Best wireless speakers iMore 2021
A wireless speaker is the only way to play your music loudly and proudly these days. You can stream music from a mobile device, a set-top box like an Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, or by using the speaker's internal system. Many wireless speakers also respond to voice commands using digital assistants like Alexa. The best wireless speaker today is the Bose SoundLink Color II. The tones and volume are top-notch, the price fair, and setup is quick. Five models make it to the top of our list of the best wireless speakers this year. Let's check them out.
- Best overall: Bose SoundLink Color II - Wireless Speaker
- Best bass: Sony SRS-XB43 EXTRA BASS - Wireless Speaker
- Best party speakers: JBL Pulse 4 - Wireless Speaker
- Best smart speaker: Marshall Stanmore II - Wireless Speaker
- Best soundbar: Bose Smart Soundbar 300 - Wireless Speaker
Best overall: Bose SoundLink Color II - Wireless Speaker
Portability and big sound reign supreme in our top choice, the Bose SoundLink Color II. This rugged speaker from Bose has a soft-touch silicone exterior that's water-resistant and easy to grip, making it the best wireless speaker on our list for those who love to crank tunes indoors and out.
The internal lithium-ion battery lasts for eight hours in the SoundLink, and that's our only complaint. This Bluetooth Bose model recharges quickly, but the battery life could be better. On the plus side, the SoundLink II pairs instantly with your iPhone, iPad, Android, and other SoundLink speakers. Best of all, the SoundLink II works with whatever smart assistant powers your phone.
The Bose SoundLink Color II comes in five colors: blue, neon yellow, red, white, and black. This pintsized speaker is portable, holds up to weather and travel, and pushes out rich sound on its own or when paired with another SoundLink. If you want a wireless speaker that's useable indoors and out, toss the Bose SoundLink Color II in your cart now.
- Loud, full sound
- Easy pairing
- 8-hour battery life
Best bass: Sony SRS-XB43 EXTRA BASS - Wireless Speaker
If it's thumping bass you crave, you want the Sony SRS-XB43 EXTRA BASS wireless speaker. It pushes out solid bass and balanced sound and streams over Bluetooth. A built-in EQ mixer gives you control over how much or how little bass this portable speaker delivers. It's shockingly loud on its own but can also be connected to up to 100 other Sony speakers using their free Party Connect app.
And if you want a light show to accentuate your tunes, Sony does that too. You can bounce multi-color strobe lights on the speaker's mid-section, display LED bars on the sides, or turn them off completely. You'll never run out of juice with the Sony. The battery lasts a full 24-hours and recharges over USB or USB-C.
We love the deep, punchy bass on the Sony, the dedicated tweeter, and its durability. It has an IP67 waterproof rating and also holds its own against dust, water, and drops. Our only complaint is that you must download a companion app to get the most out of this speaker. Without the app, you'll get an unbalanced sound experience that will leave you wanting more. If that's not an issue, you'll love the thundering bass and portability of the Sony.
- Huge bass
- Excellent build quality
- IP67 weather rating
- Sync up to 100 speakers
- 24-hour battery life
- Must download companion app to adjust settings
Best party speakers: JBL Pulse 4 - Wireless 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 be standing 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
Best smart speaker: *Marshall Stanmore II - Wireless Speaker *
When you want superior sound and smarts, look to the Marshall Stanmore II. The free Marshall app lets you control volume and sound output without lifting a finger, or you can use the onboard analog controls on this retro-looking wireless speaker.
As a smart speaker, the Stanmore II scores high marks. It comes with Alexa baked-in. If you don't want your speaker listening in, you can turn on voice mute and concentrate on the music. The Stanmore II works over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth. It's perfect for the backyard or to keep around the house but is less functional without Bluetooth when you're away from home.
And it's pricey. There's no getting around the high price tag. For A1 sound quality, though, this is one of the best on the market. The bass and treble are perfectly balanced, and this thing pumps out beats in big and small spaces.
- Superb sound
- Alexa support
- Analog and app controllable
- Excellent bass output
- Lacks Bluetooth
Best soundbar: *Bose Smart Soundbar 300- Wireless Speaker *
The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 is a simple-to-use wireless soundbar that integrates perfectly with Apple AirPlay. It also pairs with other Bose speakers for multiroom surround-sound listening. The bass is rich and deep and pushes out much better sound than your TV's speakers ever could.
Smart control is built-in, so you can operate the soundbar hands-free using only your voice. The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 comes with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. For those who prefer the tactile experience of a remote, that comes standard, too. The Smart Soundbar 300 pairs with your iPhone or iPad and streams music seamlessly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, or Spotify Connect.
The only downside here is the price. The Bose is not cheap, but the setup is dead-simple, pairing works like a dream, the sound is impressive, and this sleek unit fits in with any decor. If you want the best soundbar your money can buy, go with Bose.
- Excellent sound
- Control your TV with Alexa or Google Assistant
- Works with Bose speakers
- Low profile design
- AirPlay 2
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 Bose SoundLink Color II is the current king of the hill for wireless speakers, simply because it's the best option for most people. It delivers rich sound, pairs instantly with iOS and Android, is small enough to tuck in a backpack, and it stands up to the weather.
The battery life on the SoundLink II could use improvement. It holds out for eight or so, long enough for a backyard BBQ or gym session. Still, it doesn't stand up to the competition in the battery department. Apart from that, we love itty bitty SoundLink II for its rugged build, solid sound, and pairability with other Bose speakers.
Get the Bose SoundLink Color II and take big sound with you while you're on the move.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
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