes, working out isn't always fun. A bit of variety goes a long way. These five exciting gadgets are some of the best fitness investments you can make right now. Read More .

VicTsing Shower Speaker, Wireless Waterproof Speaker with 5W Drive, Suction Cup, Buit-in Mic, VicTsing Shower Speaker, Wireless Waterproof Speaker with 5W Drive, Suction Cup, Buit-in Mic, Great for Outdoors and Shower.The silicone cases and interface design ensure Shockproof, Dustproof Waterproof,level up to IPX5, can be used under harsh environment (such as, outdoor and shower) Buy Now At Amazon $24.99

If you’re set on that sub-$25 budget, the VicTsing is your best bet. But I’d strongly advise extending your budget to get the JBL Clip+ for $35. It has much better sound and includes an integrated one-foot cable to plug it into a phone’s headphone jack.

JBL Clip+ Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) JBL Clip+ Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) Wireless Bluetooth streaming - wirelessly stream high-quality sound from your smartphone or tablet Buy Now At Amazon $44.99

For $50: JBL Clip 2 ($50) (UK/CA) or Anker SoundCore ($35.99) (UK/CA)

For those with $50, you have two great options: the JBL Clip 2 or the Anker SoundCore. Both have virtues, so we’ll quickly talk about what makes them good.

Multiple reviewers praised the Anker SoundCore as the most surprising budget speakers they’ve tried. It is one of the few speakers in this range to come with dual drivers. That means better quality sound, but it’s not quite loud. The SoundCore also offers incredible battery life, lasting for 24 hours of continuous playback. That long life makes it perfect to have your Bluetooth gadget talk to you 7 Ways a Bluetooth Speaker Can Let Your Gadgets Talk to You 7 Ways a Bluetooth Speaker Can Let Your Gadgets Talk to You You've probably seen portable Bluetooth speakers on sale, but never thought of a need for them. Think again: you can use IFTTT to make a simple notification system for your smart home. Read More about interesting things.

Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker with 24-Hour Playtime, 66-Foot Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic, Dual-Driver Portable Wireless Speaker with Low Harmonic Distortion and Superior Sound - Black Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker with 24-Hour Playtime, 66-Foot Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic, Dual-Driver Portable Wireless Speaker with Low Harmonic Distortion and Superior Sound - Black The Anker Advantage: Join the 10 million+ powered by our leading technology. Buy Now At Amazon $39.99

The JBL Clip 2 provides excellent sound quality for sub-$50 speakers and it gets louder than one might expect. It’s also splash-proof so that you can take it out in the rain or into the shower. Just don’t submerge it in water — it’s not fully water-resistant. The Clip 2 also has an excellent speakerphone, if you expect to take a lot of hands-free calls while in your room. If you see it at $60 on Amazon, run it through the best price comparison sites 7 Price Comparison Websites You Should Bookmark Right Now 7 Price Comparison Websites You Should Bookmark Right Now Price comparison websites help you find the item you want at the lowest price possible. Read More to find it at $50.

JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) Bluetooth Wireless Buy Now At Amazon $59.95

For $100: UE Roll 2 ($99.99) (UK/CA) or JBL Flip 3 ($81) (UK/CA)

Both the Urban Ears (UE) Roll 2 and the JBL Flip 3 have their ardent fans. Base your purchasing decision on how you plan on using the speakers.

The UE Roll 2 is for those who want Bluetooth speakers for a pool party or beach outing. It’s compact and lightweight, so carrying it around feels natural. It is waterproof up to one meter deep What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? A lot of devices are marketed as waterproof, but that can be severely misleading. Most are actually water-resistant. What's the difference? Here's everything you need to know about it. Read More . UE even throws in a floating device to keep your speakers bobbing on top of the water. On top of that, the sound is loud for its size, but the range isn’t wide enough for you to enjoy every type of music. Mids and highs are all right, but the bass (even with the Bass Jump feature) feels artificial, not rich. Add 11 hours of continuous playback and you have a winner. But note that it doesn’t have a built-in mic for double-duty as a speakerphone.

UE ROLL 2 Volcano Wireless Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof) UE ROLL 2 Volcano Wireless Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof) Audio:Maximum Sound Level: 85dBA. Frequency Range: 108Hz - 20kHz. Drivers: One 2" driver and Two ¾" tweeters. Buy Now At Amazon $95.00

The JBL Flip 3 is splashproof but doesn’t offer the waterproofing delights of the UE Roll 2. However, it makes up for that with great sound quality. In the sub-$100 price range, this is the best audio quality you can find anywhere, whether it’s thumping bass or soft cymbals. The Flip 3 also has excellent speakerphone capabilities, with a dedicated call button. It lasts for a similar 11 hours of playback, and can also charge other devices (like your smartphone) with its battery backup.

JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Black JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Black Wireless Bluetooth streaming - wirelessly connect up to 3 smartphones or tablets to the speaker and take turns playing surprisingly powerful Buy Now At Amazon $79.95

For $200: Bose Soundlink Mini II ($199) (UK/CA) or Marshall Acton ($185.99) (UK/CA)

Your next jump in Bluetooth speakers takes you to the home speakers category. In that, the Bose Soundlink Mini II is the undisputed king of home portable devices, while the Marshall Acton offers the best sound.

You just have to listen to the Soundlink Mini II to understand just how much better it is than other compact speakers. Yes, it’s battery powered, but it still packs a punch with its bass that you’ll rarely hear in this class. And its speakerphone is arguably the best in the business; even better than devices twice its price. Remember, it’s still a compact speaker, so the audio feels dampened down, not booming and alive. And its battery will last for about 7-9 hours before needing to be recharged. Those are small flaws, though, and the overall package is good enough to be even be listed in our best back-to-school gadgets Best Back to School Gadgets in 2016 Best Back to School Gadgets in 2016 A new year at college or school can stress out anyone. Arm yourself with the right tech gear, so that you can spend more time learning and making friends, rather than struggling with silly things. Read More .

Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II (Carbon) Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II (Carbon) Big sound--with deep bass--for a full-range listening experience Buy Now At Amazon $179.00

On the other hand, the Marshall Acton sounds richer, warmer, and fills the room with sound. The video above should give you an idea of the difference in their audio quality. The vintage look and the old-school knobs to control treble and bass are excellent additions. Unfortunately, the Acton does not have batteries and needs to be plugged into a power source. It also lacks a speakerphone, so you can’t answer calls with this.

Marshall Acton M-ACCS-10126 Acton Speaker, Black Marshall Acton M-ACCS-10126 Acton Speaker, Black Portable Bluetooth player with 40W output Buy Now At Amazon $139.90

If you don’t want to go as high as $200 but can spend a bit more than $100, get the Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 ($170) (UK), the UE Boom 2 ($160) (UK), or the JBL Charge 3 ($150) (UK).

For $300: B&O PLAY A1 ($249) (UK/CA) or Riva Turbo X ($299) (UK/CA)

If you want to upgrade from the Soundlink Mini II, get the Bang and Olufsen (B&O) PLAY A1 for $250 or the Riva Turbo X for $300.

The B&O A1 is a decorative piece in your living room, not just a Bluetooth speaker. Its perforated aluminum top draws attention, and you’ll never feel like it needs to sit in a corner. With 24 hours of continuous playback, you won’t need to use the standard USB Type-C What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More  charger all that often either. It matches or surpasses the Soundlink Mini II in audio quality and looks good doing it. If your budget allows for it, the Play A1 is a Bluetooth speaker you’ll be proud of. Also, you can buy one more A1 later and pair the two for richer sound.

B&O PLAY A1 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Natural Silver) B&O PLAY A1 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Natural Silver) Truly portable Bluetooth speaker for music and calls Buy Now At Amazon $236.19

The Riva Turbo X is The Wirecutter’s pick for the best-sounding compact Bluetooth speakers, so you know the audio quality is as good as it gets. Again, you’ll get 24 hours of playback on a single charge, packed in a gorgeous body that can sit regally on any mantelpiece. However, the custom power plug means you’ll have to lug another wire and adapter with you when you are traveling with this. If you want regular portability, skip this one. It’s fine if you plan on traveling with it only once in a while, or for weekend trips.

The Premium Range: Fluance Fi70 ($500) (CA)

If you’re spending more than $300, you are almost certainly getting a home speaker. No batteries involved, it’s all about the sound now. So get the best sound and forget about everything else.

In the past few months, the Fluance Fi70 has bowled over every reviewer out there. It’s a big, hulking machine, but that’s what you have to get for high audio quality. How else will you get dual 8″ subwoofers, dual 5″ woven glass fiber midrange drivers, and twin neodymium tweeters?

Yes, there’s also the gorgeous and Airplay-compatible The Best AirPlay Speakers You Can Buy Right Now The Best AirPlay Speakers You Can Buy Right Now Read More  Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, everyone’s darling Bose SoundTouch 20 (UK), and WireCutter’s favorite Peachtree Deepblue2. But if you want the best sound, it’s the Fi70 for you. And it only makes sense to get the best sound when you’re paying 500 bucks or more.

Fluance Fi70 Three-Way Wireless High Fidelity Music System with Powerful Amplifier & Dual 8" Subwoofers (Lucky Bamboo) Fluance Fi70 Three-Way Wireless High Fidelity Music System with Powerful Amplifier & Dual 8" Subwoofers (Lucky Bamboo) Bring the concert hall into your home with high fidelity sound perfected by your favorite artist and performed flawlessly by the Fi70 Buy Now At Amazon $499.99

If you’re more particular about sound than what the Fluance Fi70 has, then you shouldn’t be buying Bluetooth speakers. Get yourself a pair of good high-fidelity speakers. Wireless playback compresses audio, so after a certain point, it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice audio quality for the convenience of Bluetooth.

Which Bluetooth Speakers Did You Buy?

Recommending speakers always leads to debate, so let’s fight it out in the comments. Which speakers have you bought? Which speakers do you think are the best in one of the above price ranges? Do you think Bluetooth is as good as wired now?

  1. Josiah Nickles
    September 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I bought the JBL Flip 3 and the JBL Charge 3. I gotta say the Charge 3 is one of the best in it's size and price range. Get one, you won't regret it!

  2. Chris
    September 2, 2016 at 4:16 am

    And how exactly did the Aiwa Exos-9 NOT make this list!? It is AMAZING!

  3. Scott
    September 2, 2016 at 4:14 am

    I bought the Sony SRX3. It's great for a small room or a table top while outside. It's also a speakerphone which is nice for meetings on the deck. It's portable and comes with a nice collapsing case. The sound quality is good, it's just not a block rocking speaker.

    I use it in the kitchen a lot. Perfect for that space.

  4. Victor Acosta
    September 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    One Important detail to take into consideration when picking a Bluetooth speaker is future battery replacement,Sooner or later you would need to replace the battery Unfortunately some Bluetooth speakers won't give a option to replace the battery meaning you end having it plug in all the time.

    Several months ago i bought TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker it not on the list but nevertheless a well built speaker.

  5. Jordan
    September 1, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I bought the Fluance fi50. It has insane sound quality. We use it everyday and it fill our 800 sq ft main level with more rich sound than I can use. Love it. And it looks great too, especially the bamboo white option. If you have the money get it. I love everything about what Fluance is doing in the audio market right now.

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