These days, most of us carry around our music playlists on our phones, which is just fine when we’re wearing headphones, but not as good when we want to play music in our backyards, by the pool, or at a hangout with friends. That’s when you’re going to need a good speaker. Specifically, a good Bluetooth speaker.
What type of sound quality do you need?
Will you be using your speakers solely for music? For podcasts (yes, some people do that)? Maybe a bit of both? You should decide that now, because it will surely factor into what kind of speaker you end up getting — whether that’s surround sound, Dolby Atmos, something for the great outdoors or just plain old stereo (which is also great, don’t feel pressured to get something super fancy and expensive if you don’t really need it). Not all speakers produce the same kind of sound quality, so it’s important to know exactly the kind of listening experience you’re looking to get out of it before you make the purchase
How much space do you have?
Speakers can get pretty big, even portable ones, so take stock of how much useable space you want to dedicate to your audio setup both horizontally and vertically. Not everyone has the room for multiple speakers that work in tandem, so don’t overwhelm yourself with something gigantic if it’s constantly going to be getting in your way. There are plenty of speakers that can be easily stored or concealed, and some that are small enough to rest on a tabletop or shelf.
What’s the deal with wattage?
When you’re shopping for a new speaker, you’re going to see the word “wattage” a lot. While that might be meaningless gibberish to you when you see it on a product page, it’s actually a pretty simple concept. Basically, wattage defines the limit of how high your speaker can go without distorting the sound. Unless you enjoy really blasting your tunes or you regularly host parties, 50 watts is normally going to be more than enough for the average listener. But if you really like to crank it up to 11, the more (watts) the merrier. While smaller portable Bluetooth speakers tend to have the least amount of wattage, there are certainly some exceptions (which you’ll see within our picks below).
How many speakers do you need to buy?
We always say that you should choose quality over quantity. Having two amazing speakers is always going to get you better results than having five “meh” speakers. Plus, having too many speakers around is just going to take up an unnecessary amount of space. If you have the room, we think two speakers maximum is the perfect number. Two speakers are especially ideal if you listen to a lot of music — music is normally recorded for a stereo setting, so having a left and right channel will do you wonders. And if you have a smaller space, even one really good speaker should do you just fine (as long as it sounds great). Many Bluetooth speakers also have easy pairing options with other speakers of the same make, so setting them up should be a breeze.
Should you get a smart speaker?
Smart speakers are great in their own right, but they aren’t always the best way to listen to your audio — most of them are too small to get the best audio experience possible, and aren’t really prioritized for music in the first place (sorry, Alexa). If you really can’t live without having some sort of smart assistant within your speaker setup, we recommend getting something that is Bluetooth-enabled and connecting it to your smartphone. That way, you get the perks of your phone’s built-in smart assistant without having to downgrade the speaker itself.
Does it need to be waterproof?
It doesn’t, but it really can’t hurt. Even if you’re not planning on taking your speaker out by the pool during the summer, it’s not out of the question that it could be a target for spills no matter where you have it in your home. It would be a shame if a rogue glass of water ended up being the demise of your new speaker, so if you have the option to go waterproof, do it (unless you have your heart set on one that doesn’t have the feature).
What are the best Bluetooth speakers?
No matter what you’re looking for in a Bluetooth speaker, we’re positive that at least one of our recommendations will definitely fit your style. Below, our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers in 2021.