Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Loudspeakers come in many shapes and colours. Some are best suited for the pool, others for the computer in the study. In the following article, you will find an overview of the topic of speakers, important points for your purchase decision and the most frequently asked questions on the topic in our guide.

With our loudspeaker test 2021, we aim to give you a complete picture of the available loudspeakers so that you can find the right one for you. We also present all the products that we have examined in detail. To support your decision, you will also find videos and tables that clearly summarise the relevant information for you.




Summary

  • When it comes to loudspeakers, a rough distinction can be made between stationary and portable devices. Stationary loudspeakers usually need a power source to function or they cannot access the full power from the battery.
  • Especially with portable speakers, you should pay attention to how robust they are. If you want to use your speaker near water, it should be waterproof. Look for the "IPX" rating from the manufacturer.
  • Defective speakers must not be disposed of in household waste. It is best to take your defective device to a shop that sells speakers or to your local recycling centre.

The Best Loudspeaker: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for loudspeakers

Before buying a new loudspeaker, you should give some thought to what requirements it should meet. There are many different manufacturers, all offering different devices.

With the following criteria, you can compare the different speakers with each other and have help with the large selection so that you do not regret the purchase.

In the following section, we will explain the individual criteria in more detail and tell you what is important.

Weight

A lot has changed in recent years, especially when it comes to loudspeakers. Before you buy a new unit, you should ask yourself what role weight plays. Do you always leave the speaker in the same place, or do you want to be able to listen to music on the go?

Weight is crucial for shock resistance.

The weight differences of the various models are relatively large: the lightest portable devices are in the range of 150 grams and the heaviest stationary speakers go up to 34 kilograms.

When buying a speaker, make sure you get the right specification. Manufacturers often quote both the weight including packaging and the weight of the speaker alone.

Size L x W x H

In addition to the weight, the dimensions of a loudspeaker also play an important role. The rule of thumb is that smaller devices tend to be quieter, while larger devices are capable of more power. However, caution is advised here, because you should always pay attention to the stated power in watts. You can find information on power in the corresponding paragraph.

It is good to have the flexibility to choose the place where you want to listen to music. But it's annoying if you find out after you've bought your speaker that it won't fit in your travel bag. So always look for the specified dimensions in the products on offer. These are usually given in centimetres (cm) and indicate length, width and height in that order. Exceptions are usually marked.

Need for an additional power supply

Some units have built-in rechargeable batteries, others do not. This depends in each case on whether or not the unit needs to be connected directly to the power socket with a cable. A distinction can be made between three types:

  1. Speakers on battery only: Some speakers are designed to be charged so that you can take them with you and use them wherever you want. Such a product will indicate the battery life, which tells you how long you can use the speaker without having to charge the battery.
  2. Speakers only via external power supply: On the other hand, there are speakers that need to be connected to a power source with a cable in order to work. No battery life is specified for these devices because they do not have an integrated battery, but they can be used indefinitely as long as they are powered.
  3. Speaker Hybrid: The third category is a mixture of the first two. These devices have a battery that allows the owner to use the device flexibly. But they also have a cable that can be connected to a power source. This way, the device can be used like a stationary one.

Most available loudspeakers can be used hybrid, but most are a little better suited for one type at a time

Power in watts

The power of a loudspeaker is expressed in watts. The more power a speaker can produce, the louder you can play music on it.

Watts indicate the amount of energy consumed per period of time. This unit is abbreviated with a "W". To illustrate: 1 watt is equivalent to heating 1 gram of water from 15 °C to about 29.3 °C in one minute.

Larger appliances are often able to produce more power than smaller ones. As a result, they need more electricity and therefore often have to be connected to a power source.

Environmental influences

If you want to listen to music in an environment that is dusty, sandy or that does not necessarily stay dry, be sure to check whether or not your speaker is waterproof and dustproof.

Some products are labelled "waterproof", "shockproof" and "dustproof". These labels indicate which environments should not harm your speaker. Sometimes, however, you will find specifications such as "IPX5". What you can do with these IPX specifications is explained in the following table with the common abbreviations:

Abbreviation Meaning
IPX0 No protection
IPX1 Protection against dripping water
IPX2 Protection against falling dripping water when the enclosure is tilted up to 15°
IPX3 Protection against water spray up to 60° from vertical
IPX4 Protection against splashing water from all sides
IPX5 Protection against water jets
IPX6 Protection against strong water jets
IPX7 Protection against brief submersion
IPX8 Protection against permanent submersion

The IP stands for "international protection codes" for loudspeakers. It's best to make sure your device always meets the standards you need. For example, if you only listen to music indoors, your speaker does not need to be protected against permanent submersion.

Wired or wireless connection

This category describes whether your speaker can be used via Bluetooth or whether you need to connect your phone with a cable, for example.

Bluetooth is common with modern devices.

However, you should look at speakers for your PC to see if they can be connected wirelessly or not. As a rule, these are still the only devices that can only be connected via cable.

Most devices produced today have a Bluetooth function. This means that you can play your favourite music wirelessly.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about loudspeakers answered in detail

In the following guide, we answer the most important questions about loudspeakers. We have selected the most frequently asked questions for you and try to convey the most important information as concisely as possible. After reading the guide, you should have the basic knowledge to find the best product for you.

For whom is a loudspeaker suitable?

Buying a speaker is worthwhile for anyone who wants to listen to music or other sound that would be too quiet on a smartphone alone, or if the terminal is not capable of audio output. With desktop computers, for example, it is often the case that they need additional speakers if you want to play music.

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Listening to music too loudly for a long time can affect your hearing. You should always follow the health advice given by the manufacturer
(Image source: SJ Objio / unsplash)

Speakers are also suitable for people who want to speak to a larger group of people. With the help of a microphone and speakers, the voice can be reproduced louder.

What types of speakers are there and which one is right for me?

When buying a speaker, you can distinguish between countless different features. We have found two overarching categories where all speakers can be classified. These two categories and their advantages and disadvantages are explained in the following table.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Portable Can be used flexibly in different places, usually cheaper, independent of power sources, lighter than stationary speakers Limited runtime, tends to have less power, risk of damage is higher
Stationary Unlimited runtime, tends to have higher power, risk of damage is low Needs a power outlet for power supply, usually heavier, usually more expensive

Read also the following part if you want to know more about the different types of speakers.

Portable speaker

Portable speaker

Portable speakers are suitable for people who do not have a fixed place for their speaker, but want flexibility in where they listen to their music.

Portable speakers are characterised by the fact that they have a rechargeable battery that makes them independent of power sources when it is charged. You should only be aware that not all batteries have the same runtime and that a battery only ever offers a limited runtime.

Advantages
  • Can be used flexibly in different places
  • Usually cheaper
  • Independent of power sources
  • Lighter than stationary speakers
Disadvantages
  • Limited runtime
  • Tends to have less power
  • Risk of damage is greater

Portable speakers tend to be smaller and handier than stationary ones. However, this advantage in size also comes with some disadvantages. Small devices usually cannot produce as much wattage, which can be a problem, especially outdoors. You may not be able to hear the music if you are not in the immediate vicinity of the device.

Portable speakers are not dependent on a cable and this in two ways: they do not need a permanent power supply, which is why they are often better protected against dust, water and shocks. In addition, nowadays pretty much all devices can be connected via Bluetooth.

In many cases, a portable speaker is also cheaper than a stationary speaker because they are smaller and less powerful. However, this is only a tendency and of course does not apply to all devices.

Stationary loudspeaker

Stationary loudspeaker

Stationary speakers are suitable for people who like to enjoy their music in a specific place that is ideally also protected from weather and harmful environmental influences.

Stationary speakers offer unlimited runtime as long as they are connected to a power source. So you never have to let your music enjoyment be interrupted by an empty battery.

Advantages
  • Unlimited runtime
  • Tends to perform better
  • Risk of damage is low
Disadvantages
  • Needs a power outlet for power
  • Usually heavier
  • Usually more expensive

Another advantage of stationary speakers is that they can usually deliver a higher output than the portable versions. Stationary speakers are not powered by a battery, which is why they are often larger and heavier. But you can still listen to your music at a distance.

Due to their size, weight and performance, stationary devices are often more expensive than portable ones. Again, this does not apply to all products without exception. However, since you usually don’t move them often, the risk of damage is smaller and can lead to a longer lifespan.

What does a loudspeaker cost?

The differences in price are very large for loudspeakers. As already mentioned above, the brand, size and performance play an important role.

Type Price
Portable Around 15 to 250 euros
Stationary Around 150 to 4,500 euros

Prices vary between 15 euros and around 4,500 euros. However, this range includes all types of speakers. Depending on the type of loudspeaker, the prices are in a narrower range.

What is a loudspeaker chassis?

The term "chassis" is often equated with the entire cabinet. However, this is technically not quite correct:

A "loudspeaker chassis" includes all immovable parts of the actual sound transducer, but not the cabinet itself.

Translated from French, "chassis" means nothing more than "frame"

For better comprehensibility, one could say that a sound transducer corresponds to a window, the chassis to the window frame. The whole cabinet in this example would then be the house wall with the windows.

What is a subwoofer?

A subwoofer is a monophonic loudspeaker cabinet. Monophonic speakers can only reproduce one sound channel. Subwoofers are optimised by their construction principle for the reproduction of low-frequency sound waves and are usually combined with specifically adapted loudspeakers, so-called satellites. These satellites can radiate frequencies in the middle and higher frequency range.

Where can I dispose of a loudspeaker?

With loudspeakers - as with all electrical appliances - it is stated that you may not simply dispose of them in the household waste.

There is a risk of fire if a battery is damaged.

Small electrical appliances can be handed in at shops where they can also be bought. Usually you don't have to buy anything or show a receipt for it, because you always pay the recycling fees when you buy an electrical appliance. Larger appliances can be handed in at a recycling centre.

If possible, always remove batteries and rechargeable batteries from the appliances and dispose of them separately in the designated places. However, with many speakers, you cannot remove the batteries without special tools. You should not try to do this in this case, because it can be dangerous.

Which speaker is suitable for which room size?

Depending on the size of the room, you should use a suitable speaker if you have the possibility. With small speakers with low power, you will notice relatively quickly that in rooms that are too large, you will not get much out of the music if you are too far away.

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Depending on the size and quality of your speaker, the quality of particularly high or low tones will be better or worse. Larger devices are usually more capable of covering a wide range of pitches.
(Image source: Jesman Fabio / unsplash)

With large devices with a lot of power, it is a little more complicated to get an ideal sound result. For one thing, you should consider that the walls reflect sound waves back, making loud music all the more intense. You should also make sure that the loudspeaker is not too close to a wall, otherwise bass overlaps can occur. This is noticeable by an unpleasant booming sound when the sound waves overlap and amplify.

The best way to test your speaker's position in the room is to move it around gradually. Also make sure that the speakers are not too close to each other and not too far apart.

Image source: Popov/ 123rf

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