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Best budget Bluetooth speaker 2022: the top affordable speakers


Who needs a hi-fi anyway? Sure, floor-standers might treat your ears to deliciously rich sonic performance. But you can’t take them down to the park to soundtrack your summer shining.

Good news: portable speakers actually sound good these days. And here’s a bigger headline: you don’t need to blow your bank balance to get the best sound around.

OK, so affordable Bluetooth boomboxes are still unlikely to satisfy serious audiophiles. But for the 99% of people who don’t have a soundproofed music room at home, a decent wireless speaker is well worth having. Want walkabout audio for less than £200? Here are the best options.

Sonos Roam

Sonos has tried portable speakers before, but the Roam is the first that you can properly sling in a satchel. Sensible proportions, Bluetooth connectivity and reduced reliance on the Sonos app make it perfect for partying anywhere, while Wi-Fi means it’ll still play nicely with existing Sonos kit.

Positioned upright or longways, the understated shell isn’t shouty in the design department. But thanks to a metal, plastic and rubberised finish, the rugged Roam can take a bit of a battering.

What sets the speaker apart is clever stuff like Auto Trueplay: the Roam will tune its soundstage to suit the environment, whether inside or out. Sound Swap can also switch audio to the nearest Sonos output in the vicinity.

For a speaker of this size and form, sound quality is impressive. Higher frequencies can lack some clarity, but there’s a nice balance in the mid-range. One thing it has in spades is base: there’s incredible low-end oomph for something so compact. Arguably too much on certain tracks, although it’s nothing an EQ tweak can’t address.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

There are better-sounding rivals, but the Sonos Roam offers an unbeatable blend of versatility and portability


Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2 • Battery life: up to 10hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 430g

JBL Charge 5

Lightweight speakers are easy to tote. But when you need some boom to shake the room, it’s time to call in the heavies. Enter the JBL Charge 5: beefy at 960g, the fabric-skinned cylinder is waterproof, grippy on the bottom and big on low frequencies.

Its larger dimensions make space for a long-excursion driver, a separate tweeter, plus 65mm passive radiators at either end. Besides being fun to put your finger on, these vibrating caps assist in delivering rich bass to accompany crisp mids. There’s also room for a 20hr battery inside, which should be enough to see you through even the longest of get-togethers.

Keen to go bigger? PartyBoost allows you to sync several JBL speakers wirelessly, for a playlist that really fills the house. Controls are kept to a minimum and you won’t find fancy equalisers in the JBL Portable app. Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity does mean you can pair two devices at the same time (to battle for DJ supremacy), though there’s no 3.5mm input for old-school mixmasters.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

A no-nonsense heavyweight that nails the basics (and last for ages)


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 20hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 960g

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

UE made its name delivering quality sound at reasonable prices. Launched in 2020, the Boom 3 still hits the Goldilocks sweet spot, offering a solid set of features without breaking the bank.

That familiar big-button cylinder is as tough as ever: UE put it through drop, dunk and durability tests to check it’ll keep bringing the beats. And with a 15hr battery life, it should certainly do that.

Sound is vigorous, even if it’s not as weighty at the low-end as some rivals. Audio is well-controlled, with no shortage of power when the party calls for extra punch. Mids and trebles are lively, without ever sounding harsh.

It’s worth downloading the Boom app to unlock a few extra features and settings – PartyUp in particular. This allows you to connect up to 150 Boom speakers for a serious shindig (or just two, for a stereo effect). You can also use the smartphone software to programme the Magic Button on top of the speaker, for one-touch access to your favourite playlists.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

A lean, mean sound machine with nifty in-app tricks


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 15hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 608g

Marshall Emberton

This amp-like accessory is the smallest member of Marshall’s speaker family by some margin. Designed for grab-and-go audio, don’t let its palm-sized form factor fool you into thinking it’s not serious: with a meaty 20 hours of playtime, IPX7 waterproofing and reliable Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, its feature list is as solid as Motörhead’s back catalogue.

Even with its Marshall heritage, the Emberton’s power is unexpected. Turn it up to 11 and the sound still doesn’t sound pushed, while Marshall’s True Stereophonic multi-directional tech eliminates sweet spots by serving up audio in the round.

It’s superbly balanced for a speaker at this price – and more refined than you might think. Bass is rich and rumbly without overwhelming, while the mids are captivatingly clean and clear – and trebles are crisp and controlled to boot. Overall, it’s the Emberton’s energetic and engaging character that makes it so likeable, whatever genre’s on your playlist.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

A tiny speaker that’s a lot of fun to listen to, with unexpected punch that doesn’t sacrifice refinement


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 20hrs • Waterproofing: IPX7 • Weight: 700g

If it ain’t broke, Bose won’t fix it: that’s the lesson taught by the second-gen SoundLink Revolve. It’s a still a stylish cylinder with a sturdy aluminium body and silicone control panel (complete with multi-function button that summons your smartphone’s voice assistant). And it still features a minimalist grille around its circumference.

So what’s new? Battery life has increased to 13 hours, while waterproofing is boosted to a full IP55 rating. But that’s all secondary to the listening experience.

The SoundLink Revolve II has a big, bold voice that can easily fill all corners of a room. There’s no option to fiddle with EQ levels – but that’s fine because it doesn’t need much tweaking. The neutral sound profile swerves the temptation of beefy bass in favour of something more balanced.

That’s not to say it has no low end, though: there’s power on tap to drive tracks forward with punch and excitement. The spacious soundstage makes room for a good amount of detail and dynamism too, even if some focus is lost in the mid-range.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Set it to 80% volume and this cylinder hits a real sonic sweet spot


Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm • Battery life: up to 13hrs • Waterproofing: IP55 • Weight: 660g

Tribit StormBox Micro

You could buy four of these featherweight speakers for the same price as some options in this list. But unbox the StormBox Micro and two things are immediately clear: you don’t need a quartet for decent output, and it feels far more expensive than its price tag suggests.

Opt for one and you’ll bag a Bluetooth speaker that’s neat, tidy and built to travel. Satisfyingly solid, a rugged rating of IP67 means it’s not scared of the elements. This is good, because a bundled rubber strap allows you to lash it to your backpack.

A trio of buttons on top take care of playback and volume, with power and Bluetooth controls upfront. An eight-hour battery life isn’t the best, but neither is it short enough to spoil the fun.

Despite its diminutive dimensions, the Micro sounds much larger than it has any right to. Bass from something this size was never going to worry your neighbours, but it doesn’t feel thin. You can also push the volume to a decent level without distortion. In fact, it’s all remarkably well-balanced.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

A pocket-sized speaker at a pocket-money price, the Micro’s performance is anything but cheap


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 8hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 257g

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

We dubbed the original Wonderboom a “grapefruit wearing a corset”. And with a winning look like that, why change it?

Shipped in a choice of cheerful colour combos, the Wonderboom 2 is a zingy blob of noise. Its outfit is more waterproof than the first iteration: added dustproofing means it’s a speaker that’s happy to hit the road. Buttons up top allow you to control basic playback and Bluetooth pairing, while those unmissable volume controls are UE to the core.

It performs best indoors, especially when paired with a second speaker in stereo – though there’s still good texture and warmth to the sound when you go solo, with decent bass to back it up.

Leaving the house? The battery’s good for 13 hours away from the wall. Activate Outdoor Boost and the Wonderboom 2 will send sound upwards and put extra focus on the mid-range – so it’s not just the insects who get to groove.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

As small as a citrus fruit and just as punchy, the Wonderboom 2 deserves a space in your suitcase


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 13hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 420g

JBL Flip 5 Eco

JBL’s Flip range has long been a go-to for punchy portable sound, but the Flip 5 Eco is a good buy for the planet, too: shipped in biodegradable packaging, the speaker itself is crafted from 90% recycled plastic.

Despite the greener build, it still packs all the same sonic specs as the standard Flip 5. That means 12hr battery life, IPX7 waterproofing, plus JBL’s handy PartyBoost tech, which lets you team it up with other JBL speakers.

Those eco materials don’t affect the sound, either: passive radiators at either end give lovely weight to the bass, while the mid-range is crisp and engaging. Vocals take centre stage, with plenty of detail to soak up.

In fact, the Flip 5 Eco gives loving attention to pretty much every part of Bluetooth tunes – and thanks to a spacious soundstage, you can push the volume without your music turning into a muddy mess.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Want sustainable wireless sound? This speaker serves up greener beats with no eco compromise


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 13hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 420g

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)

B&O’s second-gen Beosound A1 looks identical to the first. This is no problem at all, given that the pearl-blasted aluminium chassis is still the definition of classy design.

Rated at IP67, the updated edition is more waterproof than before. But the bigger revisions are hidden inside: redesigned audio drivers and Bluetooth 5.1 deliver enhanced 360 sound, maxing out at 92dB loudness. Feeling flush? You can buy two and pair them in stereo, with the option to personalise EQ settings through the B&O app.

Performance is as refined as the styling, with toe-tapping punch and bass that’s confident without overpowering. Despite the A1’s compact size, it delivers weighty but controlled rumble. Clarity is the defining feature: mids are crisp, detailed and expressive, with well-handled treble rounding out a cohesive sound.

Yes, the A1 sits at the top of this group’s budget cap, but it does plenty to justify the extra outlay.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Top of the budget bracket, B&O’s aluminium disc is a premium speaker with sound to match


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 18hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 558g

Sony SRS-XB33

Audio purists put in your earplugs: this Sony speaker came to party – and there’s plenty of bass to go around. Its built-in strips can also shine in sync with your music (although you can disable these if they’re a bit too disco).

Among the heaviest speakers in this list, the SRS-XB33 takes the Texan approach: from the bass to the dimensions, everything’s bigger. That extra space means more sizeable drivers. Sound isn’t particularly refined, with clarity is lacking in the mids (which even in-app EQ tweaks can’t fully fix). But there’s lashings of low-end oomph, with real volume to

Shockproof and IP67 rated, this is a speaker that can take the tunes almost anywhere. It can withstand saltwater as well, so beach bashes are back on the menu. The Party Connect feature also gives you the option to hook up any number of Extra Bass speakers for even more rumble.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

As subtle as a ten-gallon hat, Sony’s boombox is big, bold and all about that bass


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 24hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 1.1kg

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore

Serious about larking in the park? This B&O cylinder is built for open-air audio. Shipped with an aluminium carabiner for easy backpack attachment, the anodised aluminium shell is scratch-resistant and all set for a splashing. It’s reassuringly weighty as well, but stops short of hefty.

Not only do its full-round grille lines look the business, but they also support omnidirectional audio. Given its name and physical credentials, it’s no surprise that the Explore has been tuned with the outdoors in mind. Listen at home and bass will feel a bit heavy-handed, with 360 projection beefing up mids at the expense of fine detail.

But go roaming and the Explore makes a lot more sense. Its presentation becomes more balanced when competing with the elements, with the added mid-range weight helping it to sound more solid. Crisp treble ensures the top end isn’t lost in the process, providing a healthy dose of drive. And it can go all the way to the top of its volume allowance without losing its cool.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

Equal parts rugged and refined, this sturdy cylinder is ideal for alfresco audio


Connectivity: Bluetooth • Battery life: up to 27hrs • Waterproofing: IP67 • Weight: 637g

Audio Pro P5

Buy the Audio Pro P5 here

Swedish firm Audio Pro has a fine record when it comes to multi-room speakers, but this barely-there Bluetooth speaker is its first foray into truly portable territory.

A curved slice of sound that’s available in black or black, the Audio Pro P5 sits somewhere between understated and inoffensive. Its 18hr battery life is par for the course, while the shell is rain-resistant rather than fully waterproof – although a handy wrist strap should stop it from falling in the soup.

Despite its relatively compact proportions, the P5 packs a 1in tweeter, 3.2in woofer and 35W amp inside. Forward and authoritative, it doesn’t distribute sound all around; instead, the P5 thrusts the full weight of its performance towards the listener in front.

Though it lacks the airy separation of its 360 contemporaries, it still delivers a broader soundstage than its slender frame would have you expect. There’s a real sense of cohesion to its performance, with a bass punch that ensures solid sound across the board. Things do get a bit shouty at higher volumes, so it’s best to stick to 75% for the dynamic sweet spot.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

A simple, ultra-portable speaker that’s meatier than its slender frame suggests


Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm • Battery life: up to 18hrs • Waterproofing: IPX4 • Weight: 720g

Urbanears Ralis

Released back in 2019, you can still find this natty noisebox available online. And there’s every chance you’ll want to: a sightly slice of Swedish minimalism, the Ralis will be right at home in the most stylish of pads.

That Scandi simplicity continues with the feature set: Bluetooth and 3.5mm connectivity keeps things easy, with a reliable 20hr battery that can also be used to boost other devices via USB. An IPX2 rating means it won’t melt in the rain either – although this isn’t a speaker you’ll want to leave outside.

The best bit? Its beauty is more than skin deep. Two identical drivers are housed inside, in a setup based on a technique called Blumelein pairing. The effect creates a wider, more spacious soundstage, which makes the Ralis an extremely enjoyable listen. It truly comes alive when you boost the volume, with a rich tone supported by vibrant bass.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

A stylish soundbox with solid battery life, spacious sound and super performance when you crank it up


Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm • Battery life: up to 20hrs • Waterproofing: IPX2 • Weight: 2.8kg

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