Best wireless speakers iMore 2022
A wireless speaker doesn't mean it necessarily runs on rechargeable batteries. Instead, it's any speaker that plays music or other audio content through Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 or other digital means. This content typically comes from mobile devices such as the best iPhones and iPad. Today's best wireless speaker is the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, introduced in late 2021. It offers a top-notch experience for any home user in a design meant to turn heads. We've included other wireless speakers worth considering available at various price points.
- Best overall: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin – Wireless Smart Speaker with Alexa Built-in
- Best compact: New Bose SoundLink Flex - Bluetooth Portable Speaker
- Best for the bedroom: Tribit Home Sleep Sound Machine with White Noise
- Best value: Anker Soundcore Mini 3 Bluetooth Speaker
- Best soundbar: Sonos Arc - The Premium Smart Soundbar
- Best for Siri: Apple HomePod mini - Smart speaker
- Best lifestyle speaker: JBL Pulse 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Best overall: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin – Wireless Smart Speaker with Alexa Built-in
The latest Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is the best to date and our favorite wireless speaker of the year. Featuring a now-iconic design that stands out like no other speaker on the market, the Zeppelin supports various streaming services via Bluetooth 5.0, Apple AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect, including Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz, Tune In, Soundcloud, Dash, and TIDAL.
Inside are two double dome tweeters that measure just under an inch, 3.5-inch FST 40-watt midrange drivers, and a 5-inch 80-watt subwoofer. The 240-watt amplifier delivers a frequency range of between 35Hz to 24kHz. This allows the Zeppelin to pack a significant punch that can fill an entire room without ever crackling in the sound. The speaker also does a terrific job at lower sound levels when you're looking to create a more intimate environment.
Though the speaker fully supports hi-res, only Qobuz provides this level of audio for the time being. In 2022, Bowers & Wilkins plans to add support for Amazon Music HD, Spotify Hi-Fi (when it launches), and more.
- Unique design
- Impressive compatibility
- Hi-res limitations for now
Best compact: New Bose SoundLink Flex- Bluetooth Portable Speaker
It's not often when Bose introduces a new Bluetooth speaker. When it does, it's a moment to celebrate. Offering up to 12 hours between charges, the SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker features a rugged design and is waterproof and dust-proof. Bose also contents the device's powder coat won't peel or flake, making it resistant to rust corrosion and UV light.
Available in black, white smoke, and stone blue, the speaker offers audio that's crisp, clear, and free of distortions. And with the company's unique PositionIQ technology automatically adjusts to how it's oriented to optimize the sound. It even includes a tear-resistant utility loop to hang it from a tree, hook, or elsewhere.
With balanced treble and bass, the speaker works in various environments, in and outside the home. Unfortunately, there's no way to adjust the EQ. Nonetheless, for a mono speaker, it's a winner.
- Outdoor proof
- Three color choices
- Mono speaker
- No user-adjustable EQ
Best for the bedroom: Tribit Home Sleep Sound Machine with White Noise
The most refreshing speaker on our list, the reasonably priced Tribit Home Sleep Sound Machine works best in a bedroom. And yet, because of its robust feature set, it's worth using everywhere else in a home. Providing high-fidelity stereo sound, the speaker further enhances the sound listening experience with various light modes, which can react to the music!
Besides Bluetooth, the speaker includes an SD card, AUX input, and FM channels. There are also two built-in USB ports to charge your phone or other mobile devices. There's also an alarm clock, white noise feature, and more.
On the negative side, it's only possible to set one alarm at a time, and you can't set that alarm to play the radio each morning. Some also report confusing controls to turn the machine on/off.
- Change the mood with lights
- High-fidelity sound
- Built-in alarm clock, white noise generator
- Only one alarm is possible
- Some controls are confusing
Best value: Anker Soundcore Mini 3 Bluetooth Speaker
The Anker Soundcore mini 3 offers terrific 360-degree sound in a small space for up to 15 hours between charges. IPX7 waterproof, the speaker works terrifically in the shower, submerged in a pool, and while running around on a rainy day.
Available in black, red, blue, and gray to match your style, the Soundcore mini 3 easily pairs with another Soundcore for a fuller audio experience inside or out. You can link over 100 Soundcore speakers with PartyCast compatibility.
On the negative side, some report the speaker gives off too much of a thumpy sound with high bass, while others have complained about the size of the buttons, with some feeling they are too small.
- Use it near and in water
- 15-hour battery life
- Multiple color choices
- Too bassy?
- Small buttons
Best soundbar: Sonos Arc - The Premium Smart Soundbar
Offering clear voices and focused sound, the Sonos Arc is the best soundbar you can buy and has the price to back up this claim. Offering Dolby Atmos and Apple AirPlay 2 support, the Arc features a 270-degree, C-shaped grill to provide the signature Sonos sound.
Voice-enabled through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the Sonos Arc features 11 drivers, three tweeters, and eight custom woofers for an impressive 3D effect.
There are two negatives, and neither has to do with its useability: the price and availability. Since first launching in May 2020, the Arc is rarely offered at a discount and is often out of stock, especially around crucial buying periods. It's worth the wait, however.
- Dolby Atmos
- Apple AirPlay 2 support
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support
- It's hard to find during important shopping times
Best for Siri: Apple HomePod mini - Smart speaker
The Apple HomePod mini is the only HomePod left on the market, making it the best Siri speaker by default. That doesn't mean it's a bad speaker because it certainly is not. The 4 1/2 star-rated speaker offers lots of great features. It's also now available in three more colors. Joining the original space gray and white are blue, orange, and yellow.
Small, but mighty, the HomePod mini offers (not surprisingly) terrific Apple Music and Siri integration in a brilliant design and tiny form factor. And at $100, it's one of the least expensive Apple products in history. Besides offering great music, the speaker can also serve as a HomeKit smart home controller, making it possible to control supported lights, cameras, smart locks, and other smart devices.
The HomePod mini isn't perfect, however. It's all Apple and nothing more in terms of voice interaction, although you can listen to other music services through Bluetooth. You're also going to need more than one HomePod mini to create stereo experiences. And yet, if you live in a mostly Apple home, this is the wireless speaker to buy.
- Great colors
- Snappy Apple Music and Siri integration
- Nice form factor
- Need two speakers for stereo
- Only supports Siri
Best lifestyle speaker: JBL Pulse 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
You'll get an immersive sound and a light show with the JBL Pulse 4. It's a portable Bluetooth speaker with an IPX7 waterproof rating. The Pulse 4 pairs easily with other Pulse 4 speakers, so you can crank up the music and spread the sound out wide.
Music streams wirelessly from your iPhone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled devices to the Pulse 4. The wireless range is about 40 feet, so you don't have to stand next to the Pulse 4 to control the lights or sound. And with an IPX7 waterproof rating, it'll be a big hit at your next pool party.
My one complaint is that the JBL Pulse 4 doesn't sync with previous generation Pulses. If you own earlier model gen 2 or 3, pairing won't work. You must have at least two Pulse 4s to take advantage of that feature. A shame for an otherwise excellent sounding speaker with a cool LED light feature.
- 12-hour playtime
- 360-degree LED lights
- Pairs with other speakers
- Doesn't sync with previous-gen models
Wireless speaker systems are perfect for playing music throughout your home or backyard while avoiding expensive, time-wasting wiring setups. For some speakers, it also means that you can take them wherever you go or play music from any device you own.
The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is the current king of the hill for wireless speakers, simply because it's the best option for most people looking for an at-home solution. It delivers rich sound, works with most (but not all) music services, and looks terrific.
This speaker also has a long, bright future since Bowers & Wilkins rarely refreshes it; upcoming software updates will add more hi-res options and integration with more music services. If you're looking for a big sound, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is your speaker.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. He now uses a 14-inch MacBook Pro and loves it! You can find him on Twitter @bryanmwolfe.
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