Listen up: 13 of the best Bluetooth speakers for under £200

Take phat and party

It's great that garden BBQs and lazy park picnics are no longer forbidden, but conversations about lockdown Netflix binges and crowdless football will only get you so far. Eventually, you're going to want a bit of music. 

And that's where these Bluetooth speakers come in. All sub-£200, none of them are going to break the bank, but they're all comfortably big-sounding enough to do the job on one of the many sunny Saturday afternoons we're being afforded at the moment. And crucially, they're all compact enough to throw into a bag. 

But which one should you go for? Read on for our recommendations.

Marshall Emberton (£130)

What's the story?

The new Emberton is the smallest member of Marshall’s home audio family – by some stretch. While the rest of the range has a bit more heft to it, this is a grab-and-go speaker that fits in your palm.

The feature list has stayed suitably chunky, though: you can expect a whopping 20 hours of playtime, IPX7 waterproofing and an unshakeable Bluetooth 5.0 connection. 

Sony SRS-XB33 (£149)

What’s the story?

This Sony came to party, and it isn’t shy about it: the XB33 puts audiophile concerns to one side and delivers a big old bassy wallop.

It comes with its own built-in light show too, but if that’s all a bit too disco you can turn them off – and help conserve its 24-hour battery in the process.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 (£100)

What’s the story?

UE has been delivering quality sound at reasonable price points for ages. The Boom 3 is the Goldilocks of the 2020 range, with a good balance of features and performance for just a ton.

The cylindrical design with its big volume controls is now synonymous with the brand, and this speaker is IP67-rated against water and dust. It offers 15 hours of music and can be paired with an almost unlimited number of other Boom speakers.

Bose SoundLink Micro (£90)

What’s the story?

Of all the speakers on test, the teeny Bose takes its dedication to portability the most seriously – this is a real take-anywhere job.

The rugged silicone rubber keeps it safe from bumps and scratches, and most handy of all is the tear-resistant silicone strap on the back, which can attach the Micro securely to your bike or backpack for hands-free tunes on the move.

JBL Flip 5 Eco (£120)

What’s the story?

JBL’s Flip range has long been a go-to for punchy portable sound, but the Flip 5 Eco is a good buy for the planet too: not only is its packaging entirely biodegradable, but the speaker is made from 90% recycled plastic.

It’s packing all the same tech benefits as the standard Flip 5, so you get 12 hours of music, IPX7 waterproofing and JBL’s PartyBoost tech, which allows you to team it up with other JBL speakers.

Tribit StormBox Micro (£40)

WHAT'S THE STORY?

Best Bluetooth speakers for under £150? For £150 you could buy the best part of four StormBox Micros, but just one gets you a neat and tidy speaker that’s no bigger than a stack of coasters. As if to emphasise its portability and compactness, the StormBox comes with a thick rubber strap underneath that allows you to lash it to your rucksack or a set of handlebars. Mmm, practical.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore (£169)

What’s the story?

The Explore pushes the rugged end of the portability spectrum more than most(including its Beosound A1 cousin). For a start, it doesn’t have a leather carrying strap but a hardy woven one, and includes an aluminium carabiner for hooking it to a rucksack. It also ditches touch controls for buttons for better accuracy on the go. The anodised aluminium body is scratch-resistant and as stylish as you’d expect, with a grille that’s cut in 360° lines around its cylindrical body. Not only does that mean it looks lovely, but it also supports B&O’s True360 omnidirectional sound.

For an outdoor speaker, it’s suitably rated at IP67 for keeping out dust and water, and at 637g it’s reassuringly weighty in the hand without adding a load of unwanted heft to your bag.

Urbanista Brisbane (£99)

What’s the story?

Urbanista has been putting in the work to be seen as a decent affordable audio brand with minimalist Scandi design. The Brisbane is the largest of its wireless speakers and comes wrapped in a choice of black or white fabric, with a smattering of controls on the top. Fair enough if you like thingsstripped-back, but dare we say the Brisbane looks a touch drab with its rectangular form... and while portable it’s also pretty weighty – enough to never go missing in the bottom of your bag anyway.

While it’s not the most rugged speaker we’ve bashed about, it does have an IPX5 waterproof rating for added peace of mind, and also has a line-in port for hard-wiring your device – which could be great for stretching out the 10hr battery life.At under £100 it’s playing with the big boys here, but just think how many months of premium music streaming that extra cash could pay for.

Sonos Roam (£159)

What’s the story?

The Roam is Sonos’s first proper portable speaker you can sling a satchel. Sensible proportions, Bluetooth connectivity and a reduced reliance on the Sonos app make it perfect for partying anywhere, but with Wi-Fi too it’ll still play nicely with any existing Sonos kit.

A Toblerone-like mini boomer that’s designed to stand eitherhorizontally or vertically, it isn’t exactly shouty in the design department, so look elsewhere if you’re after an injection of colour; but the robust Roam does have a lovely metal, plastic and rubberised finish capable of taking a bit of a battering. What sets it apart from the competition is clever stuff like Auto Trueplay, meaning it’ll tune its soundstage to suit the environment whether you’re inside or out; and Sound Swap, which switches audio to the nearest Sonos speaker in the vicinity. Press play/pause and the Roam pings sound around accordingly – especially useful if you’re listening to music indoors but then wish to express your right to Roam in the garden. 

Audio Pro P5 (£140)

What’s the story?

A bit like Sonos letting the Wi-Fi shackles off with the Roam, the P5 represents Audio Pro’s firstforay into properly portable Bluetooth territory. The Swedish firm has a fine record for multiroom speakers, but this truly diminutive boomer has no interest in playing with its sonic chums and is going it alone instead, supported by a 1in tweeter, a 3.2in woofer and a 35W amp.It’s wind/rain-resistant, not fully waterproof, but there is a handy wrist strap to stop it falling in the soup – and to free up your hands for more important things, like holding a continental lager or texting your mate at the bar. The 18hr battery lifeis on a par with the more expensive B&OA1 on p65, but at half the size it is also half as powerful. In designterms it’s as inoffensive as the aforementioned Roam – and comes in a choice of black, black or black.

LG Xboom PL7 (£170)

What’s the story?

The PL7 is part of LG’s Xboom Go range of portable Bluetooth speakers. It’s the largest of the threePL models, meaning it’s the most impressive when it comes to power, battery life and proper low-end welly.It comes with the added clout of having hi-fi wizards Meridian providing proprietary tech for the range, as well as some added pizzazz thanks to party lighting at either end. Download the app and you can customise this or turn it off to save battery, as well as accessing party-linking for doubling up with other speakers. It’ll also work with Google Assistant and Siri via a connected phone. And the repertoire of added features doesn’t end there, because you can also use two of these speakers as surround channels with any LG TV from 2020 or ’21, which seems like a genuinely smart application.

Bose Soundlink Revolve II (£180)

What's the story?

The second generation of the Revolve brings with it some subtleye twelcome refinements. You get an extra hour of battery life, up to 13 hours, and a boost in dust/waterproofing to a full IP55 rating.Bose has taken an ‘ifitain’tbroke’ approach to the design, and that’s no bad thing (well, except for the lack of a USB-C port – it’s still microUSB). This is a lovely-looking speaker: a cylinder with a sturdy aluminium body and silicone control panel on the top. All the controls you’d expect are up there, including a multi-function button thatbeckons your phone’s voiceassistant with a long press.The grille runsseamlesslyaround the speaker, which helps the Revolve’s 360° sound to do its thing: no matter where you’re standing you’ll get the same audio experience.You can pair two of thesespeakers for stereo playback through the Bose app if you wish, but there are no EQ controls to tweak the sound.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) (£200)

What’s the story?

B&O can boast a worldfirst with the new A1:this was the first Bluetooth-only speaker to get Alexa voice control builtin, hitchhiking on your phone tolink to Amazon’s servers. Redesigned audio drivers and Bluetooth 5.1 deliver enhanced 360° sound with a 92dB maxloudness when streaming, and if you’re feeling flush you can buy two and pair them for stereo. Sound can be personalised using the B&O app. Design-wise the second-gen A1 doesn’t look any different to its predecessor; but seeing as there was nothing wrong with the pearl-blasted aluminium chassisbefore, we’ve no qualms about that. Only now there’s a higher IP67 waterproof rating, which extends to the carry string, and a softpolymer base.Since launch the A1 has had a number of seasonal finishes added to the line-up, and for an extra £120 you can get a Berluti special edition. Reet fancy.