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Best Bluetooth Speakers for iPhone, iPad & Mac


What’s the best Bluetooth speaker you can buy?

A huge market with countless brands and models means that there’s a lot of choice when it comes to Bluetooth speakers. It’s not always clear which will be the best for you so we bring you our pick of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy to use with iPhone, iPad and Macs.

There are dozens of speaker manufacturers fighting for a slice of the Apple pie, with speakers in all shapes and sizes, designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Many speakers talk the talk – but do they walk the walk?

In this article, we explain various features you should look out for when in the market for a new speaker for your device, including the compression technology used by the speaker, and ‘360-degree audio’.

If you’re looking for something simpler and less expensive, perhaps you should check out how to make a cheap iPhone speaker and If you’re more interested in bargains and temporary discounts, see best speaker deals.

Note that Apple’s HomePod speaker does have Bluetooth but it can’t be used in the normal sense like the speakers below. After the list, we have provided our buying advice to help you choose the right model.

Best Bluetooth speaker reviews

Bayan Audio SoundBook Go

Bayan Audio SoundBook Go

UE Megablast

UE Megablast

Tribit StormBox Micro

Tribit StormBox Micro

UE Wonderboom 2

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

Marshall Uxbridge

Marshall Uxbridge

Marshall’s range of Bluetooth speakers continue to be impressive and the Uxbridge combines various features making it an attractive choice.

It’s not portable, but if you’re looking for a stylish speaker to sit on your desk or a bookshelf then you’ll struggle to find something better thanks to Marshall’s iconic guitar-amp style.

Make sure you have space for it, as the Uxbridge is bigger than a lot of other Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Part of the design is Marshall allowing you to easily customise the sound with bass and treble controls on the top. As you would expect, the sound is big, rich and easily able to fill a large room.

Adding value here is plenty of support for smart features including Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Amazon Alexa. So this is much more than just a simple Bluetooth speaker.

Read the full Marshall Uxbridge review on Tech Advisor.

Denon Envaya Pocket

Denon Envaya Pocket

Harman Kardon Go + Play

Harman Kardon Go + Play

Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro

Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro

Iotton Splendid Sound iPop

Splendid Sound iPop

Libratone Zipp

Libratone Zipp

How to choose a Bluetooth speaker

Here are some of the key speaker specs and features you should be checking when buying a Bluetooth speaker.

Compression technology

By default, every Bluetooth audio-capable device must be able to use an agreed basic compression system, known as sub-band coding (SBC). This is a psychoacoustic lossy codec – that is, it discards music information deemed not so important to our ears, to greatly reduce the number of bits that must be sent in a digital music stream.

The quality of SBC varies and it runs at various bitrates. But SBC typically runs at around 200 kb/s, and has the subjective quality of MP3 at 128 kb/s – which is to say, not at all good.

Alternatives are now in use thankfully. Top dog is aptX, a British invention that forms the basis of DTS cinema sound. It’s still lossy and compressed sound but amazingly nearly transparent to CD resolution at its fixed bitrate of 350 kb/s. Samsung invested heavily in current aptX licence holder CSR plc and now fits aptX compatibility into most of its Android phones. 

Sadly Apple does not include aptX in any of its iOS devices, although Macs since Snow Leopard can use aptX Bluetooth audio. Instead, the iPhone and iPad will try to beam out Bluetooth audio using the AAC codec, which is part of the MPEG-4 standard. Results are always better than SBC, but not quite as good as aptX.

Amp classification

The second hindrance to Bluetooth speaker sound is the current reliance on low-fidelity amplification technology. While natural sounding hi-fi amplifiers still use a linear system known as Class A or Class B (more typically both, to form Class AB), cheap and portable audio devices use Class D.

Class D is a clever way to make amplifiers far more efficient, turning mains or battery power into usable amp output power. That’s particularly noteworthy in a mobile age dependent on batteries.

Class D amps run cold so don’t require massive heatsinks to vent unwanted heat. A complete 20W amp module can be built around a small microchip, saving much space and cost. The technology has everything going for it – except sound quality, which is typically grainy, harsh, lifeless and stripped of the natural essence of music.

360-degree audio

A popular feature of Bluetooth speakers is ‘360-degree audio’ – but what is 360-degree audio? Generally speaking, speakers that offer 360-degree audio are usually cylindrical or circular in design and feature drivers facing every direction, opposed to the traditional front-facing speaker setup.

This produces ‘room-filling audio’ which waves goodbye to the audio ‘sweet spot’ that you’ll find on traditional speakers, where audio will sound best when facing a certain direction. Though it’s not a deal breaker, it’s usually something we look for when in the market for a new speaker.  

Battery life

What about battery life? While not too long ago, the standard battery life for a Bluetooth speaker was a slightly disappointing five hours, we’ve come along way with regards to Bluetooth accessory battery life.

With many budget speakers offering upwards of 10 hours per charge, we wouldn’t recommend buying a speaker that offers anything dramatically less. Also, it’s worth keeping an eye out for speakers that double up as portable battery chargers, as it’ll probably come in handy when using your smartphone to play music. (If you are experiencing Bluetooth issues read: How to fix Bluetooth Problems)

Wi-Fi connectivity

Some Bluetooth speakers also offer Wi-Fi connectivity, so which connection should you opt for? Traditionally, using a Bluetooth connection gives you a 10m range (although this may vary between products), which means that you’ll only be able to play music from a speaker in the same room as you – any further and you’ll probably experience the audio cutting out.

Wi-Fi has a much better range, and could allow you to play music from anywhere in the house. With this being said, the Wi-Fi setup process can be quite stressful and require users to install a specific app on their smartphone in order to operate the speaker, whereas Bluetooth setup takes 30 seconds.

Multi-room audio

This is a feature where you buy more than one unit of the speaker and set them up in multiple rooms around your house. They can then all be controlled via a single app.

This is an area that Sonos has traditionally dominated, but there are plenty of options. (Even the HomePod will support multi-room once AirPlay 2 launches.) This is quite a niche area, and we cover it in a dedicated group test of the best multi-room speakers.

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