Bluetooth and wireless speakers for any budget

With wireless Bluetooth speakers you can listen to high-quality audio anywhere you go.

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Young couple using a Bluetooth speaker on a hike

Quick facts about Bluetooth speakers

  • Bluetooth speakers offer a portable and convenient solution for listening to music and other audio while travelling or spending time outdoors.
  • Choosing the right Bluetooth speaker for you depends on your budget and where and how you want to use your speakers.

How do Bluetooth speakers work?

Traditional speakers use a cable to link them back to an audio source such as a TV, computer or mobile phone. Bluetooth speakers use Bluetooth technology to link the speaker to the audio source without requiring a physical cable.

Bluetooth uses radio waves to transmit across short distances up to around 10m. Bluetooth can connect a computer to a wireless device such as a keyboard, mouse, digital camera or mobile. You can send and receive signals over this Bluetooth connection allowing you to download photos from your camera, connect your mobile to a hands-free headset or listen to music with Bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth speakers are designed to be portable. You can connect your speaker almost instantly to any Bluetooth capable device such as a smartphone or computer no matter where you are because no cables are required. Some Bluetooth speakers are designed to be extra portable for outdoor activities.

What’s the difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?
The main difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers is how they work. Bluetooth speakers connect directly to an audio source, whereas Wi-Fi speakers connect to a Wi-Fi network, which in turn connects to an audio source. Wi-Fi allows multiple speakers to operate on the same network and broadcast the same audio. Wi-Fi speakers are typically installed in a house or unit and are not as portable as Bluetooth speakers.

How to compare Bluetooth speakers

The best speaker for you comes down to how you want to use it. If you want a speaker you can take to the beach this summer, look for something waterproof. If you want to listen to music on vacation, look for something extra portable that you can fit easily in your carry-on. No matter what, you’ll want to look for a speaker with a long battery life and high-quality sound all within your budget.

Quick Stats
Weight (kg)Volume capability
(decibels)
Maximum battery life (hours)Wireless range (metres)
From 0.2kg to 6.5kgFrom 85 dB to 110+ dBFrom 5 to 26+From 9m to 30+m

Cost

Affordable Bluetooth speakers don’t usually come with many features, while high-end speakers typically offer better audio quality. Once you have determined your budget, you will want to consider size, sound quality, battery and durability.

Size and weight

Bluetooth speakers are generally either ultra-portable and can be easily carried in a purse or by hand, or semi-portable. While ultra-portable speakers are easier to take out and about, opting for a smaller speaker can sometimes mean sacrificing sound quality, especially when the volume is turned all the way up.

Volume

Larger speakers often have clearer audio at higher volumes while smaller, more portable speakers can sound strained at their highest volumes. Look for a speaker with a volume capacity of at least 85 decibels.

Battery

When it comes to portability, long battery life is key. Bringing your speakers on a camping trip won’t be much use if the speaker battery only lasts a few hours. If you want to use your speakers in locations where charging won’t be easily possible, look for a speaker with a long battery life.

Durability

Many Bluetooth speakers are splash-resistant and some are completely waterproof, allowing you to use them in the pool or at the beach without worrying about damaging them. Other speakers offer dust resistance, making them perfect for camping. If you’re looking for a speaker to use at home, durability isn’t as important.

USB charging

Some speakers with larger battery also give you the ability to charge other devices via a USB cable. So if your phone battery is running low from playing music all day, you can plug it into the speaker and use the extra battery to charge your phone.

Near field communication (NFC)

NFC allows two Bluetooth devices to connect simply by being within a few centimetres of each other. If you have an NFC compatible device, consider buying a speaker with the same feature for added convenience.

Cable input

Even though Bluetooth devices are designed to be wireless, some include an audio cable port. This can be helpful if you want to connect your speaker to a device that is not Bluetooth capable, such as a desktop PC, or if the Bluetooth connection malfunctions.

Surround sound

Some Bluetooth speakers allow you to connect additional speakers to create surround sound. However, if you are primarily buying speakers to use at home for surround sound, you should consider using Wi-Fi multiroom speakers.

Pros and cons of Bluetooth speakers

Bluetooth speakers are a convenient way to listen to high-quality audio. You can use your speakers at the beach, while camping, when travelling overseas or at home. Bluetooth speakers have taken over the role of traditional portable stereos. Where stereos required a CD or cassette tape, you only need a Bluetooth capable device to connect to your speakers. Fortunately, just about any device that plays digital music is now Bluetooth capable.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Convenient
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable

Cons

  • Smaller models sometimes sacrifice sound quality
  • Can have connectivity issues
  • Few surround sound options
  • Limited battery life

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