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The Best Bluetooth Speakers to Buy in 2024

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© Adobe Stock / nextpit

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With a Bluetooth speaker, you can bring your favorite music with you wherever you go. However, there is now a deluge of speakers in the market from well-known manufacturers such as JBL, Bose, Teufel, Sony, UE, and others. In our overview, we will let you know how you can find the best Bluetooth speaker and what you should look out for before buying one.

Best Bluetooth Speakers in 2024 compared

  The most versatile The alternative The connected speaker The party speaker The alternative Recommended price
Product
Illustration Bose SoundLink Flex Product Image JBL Charge 5 Product Image Sonos Roam Product Image Teufel Rockster AIr 2 Product Image JBL Xtreme 4 Product Image Marshall Willen Product Image
Note
Read the Bose SoundLink Flex test
Read the JBL Charge 5 review
Not yet tested
Read the Teufel Rockster Air 2 review
Not yet tested
Not yet tested
Dimensions (H x W x D)
  • 9 x 20 x 5 cm
  • 3.7 x 8.7 x 3.7 cm
  • 5.9 x 16.8 x 6.2 cm
  • 58.9 x 32.3 x 34.4 cm
  • n.a.
  • 10 x 10 x 4 cm
Weight
  • 0.6 kg
  • 0.96 kg
  • 0.42 kg
  • 14.15 kg
  • n.a.
  • 0.31 kg
IP certification
  • IP67
  • IP67
  • IP67
  • IP67
  • IP67
  • IP 67
Power
  • n.a.
  • 40 W
  • n.a.
  • 80 W
  • n.a.
  • 10 W
Connected?
  • No
  • No
  • Yes
  • No
  • No
  • No
Bluetooth version
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • n.a.
  • Bluetooth 5.1
Autonomy
  • 12h
  • 20h
  • 10h
  • 58h
  • n.a.
  • 15h
Powerbank function
  • No
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • n.a.
  • No
Jack socket
  • No
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • n.a.
  • No
Offers
n/a
 
 

What should you look out for when buying a Bluetooth speaker?

Whether blasting Bluetooth speakers at insane volumes at an evening garden party or while riding an e-bike in the city (have you seen our best e-bike list?), you cannot deny that Bluetooth speakers have become an integral part of our everyday life. Back then, you still had to use an amplifier, speakers, and a suitable playback device to listen to music. Fast-forward to 2024, you can do this conveniently via Bluetooth and streamed content from Spotify, Apple Music, and other similar streaming services.

Even though old-school music listening has a charm all of its own, we want to take a closer look, sorry, listen to Bluetooth speakers in this overview. In other words, portable speakers that primarily receive their content via Bluetooth from external devices such as notebooks, smartphones, or tablets. This sets them apart from smart speakers, which are often wired and can play music independently over Wi-Fi.

This article also marks the beginning of a new review series on nextpit. We will review the devices we feature in this market overview for you over the next few weeks. Just in time for the summer, too, when BT speakers are really fun, and you can then base your purchase decision on our reviews. Before that, we'll let you know what you need to look out for when buying.

Performance and technology

Just how powerful a Bluetooth speaker is can be assessed before you buy it. Although Bluetooth speakers look very different from the music systems of our parents and grandparents, there are always amplifiers and speakers fitted in the tiny chassis. Manufacturers normally specify their performance based on the output power in watts and speaker size.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the number of watts, the more power it carries, and the larger the speakers are, which might logically lead to the conclusion that the Bluetooth speakers will sound better. It can also be fun when manufacturers incorporate 2- or 3-way systems in their Bluetooth speakers. In this case, woofers and tweeters, i.e. speakers for bass and treble, are shared.

The Teufel Boomster XL boasts lots of power.
Large speakers like the Teufel Boomster XL offer plenty of power. / © nextpit

Even if the performance of Bluetooth speakers can be estimated based on the technical specifications, other factors also play a role in the music quality. It is therefore always advisable to include empirical values in the purchase decision. It can be based on either your own experience via a trial listening experience at the nearest technology store or professional assessments such as here at nextpit.

Dimensions and weight

Do you want to keep your Bluetooth speaker at home or bring it with you on your bike on weekends? Depending on the intended use, you should pay attention to the size and weight before making a purchase. For smaller Bluetooth speakers, carabiners to attach it to a rucksack can be practical. As for large and heavy models, these should come with carrying handles or even wheels. Think about what you need beforehand!

Water and dust protection

The same applies to protection against dust and water. Bluetooth speakers are meant to be used outdoors, even if some people are bothered by "nudist music listening". Most Bluetooth speakers now have basic splash protection. However, there are even models such as the JBL Boombox, which floats on water and can also be operated out in an open body of water. You can find out more about the standardized specifications for dust and water resistance in the linked article.

Battery and power bank

How long does the battery last and what is the charging time? Manufacturers provide an estimate for battery life, most of which are tested in the laboratory at medium volume. This is exactly how you should interpret the data. After all, the runtime ultimately depends heavily on factors such as the ambient temperature or volume.

However, there are Bluetooth speakers that have enough juice to last an entire party. You will, of course, find information on the runtime in the table above and later in our reviews. We also indicate whether the manufacturers have considered quick-charging functions.

Some Bluetooth speakers also have a useful advantage: they take on a dual role as a power bank. This means you can use them to charge smartphones or tablets. Of course, this comes at the expense of battery life, but it's really practical when you're out and about.

Connectivity and special functions

As the name suggests, most Bluetooth speakers work via, well, Bluetooth. The connection quality of the wireless transmission standard has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Hence, the more up-to-date and advanced the Bluetooth version is, the better! In addition to Bluetooth, it can be convenient if manufacturers also offer a wired connection option.

Having a 3.5mm connection is useful for both smart and BT speakers.
A 3.5mm connection is practical for both smart and BT speakers. / © nextpit

Although there are no longer many devices that can only be connected by cable, being able to do so has one major advantage: there is no lag. Hence, if you want to connect your Bluetooth speaker to a mini projector (comparison list) or to your laptop to watch a movie, the sound will perfectly synchronize with the picture.

Even though we steered clear of this matter at first, we would like to point out the existence of hybrids such as the Sonos Roam at this point. This is because it has Wi-Fi and can double up as a WLAN speaker. Such hybrids are now more common, and there is not much to complain about in terms of additional functions.

Special and convenient functions such as colorful, flashing lights, support for voice assistants, or a karaoke mode are nice, but they are not essential since they only cater to more specific tastes. Of course, we still point this out in our reviews. One really practical thing to consider when it comes to connectivity:

Some Bluetooth speakers can be connected to similar models in a daisy-chain format. If all your friends have the same Bluetooth speakers, you can make a real party loud on the weekend! Alternatively, connecting two of them can deliver stereo sound, making it especially useful for movie buffs!

Our Bluetooth speaker recommendations in 2024

Bose SoundLink Flex: The most versatile Bluetooth speaker

Bose Soundlink Flex buttons
The SoundLink Flex is a very convincing speaker. / © nextpit

The complete Bose SoundLink Flex test by nextpit

With the SoundLink Flex, Bose offers a compact, powerful Bluetooth speaker, the successor to the SoundLink Mini 2. It offers good sound quality, with well-balanced sound and powerful bass despite its compact size, maximum sound power of 90 dB and battery life of up to 12 hours. The ability to combine several Bose speakers in party mode is also a plus.

The SoundLink Flex's design is quite successful, with a sturdy steel casing covered in a layer of silicone. It is also IP67-certified, making it resistant to water and dust. A wrist strap makes it easy to carry, and it weighs just 0.6 kg. Rubber control buttons are well positioned and easy to use.

The Bose Connect companion app controls the speaker and offers some handy features, but it lacks button customization and connection with voice assistants and music streaming apps.

The SoundLink Flex also disappoints with the absence of a jack and equalizer in the app, and the speaker also lacks fast charging and powerbank functionality.

Despite this, Bose's compact speaker offers a good compromise between design, audio quality and battery life. It is available for around $150.

Bose SoundLink Flex

Good

  • Very good sound quality
  • Nice and loud with 90 db max
  • Beautiful design with high-quality finish
  • Long-lasting battery with up to twelve hours
  • Good call quality

Bad

  • Very low functionality overall
  • No jack connection
  • No equalizer in the app
Bose SoundLink Flex
Bose SoundLink Flex

JBL Charge 5: The alternative to the best speaker

JBL Charge 5 buttons up close
The Charge 5 features numerous controls. / © nextpit

nextpit's full review of the JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is powerful yet compact, offering outstanding sound quality with 40 W of power. IP67 certified, it is also water and dust resistant, making it an ideal choice for outdoor use.

The Charge 5 has a sturdy design and is available in several colors, although we regret the absence of an attachment system for a strap. The JBL Portable app lets you modify the equalizer and connect multiple speakers in Partylink mode.

In terms of sound quality, the Charge 5 offers high power and clear sound, but sometimes lacks bass. The speakers are oriented towards the front, which limits sound quality in certain situations. Fortunately, two speakers can be connected for stereo sound. The Charge 5's battery lasts for 20 hours and can also be used as a powerbank to recharge other devices.

However, JBL's Bluetooth speaker does have a few drawbacks, such as the absence of a jack plug, fairly long recharging times and limited functionality, notably the absence of voice assistant control.

All in all, the JBL Charge 5 is a good little Bluetooth speaker with excellent sound quality and good battery life. It justifies its price of 150 euros by its audio quality and durability.

JBL Charge 5

Good

  • Great sound with high maximum volume
  • Very robust thanks to IP67 certification
  • Large battery with power bank function
  • Can be connected to other JBL speakers

Bad

  • No jack connection
  • Quite limited frequency response
  • Smart features only in the expensive Wi-Fi version
JBL Charge 5
JBL Charge 5

Sonos Roam: Smart speaker with Wi-Fi

Sonos has a slightly different target group in mind with the "Roam". In addition to Bluetooth, the Bluetooth speaker also has a Wi-Fi mode, allowing it to connect to your home network independently. You can then select the speaker as a destination for music streaming in your music app. The Sonos Roam also supports both Google Assistant and Alexa voice assistants.

The Sonos Roam is one stylish cookie.
Stylish and smart: the Sonos Roam. / © Sonos

Like Bose, Sonos also kept secret how many watts the two internal amplifiers produce. However, a midrange driver and a tweeter share the frequencies of your songs. With a weight of 0.42 kg, the Roam is particularly portable and remains protected against rain and temporary submersion thanks to IP67 certification. According to the MSRP, you'll have to budget $173 for this.

Teufel Rockster Air 2: The speaker for your lively evenings

Teufel Rockster Air 2
The Teufel Rockster 2 will liven up your evenings. / © nextpit

Teufel Rockster Air 2 full review by nextpit

The Teufel Rockster Air 2 is a powerful, versatile Bluetooth speaker ideal for your parties. With 80 W of power, a maximum volume of 115 dB and numerous ports, it offers excellent autonomy and is easily transportable despite its hefty weight of 14 kg. It is worth noting, however, that the speaker is only available in Europe as of publishing time.

In terms of design, the speaker resembles a classic PA system, and its handles make it easy to carry. In terms of sound quality, the Rockster Air 2 offers impressive power and does not saturate even at high volume. It has a battery life of 58 hours at medium volume, and can be used as a stereo pair.

However, this power can be a drawback if you want to use it in an apartment, as there's no companion app for remote control. It also lacks IP certification, making it vulnerable to water and dust.

The Teufel Rockster Air 2 is a powerful and versatile party speaker, but its high price and lack of certain features make it a more suitable choice for professional use. Despite its strengths, it has limitations that may make it difficult to use in a personal context.

Teufel Rockster Air 2

Good

  • Extremely powerful with 80 W
  • Very flexible thanks to a wide range of connectivity options
  • Long battery life with the option to hook up additional batteries
  • Easy to transport despite its hefty weight

Bad

  • No IP certification
  • No companion app for remote control
  • Difficult to limit its performance at home
  • Expensive
Teufel Rockster Air 2
Teufel Rockster Air 2

JBL Xtreme 4: The brand-new party alternative

Do you want a flexible Bluetooth speaker that's also good enough for parties and doesn't cost more than $500? If so, take a look at the Xtreme 4 from JBL. Although a successor has already been announced, the price of the Xtreme 4 is still particularly exciting considering how it was spotted at CES 2024. Amazon will sell this speaker for $379.95, which boasts a total of four integrated speakers.

The Xtreme 4 was revealed at CES 2024.
The Xtreme 4 was shown at CES 2024. / © JBL

The exciting thing about the Xtreme 4 is that the manufacturer wants to improve the sound using artificial intelligence. As the Bluetooth speaker was only unveiled at CES 2024 this year, not much is known about its performance. However, the battery should last a whole day. We'll find out more when the speaker arrives at our office!

Marshall Willen: Stylish value-for-money recommendation

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a Bluetooth speaker, the Marshall Willen could be right up your alley. The speaker is already available for a discounted price of $94.10, but you don't have to compromise on build quality and a pretty design. With its iconic guitar amp design, the tiny speaker delivers 10 W via an internal speaker. Two passive radiators were designed to ensure high sound quality.

Aren't these just oh-so-cute?
The Willen is available in two color variants. / © Marshall

The Willen also has a battery life of over ten hours and, as with all the models mentioned, the chassis is IP67-certified. Another exciting feature is how Marshall wants to make the Willen flexible enough to bring it with you wherever you go. There is a strap on the back of the 300 gram BT speaker, allowing you to attach the Willen to just about anywhere.

What do you look for when buying a Bluetooth speaker, and what are your recommendations? Please let us know in the comments!


Article updated on April 2024 with additional models and test impressions.

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Head of Editorial DE

Ben has been working in tech journalism since 2018, was a freelancer in the middle of the CoVid-crisis and has been full-time at NextPit since November '20. Since then he has tries to find the right mix between professional competence, humor and fresh perspectives in reviews and texts.

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