Put your hi-fi in the bin. Take an axe to your floorstanders. Snap that vinyl over your knee. It’s newsflash time: portable speakers actually sound good these days.
They’re good enough for 90% of 95% of people’s listening. And yes, that stat is entirely made up.
But the sentiment isn’t. For a lot of listening, portable wireless speakers are well worth having - and you don't even have to spend a fortune to get one that's half decent.
Got £200 to spare? Here are the models you should look at.
For some, there’ll be no beating the charm and name-recognition of Fender’s portable speaker. The Newport looks and acts like a mini guitar amp, complete with witch-hat knobs on top for volume, bass and treble.
Every second of using this tiny slice of rock’n’roll is delightful. Flick the switch to turn it on and you’re met with the rich roar of an electric guitar; put it into Bluetooth pairing mode and a different riff plays. It’s the little things that make this speaker so much fun.
It sounds good too, driving 30 watts through a pair of woofers and one tweeter. It’s impressively dynamic, though it can slip into distortion when pushed hard.
Around the back, it keeps things simple, with just a power input, a USB port for charging your phone or tablet, and a 3.5mm stereo jack input.
With 12hr battery life and aptX Bluetooth for CD-quality streaming, it’ll find a place in any home.
A Fender you can truly enjoy without Hendrix-like talent
UE Roll 2
What’s going on here then? The UE Roll 2 doesn’t look like your average wireless speaker. It’s a giant Minstrel, a tiny discus, a Bluetooth UFO: take your pick.
There’s a fabric weave in your colour of choice on the front and soft-touch plastic on the back, and the Roll 2 has a thick bungee cord attached to let you hook it onto all sorts. You could even use it in the shower as it’s water resistant.
In real life terms this is a seriously versatile speaker, even though it only has basic features. There’s no mic, no device charging and no NFC. But they don’t really detract from the appeal.
Overall, the UE Roll 2 sound suits its style very well. Under the fabric grille there’s a 2in main driver and two little tweeters, which project sound with real force. There’s oodles of volume on tap for the size, full mids and good treble definition.
The sound doesn’t get lost outdoors or when dealing with some ambient noise, but bass depth is limited compared with a rectangular speaker such as the Jam Audio Heavy Metal.
Perhaps the ultimate holiday wireless speaker, particularly if you have a private pool
Want a bit of Icelandic style with your sound? Look no further than the Vifa Reykjavik. Inspired by the fissured, flowy, foggy landscapes of the island state, this pebble-shaped speaker sounds as good as it looks.
One of its best features is the way the speaker curves around, firing out sound in all directions. Stick it in the centre of the room and it’s sure to be the life of the party.
Although it only has a comparatively short battery life of 6hrs, its sparkling sound more than makes up for that: it can be delicate, but isn’t afraid to belt it out when met with a mosh-worthy drum solo.
The best looker of the bunch also sounds pretty great
Jam Heavy Metal
This speaker sounds like the sort of thing you might see on sale next to an emoji pillow. Most people haven’t heard of Jam Audio and the ‘Heavy Metal’ bit is the naming equivalent of a dad joke, given the speaker is made of aluminium.
Hold back the scorn, though, because this is one of the best portable speakers you can get for £100. It can duel with big names twice the price, and even beat some of them.
The sound quality per pound is superb. Like the best mini rectangle speakers, a dual bass radiator setup gets you serious bass power and enough volume to fill your lounge. Treble is crisp, but without the harshness of a speaker desperately trying to convince your ear it’s super-detailed.
The top £150 speakers have better mid-range detail and texture, which makes vocals sound even more realistic and natural. But the Jam can skip between genres like a pro and is alarmingly refined for the price. If you’re on a strict budget, the Jam Heavy Metal is more-or-less unbeatable right now.
Classy sound and design at a true bargain price
Audio Pro Addon T3
Music purists, listen up: the Audio Pro Addon T3 is one of the best-sounding portable speakers out there. It might look a little koala-like, and its bulk won’t suit everyone (it’s about the size of a hefty lunchbox), but we can’t fault it for dynamism, drive and sheer potency.
This speaker will reach down into the depths of a song’s lower frequencies and bring you earthy, taut basslines with enough punch to turn heads... while vocals hit you with a great sense of space.
The Addon T3 keeps you wanting more – and its 12hr battery life is ready to oblige. If you've got the budget, this is clearly the audiophile choice.
Great sound, low price: what more could you ask for?