Here’s the thing. Bluetooth speakers are actually pretty good these days.
Long gone are the dodgy connections, iffy sound quality and dull designs – say hello stylish looks, crackle-free playback and top notch audio.
You don’t even have to fork out a fortune for them. We’ve rounded up our favourite Bluetooth speakers under £200, each one guaranteed to get your party going, whether it’s at home, in the garden, or at the beach.
Not sure what you should be looking for in your new wireless speaker? Follow these buying tips and you won’t go far wrong.
- Do you want big sound or easy portability? Smaller speakers are getting better at room-filling playback, but they won’t usually go as loud or as low in the bass as a bigger speaker.
- Consider aptX. If you have a phone that support aptX (most Android phones do, Apple devices don’t), you’ll want to look out for a speaker that supports the codec to get the best in wire-free sound.
- Think about battery life. Do you need it to last the length of a festival without charge, or just a day at the beach? Once again, it’ll often be the bigger speakers that’ll go for longer, so you’ll need to think whether portability or battery life matters more to you – or find a happy medium.
- Ask yourself whether you need any other connectivity. Some speakers might feature AirPlay, or have a 3.5mm connection for hardwiring to save your phone battery.
- If you want your new speaker to be all-weather, watch out for a speaker’s IP rating. The first number indicates how dustproof it is, and the second number how waterproof it is – both out of a maximum of nine. If there’s an X in place of a number (IPX6, for example), it means the speaker hasn’t been tested for that.
1. UE Wonderboom (£89)
The UE Wonderboom might look cute, but don’t think it isn’t serious about sound quality. It’s capable of serious bass considering its throw-it-in-your-bag size, and will go loud too, all while keeping things clean in the top end. It’s also fully water resistant, and offers a decent 10-hour battery, plus cleverly placed drivers that’ll throw the sound around 360 degrees.
PROS: Big, punchy sound for its size | Waterproof design | 10-hour battery life
CONS: No NFC | No 3.5mm input | No aptX Bluetooth
A lovable, versatile and good-sounding speaker at the right price
Read the full UE Wonderboom review
2) Jam Heavy Metal (£69)
Classy sound and design at a bargain price
PROS: Great sound quality | Classy design | Plenty of volume
CONS: Battery life could be better | No waterproofing
You might not have heard of Jam Audio, but its Heavy Metal speaker is proof you should start taking notice sharpish. Its aluminium design is classy and well-built, and though its 8-hour battery could be longer, plus it’s not waterproof, the sound quality will make you forget the missing bits. At £70, it could easily take on big names at twice the price – and maybe even win.
3. Riva S (£169)
If you’re looking to get as close as possible to hi-fi sound for under £200, the Riva S is the speaker you should buy. Its tonal fidelity is in another league compared to just about any other speaker of this size and price, though what you’ll gain in refinement and nuance you will lose in volume and bass weight. Still, its 13-hour battery life is decent, and there’s some low-level waterproofing too.
PROS: Refined, grown up sound | Decent battery life | Stylish rugged design
CONS: Could go louder and lower
The top small wireless speaker for real sound hounds
Read the full Riva S review
4. JBL Flip 3 (£80)
A clear step up from last year’s Flip 2, JBL’s latest Bluetooth speaker beefs up its bass and improves its battery life (now 10 hours) with sterling results. As well as impressive bass weight, it’ll also go loud without skimping on the nuance needed to handle more delicate tracks. Add in its splashproof design, and the Flip 3 proves that third time’s a charm.
PROS: Punchy bass | Good tonal balance | Sturdy design
CONS: Not as expansive as others | Detail slightly smoothed off
Sturdy design and superb sound quality at a great price
Read the full JBL Flip 3 review
5. UE Boom 2 (£120)
The UE Boom 2 is made for the great outdoors, thanks to its IPX7 waterproof rating and 15-hour battery life. Its cylindrical shape also means it’s equally at home in your bag as it is in your bike’s water-bottle holder, with a bassier performance to its smaller Wonderboom sibling. It also packs Siri and Google Now compatibility, plus can be daisy chained to another Boom 2 for double the power.
PROS: Energetic, expressive sound | Good design | Waterproofing | Double Up functionality
CONS: Sound can distort at max volume
Great sound, tough build and eye-catching looks
Read the full UE Boom 2 review
6. Libratone One Click (£140)
The Libratone One Click stands out in a sea of boxy wireless speakers, thanks to its slim profile and customisable design. The light-up Libratone logo on the front isn’t just for show either – it’s a multi-function touch button for controlling playback and volume. Sound quality is good in most respects, but the sweet-sounding mids and clean treble are let down by a rather conservative low end.
PROS: Great, customisable design | Clever touch control | Clear and detailed sound
CONS: Lacks bass weight | Could be a touch more organised
The Transformer of portable speakers should appeal to all but the bass fanatics
Read the full Libratone One Click review
7. B&O Beoplay A1 (£199)
The A1 is Bang & Olufsen’s cheapest speaker, but the Danish high-end audio specialist hasn’t skimped on this diddy delight. Its sumptuous circular design looks and feels terrific, with a premium sound quality to match. Rock solid and full-bodied, it’ll give you a hearty amount of bass and push sound wide in the room, but is a touch laid back to be as expressive as we’d like.
PROS: Stylish and well built | Solid, full-bodied sound | 24-hour battery life
CONS: Lacks a bit of attack | Expensive
Stylish with plenty of substance to boot
Read the full B&O Beoplay A1 review
8. Bose SoundLink Mini II (£150)
Bose is royalty among wireless speaker-makers, and this squat rectangle of aluminium and rubber has inspired a dozen imitators. Its key feature is bass: it’s deep, it’s rich and there’s a lot of it. It’s warm and fat rather than boomy, which slots into the rich, smooth mids perfectly. It can sound a bit congested at high volume, though.
PROS: Punchy bass | Clean, rich midrange | Aux input
CONS: Sounds congested at volume | No waterproofing
Big bass and powerful sound in a tiny package
Read the full Bose SoundLink Mini II review
9. Cambridge Audio Yoyo S (£150)
Despite its “S” (small) label, the Cambridge Audio Yoyo S is actually a mid-size speaker - it’s more likely to be used around the house than taken on-the-go. The battery lasts for 14 hours if you do though, and there’s also NFC and USB for charging devices. Its sound is as mature as its design, with rich, full mids and plenty of scale. Bass depth is limited though, and the treble is on the soft side, so it’s a relaxed rather than exciting listen.
PROS: Classy design; big, rich sound | NFC | USB for charging | Good battery life
CONS: Too big and heavy for true portability
A grown-up speaker for those after a relaxed sound
Read the full Cambridge Audio Yoyo S review
10. UE Roll 2 (£65)
The UE Roll 2 has been eclipsed by two better UE speakers recently, but as the cheapest of the trio, it’s still well worth a look in. It carries the family traits of a bold and waterproof design, and its bungee cord handle also doubles up as a hook to attach to backpacks, bikes – the lot. There’s lots of volume here for its size, with full mids and a refined treble, but bass depth is limited.
PROS: Great design for on-the-go | Full-bodied sound | Refined treble
CONS: Bass depth could be better
Not as talented as other members of the family, but still a great little speaker
Read the full UE Roll 2 review