Best budget Bluetooth speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?’s round-up of the best budget wireless speakers you can buy in 2019.
Bluetooth speakers are a great addition to any music lover’s arsenal. They’re usually portable, waterproof, and some – like those below – are very easy on the wallet to boot. They can sound pretty great too.
So what should you look for when shopping for a budget Bluetooth speaker?
Those at the more affordable end of the market tend to be rugged and super portable, so look out for waterproofing, or at least water resistance (the latter means you shouldn’t fully submerge the speaker in the drink).
They can also be small enough to fit in a coat pocket, or at least a backpack. So if you’re thinking of taking one with you, make sure you check the dimensions before you buy.
Some even have a built-in mic for taking hands-free calls should the need arise.
Our list has something for everyone. Whether you want full-on portability or something to move from your bedroom to the kitchen, check out the below: you’re sure to find something you – and your wallet – love.
Ultimate Ears has really made a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colourful, fun-sounding and portable models on its books. The latest is the small but mightily impressive Wonderboom 2.
Battery life is 13 hours and a full charge takes just under three. It’s waterproof, sandproof, dustproof and is also designed to float so it should withstand the most lively of pool parties. Playback is controlled over a Bluetooth connection, but it’s surprising to see there’s no mic for hands-free calling.
Sonically, the Wonderboom 2 is an exciting listen, with impressive bass given its small dimensions. It packs in plenty of detail and there’s a fine sense of attack. It’s easily one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers you can buy for the money.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
If you like the idea of a smart assistant combined with a simple music speaker, it’s hard to argue against the Amazon Echo Dot. For not a lot of money you get a whole load of smart voice functionality and decent sound with the latest (third generation) model. It works well on its own or can be nicely integrated into myriad other smart home and AV products, bringing voice control and smart features just a command away. Sound quality has improved notably too, making it even easier to recommend.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)
For the money, this dinky JBL speaker is an absolute steal. It’s waterproof, highly portable and looks adorable – it’s like a little bar of soap that plays music. And the sound is surprisingly good, given its diminutive dimensions – it provides an open, three-dimensional listen, though obviously it doesn’t pack much bass. Our only gripe? Battery life. Topping out at a mere five hours, it won’t last you a full afternoon’s listening, which is something many look for in a Bluetooth speaker. Still, if you can make that sacrifice, it’s well worth taking with you.
Read the full review: JBL GO 2
Everything from the price to the microphone performance has improved in this, the second generation of Amazon’s Echo speaker – although if you want better sound quality you’ll need to look at the pricier Amazon Echo Plus (£140). Provided you don’t expect more for your £90 – and considering there isn’t an alternative for the money – the Echo 2 remains a good smart speaker buy.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo 2
Ultimate Ears has a knack for finding the right combination of sound, design and features in its portable Bluetooth speakers, and it does so again with the waterproof Blast. The Blast’s energetic performance and fun design makes this wireless speaker a joy to use. It’s a fun, exciting speaker that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Blast
If you’re in the market for a stationary wireless speaker that can develop into a multi-room audio system, the T5 is a great place to start. It’s a beefed-up version of the Audio Pro T3 – however, unlike the smaller model, the T5 doesn’t have an in-built battery, so this isn’t a speaker to be taking out and about with you. Assuming you can live with that, the T5 has the same great character of the T3 – an expressive, well balanced, and full sound – but with more weight in the lower frequencies. You’ll be hard pressed to get something much better without dipping a lot deeper into your piggy bank.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon T5
The JBL Xtreme 2 comes as a pleasant surprise. At first sight, the it might appear a little brash and out of place – an unashamed boombox in an era of reserved smart speakers dressed in grey fabric. However, this bold and aggressive look is matched by some of the sweetest sound you’ll hear from a portable speaker. There’s no wi-fi, smart assistant support and multi-room audio, but this speaker sounds much more refined and delicate than it looks. Add in its chunky, rugged build and IPX7 water resistance and you have an ideal Bluetooth speaker for use in the great outdoors.
Read the full review: JBL Xtreme 2
The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a strikingly petite speaker, and we can see it fitting into just about any space in your home. The speaker has a decent heft – it feels more substantial than the similar-sized Google Home, for instance – but it can still be held in the palm of your hand. The unit’s cylindrical design is key to delivering its 360-degree sound and it is compact enough to be carried in a backpack.
An iPX4 water-resistance rating is handy if you’re worried about it getting wet, and for such a small speaker, the Bose Revolve delivers a surprisingly big and bold sound. It’s come down in price since we first tested it and it’s hard not to admire the Bose Revolve for its range of talents.
Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Revolve
The Charge 3 has been designed with portability in mind and fits neatly into the company’s existing speaker range. It’s larger than the petite JBL Flip and JBL Link 20 but not as hefty as the JBL Xtreme (see above) This makes the Charge 3 a good size for flinging in a rucksack and taking on your travels. This is definitely a speaker that could quite happily cope with an active camping weekend or beach holiday.
Given the JBL’s rugged and sturdy build, you won’t be surprised to hear the Charge 3 sounds neither shy nor hesitant. It’s an enthusiastic, powerful sound, highlighted by the passive radiators pulsing vigorously at either end of the speaker. For its price (which has dropped since we first reviewed it), this is an excellent buy.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 3
Take a look at Tivoli’s Andiamo wireless speaker from afar, and you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a Bang & Olufsen product. This is a lovely little piece of kit, made from lightweight but tough aluminium with leather trimmings, and nicely put together. “Andiamo” means “let’s go” in Italian, just in case you were wondering. At its heart, this is a basic Bluetooth speaker, with no frills or added extras. Control buttons are hidden neatly beneath the tooled leather strap.
It may be relatively small in stature, but the Andiamo is certainly able to pack a sonic punch – and produces a sound way larger than you might have thought. The Tivoli Andiamo manages to pull off the seemingly impossible, by being a beautifully put together ‘lifestyle’ product while at the same time providing a sound that comfortably matches its price.
Read the full review: Tivoli Andiamo
The Audio Pro A10 is an entirely different design from it siblings such as the Addon T5 featured further up this list. Here we have a fabric-coated cylinder standing just shy of 20cm, resembling more the kind of speaker we’re used to seeing from its rivals, but most importantly, bringing the company’s Award-winning sonic signature sound to a multi-room speaker costing less than £200.
Inside it’s different from the A10’s rectangular stablemates too. Audio Pro has packed in a 7.5cm long-throw woofer and bolstered its output with two 11.5cm passive radiators. And there’s a BMR, or Balanced Mode Radiator, tweeter. The result is a spread of sound that has to be admired, combined with excellent timing – it snaps along with that same intensity and intelligent organisation we’ve come to expect from Audio Pro. We think the A10’s price and more traditional design will bring Audio Pro to a different audience, and we’re all for that.
Read the full review: Audio Pro A10