In addition to the entry of the Marshall Willen in our ranking at the beginning of October and which materializes the best ultra-compact speaker of the moment, no change in the selection of the best Bluetooth speakers. 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 Flex, the best speaker of all criteria
Even if the price of the Bose SoundLink Flex is not given, it is not unreasonable for a high-end Bluetooth speaker and completely in line with the prices charged by Bose. If you are looking for a very easy-to-carry Bluetooth speaker delivering good audio quality, shockproof, totally waterproof, and offering a range of very effective advanced functions such as Multipoint, stereo or Multiroom pairing, the Bose SoundLink Flex should be at the top of your list. Very few competitors can stand up to it. We were impressed by its power, clarity and mastery of sound. A very nice product.
2. Sonos Move, the best hybrid speaker for home and going out
With great versatility, the Sonos Move is undoubtedly the most complete portable speaker, or rather transportable given its weight and size, on the market. It can optionally integrate 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 features a removable battery for increased longevity, all in an IP56-certified shock and rainproof chassis. Delivering a sound of very good quality for this type of device, warm and relatively powerful, it will only be criticized for its fairly large size, its autonomy of only 5 to 10 hours and above all its very high price.
3. Anker Soundcore Motion+ the best portable speaker under $100
It’s hard to find better than the Anker Soundcore Motion+ at this budget level. This speaker has everything going for it, a robust and completely waterproof design, up-to-date connectivity with USB-C and even a jack port, which is quite rare these days, high quality sound for the price, a Bluetooth 5.0 AptX compatibility, and all this for less than 100€. What more ?
4. Marshall Willen, the best ultra-compact speaker
With the little Willen, Marshall makes a great entry into the category of ultraportable Bluetooth speakers. A compact model with careful manufacture that has many advantages, starting with its rock design that appeals to so many people. Offering the guarantee of a powerful sound with a Multipoint connection, a stack mode to combine several speakers, and an unfailing autonomy, this small robust speaker has everything to seduce adventurers fans of Marshall sound. The only shortcomings to remember: a slightly high price, an application without interest and a multi-speaker mode without real stereo. But if you like big sound on the go, go for it with your eyes closed!
5. UE Hyperboom, the best XXL portable speaker
With a consistent and quality range of portable speakers for many years now, the reputation of Ultimate Ears, a subsidiary of Logitech, is second to none. 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 not only of wireless but also of a jack port and an optical port. Our regrets, the absence of Wi-Fi and voice assistant, high quality Bluetooth codecs like AptX, the non-removable battery and the high price. Still, in the category of large format portable speakers,
6. JBL Go 3, the best budget speaker
Although the Go 3 has its limits when it comes to audio rendering, it pushes harder than one might think for its tiny size. Not only is it more attractive in design than the Go 2, but it also feels sturdier and better able to withstand drops. A mini speaker that is hard not to appreciate.
Our tips for choosing
Headphones are a very good solution to listen to your music anywhere, anytime. But they confine, often cut off from the outside world and remain a lonely way to enjoy his music. Nomadic battery-powered speakers retain this notion of freedom of access to music and add a dimension of sharing. Technically, their Bluetooth connectivity makes them the perfect tool for accessing songs stored on a mobile device or 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 at least available (which is less and less the case). You can even use it to improve the sound of your TV.
What makes audio quality?
Regarding the sound quality, know that in general, the larger the speaker, the more the sound is provided in bass. But that’s not all, the amp(s), the speakers, the DSP or the 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 20000 Hz, a larger range is not really helpful. Conversely, a tighter range will cause you to lose detail. Note that some speakers diffuse the sound at 360 degrees, others are more directive, it is also to be observed.
But beyond the audio, several criteria must also be taken into account. First, the weight and size, because obviously, you will want to transport a large and heavy device less than a small speaker. Then, the design of the enclosure: some are waterproof and/or resistant to shocks, even falls, and others are not. There is a certification for this, for an enclosure resistant to splashing water, you need at least IPX4 certification, and IPX7 for a product that can be completely immersed. This is a criterion to consider if you want to take the speaker with you to the pool and the beach.
What control options?
Having controls on the speaker is a significant asset, no need to take out your phone all the time to raise or lower the sound, or to change tracks. However, not all speakers are equal on this point, check the control options available to you. Note that some smart models can be voice controlled. Between the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant models, we recommend the latest, more efficient in our opinion when the integrated microphones are of good quality.
Which connection and which wireless connection?
An auxiliary jack to connect your audio source with a cable is a significant plus. Also pay attention to the wireless connection standard used, we advise you to go for a Bluetooth speaker 4 at least. Also note that the transmission codec is important for the audio quality: the SBC is the most basic, the AAC offers a less compressed rendering and therefore a higher audio quality. There are also other less common, but still better codecs, AptX, AptX HD or LDAC.
Finally, be aware that modern speakers offer a number of advanced features, which are sometimes very useful. Some speakers can, for example, combine to form stereo pairs or even groups of several speakers, practical for playing music throughout the house during evenings with friends. Others incorporate 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 bigger the battery you can expect, but this is not a hard and fast rule. The autonomy offered is very different and ranges 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. Our recommendations are based on a large number of tests and comparisons carried out in complete independence, technical observations and a sharp knowledge of the market. Our tests and our expertise focus on the use of the products and the quality/price ratio to help you make the right choice.