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 now respond to voice commands using digital assistants like Alexa. The best wireless speakers today are called Sonos One. The sound is top-notch, the price fair, and they're pairable with other Sonos speakers. Six models make it to the top of our list of the best wireless speakers this year. Let's check them out.
- Best Overall: Sonos One Gen 2
- Best For Apple Fans: Apple HomePod
- Best Small Smart Speaker: Libratone Zipp Mini 2
- Best Waterproof: JBL FLIP 5
- Best Soundbar: Sonos Beam
- Best Portable: Bose SoundLink Revolve+
Best Overall: Sonos One Gen 2
The Sonos One is the best all-around wireless speaker for most people, and it's at the top of our list of best smart speakers this year. It has excellent sound quality and pairs seamlessly with other speakers in the Sonos ecosystem, so you can play music all around your home without expensive wired installations.
And thanks to the introduction of AirPlay 2 support on Sonos One, the multi-room, multi-speaker capabilities are no longer restricted to other Sonos products. With AirPlay 2, your Sonos One can share music playback with other AirPlay 2 speakers from different manufacturers. How cool is that?
Voice control is the way to go these days, and the Sonos One has support for Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. And thanks to recent updates for Alexa, you can now play Apple Music natively using Alexa on your Sonos One if you're a subscriber. The only downside: this speaker needs to be plugged in to work, so it's not totally portable. Still, it streams effortlessly and wirelessly from devices and is one of the best wireless speakers for your money this year.
- Great sound
- AirPlay 2 support
- Sonos ecosystem
- Alexa and Google Assistant support
- Not portable
Best For Apple Fans: Apple HomePod
If you're looking for an excellent speaker to use with Apple Music, the HomePod is a solid choice. It's ideal for those already invested in Apple's ecosystem. If that's you, stop looking and throw the Apple HomePod in your cart now.
The sound of the HomePod is rich and bright. It fills a room, which might shock you, given how small it is. If you have two, or you've invested in the newer HomePod mini, connecting multiple speakers is simple. Two HomePods paired, connected via AirPlay to Apple TV, also make an excellent basic sound system for your home theater. The Apple Music integration is, as you'd expect, top-notch, and all you have to do is call out to Siri to start streaming from any device.
If you don't like using Siri, you can always control your HomePod directly from your iPhone. HomePod integrates with Messages, Calendar, and Reminders, giving you instant access to those apps with only your voice. It also lets you make phone calls using Siri, which is built-in to the HomePod.
HomePod supports AirPlay 2 and thus connects with other AirPlay 2 speakers from different manufacturers, including the Sonos One and Libratone Zipp.
- Excellent, full sound
- Stereo pairing is simple
- Integration with Apple apps
- Very Apple-focused
Best Small Smart Speaker: Libratone Zipp Mini 2
The Libratone Zipp Mini 2 is a portable smart speaker with precision acoustic stereo drivers that deliver full 360-degree sound that fills a room. Available in five bold colors, the Zipp Mini 2 is worth a look if you want to save a few dollars without sacrificing sound quality.
Smart technology is a big part of the Zipp Mini 2. Amazon Alexa is baked-in, and the wireless Zipp Mini 2 can control your smart lights, door locks, thermostats, read a Kindle book to you, and more. With support for up to 10 Zipp devices, this is a reliable speaker that supports streaming, delivers excellent sound, and works seamlessly with SiriusXM, Amazon Music, Spotify, Audible, and other services.
The one drawback: setting up this speaker takes a bit of patience. Out of the box, you'll need to perform a software update. Pairing with streaming services takes a bit more time than it should, too. If you're comfortable with that, the Zipp Mini 2 delivers on sound and value and is lightweight enough to take anywhere.
- Great sound
- Amazon Alexa
- Speaker setup is tedious
Best Waterproof: JBL FLIP 5
JBL's latest FLIP is a waterproof, portable speaker that comes in 12 colors and patterns. The battery life on the FLIP 5 rings in at a solid 12 hours, which is more than enough juice to power through your backyard BBQ or a day at the beach. And with an IPX7 waterproof rating, you can feel secure playing tunes poolside without worry.
You can pair multiple FLIP 5 speakers to give your party a sound boost. On its own, though, the premium JBL sound quality of this speaker is superb. You'll get a 3.5mm stereo jack on this unit, a cord to recharge the battery, and prominent, easy to identify buttons to power on/off and crank up the volume.
The JBL FLIP 5 is a tiny speaker with a big sound. Our only disappointment is that there are no smart features included. You won't find Google Voice, Alexa, or streaming capability here. If you need a small speaker that you can tuck in a bag that will survive rain, pool parties, or backyard fun, this is the one to get.
- 12-hour battery life
- Big sound, small size
- Prominent buttons
- No smart features
Best Soundbar: Sonos Beam
The Sonos Beam is a simple-to-use soundbar that integrates perfectly into the Sonos ecosystem. It pairs well with a couple of Sonos Ones for a wireless surround sound system or works perfectly on its own to provide much better sound than your TV's speakers ever could alone.
When you're not using the Beam for TV and movie watching, it also serves as a wonderful addition to your wireless music setup. Being a Sonos speaker, the Beam features full multi-room support through the Sonos system, just like a Sonos One or Play:5. It also features AirPlay 2 integration, letting you connect it to your Apple devices wirelessly. It pairs great with two HomePods set up in a stereo pair, for instance.
The Sonos Beam is part of the newer generation of Sonos products, and thus, Alexa support comes standard. You can not only control music playback with your voice, but you can also control your TV. You can turn your TV's volume up and down, and you can turn your set on and off with simple Alexa voice commands. Yes, it's expensive, but we think it's one of the best wireless speakers out today.
- Great sound
- Control your TV with Alexa
- Google Assistant support
- Sonos ecosystem
- AirPlay 2
Best Portable: Bose SoundLink Revolve+
Bose is a leader in audio equipment. Whether you're looking for the best wireless speakers or earbuds to help you get a better night of sleep, Bose reigns supreme.
The SoundLink Revolve+ is a portable Bluetooth speaker that outputs tremendous sound. With 360 degrees of coverage, this grab-and-go speaker rocks. Literally. You'll 16 hours of playtime out of the battery, and it recharges completely in a few short hours. Pair a second SoundLink speaker from Bose, and you can really pump up the volume.
The SoundLink Revolve+ has a built-in mic with a wireless range of 30 feet. Make and take phone calls with it while outside by the pool or in your office. It's a great way to go hands-free. This speaker is water-resistant, carrying a rating of IPX4. The only bummer here is that this is not a smart speaker, so you won't' have access to Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa. Aside from that, this is a powerhouse portable speaker you can take anywhere.
- Big, expansive sound
- Built-in mic
- Not a smart speaker
Wireless speaker systems are perfect for playing music throughout your home while avoiding expensive wiring setups. For some speakers, it also means that you can take them wherever you go or play music from any device.
The Sonos One is the current king of the hill for wireless speakers, simply because it's the best option for most people. It delivers beautiful sound, integrates with a ton of services out of the box, features built-in Alexa support, and can be used with an AirPlay 2 system. And it does this all at a great price.
Get the Sonos One in black or white and experience music in a whole new way.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joseph Keller is a senior writer at iMore. An Apple user for more than a decade and a half, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
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