Best Bluetooth speaker 2018: the best audio quality with all the ease of Bluetooth

Stream music from any phone, tablet or laptop with the best Bluetooth wireless speakers for pure sound quality

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If you're looking for the best Bluetooth speaker for really good audio indoors (mainly, although a number of these are battery-powered and so can go outside), then we have the cure for your wireless blues.

Our current favourite is the Cambridge YoYo (M) (all of the new Cambridge YoYo range looks good, actually). It offers full stereo – remember that, old timers? Most of these speakers are mono, or even if they are technically stereo, the sound stage is pretty narrow… 

If setting up two speakers seems like too much hassle, our current favourite one-box Bluetooth speaker is the Sonos Revolve, which you can also buy two of and use as a wireless stereo pair.

How to buy the best Bluetooth speaker for you

The great thing about Bluetooth is that it is compatible with just about everything short of your garden shears. 

Pairing is far easier than with Wi-Fi-based wireless speakers, too. It's simple, quick and practically always painless, these days. It's also platform agnostic. Google Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal… It makes no odds.

These are the best Bluetooth speakers for phones, tablets, PCs and Macs that money can buy. Pricing is from about £100, because to be honest, if you want seriously good sound quality, you won't find it at a sub-£100 RRP. 

This is a very diverse branch of tech, so there are also picks at different price points and for different musical styles and settings. 

And let us tell you, readers, the number of truly dreadful Bluetooth speakers you have to listen to, in order to pick out the 10 best ones, is quite something.

If you want something like CD-quality audio from Bluetooth, you should opt for a speaker with support for the Apt-X and AAC codecs. 

However, while Apple mobile devices don't support Apt-X, and many speakers don't incorporate AAC, which Apple does support, it's perfectly possible to get decent sound via Bluetooth from an iPhone. 

You can draw your own conclusions from that, but I feel that the inherent audio limitations of Bluetooth speakers actually tend to mask rather than emphasise imperfections in the source material. They don't give a true 'hi-fi' sound, but they do give an enjoyable one.

The overall audio quality of Bluetooth speakers seems much more influenced by how well they process and amplify your music files, than the state they arrive in, so long as they're reasonably high bitrate (obviously, rubbish in, rubbish out). 

Despite not being hi-res or even CD quality most of the time, when put through a speaker made with skill, and top-drawer components, music beamed via Bluetooth can sound great. 

Some other issues to be aware of: you'll probably want to take your phone out of your pocket for uninterrupted streaming – your body can block the signal if you're moving around. 

And if someone calls you on your phone while you're streaming from it, the music is gonna stop. There's no way around that with Bluetooth, although on the plus side, some of these speakers double as speaker phones.

The best Bluetooth speakers to buy today

1. Cambridge Audio YoYo M

Best Bluetooth speaker, pound for pound

Power output: Not quoted
Battery life: 24 hours
Apt-X: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Brilliantly punchy audio+Proper, wide stereo 'sound field'+Very attractive styling
Reasons to avoid
-Kinda pricey-Have to pair it every time

In our brave new world of one-box, wire-free audio solutions it's easy to forget that music is still generally recorded in stereo. 

A lot of wireless speakers make a decent fist of giving a wide 'sound field' (apologies for the use of a term redolent of too many nights spent listening to Yes whilst overly relaxed, there) but Cambridge Audio's splendid YoYo M doesn't have to try too hard, because it's a pair of stereo speakers. 

You can use just one of them if you like, but that's a bit like buying a pair of chopsticks and only employing one. Fire them both up, by pressing the Pair button on the second unit and you get a brilliantly big, w-i-d-e, musical performance.

The only problem is, you have to do that every time you use the YoYo M, which is a bit irritating, for the reason mentioned above – there's no reason to buy a pair of speakers if you only intend to use one, so why can't you turn them both on with one button? No doubt some nonsense to do with, "You can't do that via Bluetooth, so you'd have to use a wire and then they wouldn't be wireless, you idiot." I dare say.

That aside, the YoYo M is a nigh-on perfect (pair of) Bluetooth speaker(s), and devilishly handsome to boot, dolled up as it is in Marton Mills' worsted wool, Birds Eye fabric. This is acoustically transparent, and resistant to dirt, water and 'unnecessary' wear and tear, whatever that means.

2. Bose Soundlink Revolve

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for the home

Power output: Not quoted
Battery life: 14 hours
Apt-X: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great sound+True 360 degree audio+Very portable
Reasons to avoid
-Resembles decapitated Dalek

3. Orbitsound Dock E30

Bluetooth in stereo from just one box, with a side order of multi-room

Battery life: No battery
Power output: Not quoted
Apt-X: Yes
Connectivity: AirPlay, Spotify Connect, UPnP, Tune In, Bluetooth, USB-C for charging, optical digital, 3.5mm, Wi-Fi, ethernet
Room size: Medium to large
Multi-room: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great sound for its size+Attractive styling in white, bamboo or black
Reasons to avoid
-No Chromecast support

This is in our multi-room list as well, as that's it's main USP, but this stunning wireless speaker 'dock' (it's okay, you don't have to dock your phone, though it does have a groove in the top that it can stand in, and both Qi and USB C charging options) will also function as a Bluetooth speaker.

When it launches properly it'll cost £399 but its pre-order price of £319, in a choice of white (futuristic!), bamboo (sexy!) and black (boring) makes it seriously competitive.

Via Apt-X Bluetooth – there's no AAC support, so iPhone users might be better off connecting via AirPlay or Orbitsound's own app – the sonics are seriously, seriously impressive. The USP is a 'stereo' (sorry, 'Airsound') effect that verges on the uncanny, giving a spacious and consistent soundstage even if you're off centre, or moving around the room. However, even if you strip that out of the equation, music from acoustic to thumping is beautifully handled.

A wireless subwoofer is also available if you need more bass, but the amount of bottom end this thing puts out is seriously impressive on its own. I'm not sure I've heard a better speaker in its price bracket, in fact.

4. Marshall Kilburn

Best Bluetooth speaker under £203

Power output: 70W
Battery life: 20 hours
Apt-X: No
Reasons to buy
+Great sound with rock, hip-hop and dance+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Audio and appearance lack subtlety
Today's best Marshall Kilburn deals

This speaker is badged as a Marshall, but obviously it doesn't come direct from the same sweat-stained factories as its legendary guitar amps. But my gosh, it still rocks.

Audio is loud and proud, rich and powerful with plenty of bass, and cleverly processed with a strong 'faux-analogue' sound. Built as a compact speaker for small to medium rooms, it is nonetheless still battery-powered, and portable via a natty strap.

Pairing is swift and the audio, while coloured so as to sound 'rocky', can be tweaked all over the place using the old-skool tone knobs.

Clearly the looks won't be to non-rockers' tastes, and the audio is not subtle by any stretch of the imagination. However, for the price there's nothing to beat the Marshall Kilburn for sheer room-filling oomph. 

It's part of a range of Bluetooth speakers, and Marshall also now does some excellent multi-room versions, if you want to take a step up.

5. Monitor Audio AirStream S150

Best Bluetooth speaker under £120

Power output: 40W
Battery life: N/A
Apt-X: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Superb sound from a small box+Excellent value
Reasons to avoid
-Questionable looks, especially in faux gold-No battery option despite size

This one sits around the midpoint between the booming Marshall and the more audiophile KEF, but is cheaper than both.

The sound quality, bolstered by Apt-X, is truly excellent for the price, and pairing is easy.

Monitor Audio's wonky funnel of a speaker is also highly portable. However, despite having a USB input that I initially assumed was for charging its batteries – oops – the S150 turned out to actually be mains powered only.

The look is just not great, let's be honest, especially in the gold finish. Other than that, it's an impeccable Bluetooth speaker and at the price you can get it for these days a solid faux-gold DEAL.

6. KEF Muo

Best audiophile Bluetooth speaker under £200

Power output: Not quoted
Battery life: 12 hours
Apt-X: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Sophisticated audio+Sophisticated style
Reasons to avoid
-Too sophisticated to ROCK?
Today's best Kef Muo deals

7. Ultimate Ears Megablast

Best Bluetooth speaker with Alexa

Power output: Not quoted (maximum volume 93db)
Battery life: 16 hours
Apt-X: No
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof and hard to destroy+Has Alexa in it, with 3 months free Amazon Music Unlimited
Reasons to avoid
-Sonically destroyed by Sonos One

If you're after a wireless speaker that's great musically, but also has a voice assistant built in, there's one obvious option: Sonos One. 

This sounds nowhere near as good as Sonos One, but to be fair the Megablast does add Bluetooth support, a 16-hour battery, and imperviousness to water, dust and most everyday shocks. If you throw your Sonos in your pool, it will a) not work and b) fatally electrocute you, if plugged into an extension cable. The Megablast, however, will survive. Although it doesn't float, so you will have to retrieve it from the bottom of your pool.

It's a curious hybrid device, with Spotify or Amazon Music streaming via Wi-Fi, on top of the Bluetooth audio provided on all Ultimate Ears devices. The sound is very poppy and bright and while, as mentioned, it's not a patch on the Sonos, it sounds perfectly alright. 

The Ultimate Ears Megaboom is essentially the same speaker but without Alexa, and is arguably a somewhat better deal.

8. Ruark MR1 Mk II

Best wired stereo Bluetooth speaker

Power output: 20W
Battery life: N/A
Apt-X: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Effortless stereo+Great sound+Optical and line inputs
Reasons to avoid
-Not entirely wireless
Today's best Ruark MR1 Mk 2 deals

If you decide the Cambridge Audio YoYo (M) is both too stupidly named, and too much of a pain to setup,  this excellent offering offers full stereo, without the need to pair two speakers, as they're wired together. 

With a 3.5mm input and an optical digital one and an output for an active subwoofer, this could be the basis of a neat little system, but it's also mighty fine as a Bluetooth-only setup.

Audio is pretty similar to the Ruark R1 below, in that it's more Manilow than Metallica; more Stone Roses than Stormzy. But that's fine. In my opinion, the more upfront sound of the Cambridge Audio YoYo (M) is better, and it's usually slightly cheaper too. The fact the speakers are wired to each other does make setup less of a hassle, as it removes the need to turn on two speakers every time you want to listen to music. It does limit how far apart you can place them, but you could always buy a longer 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable.

Rather brilliantly, you can also currently buy the MR1 Mk II with a Rega P1 (plus a Fono turntable pre-amp) for £659, or with a P2 for £789. As you can see, they make an exceedingly handsome couple – and let me tell you, readers, they're a couple who make sweet music together.

9. MINIRIG Portable Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker

Best ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker for home use

Power output: 15W
Battery life: 80 hours
Apt-X: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Super portable +Great sound for the size+Mammoth battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof
Today's best Minirig deals

Made in Britain, this hardy little metal cylinder is simple to carry around, and sounds fantastic for its size. 

If you want something totally portable, a fully waterproof UE Boom might be a better bet – the Minirig is only water resistant (IPX5). However, few Bluetooth speakers are as easy to move around as this one and with an 80-hour battery life at low volume (40 with 'average use', 15 at top whack) , you won't be constantly on the lookout for plug sockets, either.

If you find yourself addicted to the Minirig's tiny size and (relatively) massive sound, you can buy two and use them as a stereo pair, or even add a 30W Minirig subwoofer to complete your cylindrical setup, which by now will sound very impressive indeed. By this point you'll have spent just shy of £370, but it's unlikely you'll find a system that sounds bigger, yet is so portable – basically like carrying around 2 cans of (admittedly quite heavy) lager. 

If you're after something that can go anywhere yet has sufficient quality to also use at home, Minirig is definitely worth a go.

10. Ruark R1 Mk III

Best Bluetooth speaker with a DAB radio

Power output: 9W
Battery life: N/A
Apt-X: No
Reasons to buy
+It's also a DAB and FM radio+Looks and sounds timelessly elegant
Reasons to avoid
-Rocking parties not part of its remit-Despite looking portable, it's not battery powered
Today's best Ruark R1 Mk III deals

It's probably fair to say this is pitched at a more mature clientele. Check out its Amazon reviews and you'll find a number of people who don't even appear to know what Bluetooth is.

That's fair enough, as this is primarily a high-class, walnut-clad DAB radio. However, like its stereo brother the MR1, it also performs really well with Bluetooth music sources. 

For gentler sounds in the kitchen or bedroom, in between tuning in to The Archers, it's nigh on perfect, although clearly you're not gonna be wanting to rock grime or Black Sabbath through it.