Tech Reviews

The best portable (Bluetooth) speakers of May 2021


05/05/2021 Update – Last April, we tested Sonos’ new portable speaker, the Roam. More compact and easily transportable than the Move, it incorporates its intelligent features for a more accessible price, of course, but still quite high. This is why, despite its intrinsic qualities (attractive design, waterproofness, correct audio quality for its size and above all top ergonomics), we decide not to include it in our ranking. A decision that we could however review in the future if its price were to drop. As usual, those who want advice on choosing the right portable speaker will find our dedicated FAQ at the bottom of the page.

1. Bose SoundLink Revolve +, the best Bluetooth speaker, all criteria combined

The Bose Revolve + is very expensive, but that’s the only thing we really have to blame it for as it performs well. Very powerful and offering high quality omnidirectional sound, this speaker impresses with its size. It is also splash proof (IPX4 certified) which can get a bit light when you consider that some competitors like UE Boom / Megaboom can float and operate in water however. But unlike the latter, the Revolve + is equipped with a microphone to serve as a hands-free kit as well as a handy auxiliary jack for using audio sources without a Bluetooth connection. In addition, its autonomy of 16 hours at reasonable volume is quite satisfactory. In short, if its price does not scare you, then you can go there with your eyes closed, this nomadic speaker is undoubtedly the most efficient on the market today.

2. Sonos Move, the most complete speaker, but at a gold price

Very versatile, the Sonos Move is undoubtedly the most complete portable speaker, or rather transportable given its weight and size, the most complete on the market. It can optionally be integrated into the Sonos multiroom system via Wi-Fi or operate via Bluetooth, it allows voice control via Google Assistant or Alexa, it comes with a charging base but can also be recharged by USB- C and includes a removable battery for increased longevity, all in an IP56 certified chassis resistant to shocks and rain. Delivering a very good quality sound for this type of device, warm and relatively powerful, we can only blame it for its fairly large size, its autonomy of only 5 to 10 hours and especially its very high price. Still, the Move is a great choice and our favorite Sonos speaker.

3. Anker Soundcore Motion + the best portable speaker under $ 100

Hard to find better than the Anker Soundcore Motion + at this budget level. This speaker has it all, a robust and completely waterproof design, up-to-date connectivity with USB-C and even a jack port, which is quite rare these days, great quality sound for the price, Bluetooth 5.0 AptX compatibility, and all this for less than 100 €. What more ?

4.EU Hyperboom, the best XXL portable speaker

With a consistent, quality portable speaker line-up for many years now, the reputation of Ultimate Ears, a subsidiary of Logitech, is well established. And the manufacturer’s new XXL speaker, the Hyperboom, lives up to its name by delivering very good sound, with good bass and close to a real bookshelf speaker, an efficient Bluetooth 5 connection, 24 hours of maximum autonomy (at very reasonable volume), a splash-proof design and full connectivity consisting of not only wireless but also a jack port and an optical port. Our regrets, the lack of Wi-Fi and voice assistant, high quality Bluetooth codecs like the AptX, the non-removable battery and the high price. Still, in the category of large format portable speakers, the UE Hyperboom is undoubtedly one of the best.

5. UE Wonderboom, the best portable speaker at a low price

Ultimate Ears is back with a new tubular Bluetooth speaker that is shorter but more meaty than the Boom 2. This allows the Wonderboom to deliver more powerful bass for even better overall sound quality. The icing on the cake, its launch price is only 100 euros, which makes it one of the best quality / price ratios on the market when it was released. Regarding the other characteristics, we remain on a completely waterproof (IPX7) and shockproof construction, and a suitable autonomy of 10 hours. The only complaints we have to do with it concern the lack of hands-free mode and stereo when using two Wonderbooms at the same time, but here we are finicky.

6. JBL Go 3, the most compact and easy to transport speaker

While the Go 3 has its limits when it comes to audio rendering, it pushes harder than you might think for its tiny size. Its design is not only more attractive than that of the Go 2, but it also seems more robust and able to withstand drops better. A mini speaker that is hard not to appreciate.

Our advice for choosing the right one

The headphones are a great solution for listening to music anywhere, anytime. But they lock up, often cut off from the outside world and remain a solitary way to enjoy his music. Nomadic battery-powered speakers retain this notion of freedom of access to their music at any time and anywhere (at home, at the office, outdoors, on vacation, on weekends, on picnics, etc.). are more user-friendly. Technically, their Bluetooth connectivity makes them the perfect tool to access songs stored on a mobile device or in streaming with Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music Or other. But nothing prevents them from being used with any other device equipped with Bluetooth technology or more simply wired, when an auxiliary jack input is available at least (which is less and less the case). We can even use it to improve the sound of your TV.

What makes the audio quality?

Regarding the sound quality, know that in general, the larger the speaker, the more bass sound is provided. But that’s not all, the amp (s), speakers, DSP or DAC also play. Check the power expressed in Watts RMS of the speaker you like or the maximum sound level, expressed in dB. Also pay attention to the frequency response if indicated. The human ear hears frequencies from 20 to 20,000 Hz, a larger range is not really useful. Conversely, a tighter range will make you lose detail. Note that some speakers diffuse the sound at 360 degrees, others are more directive it is also to be observed.

That design?

But beyond the audio, several criteria must also be taken into account. First, the weight and size, because obviously, you will want to carry a large and heavy device less than a small speaker. Then, the design of the speaker: some are waterproof and / or resistant to shocks, even drops, and others not. There is a certification for this, for an enclosure resistant to water splashes, you need at least an IPX4 certification, and IPX7 for a product that can be completely submerged. This is a criterion to take into consideration if you want to take the enclosure with you to the pool and to the beach.

What control possibilities?

Having controls on the speaker is a great asset, no need to take out your phone all the time to turn up or down the volume, or to change tracks. On the other hand, all the speakers are not equal on this point, check the possibilities of control which are offered to you. Note that some smart models can be controlled by voice. Between the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant models, we recommend the latest ones, which in our opinion are more efficient when the integrated microphones are of good quality.

What connection and what wireless connection?

An auxiliary jack to connect your audio source with a cable is a bonus. Also pay attention to the wireless connection standard used, we advise you to use a Bluetooth 4 speaker at least. Also note that the transmission codec is important for audio quality: SBC is the most basic, AAC offers less compressed rendering and therefore higher audio quality. There are also other less common but better codecs, AptX, AptX HD or LDAC, the last two being called Hi-Res or high definition codecs.

What features?

Finally, be aware that modern speakers offer a number of advanced features, sometimes very useful. Some speakers can, for example, combine to form stereo pairs or even groups of several speakers, convenient for playing music throughout the house during the evenings with friends. Others integrate voice assistants, or even systems to adapt the sound to the listening environment. Some come with mobile apps, others don’t. Finally, the bigger the speaker, the more you can expect a massive battery pack, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. The autonomy offered are very different and range from a few hours to dozens of hours depending on the model. Compare them.

Why trust us

Present online for nearly 15 years, CNET France is a reference site for high-tech leisure activities. Our recommendations are based on a large number of independent tests and comparisons, technical observations and in-depth knowledge of the market. Our testing and expertise focus on product usage and value for money to help you make the right choice.


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