Last updated: August 10, 2021

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You always want music to accompany you to the lake, garden party or beach, but the speaker on your mobile phone is not enough. Then you should get a Bluetooth speaker that has more power and a better range to provide you and your friends with good music. The market has a huge range of models from mini speakers, speakers with docking stations to Bluetooth speakers that are specially designed for outdoor use.

In our big Bluetooth speaker test 2021, you can find out all the useful and important information about the devices and thus make the best decision for a speaker. When buying, pay particular attention to battery power, waterproofness, weight and range. Find out about the different types of speakers below and make the best decision for your needs.




Summary

  • Bluetooth speakers are usually compact and portable sound systems with an integrated Bluetooth receiver.
  • They offer the advantage of being able to play music in much better quality and at a higher maximum volume than the speakers usually integrated in smartphones, tablets or computers.
  • Most models are designed for outdoor use and therefore offer a certain degree of outdoor suitability due to their compact size, a long-lasting battery and splash protection.

The Best Bluetooth Speaker: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a Bluetooth speaker

In our guide, we would like to draw your attention to a few points that you should consider before buying a Bluetooth speaker. In addition to the question of price, we also clarify whether there might be an alternative for you.

What are Bluetooth speakers?

Wireless music transmission via Bluetooth has been in vogue at least since the smartphone boom. Nowadays, not only mobile phones, but also notebooks and MP3 players are equipped with Bluetooth as standard.

Small but mighty - Bluetooth speakers often have an impressive battery life, especially compared to their rather small size. Here you can see the Anker Soundcore Motion+ in our practical test. (Image source: HEIMKINOHELD)

And with Bluetooth adapters, you can also upgrade your favourite older devices with Bluetooth. If, for example, your computer does not have Bluetooth, we recommend that you retrofit it with a Bluetooth adapter.

Bluetooth speakers are sound boxes with a built-in Bluetooth receiver.

You can play music or audio books stored on your Bluetooth-enabled devices wirelessly with these Bluetooth speakers. As a rule, such Bluetooth speakers offer better sound quality than the speakers already built into your smartphone, tablet or notebook.

In everyday life, Bluetooth is most often used for wireless music transmission, which is why speakers with a built-in Bluetooth chip are becoming increasingly popular.

Did you know that the name Bluetooth is derived from a Danish king?

His name was Harald Blauzahn and he was responsible for uniting the two hostile parts of Norway and Denmark.

Although there are also some stationary models for domestic use, manufacturers are focusing on ever smaller and lighter Bluetooth boxes for mobile use.

Although portable Bluetooth speakers have become better and better in recent years, you should also bear in mind that they can never really reach the optimal sound standard of wired speakers.

In order to guarantee their mobility through small dimensions and low weight, manufacturers rely on smaller and lighter materials. Unfortunately, this comes with the compromise of poorer sound quality.

Advantages
  • Can be used with all Bluetooth-enabled devices
  • Ideal for travelling: small and light
  • No tangled cables
  • Rechargeable battery: enables mobility
  • Better sound quality and volume than speakers built into smartphones/tablets/notebooks
Disadvantages
  • Cannot achieve the sound quality of wired speakers
  • Rechargeable battery: limited usage time and regular charging
  • Bluetooth connection costs energy
  • Be aware of possible sources of interference (e.g.: reinforced concrete walls)

For a pleasant sound experience during an outdoor barbecue or during a relaxing reading break on the living room couch, Bluetooth speakers are nevertheless a more than satisfactory option.

Is there a difference between Bluetooth speakers for home and on the go?

Bluetooth speakers can be roughly divided into two categories: Those for mobile use and those that you only want and can use at home. Depending on what you ultimately want to use your Bluetooth speakers for, you should pay attention to the following features:

OUTDOOR INDOOR
Long battery life Clear and balanced sound, rich bass
Compact size and light weight Power supply: USB cable or mains adapter?
Long Bluetooth signal range Wireless power on/off via transmitter
Outdoor-ready: water splash protection,stain resistant, durable -

Of course, most Bluetooth speakers have other useful functions such as a radio function, an AUX connection or a charging function for your smartphone. However, these are optional and depend on your personal preferences.

Of course, smaller and thus mobile Bluetooth speakers can also be operated between your four walls. So if you are not explicitly looking for stationary speakers, we recommend that you always go for mobile outdoor models.

How much do Bluetooth speakers cost?

Bluetooth speakers are available in all price and quality classes. Small and mobile devices for in-between use start at around 20 euros. More massive large devices with voluminous sounds with little loss of sound quality are rarely available for less than 200 euros.

All in all, we think that these prices are reasonable if you often listen to music without headphones and want to enjoy it in better sound quality.

Price range Common features
Inexpensive up to 50 euros + Mostly "MINI" devices: compact size and less than 500 g weight
+ Ideal companions for on the go
+ Relative to size: acceptable sound quality
- Not intended for continuous use
- Inexpensive cabinet finish
Mid-range 50 to 120 euros + Mostly small devices under 1 kg
+ Well-known manufacturers
+ Sturdy workmanship: more suitable for outdoor use
+ Good sound quality
+ Many extras (NFC, hands-free function, etc.)
+ Ideal for both continuous use at home and on the move
+ Largest selection
Upper mid-range 120 to 200 euros Mixture of mid- and upper-range:
+ Has all the mid-range features with some upper-range extras
+ Has the compact size of mid-range units
+ Often better sound quality
Flexible: Can be used both stationary and mobile
- You often only pay for the brand name
Upper class from 200 euros + Offer the best possible sound quality
+ High maximum volume
+ Long battery life
+ Many extras
+ Ideal as a stationary alternative at home or in the garden
- Mostly large units weighing over 1 kg
- Transport possible, but not as convenient

What are the alternatives to Bluetooth speakers?

If you want to listen to music with a good sound system, but don't want to invest in a new Bluetooth speaker system - you have three alternatives:

  • Wired speakers
  • Speakers with docking station
  • Retrofitting speakers with an audio Bluetooth adapter

The first alternative sounds logical, but it also brings a decisive advantage for audiophiles: wired sound boxes always reproduce sound in a better quality than the wireless option.

Speakers with a built-in docking station are primarily intended for use in the home. As the name suggests, they are used to dock smartphones (or, more rarely, tablets) and are therefore similar to conventional wired soundboxes.

They offer the advantage that your mobile phone is charged at the same time as it is played, so you don't have to worry about its battery life.

However, this also means that you cannot be flexible, as the portability of such speakers is limited. There is also the unfortunate problem that not all smartphones have the same connection options, which is why docking adapters have to be purchased.

If you already have a sound system at home that you do not want to replace or supplement, you have the option of upgrading your speakers with an audio Bluetooth receiver adapter.

Decision: What types of Bluetooth speakers are there and which one is right for you?

Bluetooth speakers can be divided into the following types:

  • Mini Bluetooth Speakers
  • Outdoor Bluetooth Speakers
  • Home Bluetooth Speakers

Bluetooth speakers come in many designs, sizes and price ranges, as well as with numerous features. With so many minor differences, the models can best be classified based on their ideal place of use.

So to choose the best wireless speaker for you, consider where you'll mainly use it before you buy.

Below, we present three basic types to give you an overview of the different product features and help you make your purchase decision.

What are Mini Bluetooth Speakers and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

You can easily take the ultra-mobile mini Bluetooth speakers with you wherever you go. Whether you're travelling, in the park or on the underground, they're always at your fingertips. Simply connect them to your smartphone and you can enjoy good sound at any time.

Mini speakers even fit in your pocket.

There are many different designs. Some of these small Bluetooth speakers fit in your pocket or hand luggage, others can be attached to your belt or bicycle. These often quite inexpensive models are characterised above all by their low weight and compact design.

However, the small size may be at the expense of sound quality and volume. As a general rule, sound needs space to develop fully.

It's best to listen to a sample or find out from other sources whether a model meets your requirements. You can definitely surpass the quality of the mobile phone speaker with Bluetooth speakers.

Advantages
  • Lightweight
  • Handy
  • Often cheap
Disadvantages
  • Usually lower sound quality and volume
  • Reliant on battery

Portable Bluetooth speakers are powered either by rechargeable batteries or batteries, the latter being more expensive in the long run. Some models can even be used as a power bank and you can use them to charge smartphones or similar devices with a USB connection on the go.

What are outdoor Bluetooth speakers and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Do you plan to use your Bluetooth speakers frequently in the great outdoors, e.g. on camping trips, garden parties or beach parties? Then you should look for devices with a robust construction. These are often heavier and more cumbersome than ultra-mobile devices. On the other hand, they are stable and shockproof.

In addition, outdoor speakers are often protected against dust and water. While some devices are completely waterproof, others only offer protection against splashing water or light rain. Therefore, look for the IPX protection class. It indicates the degree of water protection - the higher the number, the better.

Advantages
  • Robust
  • Water and dust protected
  • Longer battery life
  • Often quite powerful and suitable for many people
Disadvantages
  • Usually heavier
  • More powerful models are larger

In order to drown out background noise and to allow several people to participate in the music, a certain volume is necessary. As a rule, portable jukeboxes only offer this if they are not too small.

This higher performance also increases the energy requirement. Battery-operated outdoor speakers therefore offer long runtimes so that the music enjoyment does not end prematurely. You can extend the runtime with a power bank. Alternatively, the speakers can also be powered by batteries.

Another form of mobility is offered by very special versions for use in the car. They can be plugged into the cigarette lighter, also serve as a hands-free device and often have an integrated radio as a replacement for the car radio.

What are Bluetooth speakers for the home and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

You may want to use Bluetooth speakers mainly in your living room, bedroom or kitchen. Of course, you can use any model for this. However, it is worth paying attention to the product features for this area of use.

For predominantly stationary use, larger Bluetooth speakers with built-in amplifiers are recommended. They may be somewhat heavier. Such speakers are capable of filling an entire room with voluminous and high-quality sounds.

You can also set up a hi-fi sound system, e.g. with several floor-standing speakers, which will provide you with high-end sound with good bass. For particularly exquisite sound systems, you will of course have to dig a little deeper into your pocket.

Advantages
  • High sound quality
  • Provides sound for many people or for an entire room
  • Convenient to operate via mains socket
Disadvantages
  • Not very mobile due to size
  • Often unsuitable for outdoor use (e.g. in the rain) or for the bathroom
  • Can only be set up near a mains socket when operated via mains plug
  • Particularly high-quality solutions are expensive

Bluetooth speakers for home use can practically be supplied with power via the mains connection. To do this, they must be placed near a power socket. Many models for home use are still easily portable and can thus be used in several rooms.

Soundbars are elegant Bluetooth speakers.

When buying, you can also make sure that the speakers match your furnishings and blend in perfectly with the room. A Bluetooth soundbar usually fits under the TV in a space-saving and elegant way. Wall and ceiling speakers are also available, but they are then permanently installed.

If you want to operate the speakers in the bathroom, you need separate product features for this again. Such models are usually smaller and, like many outdoor models, waterproof. Some also offer a suction cup for mounting in the shower.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate Bluetooth speakers

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate Bluetooth speakers. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain device is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Bluetooth version
  • Range
  • Size & Weight
  • Battery life
  • Splash protection
  • Stereo pairing
  • Social Mode (Multipair)
  • Additional features

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Bluetooth version

In general, it is always advisable to choose the latest Bluetooth standard. At the moment, that would be Bluetooth 4.x. This version is characterised by its low energy concept and the improved security standard.

Did you know that the Bluetooth 1.0 version was launched in 1999?

A lot has been tried since the 1980s to minimise cable clutter. Version 5.0 has been available since January 2019

However, Bluetooth 4.0 is not always backwards compatible with previous versions! Therefore, pay attention to whether the manufacturer explicitly promises backwards compatibility or whether the packaging indicates a Smart Ready designation.

It is also possible to buy a Bluetooth adapter with version 3.0 without any problems. However, you should avoid older versions.

Bluetooth 5.0 was adopted by the SIG in 2016. This new version is intended to quadruple the range and double the data rate, among other things.

Range

How far your Bluetooth signal should reach depends, of course, on your intended use and your immediate environment.

How big is your home and how far apart will the devices to be paired be? Do you have reinforced concrete walls nearby that could reduce the possible range of the Bluetooth connection?

Experience shows that a Bluetooth speaker with a range of about ten metres is sufficient for everyday use.

In the meantime, however, much larger distance ranges have become standard for Bluetooth speakers. Even in the lower price ranges, good models with signal ranges of 20 to 30 metres can be found.

Size & weight

The larger the resonance chamber, the more voluminous the sound. But the old loudspeaker rule is no longer quite true with regard to Bluetooth speakers, because some new factors such as mobility and outdoor capability are playing an increasingly important role here.

In the meantime, many more manageable models also create a thoroughly breathtaking sound. Therefore, the optimal dimensions of a Bluetooth speaker depend more on your intended use and budget.

Before buying, consider whether you plan to take your device with you a lot.

If you plan to take your Bluetooth speaker with you often, it should ideally weigh no more than 800 g and be no larger than 18 cm on the longest side.

If you're looking for a Bluetooth sound system for your home, its size will naturally depend on the space available.

Battery life

Bluetooth sound systems usually have a rechargeable battery so that they are always portable. Of course, this battery has a limited life and must be recharged regularly. Depending on the model, this is possible either with a USB cable connection or a DC mains connection.

To ensure that music enjoyment outdoors is not neglected, we recommend a battery life of at least six hours. But even here, much longer runtimes of up to 15 hours are standard nowadays.

Unfortunately, Bluetooth speakers are not designed to last forever because of their built-in battery. Depending on the quality of the device battery, it lasts 1,000 to 2,500 charging cycles until the battery capacity noticeably decreases.

Alternatively, there are also many Bluetooth speakers that need to be permanently connected to the mains and do not require a battery. These models are therefore more suitable for permanent stationary use.

Splash water protection

Bluetooth speakers are practical outdoor companions. But they can also get wet. It doesn't matter whether it's due to the weather, rain or snow, or simply because good music can't be missing at the next barbecue party. If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker to go, make sure it is splash-proof.

Bluetooth speakers are perfect for on the go. Since it can get wet outside, the speakers are also splash-proof or waterproof. (Image source: pixabay.com / StockSnap)

If you want to take the speakers into the water at the beach or for a relaxing swim, waterproof versions are of course the better choice.

To be on the safe side, look for the protection class of the speakers when buying them:

  • The IPX5 protection class indicates that a few splashes of water will not harm it.
  • The IPX rating means that the unit is protected against temporary submersion (one metre for 30 minutes).
  • The IP67 protection class certifies that not only temporary submersion of the Bluetooth speaker is not a problem. Dust is also no problem - you can tell by the number 6.

Stereo pairing

You may have noticed that traditional sound systems are always equipped with two speakers. This is to achieve stereophony, i.e. a spatial sound impression during natural listening.

This stereo effect is also possible when you pair two Bluetooth speakers and play music from one transmitter at the same time. This function is called stereo pairing.

Bluetooth speakers with stereo pairing are therefore much more worthwhile for long-term stationary use.

Social Mode

Social mode is actually the same as multipairing. It enables the pairing of several source devices without having to constantly pair them again. In short: The Bluetooth speaker remembers the devices that are already connected to it.

We recommend a Bluetooth speaker with a social mode function if several people in your household want to use the speakers with different devices.

Additional features

As Bluetooth speakers are becoming more and more popular, manufacturers are now more often focusing on additional functions and nice gimmicks.

  • Radio: Especially if you want some background music, it may be an advantage if you can simply switch on the radio. This way you also get a regular news update.
  • Hands-free system: A Bluetooth loudspeaker with a hands-free system is particularly suitable for car drivers. This way you can talk on the phone while driving relatively safely. Nevertheless, please always drive carefully!
  • Light effects: Light effects are also a nice extra. They are particularly impressive if you darken the room a little. From romance to party - music and light create the right mood.

Some models offer useful add-ons such as an integrated radio, a speakerphone, NFC support or even additional connections (AUX connection or SD card slot). Nice gimmicks such as light effects or a larger colour selection can also be arguments for buying.

Facts worth knowing about Bluetooth speakers

Finally, we would like to give you a few answers to questions that might interest you about Bluetooth speakers.

Can I use Bluetooth speakers in the car?

Modern cars usually have a Bluetooth interface in the on-board computer and you can connect your smartphone to the car radio to listen to your favourite songs at any time, regardless of the music on the radio station.

It's more difficult if you have an older car. In that case, you can change the radio, but the cost and effort are much higher than using a Bluetooth box.

Most devices can also be used as hands-free devices.

There is a wide range of Bluetooth speakers. You should look for a model that fits well in your car. It is important that the speaker does not fly across the car when braking. There are, for example, cylindrical Bluetooth speakers that fit in the cup holder or those for the centre console.

Can Bluetooth speakers really only be operated wirelessly?

No. Many Bluetooth speakers also have a built-in 3.5 mm jack connection. This allows you to use your Bluetooth speakers virtually wired and thus without an active Bluetooth connection, for example on a PC.

Since an active Bluetooth connection drains the energy of your source device, this alternative connection can save the battery charge of your smartphone or tablet.

But be careful not to confuse this with a docking station, because a 3.5 mm jack will not power your Bluetooth speaker or your transmitting device.

How can I pair the Bluetooth speaker with my smartphone?

Once you have bought your new Bluetooth speaker and want to use it, you need to pair it with your smartphone to be able to stream music from your phone. Only a few steps are necessary.

  1. Switch on the Bluetooth function of your smartphone and press the Bluetooth button on the speaker.
  2. The speaker will then radio your mobile phone, which should then display the speaker in the list of available devices.
  3. Then simply tap on the name of your Bluetooth Box - and you're done.

From the second time on, this manual pairing between smartphone and Bluetooth speaker is no longer necessary because the connection is recognised automatically. By the way, it's even easier with NFC-enabled devices - here you just have to hold the mobile phone up to the speaker for the pairing.

How can I connect several Bluetooth speakers with each other?

If you have several Bluetooth speakers, you might want to use them at the same time. It's not that easy, but with our tips it will work.

As a rule, it is not possible for your music source to connect to several Bluetooth speakers at the same time. And the speakers can't do this with each other either. You have to play tricks.

If you have two Android smartphones, apps are a possibility. Install Soundseeder Music Player 2.0 on one device and Soundseeder Speaker on the other. Connect one mobile phone to one speaker and the other to the other.

Approach Advantages Disadvantages
App for Android inexpensive requires two Android smartphones
Apple Airplay inexpensive only for iPhones
Splitter wired comparatively expensive
Transmitter wired not all transmitters are suitable for two speakers

The apps communicate with each other and thus enable simultaneous playback on both Bluetooth speakers. Both are available in the Google Play Store. It's a little easier with Apple AirPlay, because then you can select several connected Bluetooth speakers on your iPhone.

If you only have an Android smartphone, there is still a solution, but it is more expensive: a splitter. Such a device has two Bluetooth transmitters. Alternatively, you can connect your mobile phone to a transmitter and connect it to both speakers. But not all transmitters support two speakers at the same time - so check the product description.

Can I build a Bluetooth speaker myself?

Even though the cheapest Bluetooth speakers are now available for around 20 euros, you may still want to build a Bluetooth speaker yourself. But is that even possible?

If you have some technical knowledge, it's no problem at all. There are lots of instructions for Bluetooth speakers with different technology on the Internet.

Some build a speaker out of drainpipes, a Bluetooth module and a power amplifier like the ones you normally use in your car. Others use a wooden box, a switchable amplifier module and a USB Bluetooth stick. There are almost no limits to your imagination.

Picture source: unsplash.com / @marksolarski

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