Choosing the best wireless speakers can be a tricky undertaking. Not only because the design needs to be in-keeping with your home office or studio, but because we all have slightly different requirements when it comes to listening to our favourite tunes. And with hundreds of products vying for your attention, finding the best wireless speakers, which tick all your boxes, can take hours of research.
But don't panic, because here, we've done a lot of the hard work for you and put all the very best wireless speakers together in this handy guide.
Which are the best wireless speakers in 2020?
If you’re looking for a set of wireless speakers that give you all the benefits of fully wireless tech, with no need for a mains connection (albeit using an add-on battery pack), then you need look no further than the Ruark Audio MR1 MK2 (pictured above). Where most Bluetooth speakers are housed in a single unit, here you get the option of a true, stereo set-up, via two separate speakers. And if you’re looking for something higher end for your studio, we’ve opted for the Sonos One, which can be extended out to multiple rooms via wi-fi (and can support a staggering 32 connected–fully synced–speakers).
How to choose the best wireless speakers?
Choosing the best wireless speakers can include a number of factors. If you’re looking for something you can take to the beach, then you’ll want an extended battery life, Bluetooth-support, and a housing that can deal with everything the elements can throw at it. And if you’re looking for the best wireless speakers for your studio, where a required mains connection isn’t a problem, you can invest in a multi-room set-up – but all this comes at a price.
Wireless speakers come in many forms, and in this post we span the full range, from budget Bluetooth speakers, to higher-end systems for your studio. Whatever your needs, we’ve got them covered.
The best wireless speakers overall
The Ruark Audio MR1 MK2 speakers are as close as you’ll get to hi-fi audio in an affordable Bluetooth package (boasting tech usually reserved for higher-end hi-fi kit, such as tuned crossovers and A/B amplification).
All this tech means that these speakers require a mains supply to operate, but Ruark has left no stone unturned, and even provides a portable, power supply – in the shape of the Backpack II – which can be attached to the back of the primary speaker, making it fully wireless, and offering up to 12 hours of playback on a single charge (Backpack II sold separately).
Available in walnut or soft grey, there’s a design option to suit those that prefer a more traditional look, or something more Apple-friendly. And since the first version Ruark has also upgraded the grey fabric covering the speakers, which improves both its looks and audio performance.
Whereas most Bluetooth speakers come with a limited set of inputs, here you also get the benefit of an optical input that can support hi-res audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. This means that you can run audio from your TV or amp directly into these speakers, providing even more versatility.
The best wireless speakers if money is no object
If you know anything about audio, then you know that Bowers & Wilkins has more than 50 years of experience in making speakers that not only perform well, but also look the part (with Sir Kenneth Henry Grange, co-founder at Pentagram, setting the standard for the company’s product design).
Given the company’s design heritage, it’s no surprise that the latest iteration of its Zeppelin speaker stands out from the crowd; you’ll either love it, or think it looks like a giant suppository.
Idiosyncratic design apart, the sound of the Zeppelin is amazing. Basically, B&W has thrown every acronym into the mix. You get up-sampling via a 192kHz/24bit DAC (digital-to-analogue) converter, a DSP (digital signal processor) that ensures low and high volumes perform equally well, and B&W’s proprietary FST (fixed suspension transducer) tech, which improves the performance of its midrange drivers. In short, a lot of work has gone into making the Zeppelin sound incredible.
Add to this support for Bluetooth, AirPlay and Spotify Connect, and you have a wireless speaker that’s tough to beat, but it doesn’t come cheap.
The best budget wireless speakers
The Jam Heavy Metal HX-P920 nails its colours to the mast with its name, and packs a serious punch into 600 grams of pure grunt. For a speaker now priced at under $70/£70, you won’t find a better driver combo, with the Heavy Metal sporting two small active drivers and a pair of passive radiators–the radiators responding to air movement to boost that bass.
But make no mistake, this Bluetooth speaker doesn’t simply cater to those about to rock, and does a fantastic job with most genres, with superb high-end frequency performance, too.
The Heavy Metal’s simple metallic housing supports two speaker grilles, on the front and rear of the device, and is operated via six metallic buttons on the top of the unit. And pairing couldn’t be easier, despite no support for NFC, with the Heavy Metal establishing a connection to audio sources in seconds (signified by a reassuring series of bongs).
We’ve put this speaker through the wringer over the last year, and a few scuffs aside, it’s retained its looks and performance, and still puts speakers available for a similar price to shame.
The best wireless speakers for your home/studio
The first thing to point out here is that the Sonos One isn’t to be confused with the Sonos Play:1, despite them looking almost identical. Because with the One, you get the long-awaited inclusion of built-in Alexa support.
Design-wise, Sonos has always produced speakers that exude under-stated style, and will fit unobtrusively into most homes and studios. And if you should want to control the device physically, touch controls represent pause, play, and volume. But when you’ve got voice control, who needs buttons?
To connect services such as Tidal or Spotify you’ll need to use the Sonos controller app, but almost everything else can be controlled by your voice. And thanks to the Sonos using Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth to connect, you can sync up to 32 speakers, over a much longer range.
Thanks to Sonos syncing tech, you can either have a single sound source playing seamlessly over multiple speakers, or create multiple smaller groups. This makes the Sonos One perfect for a studio environment, where you might want the same music playing from all your speakers, or have smaller groups for different floors/spaces/rooms etc.
The best wireless speakers for TV
Samsung is making some serious leaps in audio development, not least in its soundbar technology. And whilst you may not use its award-winning Samsung HW-MS650 Soundbar in wireless mode with your TV (because we suspect you’ll want it fairly close to your television), you can still use it as a wireless source for other audio inputs.
Thee MS650 can stream from both Bluetooth devices and via Samsung’s multi-room app, which supports music services such as Spotify, Tidal and Amazon Music. And if you want to go a step further, you can include Samsung’s 9000S speakers to go for full-on surround sound.
The tech that Samsung has packed into its soundbar is astonishing, with left, right, and centre channels comprising six woofers and three tweeters, all powered by 20W amps. For most people, this will handle all your TV and hi-fi needs in one package, and all for a price that won’t break the bank.
The best wireless speakers for iPhone
Weighing in at 780 gramms, you’re not going to be slipping the JBL Charge 4 into your pocket, but if you can handle the heft, there’s a lot to love about this Bluetooth behemoth.
First up, it’s waterproof. And we’re not talking splash-me-with-a-wet-lettuce waterproof either; the Charge 4 has an IPX7 rating, which means you can dunk it in a swimming pool for up to 30 minutes.
With the added weight of the Charge 4 comes 20 hours of playback, and the ability to charge other USB devices via its 6,000mAh battery, such as your iPhone, which will be a killer feature for anyone away from a mains connection for any length of time. And if you’re looking for a speaker for the beach or the pool that provides decent audio (for everything but the highest frequencies), and don’t mind the extra weight, then the JBL Charge 4 won’t let you down.