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Best speakers for music

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 5/19/2022 Yasmin Rufo

We’ve all experienced that frustrating moment when the party is in full swing, your favourite song appears on the speaker and you’re midway through belting out the chorus when all of a sudden you hear… silence (or if you’re lucky the speaker will, in a smug tone, warn you about “critical battery”).

No matter what precautions are taken in advance to ensure the speaker would last all night, it failed you at the most crucial of moments.

If you’re anything like us, you have a love-hate relationship with your speaker. It’s great when it works, and you can finally catch up on that podcast or play those classic bangers whilst you wash the dishes, but when it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work and likely never will again.

The feelings of your speaker not being loud enough, poor Bluetooth connection if you move even an inch away from it or the frantic searching for cables and charging units when it’s low on battery are all too common.

That’s why we’ve tried, tested and trawled through the internet to find you the very best music speakers to suit playlist aficionados and we have everything from surround sound systems to portable Bluetooth speakers.

Along our search for speakers we picked up a few helpful tips and things to look out for:

  • Decide what you want from your music speaker as each one has its own USP. For example, if you’re after a speaker for parties and gatherings then prioritise loudness over sound quality. In contrast, if you’re a big music fan and are looking for something that’ll make you feel the music through your body then look at sound quality specifications, understand what the inside of the speaker looks like and how the sound is transmitted.
  • Another important aspect is size. If you want something portable check out both the weight and dimensions of the product as sometimes speakers can be deceptively small but weigh a lot and vice versa. Also keep an eye out for additional features such as waterproofness or sturdiness, especially if you know it’ll be on the move with you.
  • Lastly, think about how you like to play your music. Many speakers now connect through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and home assistants (eg, Alexa) as well as of course the traditional method of aux cable. Our best recommendation is to look for a speaker which allows you to connect in multiple ways allowing you to chop, and change based on what suits you when.

We’ve split our top-rated music speakers by category (Bluetooth, portable, DAB, surround systems and smart) and feature a number of different products at various price points so you’ll be sure to find something that works for you.

BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS

Tronsmart Bang Outdoor Party Speaker

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Summer days spent in the garden call for the Tronsmart Bang Outdoor Party speaker. Whether you’re relaxing on your own or hosting an event, this impactful speaker will deliver the music you want without compromising on loudness or sound quality.

It’s also great for beach days as it’s fully waterproof and will deliver up to 15 hours of playtime with just one charge. Not only will it not run out of charge halfway through your party, but it will actually charge your other devices as it has a built-in powerbank. Using the Tronsmart App you can customise LED modes, pair up with other speakers and adjust settings to suit you and your music.

Buy now £109.99, Amazon

Philips Home TAW6205 Wireless Speaker

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This wireless home speaker by Philips is a great buy if you’re looking for multi room sound as these well sized speakers can be placed around the house and by connecting them through WiFi, they can sync up. They are also great if you have other Philips products such as the Philips Ambilight TV which it is compatible with. It also connects with voice assistants, Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2.

The speakers also have a built-in LED light which we particularly liked as it creates a lovely glow whilst you listen to your music. The dimensions of the speaker are 11.5cm x 21.2cm x 11.6 cm (WxHxD).

Buy now £178.00, AO

Marshall Woburn II Wireless Bluetooth Speaker – BlacK

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If you’re all about sound quality then little else beats Marshall speakers and this Woburn II Bluetooth speaker delivers a total of 110 watts of power, all delivered by class D amps. The wooden cabinet surround on the product is not only aesthetically pleasing but it also helps to provide a natural, warm sound and allows for great audio efficiency even at low frequencies.

The Bluetooth is relatively strong on the speaker and can connect wirelessly up to 30 feet (10 metres) away. It also has a multi-host feature meaning the speaker can easily connect and switch between two Bluetooth devices, so no more fighting over who’s the DJ. The app also allows you to customise your own sound, or if you don’t fancy downloading another app then you can use the analogue controls on the top panel of the speaker to adjust settings.

Buy now £429.00, Amazon

Triangle AI03 Multi-room wifi speaker

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Design buffs will fall hard for this speaker with its chic Scandinavian look. It comes in six different colours for a perfect addition to a home. The sound quality is pretty good and it works at optimal levels in rooms of a round 15 metres squared. The speaker can be connected via Bluetooth with the app that will allow you to create a multi room network of up to 12 different devices across a space. Alternatively there are a number of inputs at the back of the speaker such as optical and USB A which allow you to connect a wide range of devices too.

The Triangle AI03 features two 25mm fabric dome tweezers and two mid-bass drivers which ensures an immersive sound and accurate reproduction of right and left channels.

Buy now £399.00, Amazon

PORTABLE SPEAKERS

Poly Sync 20

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As we continue to adapt our hybrid working schedules and find ourselves still joining dreaded Zoom calls, sound quality and actually hearing what our colleagues are saying is of the utmost importance. That’s why the Poly Sync 20 is the ultimate smart speakerphone for clear sound of your music or meeting by reducing echo and background noise. This also means that people are able to hear you better, which ideal for blocking out the noisy roads or background murmurs in the house.

With up to 20 hours of battery life and featuring a slim and sleek design, the speaker is easily portable and can slip into a bag unnoticed. The Poly Sync 20 is Zoom certified, but there is also a Microsoft Teams version available.

Buy now £118.20, Amazon

Sony SRS-XB13 Extra Bass Waterproof Bluetooth Portable Speaker

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Coming in at just £38, this Sony Extra Bass speaker is most certainly portable as it measures just 7.6cm x 4.6cm x 9.5cm and weighs only a few hundred grams. Despite its small size, it still packs a punch and offers decent sound quality if you’re looking to enjoy music on your own or in small to medium groups.

With 16 hours of battery life and its entirely waterproof construction, this speaker is great for days out and there’s no worry about it getting splashed by the side of the pool or running out halfway through your favourite song. If black isn’t your colour, then don’t worry as it also comes in a peachy pink and bright green.

Buy now £38.00, Amazon

JBL Link Portable

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If you’re on the hunt for a portable speaker that will deliver 360 degree sound then this speaker for JBL will do just that. The full-range transducer ensures that powerful sound can be heard in every direction meaning even if you can’t be at your favourite festival, you can definitely feel like you are.

With eight hours of portable playtime, the battery will not last as long as some other speakers but the sound quality and elevated volume makes up for that. The charging cradle is simple to use and discreet and the speaker comes in six fun colours from yellow to red to black.

Buy now £129.00, JBL

Harman Kardon Citation 200

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For many of us looking to place speakers in our homes, style and sophistication is key and that what Harman Kardon is all about. With its sleek grey look and flexible leather strap handle, this speaker is perfect to carry round. The speaker connects across both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so it can be used both indoors and out which you will definitely be doing thanks to the great sound quality. Each charge lasts up to eight hours and a full charge takes three hours to complete.

Buy now £299.00, Harman Kardon

SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS

Sonos 2 room set with One

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If you live in a flat or a smaller house and are looking for a sound system that will work with the size, then the 2 Room Set with One from Sonos is a reasonably priced bet. These two speakers are surprisingly powerful given their size and each one can be placed in a different room and synced up over Wi-Fi.

As Sonos offer many similar products, you can always choose to buy individual speakers if you’re looking to expand your multiroom system. The speakers are easy to set up with the Sonos app and you can add hands-free control and voice assistance. They are also guaranteed to work with any décor as they come in a simple black finish.

Buy now £340.00, Sonos

LG SN11RG Bluetooth Wi-Fi Sound Bar with Meridian Technology

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Although pricey, this soundbar is a true powerhouse when it comes to surround sound systems in a home. The audio quality is particularly high and thanks to the large design (144cm in length), the sound fills the room well, regardless of its size. The system comes with four sets of speakers and two wireless rear units with the speakers measuring 144cm in height. The system can be easily set up using the Google Home app and is completely compatible with Google Assistant and Chromecast so all you need to do for your favourite song to play is to say, ‘Hey Google’.

Buy now £999.00, John Lewis

Triangle Esprit Antal EZ

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For a modern, well designed speaker that will take pride of place in your house then the renowned Antal will do just that. This 3-way floorstander includes patented technology such as an all-natural cellulose diaphragm which ensures strong efficiency and quality of sound.

The lack of chemical treatment on the paper creates a audio experience which perfectly balances lightness and stiffness and, combined with the two fibreglass woofers that provide a powerful bass, the sound will be music to your ears. The speaker works best in rooms sized between 20 and 40 metres squared.

Buy now £1850.00, Audio Emotion

DAB SPEAKERS

Bumblebee & Small Polka Dot Monty Radio

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This fun and stylish radio from Emma Bridgewater features the brand’s signature multi-coloured polka dots and cute bumblebees that are guaranteed to brighten up any living space. The radio comes with all the features you’d expect and has up to 60 presets so you can save your favourite stations. It also has wireless Bluetooth connectivity as well as a 3.5mm aux-in if you wish to plug in your phone instead of connecting wirelessly.

The radio also features a USB port, so you can charge devices whilst listening to your favourite music. It doubles up as an alarm clock as well if you like waking up to the sounds of your local radio station.

Buy now £100.00, Emma Bridgewater

Revival petite

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Who doesn’t love a retro aesthetic? This fun and colourful radio comes in seven different popping colours from electric blue to bright yellow. It has 20 radio station presets as well as Bluetooth connectivity so you can play your own music through the strong speaker if you wish.

It has up to 20 hours of portable play and its petite size (measuring 7.6cm x 12.4cm x 7.3cm) means it is fit for any space and be easily portable.

Buy now £99.00, Amazon

JBL Horizon 2 DAB

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What we love about this speaker is its versatility as it operates as a clock, radio, speaker and light alarm. The speaker has the classic JBL room-filling sound quality, but it also comes with lovely glowing LED lights and built-in light sensors which automatically adjusts brightness according to your surroundings.

If you have different sleep schedules and patterns to your partner then fear not as the Horizon 2 also comes with two separate alarms that are fully customisable so you can wake up to preset digital alarm tones, the radio or your choice of music that can play through Bluetooth.

Buy now £119.00, Amazon

SMART SPEAKERS

Apple home pod mini

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At just 8.5cm tall, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Apple HomePod Mini won’t provide you with the loudness and sound quality that you would be after for a music speaker. However, the HomePod offers 360-degree audio that fills medium sized rooms perfectly. Naturally, this product works best with other Apple devices in your house as they can all sync up.

What we particularly love about the Apple HomePod mini is that you can seamlessly transition listening to a podcast or a song on a speaker to then hearing it on your phone. By simply bringing your phone near the speaker, the HomePod will connect automatically and transfer the sound over, so you’ll never miss another beat or word again.

Buy now £89.00, Currys

Amazon echo dot

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Of course, we’ve all heard about Amazon’s Alexa but if you’ve not get taken the purchasing plunge, then now is the time. Whilst it seems like the Alexa comes with unlimited features, we really appreciate its sound quality that makes the perfect addition to a kitchen or bedroom if you’re looking for something small, compact and discreet to play your music from.

Alexa also comes with multi-room music meaning you can fill your whole house with music, podcasts or audiobooks just by connecting compatible Echo devices together, which is easily done seeing as the devices offer such great value. Look out for offers on Echo devices during Prime Day, Black Friday and other flash sales if you’re wanting to buy multiple products.

Buy now £49.99, Amazon

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1

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You may have seen or heard the hype around the launch of sound masters Bang & Olufsen’s A1 portable speaker when it was first launched. Now in its second generation, this speaker is still one of the best and offers a battery life that can last up to 48 hours when used on a low or moderate volume. We love features such as the LED light on top and the battery level gauge on the side, so you’re not taken by surprise when your speaker cuts out.

The biggest pull of this speaker is of course the smart element as it now connects to Alexa via Bluetooth and works up to five metres away. Similar to the first-generation speaker, it is lightweight, easily portable and still offers great 360-degree sound.

Buy now £179.00, Amazon

Edifier MS50A Wi-Fi Smart Speaker

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This smart speaker offers a surround system. The Edifier Smart Wi-Fi speaker’s lovely wooden bookshelf speaker is completely wireless and can be operated by voice (linking it to an Alexa) or using the touch control pad on the top.

What we love most about this speaker is that although it is voice controlled, it doesn’t feature a microphone so if you are sceptical about the privacy smart gadgets offer then fear not with this one. The speaker measures 14.5 x 14.5 x 21 cm.

Buy now £129.99, Amazon

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