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
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.
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
- 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.
|Price range (AUD)||Weight (kg)||Volume capability
|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.
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?