Best Wireless and Bluetooth Speakers of 2018
30th June, 2018
30th June, 2018
Mobility in technology has been on an increasing demand over the past couple decades. No one seem to want to be stuck around a device to use that said device. From phone charging to listening of music, whatever it may be, there would always be an hierarchy of some sort.
With so many wireless speakers, fitting into almost all desired use, the major determining factor would be centered around the reason and compatibility for such demand. So whether you're looking for a rugged hand on speaker, take-anywhere speaker for the beach or a multi-purpose sound system, there’s always something for you. Wireless Bluetooth speakers are even going beyond music playing, now they have voice assistance, water proof features and some can even charge your phones (by an outsource usb charging port).
We made a round table discussion, reviewing, testing and making a list based on durability, portability, audio quality, aesthetics and people’s preferences with very little consideration for price. We came up with a list of our top picks for the best Bluetooth/wireless speakers
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A1
Weight:1.3 pounds (0.6 kg) | Dimensions: 4.8 x 13.3 cm | Battery life: Up to 24 hours playtime at moderate listening level. Built-in, rechargeable, 2200mAh, Li-Ion | Wireless range: N/A | Frequency response: 68 Hz - 21.000Hz | Drivers: 2 x 30W Class D for |Bluetooth version: 4.2 | woofer and tweeter. 2 x 140W peak power | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | Outsource USB charging: No | Stereo Pairing: Yes | Microphone: Yes. One electret type, omni-directional. Supports Siri and Google Assistant voice assistants | Price: $249 (N130,000 - N200,000)
This is the most affordable product yet from the Luxury Danish brand Bang & Olufsen. (Just a quick reminder that their A9 speaker is about £1800). Very few companies have been able to combine style, luxury and performance as well as Bang & Olufsen. It’s almost as if they don’t want everyone to buy their products. If it’s within your budget, this is a great buy. Probably the best outdoor Bluetooth speaker of that size.
Designed by well-known Danish furniture designer Cecile Manz, the A1’s aluminum-clad was carved into a dome shape, yet minimalist outlook. It has no protruding buttons or ridges on its surface. Although, on the outer panel are controls for power, volume, Bluetooth pairing, microphone button (for answering and ending calls) and a music button (for connecting to a device) there aren't controls for track navigation. You have to select and skip tracks on your mobile device yourself.
It’s available in black, deep red, moss green and off-white. It also has an attached leather lanyard.
For something so small the audio quality is confounding. The A1 brilliantly comes with two dual amplified driver, 2 x 30W Class D for woofer and tweeter. This results in powerful bass response that can get very loud. For this compact size this is amazing. The treble sound is distinctively clear too, testing with Coldplay’s “Cemeteries Of London” and you can hear The Spanish Flamenco clapping (so crispy and so clear) underneath the percussive hits of the guitar. Using the Beoplay app, you can also sync the music sound to your mood, customizing your sound with such themes as ‘warm’, ‘excited’, ‘relaxed’ and ‘bright’.
The battery can last up to 24 hours under 3 hours charge.
It was advertised as dust and splash resistant, but the A1 is too expensive to validate such claim.
For this size, this is probably the best speaker you could buy. I really applaud the simple minimalist design coupled with its very good performance. It’s louder than most portable Bluetooth speakers we've tested, and it delivers more bass response than a speaker this size can typically muster.
JBL charge 3
Weight: 1.76 pounds (0.8kg) | Dimensions: 213 x 87 x 88.5mm | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | Frequency response: 65Hz - 20kHz | Drivers: Two 1.7" drivers and two passive radiators | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: 3.0 | Waterproof: Yes | Aux-in: Yes | Outsource USB charging: Yes | Price: $120-$150 (N60,000 - N80,000)
Little history, JBL is a product of the Harman Industries, a company that has been making stereo speakers and woofers for cars, and associated home electronics. It’s owned by Samsung. With such background story, I wouldn’t be expecting anything less of a good quality. And truly with millions of speakers out there, JBL has always been considered a top choice.
The charge 3 strikes a perfect balance between sound, portability and price. Though it’s a bit inconvenient on the hands (due to its relative big size), the charge 3 is something you can carry almost anywhere.
It’s a relatively big speaker (when you compare it with others on this list). But not so big for you to carry around. To an extent, it also maintains a minimalist cylindrical surface, with buttons on the top for power, Bluetooth pairing, volume control, play/pause/skip and a unique JBL Connect button. The Charge 3 also gives off this visual element to your music playing, the external radiators vibrates with heavy bass tracks. How cool is that ?
As much as it would pack up space on your shelf, it’s also packing a lot of bass power. The speakers really resonates and will have no problem filling a large room. Tested the bass power with Drake’s 10 bands and you can feel the whole room vibrate. Instrumentals in treble come out well too, but the quality of bass is overwhelming. It also features a built-in mic so you can use it as a speakerphone for conference calls.
It’s also water proof, rated IPX7, meaning it can withstand a water depth of a meter for 30 minutes.
The only con to this otherwise great product is its size and weight, I mean it’s not something I’d be willing to hold for a long period of time... but then again why would you wanna hold it for that long ?
As a package, JBL Charge 3 offers a perfect balance between excellent sound quality, portability and price.
UE Boom 2
Weight: 1.1 pounds (0.5kg) | Dimension: 67 x 180 mm | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | Frequency response: 90Hz-20kHz | Drivers: Two 1.75" drivers and two 1.75" x 3" passive radiators | NFC: Yes | Bluetooth version: 3.0 | Waterproof: Yes| Aux-in: Yes | Outsource USB charging: Yes | Price: 100$ - 120$ (N50,000-80,000)
The Ultimate Ears Boom 2, commonly called the UE Boom 2 is the successor to the 2013’s UE Boom. Ultimate Ears have this time made a device with stellar style, radiating in all sorts of beautiful colors while still maintaining the quality we all love about it.
From a distance, it’s very obvious the Boom 2 is a flashy device. With the various color mixes, the boom 2 is still a very simple tube like device, light weight and not a burden to carry about. Most of its surface is covered in a porous mesh fabric taping into a 360 speaker grille that’s divided by a rubber band running up to the top and bottom faces. The band also houses most of the button controls; volume and power controls, a 3.5mm aux in port, a tripod mount insert, and a micro usb port.
The sound quality, in UE speakers, has had some issues in the past, issues pertaining the quality of sound distorting at high volumes. So with the Boom 2, UE has placed a bigger 1.75in active drivers and 3in passive radiators. This would mean a more impressive sound delivery even at high volumes. Although the bass isn’t as powerful as the JbL charge 3, it still delivers a very good bass output, even better utilized with the use of the sound equalizer on its app feature. The app also has something called the “Tap Controls”. Tap controls allows you to change songs by simply picking up the speaker and tapping it.
The UE Boom app also allows you to adjust the equalizer effect and Double Up, UE's way of linking two of its speakers together over Bluetooth. Apart from its vibrant colors and newly improved sound, the Boom 2 can take a dive in water too. The IPX7 UE Boom 2 can be submerged in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes.
The Boom 2 has featured an improved sound quality for an almost rugged, multi purpose play. It’s a great device to use, with a plus side of being very portable and coated in vibrant colors.
Bose SoundLink Mini II
Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.7kg) | Dimensions: 2 x 7.1 x 2.3 inches (H x W x D) | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Wireless range: 30 ft (10 m) | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: N/A | Waterproof: No | Aux-in: Yes | Outsource USB charging: No | Price: 180$ - 220$ (N100,000 - N150,000)
The Mini II is relatively an older speaker, and you can tell by its obvious lack of provocative aesthetics. Just a simple mellow rectangular speaker that offers surprisingly quality sound output. You might be quick to write this off, ordinarily, seeing this on display at a store, but the Mini II offers features that can compete with even the most modern speakers.
The Mini II comes in a very laid back rectangular design. Considering it’s small size, it packs a lot of weight. But still very comfortable to carry about. As expected for a flat topped device, most of the button controls are on top. It also has a multi-function button that can be used to change tracks or for activating voice assistants like Siri. The Mini II has a dock charging option, apart from the USB charge. Beneath the speaker are pins that would be slotted into a charge dock.
The mini II has well controlled sound even at high frequency, delivering expected sound quality in all audio spectrum. It doesn’t produce bass as much as the JBL charge 3, but the level of distinctive sound clarity, whether it be the cranking of the guitar or dissociative jazz instrumentals, is impressive. And to top of off, the sound quality is never compromised with volume. It sounds great at any volume.
Apart from the lack of NFC pairing, multi speaker pairing, multipoint Bluetooth and waterproofing, you can’t take anything away from this 2015 device. For a device this far back, to still bring in modern competition, you can be certain about its great quality.
Weight: 0.9 Pounds (0.4kg) | Dimensions: 102 x 93.5mm (H x D) | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Wireless range: 100 ft (33 m) | Frequency response: 80 Hz – 20 kHz | Drivers: two 40 mm active drivers and two 46.1mm x 65.2mm passive radiators | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: N/A | Aux-in: No | Outsource USB charging: No | Waterproof: Yes | Price: 60$ - 100$ (N30,000 - N50,000)
A device that fits the “small but mighty” slogan. This is another wonderful device from Ultimate Ears; relatively small device but packed with so many exciting features that out weighs the price.
It’s built in a ball like shape with flat ends. As expected with a UE speaker, it comes in all sort of vibrant colors. Because of its waterproof feature, all of its controls are sealed by a rubberized membrane which gives it a a kind of uncompromising grip. On top of that, the speaker grille is surrounded by a mesh fabric, appropriately blending with the color theme. There are button controls for power, pairing and playback (The playback control button is actually the entire UE logo at the top)
The wonderboom produces great sound at mid volume. High volumes sounds good too but there’s a little bit of sibilance. Testing with Drake’s 10 bands, at highest volume, undermines it sound quality...as the wonderboom struggles a-bit to maintain at that bass with a little bit of distortion. Nevertheless at mid volume, the quality of 360 sound is top notch. It also has added connectivity and assistance features. The wonderboom can pair to two devices simultaneously, and also to another speaker. It works with Siri or Google Assistant, allowing commands such as song search and music change.
The wonderboom offers the best balance of sound, size, battery life, waterproofing and price.
Harman/Kardon Go + Play
Weight: 7.6 Pounds (3.4 Kg) | Dimensions: 417.5mm x 181.5mm x 211.5mm (W x D x H) | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: N/A | Frequency response: 50Hz-20kHz (-6dB) | Drivers: 2x woofers (90mm), 2x tweeters (20mm) with dual Passive Radiator | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | Bluetooth version: 4.1 | Waterproofing: Yes | Outsource USB charging: Yes | Price: 300$ - 400$ (N100,000 - N120,000)
Earlier on, it was mentioned how Harman industries have been consistently putting out quality speakers, no matter the medium. Yet again, this is another stellar device from the Samsung owned incorporation. The Go + Play is powerful and easy to accommodate into almost any music playing situation.
Built like a purse, the Go + Play elliptical style is one of its best features. It’s amazing how this can blend into any space, whether it’s on a shelf in a neatly decorated room, or an outdoor park, the speaker offers good aesthetics without compromising on its powerful sound. Also the handle makes it easy to carry around, spreading out the weight, and allowing for one focal point of grip. Mobility (not portability) here is much more easier than the charge 3. It’s covered all round by a curved woven grille, leaving a rubber casing on the top and bottom. Most of the button functions are on the surface, and then the USB port on the back, a 3.5mm aux input plus the power socket live behind a rubbery flap on the rear.
Powerful! Heavy duty! Two words I think adequately qualify the sound quality on the Go +. And to think this is a 2016 product, how is it still relevant today?
The Go + comes with two tweeters, two larger bass drivers and a pair of matched passive radiators that produce solid deep bass without compromising on the sound. Testing it with Drake’s 10 bands, you can appreciate the well controlled synthetic bass, resonating without distorting. Other aspect of vocals stay clear regardless of the volume. Other features include dual microphones, and the ability to pair up with another Go + Play for synchronised stereo playback.
Stylish! Powerful! Heavy duty! With exceptional sound quality. Even though lacking in some of the latest features, it’s still an all round great device. If you want a powerful but portable wireless speaker, irrespective of its price tag, then this is where to spend your money.
Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)
Weight: 1.7 Pounds (0.75 Kg) | Dimensions: 209 x 74 x 77mm (W x D x H) | Battery life: 13 hours | Wireless range: 30m (100ft) | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: 2 x 40mm Full Range Driver, 1 x 53x135mm Passive Radiator | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | Bluetooth version: 4.1 | Waterproofing: Yes | Outsource USB charging: No | Price: $199 -$250 (N80,000 - N100,000)
The Envaya DSB-250BT is another simple, yet powerful speaker. It’s produced by the British company Denon, who started the Envaya series back in 2014. The Envaya DSB-250BT is one of three second generation speakers that boasts of powerful bass, controlled sound and seemingly impressive qualities.
Denon speakers have all proudly maintained more or less the same trapezoid like structure. Not so much style but it wouldn’t look out of place in a stylish setting. This particular shape gives it a tough compact feel, that allows for a from grip and hence better portability. The speaker grille is covered in a soft fabric, usually black and bold, with its rubber coated end caps.
The Envaya DSB-250BT has very powerful bass, almost reaching depth of the JBL charge 3. This impressive bass is due to its two 40mm active drivers and a very large 53 x 135mm passive radiator. (Kind of huge for speaker this size). As you’d expect Drake’s 10 bands came out with well controlled bass depth, regardless of the volume. Treble is a bit compromised at high volumes though. As tested with Coldplay’s Cemeteries of London, the treble suffers a bit but the bass guitars are well appreciated.
With a rating of IP67, the Envaya can stand in 1m of water for 30 minutes. It’s always exciting to know you can take your speakers anywhere.
Overall the Envaya DSB-250BT is a great speaker. It’s always great when you have a low expectation of something but then it surprises you. Surprises are good!
Weight: 1.08 Pounds (0.49kg) | Dimensions: 70 x 70 x 188 mm (W x D x H) | Battery life: Standby Time: 500hours, Charging Time: About 4hours, Play/Talk Time: 12-14 hours (Medium volume) | Wireless range: 10m/ 33ft (without obstacles ) | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: dual 5W drivers and dual external passive radiators | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | Bluetooth version: 4.2 | Waterproofing: No | Outsource USB charging: No | Price: $34 - $40 (N13,000 - N20,000)
Havit is a Guangzhou company that has been making consumer electronics for a while now. They are most popular in this part of the world for their car accessories. If you’ve paid attention you might have seen Havit on some of your car chargers, FM transmitters and so on. Impressively Havit’s M16 has brought some competition across continents with this wireless device. Considering its relatively low price tag and middle class target, the speaker is nothing sort of average.
M16 adopts a very simple and minimalist design. The speaker grille uses an elegant mesh fabric finish that wouldn’t look out of place in any space. Also it’s light and very easy to move about. On both ends the M16 has two burrowed sides which house the subwoofers, which have visible vibrating radiators. How cool is that!
On one of its surface you’d see button functions for power, play, rewind, and forward buttons, as well as the volume keys.
It also has a micro USB, 3.5mm audio ports, and a microSD card slot which is safely covered by a plastic lid.
The speaker has really impressive sound quality. It’s really surprising because a speaker of this price is never this good. Testing with Drake’s 10 bands gave the result of a well controlled sound, with enough bass depth and vocal clarity, at mid volume. Cranking the volume to the highest gave a little bit of sibilance and if you pay close attention, some sort of treble distortion. Still, I don’t think there’s any speaker within this price range that sounds better than the M16. It does just the job.
This is the best budget speaker that doesn’t compromise on sound quality or aesthetics in any way.