This is a very basic look at 5 of the top rated bluetooth speakers. As usual, we won’t go into specific technological details that really don’t matter. We’re looking for the best inexpensive bluetooth speakers.
For the last generation of ipod owners, the ipod dock was all the rage. When going on holidays with friends, one thing we always made sure of was that someone was bringing an ipod dock… god forbid we couldn’t enjoy our favourite music on the beach or on our balcony with a few beers. Docking is so yesterday, it has to be wireless these days.
Streaming audio is growing so fast, and we do most of it on the go from our phones and tablets, but as you know the built in speakers are usually rubbish. So, the bluetooth speaker is very much a product of the moment a great product for being able to share listening pleasures with those around you. However, they are expensive products, manufacturers everywhere are looking to cash in on the streaming craze.
What to look for in bluetooth speakers
As an ipod dock owner, I found it quite confusing when looking to choose bluetooth speakers. This is a seriously crowded market. There is a whole host of brands and models, with various features and functions. I just wanted something to use when I was away or when I had a gathering of friends… I wasn’t going to use it that often and the quality didn’t have to be amazing, it just needed to provide background music. No way was I going above £100. Here is some of the top rated bluetooth speakers available should you find yourself in a similar predicament.
Here’s what I’m looking for:
- Durable and reliable
- Inexpensive (under £100)
- Good Battery Life
- 1 or 2 small features and functions
Battery: 9 hours
Key features: Durability – shockproof and waterproof
Wireless Range: 65 Feet
Biggest Downfall: Very Small so quality of sound suffers a little
UE (Ultimate Ears) have become one of the leaders in Bluetooth speaker technology. The company is a subsidiary of the very reliable speaker manufacturers Logitech. The main selling point on this model is the portability. It’s great for listening to audio on the go. A perfect holiday or day trip speaker. It’s fits in the palm of your hand, it’s shockproof and waterproof so can be squeezed into your bag without fear and once you get to your destination it can be tossed around the pool or at the beach without fear (it also floats well!). The sound is not going to be as good as a bigger speaker, however it only suffers a bit, the sound to size ratio is absolutely excellent.
Battery: 15 hours
Key features: Durable • Great Sound • 360 Degree Audio
Wireless Range: 65 Feet
Biggest Downfall: No on board playback controls • May be too big for travelling
“360 degree audio” has become a very popular feature on bluetooth speakers. What does this mean? Unlike traditional speakers which point in one direction, these tube shaped devices will give the same sound no matter where you are in relation to the speaker. This means its ideal for listening with friends, position the speakers in the middle and everyone can enjoy. UE have taken advantage of this with their Boom model. It’s bigger and heavier than the UE roll, but the compromise is a better quality of sound and longer battery life. This model also has it’s own app so you can personalise the sound to your liking.
Battery: 12 hours
Key features: Affordable • Decent Sound • Control Buttons on Device • Speaker Phone Capabilities
Wireless Range: 32 Feet
Biggest Downfall: Not as durable as other models
The price is really good value for what you get with this one. It has the 360 degree feature of the UE Boom, but it’s slightly smaller. The sound is not far off the UE boom either, it’s really good for the size and price. This model has controls on board so you can change volume, skip songs etc without having to go to your mobile device constantly. It also has a built in microphone so it can be used for speaker phone or conference calls.
Where it really falls in comparison to UE is that it’s not as durable, you won’t be able to take this near water so ask yourself is durability worth £55??. If you’re on a budget and just want a decent speaker for the odd occasion, you won’t find better than this for the price. Easily the best inexpensive bluetooth speakers.
Battery: 7 hours
Key features: Durable (waterproof) • Loud • strong bass • on board controls • speaker phone capabilities
Biggest Downfall: Battery Life
This is somewhere in between the previous two models. It has the waterproof features of UE and the on board controls of the DKnight. However it doesn’t have 360 degree audio. The design is typical Sony, no bells and whistles of the colourful UE products, it’s simple and solid. It’s louder than it’s competitors but the battery life is nowhere close to what it should be.
There has been a bit of a common criticism about portable bluetooth speakers that they don’t hold much bass, this is usually just something that happens with any portable speakers. In order to manufacture compact speakers, certain frequencies need to be cut and bass is usually the victim. The Sony SRS-XB2 has noticeably strong bass (even has an ‘extra-bass’ button), however don’t be fooled, in order to get extra bass it needs to cut other frequencies in the mix which can mean vocals or treble wouldn’t be as clear. The type of music or audio you listen to might be worth into factor if considering this model. As ever with Sony, it’s hard to go wrong really.
Battery: 24 hours
Key features: Strong Battery Life
Biggest Downfall: Weak build
A really good choice for a budget set of speakers. This is something I’d compare to the iPod docks of old. When you pick it up you know it’s an inexpensive piece of kit. The plastic feels a bit cheap and there doesn’t feel like there’s much to it. This doesn’t have to be a negative though, it’s not much heavier than the UE Roll, it can be slotted in your bag or carried around without weighing you down.
The sound I would also liken to an iPod dock, it does the job without bowling you over. The battery life is the real plus here, a massive 24 hours before you have to worry about charging. It’s no wonder this is one of the top rated bluetooth speakers on Amazon. For anyone who just wants to upgrade from an old ipod dock, this is your best choice.
Like I mentioned a couple of times it really is a crowded and lucrative market. For most people, I don’t think there’s much point in spending a fortune on bluetooth speakers. If you’re going to use it on a daily basis, for listening to audio on your own, you might choose bluetooth speakers that are more expensive and give a pristine soundbut personally I think Wifi radios are a much better option for at home and many of them support bluetooth. Other than that, for occasional use and providing background music at a party or on holiday, stick with one of the models above and you won’t be disappointed. If we have left out something that you would have included as top rated bluetooth speakers, please comment below and tell us.