Bluetooth and wireless speaker buying guide

We'll help you find the best Bluetooth speakers so you can listen to high-quality audio anywhere you go.

Bluetooth speakers offer a portable and convenient solution for listening to music and other audio while travelling or spending time outdoors. If you’re an audiophile looking for a home stereo system, you should consider smart speakers or multiroom speakers instead.

Prices range from $40 to $1,000. Bluetooth speakers can be categorised as either ultra-portable, such as the UE Roll 2 and JBL Go or semi-portable, such as the Bose Soundlink Mini and RIVA Turbo X. Ultra-portable speakers weigh as little at 0.2kg, but often do not have the volume or battery capacity of larger models. Semi-portable speakers can weigh as much as 6.5kg and generally cost more than their more portable counterparts. Choosing the right Bluetooth speaker for you depends on your budget and where and how you want to use your speakers.

Read on to find out how to compare Bluetooth speakers.

Compare some of the best Bluetooth speakers

Data obtained September 2018. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Name Product Average Price (AUD) Max. Battery Life Max. Wireless Range Purchase Today
Polk BOOM Bluetooth Swimmer
Polk BOOM Bluetooth Swimmer
$19.99
8 hours
Waterproof, dirtproof, shockproof and able to loop its flexible tail around chair arms, fence posts and more.
JBL Go 2
JBL Go 2
$49.95
5 hours
Choose between 6 bright colours.
Anker Soundcore Flare
Anker Soundcore Flare
$75
12 hours
66 ft.
Listen to music in 360 degrees with a beat-driven LED light show.
JBL Clip 2
JBL Clip 2
$79.95
8 hours
Wirelessly connect two waterproof Clip 2 speakers together for amplified sound.
Philips ShoqBox SB300
Philips ShoqBox SB300
$79.99
8 hours
66 ft.
Shockproof, water resistant and able to flash multi-colored lights to the beat of your music.
Creative Metallix
Creative Metallix
$85
24 hours
33 ft.
Play more than 200 songs with a battery life of up to 24 hours.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom
$97
10 hours
100 ft.
The Wonderboom is waterproof, floatable and has a battery that lasts up to 10 hours.
Logitech X300
Logitech X300
$115.91
6 hours
30 ft.
Make hands free calls and choose between 4 different colors.
JBL Flip 4
JBL Flip 4
$149.95
12 hours
Made from durable and splash proof material available in 6 vibrant colours.
Ultimate Ears Boom 2
Ultimate Ears Boom 2
$169
15 hours
100 ft.
Allows you to listen to music in 360-degree sound and connect multiple speakers together for louder audio.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Average Price (AUD) Max. Battery Life Max. Wireless Range Purchase Today
JBL Charge 3
JBL Charge 3
$229.95
20 hours
30 ft.
Connect up to 3 speakers together for surround sound.
Bose SoundLink Mini II
Bose SoundLink Mini II
$257
7 hours
30 ft.
Enjoy your music on the go, everywhere you go. The SoundLink Mini II Wireless speaker delivers full, natural sound from an ultra-compact speaker that fits in the palm of your hand.
Fugoo Style-S
Fugoo Style-S
$269.95
15 hours
30 ft.
The Style-S can withstand mud, snow, water and shock.
Creative iRoar
Creative iRoar
$315
20 hours
An app allows you to control the speaker from your smart devices.
Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)
Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)
$401.56
13 hours
100 ft.
Water and dust proof Bluetooth speaker.
Marshall Kilburn
Marshall Kilburn
$409.94
20 hours
Features a unique vintage design with bass, treble and volume controls.

Compare up to 4 providers

How do Bluetooth speakers work?

Traditional speakers use a cable to link them back to an audio source such as a TV, computer or mobile phone. Bluetooth speakers use Bluetooth technology to link the speaker to the audio source without requiring a physical cable.

Bluetooth uses radio waves to transmit across short distances up to around 10m. Bluetooth can connect a computer to a wireless device such as a keyboard, mouse, digital camera or mobile. You can send and receive signals over this Bluetooth connection allowing you to download photos from your camera, connect your mobile to a hands-free headset or listen to music with Bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth speakers are designed to be portable. You can connect your speaker almost instantly to any Bluetooth capable device such as a smartphone or computer no matter where you are because no cables are required. Some Bluetooth speakers are designed to be extra portable for outdoor activities.

What's the difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?
The main difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers is how they work. Bluetooth speakers connect directly to an audio source, whereas Wi-Fi speakers connect to a Wi-Fi network, which in turn connects to an audio source. Wi-Fi allows multiple speakers to operate on the same network and broadcast the same audio. Wi-Fi speakers are typically installed in a house or unit and are not as portable as Bluetooth speakers.

Why should I consider Bluetooth speakers?

Bluetooth speakers are a convenient way to listen to high-quality audio. You can use your speakers at the beach, while camping, when travelling overseas or at home. Bluetooth speakers have taken over the role of traditional portable stereos. Where stereos required a CD or cassette tape, you only need a Bluetooth capable device to connect to your speakers. Fortunately, just about any device that plays digital music is now Bluetooth capable.

Pros and cons of Bluetooth speakers

Pros

  • Portable
  • Convenient
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable

Cons

  • Smaller models sometimes sacrifice sound quality
  • Can have connectivity issues
  • Few surround sound options
  • Limited battery life

How to compare Bluetooth speakers

The best speaker for you comes down to how you want to use it. If you want a speaker you can take to the beach this summer, look for something waterproof. If you want to listen to music on vacation, look for something extra portable that you can fit easily in your carry-on. No matter what, you’ll want to look for a speaker with a long battery life and high-quality sound all within your budget.

Quick Stats
Price range (AUD) Weight (kg) Volume capability
(decibels)
Maximum battery life (hours) Wireless range (metres)
From $40 to $1,000 From 0.2kg to 6.5kg From 85 dB to 110+ dB From 5 to 26+ From 9m to 30+m

Additional features to look for:

  • Speakerphone. Some speakers include built-in microphones so you can use the speaker as a hands-free device.
  • USB charging. Some speakers with larger battery also give you the ability to charge other devices via a USB cable. So if your phone battery is running low from playing music all day, you can plug it into the speaker and use the extra battery to charge your phone.
  • Near field communication (NFC). NFC allows two Bluetooth devices to connect simply by being within a few centimetres of each other. If you have an NFC compatible device, consider buying a speaker with the same feature for added convenience.
  • Cable input. Even though Bluetooth devices are designed to be wireless, some include an audio cable port. This can be helpful if you want to connect your speaker to a device that is not Bluetooth capable, such as a desktop PC, or if the Bluetooth connection malfunctions.
  • Surround sound. Some Bluetooth speakers allow you to connect additional speakers to create surround sound. However, if you are primarily buying speakers to use at home for surround sound, you should consider using Wi-Fi multiroom speakers.

Summary

While it may seem like there are an overwhelming number of wireless Bluetooth speakers on the market, choosing the best one for you is simple if you ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my budget?
  • Where do I want to use my speaker? How portable does it need to be?
  • Do I need a speaker that is durable? Able to connect with other speakers? Able to charge my phone?
  • How important is audio quality?
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