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Bluetooth speaker buying guide

Get great sound at home and on the go

There’s an easy way to get great sound from your smartphone or tablet. Wirelessly pair it to a Bluetooth® speaker. Whether on the go or relaxing at home, you’ll enjoy better sound from your music, movies, and games.

Bluetooth on the go — portable parties and more

Portable Bluetooth speakers let you listen without headphones — and let your friends listen with you. Many offer other advantages. If you’re looking for portable sound, consider these options.

Ultra-portable Bluetooth speakers for travel

For traveling convenience, there’s nothing like a slim, compact Bluetooth speaker. These mini speakers were made to fit easily into a briefcase, backpack, or purse. While they're small in size, they can sound surprisingly big.

Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker

An ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker, like the Bose® SoundLink® Flex, is easy to take just about anywhere.

Weather-resistant Bluetooth speakers for outdoor adventure

If you enjoy outdoor sports and activities, consider a Bluetooth speaker that’s as rugged as your lifestyle. Weather-resistant Bluetooth speakers not only stand up to rain and snow but they’re often built to be shock- and dust-resistant, too. So they hold up to rough-and-tumble use and can sit in the sand at the beach.

As you shop, you'll see weatherproof rating numbers like IPX6 or IPX7. Read our article about IP weatherproof ratings to understand what those numbers mean.

JBL Flip 6

If you play near the water, a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker like the JBL Flip 6 can be a great choice.

Extra power for your smartphone

A Bluetooth speaker with a built-in recharger can be just the thing you need for that long flight or overnight camping trip. These types of speakers feature a USB charging port that can provide extra power to your smartphone or tablet.

the JBL charge 5 bluetooth speaker charging via a phone

A Bluetooth speaker with a USB charging port like the JBL Charge 5 can keep your smartphone going when you're on the go.

Speakerphone for hands-free calls

Some Bluetooth speakers also work as speakerphones. They have built-in microphones, so you can carry on a hands-free conversation. When a call comes in on your paired smartphone, it automatically routes to the speaker, which gives you the option of accepting the call or continuing to listen to your music.

House of Marley No Bounds

Some Bluetooth speakers, like the House of Marley No Bounds,can be used as a speakerphone — perfect for situations where you can't grab your phone.

Battery life

Of course, a portable Bluetooth speaker needs its own power source. Built-in rechargeable batteries are the industry standard. Most speakers have batteries that can last 10-12 hours of continual use. Some can go as high as 20 hours or more.

But longer operation isn't the only factor to consider. The longer a speaker can play, the bigger its battery. And that means the more it weighs. Ultra-compact speakers usually deliver 6-10 hours of continual operation. But if you're looking for a speaker to take on a hike, that could be the better choice.

Overall sound

Bigger speakers deliver more robust sound. Smaller speakers can give you clean, clear sound that's best suited for close-in listening. When you're shopping for a portable Bluetooth speaker, consider how you'll be using it.

The biggest speakers are great for parties. Compact speakers are best for personal listening. And the mid-sized speakers are great general-purpose devices. They sound great at low volume levels (for personal listening). And they can usually deliver loud volume without distortion.

That volume won't be as loud — or pack as much punch — as the biggest portable speakers. But it's often enough for an informal get-together on the deck, or for a picnic.

Bluetooth in the home — convenience and sound quality

There are a wide variety of Bluetooth powered speaker systems designed for home use. These are powered by an AC power source, rather than built-in batteries. Many offer more spacious and detailed sound than their portable counterparts. These systems are ideal for dens, offices, dorm rooms, or apartments. In other words, where your smartphone is your principal music source and space is at a premium.

High-performance Bluetooth speakers for music lovers

Some high-fidelity Bluetooth powered speaker systems approach audiophile performance levels. Such systems have high-performance electronics for more accurate sound. They often feature DACs (digital-to-analog converters) that reproduce the fine details of the music.

Devialet Phantom wireless speaker

Wireless speakers like the ones in Devialet's Phantom series can make an attractive addition to a room while delivering high-quality sound.

Build quality in these systems is also important. Many have low-resonant MDF speaker cabinets for cleaner sound. And often the drivers use high-quality materials to ensure accurate sound reproduction.

Bluetooth is also found in many home stereo components, such as receivers, integrated amps, and network music players. To learn more, read our guide to Bluetooth home stereo.

Bluetooth computer speakers

Virtually all laptops have Bluetooth capability, and there are stereo speaker systems designed for them. These speakers connect to your computer wirelessly rather than through its headphone jack. The advantage? You can pick up your laptop from your workstation without having to unplug speakers.

Kanto YU4

Using a pair of Bluetooth powered speakers with your computer can help reduce desktop clutter. The Audioengine A5+ Wireless speakers connect to your computer via Bluetooth.

Multi-room audio systems with Bluetooth

Streaming music from your smartphone has reached a whole new level with multi-room audio systems. Forget carrying a portable Bluetooth speaker with you from room to room! Most multi-room system components have Bluetooth built-in.

You can stream music via Bluetooth to a speaker in one room, and then wirelessly distribute it to play through other speakers and system components in your home.

Our article on wireless multi-room audio has more information about these systems.

Indoor/outdoor speakers

In some cases, you can get a portable Bluetooth speaker that's also compatible with your home multi-room wireless audio system. These speakers usually function as a "regular" portable Bluetooth speaker when you're out and about. When you return home, they can reconnect with your system via Wi-Fi®.

Sonos Roam wireless portable speaker with Bluetooth

The compact Sonos Roam lets you enjoy all your favorite music indoors or out.

The Sonos Move 2 and Sonos Roam are great examples of this. Both can function as portable Bluetooth speakers. And they can also be part of an indoor Sonos multi-room audio system.

Get personal advice from our audio experts

Need help sorting through all the Bluetooth speaker options? Contact us today to find the best product for your needs.

Free lifetime tech support is included with any Crutchfield purchase.

  • Ronald Prazer from Waterford

    Posted on 4/27/2022

    Are you ever going to have really, really good bluetooth speakers that the average Joe can afford? Everything you sell costs an arm and a leg! Maybe rich audiophiles don't concern themselves with such trivial pursuits but the majority of the masses would like some retailer to throw them a bone once in a while!!!

  • William from Sarasota, FL

    Posted on 4/13/2022

    Most Bluetooth speaker reviews cover only their use as a party boombox. I'd like to see a bit more attention paid to personal use cases, in a hotel room on a business trip for example, where portability and pleasing overall sound quality are more important than loudness and Big Bass.

  • Ralph Gogliettino from Branford

    Posted on 8/26/2021

    What is best portable boom box type unit

  • Ken Brodhead from Melbourne

    Posted on 6/13/2020

    What component could plug into an existing stereo receiver and broadcast to wireless speakers?

    Commenter image

    Ralph Graves from Crutchfield

    on 6/15/2020

    There are several adapters designed to let your system receive Bluetooth signals. But for what you want, you'd need to go with a multi-room audio system. Some, such as Sonos or Yamaha MusicCast, have an adapter you can connect to your stereo receiver to make it part of the wireless network. With the adaptor, your receiver could play music from other sources and have what it is playing sent wirelessly to other speakers (all within the network, of course).

    Some systems, like Yamaha MusicCast and Denon HEOS, have stereo receives with this wireless capability built-in. If you're looking to upgrade your current audio system, this also might be an option.

  • Tom Rapp from South Lyon

    Posted on 10/17/2019

    The JBL Flip 4 I own has awesome sound. I have used mine mostly in the house or garage and really enjoyed it. Until now! My 3 yr grand daughter tossed it on the floor and it quit working so It is supposed to be shock resistant yet couldn't take a hit from a 3 year old. JBL really gave me the run around instead of saying put it in the mail and we will have a look at it.

  • Patrick from St Louis

    Posted on 9/29/2016

    Interesting comment from Robert who apparently thinks that Crutchfield customers are not aware that portable does not equal hi-fidelity. Near CD quality sound at up to 320mhz is not hi-fi fidelity but is widely accepted by the majority of listeners as good enough for not only home use but more than adequate for mobile listening. Robert is probably one of the minority that appreciates hi-fi fidelity and is willing to pay for it. Most of us only want the convenience and economics of Bluetooth portability and don't need Crutchfield to point out the obvious. Thanks for your observation though Robert even though they are a bit insulting to not only Crutchfield but also to it's customers.

  • Robert W Eucare from San Antonio

    Posted on 3/16/2016

    Your ad is misleading. Instead of "Speakers for people who hate wires" it should read "Speakers for people willing to sacrifice audio quality for convenience. Wireless sound will NEVER equal true fidelity and people deserve to know that BEFORE they make a purchase from Crutchfield. The average person doesn't know this and you're just hoping they can buy your speakers before they find out. The whole point of listening is to hear every nuance and detail faithfully represented as it was recorded by the artist.

  • Fred from EH, CT

    Posted on 4/27/2015

    JT from KC, MO, a slight adjustment to my previous comment. Depending on the bluetooth transmitter, you will need either a male or female 3.5mm to male RCA connector cable. I have rechargeable bt transmitter with a male connection built in so I am using a female 3.5mm to RCA male connector cable.

  • Fred from EH, CT

    Posted on 4/26/2015

    JT from KC, MO, I am not aware of a wireless speaker, bluetooth or wi-fi, that transmit, they all have receivers. Your best solution is one I have and recommend, a bluetooth transmitter, rechargeable or dc power. that accepts a 3.5mm male adapter with RCA male connectors.

  • JT from KC, MO

    Posted on 4/23/2015

    Are there any good sounding wireless speakers available yet, that use a transmitter that you plug into a RCA (out) on the back of your receiver?

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