Best Wireless Speakers of 2018

Billy Bommer ·
Audio & Travel Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We tested the audio quality, ease-of-use and mobile app features of the ten best wireless speakers that cost between $150 and $300. The Sonos PLAY:1 is our best overall pick primarily because of its stunningly accurate and large sound stage. The Sonos app customizes the sound of the speaker to fit the room and is a worthy command center for streaming services and your music library. The PLAY:1 sounds great, looks good, is easy-to-use and the most cost-effective speaker we tested.    

Best Overall
Sonos PLAY:1
The Sonos PLAY:1 is a compact wireless speaker with huge room-filing sound. The companion app has a great selection of audio controls and is an easy-to-use control center for all the popular streaming services.
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Best Value
Fugoo Style XL
This is one of the best Bluetooth speakers available for less than $200. The audio quality is comparable to speakers we tested that cost almost twice as much.
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Best Audio Quality
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay M3
This is the best-sounding speaker we tested. The accompanying mobile app makes it easy to setup and lets you to customize the audio settings to match any size room.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Pricing
Audio Performance
Connectivity
Design
Sound Quality
Active Drivers
Setup
Mobile App
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
Durability
Battery Powered
Voice Assistant Control
$149 Wal-Mart
5 4.8 3.4 3.4
A-
2
C+
A
B+
Alexa
$6.91 Mountain Trail Outfitters
4.2 4.2 4.2 5
B
2
A
B
A+
Alexa, Google, Siri
$149 Amazon
3.7 3.9 4.2 3.8
B+
3
C+
B
B-
Google
$292.98 Amazon Marketplace
3.5 5 5 2.4
A
2
A-
A
B+
N/A
$154.99 Fugoo
4.9 4.3 3.9 2.5
B
6
A
No App
A-
Siri
$249 Amazon
3.7 4.8 4.9 2.7
A-
2
A-
B+
C
Siri
$160 Synergy Deals
4.7 4 4.4 2.9
B
0
B
C+
C+
Alexa
$226 Deals Army
4.2 4.8 3.8 2.2
A-
2
B+
B+
B
N/A
$199.98 Amazon
3.5 3.3 3.9 4.3
C
2
A
No App
A-
Alexa
$248 Newegg
3.5 3.5 4.2 3
C+
4
B-
C
B-
Google
Best Overall
The Sonos One is compact, affordable and has exceptionally detailed sound qualities. It sounds good regardless of which genre of music you enjoy and has an easy-to-use companion app with great compatibility and audio control features.
You can choose from two color options to seamlessly integrate the speaker with your home furnishings. The aluminum grille and humidity-resistant design make it one of the most durable speakers we tested. Once you sync your streaming services and music library in the Sonos app, connect the speaker to an Alexa-enabled smart speaker to change songs with your voice. You can also send songs and playlists directly from the Spotify app. Unfortunately, the PLAY:1 isn’t compatible with Bluetooth, but Wi-Fi connections offer better range and transmit music at a higher quality. There are only two speakers in the enclosure, but the PLAY:1 offered a wide sound stage in our tests. Each speaker is powered by its own amplifier specifically designed for the size and acoustic characteristics of the speaker. The midrange woofer pushes vocals to the front of the stage and the tweeter compliments the low and midrange content with crisp and clear high frequencies. The bass response isn’t going to rattle the pictures off your wall, but it is accurate and proportionate. Add a wireless subwoofer to your whole-home system if you enjoy chest-thumping bass.
Pros
  • Huge sound
  • Great app
  • Affordable
Cons
  • No Bluetooth
  • Not compatible with Google smart speakers
  • Lengthy setup process
$149.00Amazon
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Best Value
The Fugoo Style XL is a Bluetooth speaker with smart, functional design features and excellent sound quality. This is one of the few speakers we tested with a rechargeable battery.
The battery operation pairs well with the durable design. It has an IP67 protection rating, making it dustproof and submergible in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The Style XL is the perfect audio companion for trips to the beach and pool parties. The battery lasts up to 40 hours on a single charge, which is by far the longest battery life of the portable speakers we tested. The Style XL has six amplified speakers and two passive bass radiators. There are a pair of tweeters on each side positioned next to a passive radiator, and two horizontally opposed aluminum dome midrange woofers. This speaker produced some of the best bass response results in our music test, but the midrange and vocal reproduction is lacking compared to the best speakers we tested. The 360-degree sound stage works well in large rooms and outdoors but is not ideal for tight spaces like a bookshelf. You can connect your phone or tablet to this speaker with Bluetooth or a 3.5mm auxiliary cable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity, which is the highest fidelity wireless streaming option. The omnidirectional microphone allows you to answer phone calls and interact with Siri or Google Now on compatible smart phones.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Stylish
Cons
  • Bulky
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
  • No voice assistant control
Amazon
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Best Audio Quality
If you are looking for a compact wireless speaker to impress your audiophile friends, this is the best option. It only has two active speakers, but it produced the best results in our listening tests.
One of our reviewers remarked, “the overall sound quality makes my ears feel like they’re being wrapped in a warm blanket of music.” The vocal and midrange content were detailed and perfectly surrounded by stunningly clear treble and accurate, proportionate bass. The mobile app connects the speaker to your wireless network and gives you an amazing amount of control and customization options. There are one-touch room presets and a ToneTouch EQ pad to help dial in the perfect amount of treble and bass for your room. There are two color options: black and a light grey color Bang & Olufsen calls natural. The grille cloth is removeable and interchangeable with a grey aluminum grille or an attractive black wool cover. The Beoplay M3 is one of the most compact speakers we tested and feels durable enough to take a dive off the end table without serious repercussion. There are volume controls on the back panel, or you can use the mobile app to control the volume from across the room.
Pros
  • Detailed and accurate sound
  • Well-designed mobile app
  • Great connectivity options
Cons
  • Doesn’t interact with voice assistants
  • No battery operation
  • Expensive
Amazon
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Best Portable
The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM has the best sound quality of the portable Bluetooth speakers we tested.
The durable design makes it easy to toss in a backpack and go for a hike or bike ride without worrying about physical or functional damage. It has an IP7 waterproof rating so you can completely submerge it in three feet of water for 30 minutes. If you happen to spill something on it at a pool party, you can just rinse it off. The Ultimate Ears mobile app has some fun and customizable features. Connect multiple BOOM and MEGABOOM speakers together and use the block party feature to play a playlist through all of them. This speaker also functions as an alarm clock. The app lets you choose a wake-up time and starts playing a Spotify playlist or Pandora station to kick off your morning routine.
Pros
  • Portable and ultra-durable
Cons
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
Amazon
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Best for Large Rooms
The Denon HEOS 3 is the loudest wireless speaker we tested, and it thoroughly impressed our panel of evaluators.
It only has two amplified speakers, but the rear-ported enclosure filled our A/V room with full and detailed sound. We measured each speaker’s maximum volume before distortion from six feet away and the HEOS 3 had no problem projecting sound at well over 90 decibels. This is a great wireless speaker option for a large living room or office space. Wirelessly connect mobile devices to the HEOS 3 via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the high-fidelity option. The HEOS app is easy to navigate and supports most of the popular streaming services, including Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music. This was one of the easiest speakers to set up because of the intuitive app. However, this is not the most durable speaker we tested. The physical controls and plastic enclosure feel cheap, so you can lay this speaker on its side to avoid slips and falls.
Pros
  • Loud and booming sound
Cons
  • Durability concerns
Amazon
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Why Trust Us 

We setup all 10 speakers in our testing lab to do a proper side-by-side comparison. To test the sound quality, we used the wired connection on each speaker to play lossless sound files. Our recommendations are based on our impression of the speakers while playing the highest-fidelity content from the most consistent connection.

Instead of tasking one reviewer with making recommendations for a diverse audience, we queried a panel of evaluators. Although our audio experts’ impressions carried more weight in our final evaluation, we thought it was important to consider the reactions of people who have less experience with high-fidelity speakers because they have very little brand and feature bias.

I talked to Tony Ostrom, the President of the Wireless Speaker Association (WiSA), about the advantages of a Wi-Fi connection compared to Bluetooth connectivity. He confirmed the convenience of using Bluetooth, but also told me, “recent data points out that a significant percentage of current Bluetooth users desire improved fidelity.” If you are serious about listening to music in high-fidelity, we recommend getting a wireless speaker with Wi-Fi connectivity.


How We Tested 

We ranked wireless speakers based on sound quality, ease-of-use and app support. The best wireless speakers have top-notch sound quality and connect to your mobile devices in just a few steps. We prefer speakers with helpful apps for comprehensive control over your music library and user-friendly audio controls.

We tested sound quality by hardwiring each speaker to the music source so issues with our wireless network wouldn’t compromise playback quality. We used a decibel meter to set all the speakers to the same volume so our panel of reviewers didn’t mistake loudness for quality. Once all the speakers were connected, we played lossless music files from an iPhone with a physical headphone output. The panel of reviewers ranked each speaker on treble clarity, bass response, vocal clarity and overall sound quality.

Most the wireless speakers we reviewed are controlled by a free mobile app. We tried out all the speaker manufacturers’ apps to determine which are easiest to use, the best streaming service compatibility and audio controls. Speaker apps that sync with internet streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Apple Music provide one convenient place to access all your music.

How Much Should I Spend on a Wireless Speaker? 

We focused our testing and comparison on speakers that cost between $150 and $300. Wireless speakers in that price range offer a great price-to-fidelity ratio. Bluetooth speakers that cost less than $100 don’t sound great but are typically more portable and durable than most the products we tested. Whole-home audio systems run well into the $1,000 range. You can add speakers over time to mitigate the initial sticker shock and fill your entire house with high-fidelity music playback and voice-activated smart home control.

Important Features to Consider 

Mobile App
Speaker apps that sync with internet streaming services like Spotify and Pandora provide one convenient place to access all your music, including songs and playlists downloaded on your phone. The best mobile apps also include audio controls for tuning the speaker to your room. The Sonos and Bang & Olufsen apps have the easiest setup process and the best audio controls.

Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth

Wi-Fi connectivity offers better fidelity and longer wireless range than Bluetooth. In most cases, it also requires plugging the speaker into a wall socket. Bluetooth connections don’t require any setup and you can quickly interchange the playback device. Bluetooth speakers that don’t have Wi-Fi connectivity are usually more portable and durable. The best speakers we tested have both connection options.

Voice Control
Most of the speakers we reviewed interact with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Voice control allows you to skip songs and start playing music without reaching for your phone. If you are interested in controlling smart home devices in addition to high-fidelity music playback, look for a wireless speaker that is compatible with your favorite voice assistant.