back to article Sound and battery: 20 portable Bluetooth speakers

The arrival of Bluetooth 4, with its reduced hunger for power and support for audio codecs like aptX and A2DP means that there has been an explosion in the availability of Bluetooth speakers which connect to computers, tablets and smartphones, and are often small enough to be chucked in a bag and taken to the park or beach. …

  1. Michael Habel Silver badge

    TL:DR....

    Are any of these "Speakers" in Stereo? It seems that the mass bulk of 'em are all Mono.

    Kinda like my problem with DAB / Web Radios. I'd likely be more interested had they had more then just the One Speaker on them.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: TL:DR....

      Numbers 15, 16 and 18 all have two speakers, not really sure about the rest.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TL:DR....

      Are we going to get a stereo effect in these form factors?

      1. Rob Fisher

        stereo

        You don't necessarily want the speakers to be miles apart for stereo. You want your head and the two speakers to form an icoceles triangle. So it depends how far away you're sitting. I can imagine sitting at a desk with one of the stereo sets here would be quite worthwhile.

    3. Gerhard den Hollander

      Re: TL:DR....

      the philips bt3500 is stereo, though you dont hear that much stereo seperation, as the speakers are very close together.

      I'm a bit surprised at the #80 prive tag, as I got it for e60.

      Better osund quality than my laptop speakers, plus it has a built in mic, so can double as a cheapo conference phone means Im happy with it (and since I bought a battery pack for my phone ages ago, that can also charge the speakers, the 5 hour battery life isnt much of a problem for me .

      But, to each his own :)

    4. Paw Bokenfohr

      Re: TL:DR....

      The UE Boom is stereo.

    5. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: TL:DR....

      Many are Stereo, just as with a portable CD player the Left and Right outputs are not that far apart.

      Go and have a listen to some of them, esp. the missing Bose Soundlink Mini, and let your ears be the judge.

    6. Cameron Colley

      Re: TL:DR....

      I don't think anybody listens to music any more as very few portable audio products seem to be stereo nowadays. Granted the Ultimate Ears et al can be made stereo but that's over £300 for a set of portable stereo speakers which may not even be used that often. Surely somebody makes a pair which don't cost the earth?

      Mind you, what I'd really like is a Bluetooth receiver with phono (or, perhaps SPDIFF) outputs but that's another story.

  2. returnmyjedi

    I got a couple of Nokia ones (Play 360) free with a Lumia 800 a few years ago. Each one is mono but if they sense another is nearby they switch to stereo. They work using replaceable rechargeable batteries from Nokia feature phones so the six hours of battery life is easily extended.

    1. Mark Jan

      Nokia Play 360

      I got a couple of Nokia ones (Play 360) free with a Lumia 800 a few years ago. Each one is mono but if they sense another is nearby they switch to stereo. They work using replaceable rechargeable batteries from Nokia feature phones so the six hours of battery life is easily extended.

      I agree, the Nokia Play 360s have been out for years', have NFC, sense another Play 360 in the vicinity and will switch (in a really cool fashion) to stereo. The sound quality and loudness is excellent for such a small, portable unit. You should really have tested those as well.

  3. Martin Silver badge

    A little surprised you didn't mention this one...

    bp2001

    ...as you gave it a nice review about three months ago. And it's cheaper than all of these and works pretty well.

  4. Bloodbeastterror

    Personal recommendation

    http://www.johnlewis.com/bose-soundlink-mini-wireless-mobile-speaker-silver/p515184

    I bought one for my wife last Xmas and not only is the sound incredible from such a tiny box, but ***she's able to make it work***! And she would be the first to tell you how she struggles with technology.

    Quite expensive, but I'm so pleased with it that I've just bought another for my son.

    1. Mikewickwar

      Re: Personal recommendation

      Got one the other week & very impressed indeed.

    2. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Personal recommendation

      I have the very same on, and it is awesome - has exceeded my expectations. As loud as my daughters JBL Flip (also missing), buy much better audio quality and stonking bass - esp. when close to a wall, and the rear facing radiator reflects off the wall further amplifying the audio..

  5. Nick L

    Nice... but how about a summary?

    Would have been nice to have some sort of chart showing capabilities, etc, and perhaps a score for sound, or value, or something? As it is, it's interesting but I forget after 10 pages which was which...

    1. BasicChimpTheory

      Re: Nice... but how about a summary?

      Yes, the pagination is terrible (as with the recent Christmas present "articles").

      At least provide a "view all" button in the redesign?

  6. Duffy Moon

    Minirigs

    OK, they don't have BT, but if I was going for a portable speaker, it would be a Minirig.

    www.minirigs.co.uk

    1. DrAJS

      Re: Minirigs

      Been using mine for a couple of years now and love it. EPIC* battery life and great sound. However, they are only mono but a pair would go pretty flipping loud and they do a dedicated bass unit as well. Buy these or "buy cheap, buy twice".

      *By EPIC I mean 40-50hrs per charge.

  7. petur

    Bose soundlink mini

    Still have to encounter a person who, upon hearing them the first time, doesn't go looking in the room where the real speakers are.

    Bloody expensive and a shame you can't get two do play stereo, and use micro-usb to charge. But otherwise it's a investment you won't regret.

    Listen to this youtube clip of the Bose side by side with a JBL charge. The recording was done with proper audio recording gear.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=369O58SIyFo

    1. Bloodbeastterror

      Re: Bose soundlink mini

      Great video - thanks for pointing to it. I know JBL make great speakers, so it's impressive how the Bose blows them out of the water. Incredible bass for such a tiny device. Exactly as you say, I've asked my wife many times whether she's listening to the stereo or the Bose when I walk into the room.

    2. handle

      Re: Bose soundlink mini

      Soundlink Minis are sometimes available for about £130, which helps a bit. And if you want to use two for stereo you can make up a Y-lead (or maybe even buy one) which will send one channel down each leg. Obviously not wireless any more, but much better for using with TV, as the delay through the Bluetooth connection seriously messes up lip-sync.

    3. Monty Burns

      Re: Bose soundlink mini

      Hmmm.... I tried some of these and they were excellent but lacked the simple speaker phone facility... why!? Such a useful little item to add and makes talking to people very easy when you want to wander around, "hands free" as it were. Ended up buying the Trek, awesome bit of kit.

  8. BelieveItOrNot

    Bolse

    http://www.mybolse.com/product/detail_B00GBST44I.html

    £30 - presumably because they spelt Bose wrong.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: Bolse

      Oh no, yet another generic speaker brick. There are dozens of these on Amazon. I hope they are better than the ones we got as company x-mas gifts last year which were without NFC as they had an obnoxious wake-up tone when turned on.

  9. Mike Moyle

    Does the stand on the Ted Baker flip around to cover the speaker when not in use?

    Because if it does, then what you have there isn't a 1960s camera but a Star Trek:TOS Communiucator. Same vintage and aesthetic, though, so there's that.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    Cheap

    A colleague produced a little external speaker for his phone and proceeded to blow me away with the sound quality and volume.

    It was a cylinder about 55mm in diameter and the same in height, has a USB in put that will play from a pen drive, my phone or more or less anything else that is on the other end, also has a 3.5 input jack, a micro SD card reader and a charging input/output micro USB slot.

    If you place it on a surface that will vibrate and act as a sounding board you even get the base that the speaker can't reproduce, Made of aluminium, it has a 5 hour battery life on full charge. I had to have one so I asked him where he bought it. From a local Chinese emporium for.... wait for it!... €15.00

    Got one for me and one for the missus, if it only lasts 6 months it will be longer than most car radios last me. Oh yeah it plays really well in my 22 year old diesel Disco and sounds good and is actually louder than the engine.

    Sound quality wise; it plays Ed Alleyn-Johnson with hardly a note or tone missed, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvv0lzjQQ8s here you get the best of rock and classical in one artist.

  11. Gorio

    Interesting that the Geneva Sound System Model XS DAB+ Wireless, FM/DAB+, Alarm Clock, Speakers, Amplifier. All-in-One did not make the review. With up to 10 hours battery in a minute carry case I cannot imagine why such a great piece of kit was overlooked. After testing it against a number of the models listed here it is the one I have ended up buying.

  12. Klio

    Cheap and fully featured

    I've got a few of these as xmas presents this year after owning one myself for a bit. Good sound, stereo pairing, NFC, phone charging, speak phone and change from £80:

    www.soundface.com

  13. handle

    Its

    Learn to spell basic English words please, before you embarrass yourself on the internet by getting it wrong several times in one article.

    1. GrumpyOldMan

      Grammar

      Hitting a nerve here...

      Its - belonging to 'it'

      it's - "It is"

      your - belongs to or is part of you

      you're - "you are"

      etc etc.

      It drives me NUTS when I see poor grammar cropping up everywhere - it's not just on t'interweb. Especially those last two! And especially when the writer is a journo or "pro-blogger". Someone who makes their money by writing. Get a proof-reader!

      1. Martin Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Grammar

        Well, I can't actually see any misuse of "its" or "it's" in that article.

        Just from the first page:-

        The arrival of Bluetooth 4, with its reduced hunger for power... - correct!

        Nearly 30cm long and just over a kilo in weight, it's not as easily portable as the others here - correct!

        I can't be bothered to check all ten pages, but I think the writer has it right.

  14. src

    Sony SRS-X5

    I have a Sony SRS-X5 - the big brother of the X3. A great companion for my Xperia smartphone. Easy to use and it sounds great. I am often surprised at how much bass it can pump out from such a small box. Cost around ¥20,000 (£106).

  15. NeilPost Silver badge

    Soundlink Mini

    For some reason, you have missed off the best in class Bose Soundlink Mini, which for a diminutive speaker (about the size of a Soreen Malted Loaf, is unsurpassed in audio - Bose seem to have beaten the laws of physics with this one.

    Also, the very cheap £49 JBL Flip, is also missing. For the money, it's not bad. Every bit as loud as a Bose Soundlink Mini, but a bit harsher in audio fidelity.

  16. Durwin
    Unhappy

    For those with iPhones ...

    It's all well and good that these Bluetooth speakers are now including the "higher quality" apt-x codec, but bear in mind Apple do not support apt-X in their iOS devices, so you won't necessarily get the best out of these speakers with iPhones etc. I recently bought the Denon Envaya and although I'm quite impressed with the sound, it is a bit muddy through Bluetooth - it does improve when I connect using an aux cable, but what's the point in that?! I think it's a little bittersweet for us iPhone users...

    1. AlbertH

      Re: For those with iPhones ...

      I think it's a little bittersweet for us iPhone users...

      ... That's what you get when you buy 10-year-old technology. Apple are the B&O of the computing world - pretty boxes hiding old-fashioned electronics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "pretty boxes hiding old-fashioned electronics"

        Old fashioned electronics: What, like the Retina iMac and the iPad Air 2, iPhones and pretty much everything else Apple makes? Really? Can you buy anything non-Apple for less money that's better than the Retina iMac?

        And take a look at the B&O Avant. How old fashioned is that?

  17. tommydokc
    WTF?

    SB Roar ?

    Sound Blaster Roar is conspicuously missing. I've read it is on par and even better than the Bose.

    1. Occams_Cat

      Re: SB Roar ?

      I bought the Creative Roar and can very much recommend it. Very solid build and pretty decent sound. It needs the 'Roar' function on all the time as this boosts the mid and high end making sound a little brighter. Good tight bass, but not too much. All the extra features are fabulous, save for the silly 'alarm' function which quite frankly, is ridiculous! And it was only £80 in a recent Amazon lightening sale. Bargain.

  18. BJS

    AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker

    Got one of these a while ago, mostly for use in hotels while traveling. Sound (including bass) is pretty good, at least to my jazz tastes, considering the USD 50 / GBP 36 price.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple vsky®Waterproof Shockproof Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 Mini Speaker Shower Pool Car Handsfree with Microphone

    Bought one of these as an outdoor speaker for Halloween sound effects. Battery charge claimed to last 6 hours. Small with a slightly bulky shape - with claims to being splash resistant. Has a large foot sucker for sticking it to suitable surfaces. First attempt fell 2 metres off the window ...and merely bounced off the concrete path without damage. The next attempt left it securely fixed to the glass for several hours.

    Can be used as a speaker phone. Also has buttons for simple audio track forward/back selections. No external sockets - except the charging point. Surprisingly good sound. The Halloween "heartbeat" sound effect had nice bass. All for £14.99 and free delivery.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simple-vsky%C2%AEWaterproof-Shockproof-Bluetooth-Microphone/dp/B00NC5SRUK/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1419375471&sr=8-9&keywords=simple+vsky+bluetooth

  20. druck Silver badge
    Meh

    Recommendation and Best Buy?

    Where are the Recommendation and Best Buy labels that used to adorn such reviews?

  21. Mr_Blister

    Err its Bluetooth and that means....

    The subject of audio quality with anything Bluetooth is a moot point, because it will inevitably be compressed audio and that means horrible....well to anyone who values good audio that is. So I await the day when Bluetooth can handle lossless audio codecs smoothly and reliably, and through reasonable sized speakers. For now though I use my small Bluetooth stereo speaker box for BBC Radio 4 speech based programmes and YouTube content; this red Sony clone (sort of) does very nicely and cost a mere £20 from my local Aldi store! It's very similar to the one here but mine is red and branded differently https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BaoSAvbCIAAALUH.jpg:large

  22. DaveFace

    Cambridge Audio Go

    Surprised the review didn't mention that at high volumes, this speaker literally shakes itself across a desk. There is so little grip on the bottom that the giant bass port on the back shakes the unit so hard that it doesn't keep still.

  23. kinfomtech

    innovative portable wireless & bluetooth speaker

    I have been bose' fans in the past years. i impressed with its clear, crispy and deep bass, specially the whole design style is not so complicated, and also simple function design, but bose put all first in sound quality. some traditional features involved into bose's audio device. no wonder its sound can perform so amazing.

  24. Ebnul3ee

    Go for Epyc Bluetooth Speakers

    As you need a small and compact bluetooth speaker to use, also want to use it in beach I will recommend you to go for Aqua Bluetooth speaker.

    Its waterproof, rechargeable, and very attractive looking.

    If you want to order you get it from their official site.

    Here is the link to help you.

    http://epycsound.com/product/epyc-aqua-4000/

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