After hours of research and considering a variety of factors, we believe the best speaker you can buy today is the versatile Amazon Echo Dot. The latest version of the Dot has surprisingly great sound for its small size, plus full compatibility with Amazon Alexa – which means you can ask questions, play games, and control smart devices with it, too. Plus, the privacy features are up to date and keep your conversations private whenever you prefer.
Picking out the best speakers for using around or outside your home meant looking at several key factors: portability and durability features are very important for speakers that move around a lot. Drivers, speaker direction, and designs created to emphasize clarity or bass are also noteworthy. Today’s top speakers also come with great smart features like voice assistants and apps for better control. But be sure to check out our other portable speaker picks for all kinds of options! If you’re ready for more product recommendations, then check out our best tabletop radio.
Top 7 Best Speakers
#1 Amazon Echo Dot Speaker
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This super smart speaker comes with full Alexa support for managing your life, plus great sound for its size and an easy-to-use design. It’s an ideal little speaker for a desk or counter space anywhere in the home! And it’s very affordable.
Read Full Review: Amazon Echo Dot Speaker
- Excellent Alexa voice assistant
- Built-in support for Spotify, etc.
- Great privacy features
- Requires a wired connection
- Too small for room-filling sound
The Echo Dot is a brilliant little smart speaker designed to be set up at your desk or in similar areas while you are busy. Now on the third generation, Amazon has been working to improve sound with each new version, and while the speaker may not be able to fill the whole house with audio, it’s perfectly good as a nearby music player.
But what really makes the speaker stand out is built-in Alexa support that allows you to do everything from controlling your smart home to make calls. Alexa can also work with Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and other popular music sources to play songs on demand. Oh, and privacy also gets a boost with this model thanks to the physical mute button for the mic! It’s everything you need all in one small speaker package. Compare this with some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market to know if it’s right for your home.
#2 Oontz Angle 3 Speaker
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This portable Bluetooth speaker provides excellent dual-driver sound with a bass radiator, 10-watt amp, and 100-foot wireless range. It’s the perfect option for moving music from the home to outside and back again.
- Best Budget
- Excellent audio quality
- Bluetooth 4.2 wireless control
- Other picks have better battery life
Looking for portability? The affordable Angle 3 from Oontz is one of the best Bluetooth speakers we’ve reviewed, with excellent audio clarity via 10-watt amp and a well-designed bass radiator that keep sound strong. The two stereo drivers are large, well-designed, and provide remarkable directional audio for music. It has a 100-foot range for controls via your phone or an Echo device, and is ready for rain with an IPX5 waterproof rating if you want to take it outside. If you need a stationary, well-designed bass speaker, then check out our best subwoofers.
If you don’t feel like controlling the speaker with your phone, we’re also fans of the super-simple side controls on the speaker, allowing you to quickly play, pause, or disconnect as needed. The battery will last for around 14 hours without needing to be recharged, too. With it’s waterproof design, this is definitely the best shower speaker on our list.
#3 JBL Charge 3 Speaker
Award: BEST OUTDOOR
WHY WE LIKE IT: This speaker has a brilliant waterproof design, can handle calls through the speaker phone, and supports linking multiple speakers together! It’s the ideal choice for outdoor adventures.
Read Full Review: JBL Charge 3 Speaker Review
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- Excellent audio quality
- Noise and echo cancelling for calls
- Not as useful indoors
JBL knows how to make a durable speaker, and the Charge 3 was designed for effortless outdoor use. The waterproof speaker can connect up to three different phones, and fits neatly on a backpack or in a bag for transport. If you’re using it indoors, you can connect multiple speakers to each other wirelessly to fill the whole house with sound, too!
It also has a high-performance battery that supports around 20 hours of playback without needing to be recharged. And if needed, and you’re willing to sacrifice playback time, you can connect your phone via USB and use the speaker’s battery pack to recharge your phone, too. If you want your indoor sound as good as your outdoor, consider the best center channel speaker too.
#4 Anker Soundcore Speaker
Award: BEST BATTERY
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a battery life that keeps going for 24 hours and a great dual-driver design, this small speaker truly impresses. It makes an equally good choice both inside and outside for those who need their speaker to last.
- Drop proof & 24-hour battery life
- Dual full-range drivers
- Wireless reconnection features
- Not waterproof
If you need a wireless speaker that will really last, this Anker model is for you: The extra-power power bank inside can provide playback up to a full 24 hours without needing to be recharged, making it a great speaker for events or outdoor use. The dropproof design also helps keep it safe!
The Soundcore’s sound is also excellent, with two high-sensitivity sound drivers, 6 watts of power and a bass port to produce audio you certainly wouldn’t expect for its size. There’s a built-in mic for taking calls, and one last handy feature we like – automatic wireless reconnection with the last device that used the speaker. If you want something with a bit more power, try the best in ceiling speaker instead.
#5 Bose SoundLink Revolve Speaker
Award: BEST LARGE ROOMS
WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the best options for filling a room with sound, the Bose has stereo and party modes, compatibility with voice assistants, and even water resistance for outdoor use. Put it in a central location and let it sing!
- An excellent speaker phone thanks to 360-degree sound
- Siri and Google Assistant support
- Excellent control through Connect app
- Lower battery life
The cylindrical nature of this Bose speaker has an important purpose: It’s made to produce sound in all directions at once to more easily fill a room with audio. That audio sounds great too, with both a stereo mode and party mode depending on how you use it. But you don’t need to keep the speaker indoors – it’s water resistant and can easily be used on a porch, patio, or poolside to fill the yard with music, too.
The speaker offers a 12-hour battery life, along with the ability to connect to other SoundLinks and work together for even larger spaces. It also supports control via Google Assistant or Siri, but you will need your phone for that. It works well for a conference table as well, especially since it includes a mic to be used as a speakerphone.
#6 Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 Speaker
Award: BEST SOUND QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: The full array of audio features on this speaker gives it the best sound on our list, plus multiple voice assistant and connection options. If audio quality is a top priority for you, you’ll love how this speaker performs.
Read Full Review: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 Speaker Review
- 2 woofers and 2 tweeters in one speaker
- 2 voice assistant options
- Noise cancelling mic
- Somewhat awkward design
- Short battery life
The Onyx Studio 4 is made for top-quality audio, with an array of two woofers and two tweeters made to provide the best sound possible. And it does that well – this speaker had the best music playback of any similar model we tested.
The Studio 4 also has great connectivity options: Using the app, you can connect any two similar devices and play them both back at the same time. There’s also built-in voice assistant compatibility with Siri and Google Assistant for voice control. Really, the only downside is the short battery life and long recharge time – this speaker isn’t meant to go wireless for long periods of time.
#7 Beats Pill Speaker
Award: BEST COMPACT
WHY WE LIKE IT: This excellent speaker provides portable sound and fits nearly anywhere, with drivers designed for clear music and useful battery indicators. If you want a speaker you can just pick up and go with, this is the one!
Read Full Review: Beats Pill Speaker Review
- Only 8 inches long
- Woofer and tweeter separate for clarity
- Charge your smartphone
- Too small for larger spaces
Looking for a smaller speaker to easily take on the road with you? Many of our picks are great for this, but the Pill is the best when it comes to truly compact speakers. Only several inches long, the speaker offers a 12-hour battery life, phone call connections, and of course high quality sound via a stereo “2 way crossover” system designed for clarity.
The speaker’s on-board controls are also impressive, with an LED strip to show remaining battery life and clear playback buttons for quick controls, plus an option to switch to the mic for phone calls whenever you want. Lastly, you can charge your smartphone from the speaker’s built-in battery.
How We Decided
How do you judge sound quality? Part of our process is technical – looking at the specs, drivers, and design of the speakers to see how they produce sound and what types of audio this benefits. Speakers designed for 360-degree sound to fill a room are different from speakers designed to play sound more quietly at a desk. But the specs only take you so far, which is why we also like to look at full reviews from paying customers and set up the speakers in a room and actually listen to them!
Then there are portability factors. Our picks are designed to be used just about anywhere, which means they need to be capable. From JBL’s easy-tote design to the handle on our Bose speaker pick, these speakers are extra portable. Waterproof and drop-proof capabilities are also very important for speakers that will be spending time outside. And as always, more compact speakers like the Pill are nice because they’re so easy to fit anywhere.
Finally, we awarded extra points for useful smart features and voice assistant compatibility. Can the speaker easily take phone calls with built-in mics? Can you use voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant with it? Can it control smart devices? Does it have any special app features? With these important additions noted, we were ready to make our picks.
Best Speaker Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Drivers and Sound
Drivers are the transducers that vibrate to actually produce the sound waves we hear. That means they are one of the most important parts of the speaker, and a great way to judge sound quality. Larger drivers or greater numbers of drivers mean that the speaker will probably have better sound. Driver design and materials can also be important. Additionally, look for tweeters, tiny drivers designed for more treble sounds. While wireless speakers like these don’t really have subwoofers, then do try to use a variety of designs and spaces for reverberation to help increase the bass, so pay attention to these features, too.
- Size and Design
Even the best Bluetooth speakers have a variety of different designs for different situations. The Echo Dot has a small puck shape so that it can fit pretty much anywhere on a desk or shelf. Our Bose pick has a cylinder design, which is a popular choice for tables, often seen in the best speakers for TV and music.. Meanwhile, options like our JBL and Anker speakers are better designed for movement, easily carried around, stored in a backpack, and set up whichever way you would prefer.
If your speaker is going to be sitting on a counter its whole life and making your kitchen or work area a more pleasant place, you don’t need to worry much about durability – it’s fairly safe. However, if you are going to be carrying that speaker on adventures, then it needs to be ready. Look for waterproof features, drop-proof construction, and a design that’s easy to carry around with one hand.
- Smart Features
Today’s Bluetooth speakers can offer selections of smart features to go along with sound performance. Even our most basic speaker picks, like our durable JBL model, can still take phone calls and connect to other JBL models with ease. Our top pick, the Echo Dot, is a fully loaded smart device that you can use to ask the internet questions via Alexa, create reminders, play audio games, control smart devices around your home, and a lot more. Obviously, this expands a speaker’s usefulness inside a house, but it’s of limited usefulness outside.
If your speaker isn’t plugged in, then you need to check battery stats to see how much playtime you can expect. Generally, today’s speakers top off at around 20 to 24 hours of playtime, but this is only the best of the best designed for portable use. Other speakers may only have 10 to 12 hours of playtime. Note that our top pick, the Echo Dot, while a portable little speaker, still requires a cord connection to an outlet, so battery life isn’t a factor.