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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Wireless speaker systems like the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation can make an attractive addition to a room while delivering high-quality sound.
Powered speakers make a simple sound system
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.
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.
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.
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®.
The Sonos Roam and Sonos Move let you enjoy all your favorite music indoors or out.
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.