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Best wireless speaker 2020: The finest ways to stream audio at home

Looking to upgrade your home audio setup? These are the very best wireless speakers on the market

Achieving a flexible home audio setup that delivers exceptional sound no matter where you are in the house has never been easier or more affordable thanks to the rise of high-quality wireless speakers.

While playing music remains their primary function, the best wireless speakers offer an array of features to expand and improve your audio experience. Internet radio, podcast player, TV soundbar and smart technology control hub are just some of the roles a good wireless speaker can play.

All-in-one wireless speaker systems capable of all of that aren’t as cheap as a regular Bluetooth speaker but there are plenty of reasonably-priced, feature-rich options for those on a budget. We’ve put together a list of what we deem the best wireless speakers available, below which is a comprehensive buying guide detailing which features to look out for.

Best wireless speakers: At a glance

The best wireless speakers you can buy

1. Google Nest Audio: The best wireless speaker under £100

Price: £90 | Buy now from John Lewis

This long-awaited successor to the original Google Home is an absolute crackerjack of a smart speaker and exceptional value for money. It delivers far richer, fuller sound than its predecessor and goes pretty loud considering its size, though it does start sounding a little strained at maximum volume.

Google Assistant integration works as well as you’d expect, reliably picking up your voice via the speaker’s triple microphone array and interpreting your commands accurately. The Nest Audio looks great, too, with a fabric-covered housing consisting of 70% recycled plastic. In addition to connecting over Wi-Fi, the Nest Audio can also connect over Bluetooth: a very welcome feature the original Home speaker lacked.

Read our full Google Nest Audio review for details

Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast; Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: No (controlled via Google Home); Dimensions: 175 x 124 x 78mm; Weight: 1.2kg

Buy now from John Lewis

2. Harman Kardon Citation One: The best wireless speaker for bass under £200

Price: £180 | Buy now from Harman Kardon

The Citation One is a great-sounding wireless speaker that really packs a punch when it comes to bass reproduction. It has voice assistant support in the form of Google Assistant, and it picks up voice commands quickly and clearly. As part of the Citation series, the speaker can be incorporated into a stylish multi-room setup but even if you buy it as a single, standalone speaker, it possesses the ability to fill a room impressively.

Its bass may be a little over-tuned for some peoples’ ears, and an inability to create EQ profiles means you’re stuck with how it sounds out of the box but for anyone who wants weighty low-end and crisp, well-defined vocals, the Citation One is a top-notch choice.

Read our full Citation One review for more details

Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Chromecast; Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: No (controlled via Google Home); Dimensions: 140 x 140 x 180mm; Weight: 2kg

Buy now from Harman Kardon

3. Sonos One (Gen 2): The most versatile wireless smart speaker under £200

Price: £189 | Buy now from Amazon

Similar in design to the Citation One below, the Sonos One offers voice command support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, although not both simultaneously. It’s Wi-Fi only, so there’s no Bluetooth connection option, but the Sonos One delivers balanced, well-defined sound across all music genres and truly shines when two are paired to create a stereo setup.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of Sonos speakers is the Sonos app, which supports a huge variety of streaming services and platforms. Most of these are fully integrated so there’s no need to go skipping around different apps as you play your tunes or listen to the radio. There’s no Google Cast support but both Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2 work.

The Gen 2 model listed here added increased memory and updated the speaker’s processor but it’s otherwise identical to the original, which sounds great wherever you position it thanks to Sonos’ TruePlay feature, which tunes the EQ automatically according to the resonances of your room. The effects aren’t always dramatic but Trueplay always manages to improve the Sonos One’s already impressive audio output. All round, a fabulous wireless speaker.

Read our full Sonos One review for more details

Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect; Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 162mm; Weight: 1.85kg

Image of Sonos One (Gen 2) - The powerful Smart Speaker with Alexa built-in, White

Sonos One (Gen 2) – The powerful Smart Speaker with Alexa built-in, White

£199.00 Buy now Image of Sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-In - White

Sonos One (Gen 2) – Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-In – White

$199.00 Buy now

4. Google Home Max: The best large wireless smart speaker

Price: £199 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Google Home Max is unmatched among wireless smart speakers when it comes to big sound. Its ability to fill medium-to-large domestic spaces with sound and zero distortion at high volumes make it the perfect mid-range wireless speaker for house parties. It does, however, have a rather narrow soundstage, and lacks a little bit in the way it reproduces high frequencies.

In terms of its connectivity, you’re not short of options, though. There’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection in addition to the welcome inclusion of a 3.5mm audio input jack. Another nice feature is that it can be positioned either vertically or horizontally, giving it two distinct looks wherever you decide to put it and it can be paired with another Max to deliver stereo sound at double the volume.

With Google Assistant support and, naturally, Google Cast on the menu, too, the Home Max is an impressive wireless speaker. Note, though, that its Google affiliations do mean you miss out on Apple AirPlay connectivity.

Read our full Google Home Max review for more details

Key specs – Drivers: 4; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: Yes (Google Home); Dimensions: 337 x 154 x 190mm; Weight: 5.3kg

Buy now from John Lewis

5. Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i: The best compact wireless speaker under £300

Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon

The Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i delivers audio far larger than you’d expect from a speaker of its size. It’s capable of filling a room with great-sounding, high-resolution audio and supports a whole host of wireless streaming services, including Amazon Music HD, Tidal and Deezer. The BluOS app is comprehensive, allowing for easy control of the speaker through your phone or computer and features plenty of ways to adjust your sonic experience.

There are a decent range of physical connections, too, with an Ethernet port, USB-A drive for FAT32 and NTFS memory sticks, 3.5mm headphone out and analogue in. All the connection options, coupled with an attractive, minimalist design make the Pulse Flex 2i an enticing prospect for those wanting high quality 24-bit audio streaming without breaking the bank.

Read our full Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i review for details

Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2; Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (through Blue Voice); Remote: Yes (sold separately); Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 125 x 100 x 183mm; Weight: 1.23kg

Image of Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i Wireless Speaker - White

Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i Wireless Speaker – White

£299.00 Buy now

6. Sonos Move: The best portable wireless smart speaker

Price: £399 | Buy now from Amazon

The Sonos Move is a portable wireless speaker similar in design to its little brother, the Sonos One (above). It’s significantly bigger than the One due to the incorporation of a battery that’s recharged via a docking cradle and will give you up to ten hours of play time per charge.

But it’s not just in the size department that the Move improves on the One, it’s got a few neat additional features, too. In particular, you don’t have to set up Trueplay – Sonos’ room EQ function – manually by waving your phone around as you do with its smaller sibling; it tunes itself whenever it senses you’ve moved it.

Sonically, the Move is a step up, too. Its mid-woofer and downward-firing tweeter provide a better-balanced sound, wider soundstage and overall, the Move sounds cleaner than One, which is just as well, given it’s twice the price.

Read our full Sonos Move review for more details

Key specs – Drivers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect; Voice Assistant: Alexa and Google Assistant; Remote: No; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 160 x 240 x 126mm; Weight: 3kg

Image of Sonos Move - The durable, battery-powered Smart Speaker for Outdoor and Indoor Listening, Black, with Alexa built-in

Sonos Move – The durable, battery-powered Smart Speaker for Outdoor and Indoor Listening, Black, with Alexa built-in

£399.00 Buy now

7. Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation: Elegant, effortless wireless streaming

Price: £829 | Buy now from Amazon

Naim’s original Mu-so Qb was a roaring success and its second-generation iteration is a significant upgrade both in terms of features and sound quality. Although it lacks in-built voice assistant support, you can plug a smart device into one of the many inputs, which include a USB Type-A port, a 3.5mm analogue jack and optical S/PDIF.

Other features include support for music streaming services Spotify Connect, Tidal and Roon, in addition to Google Cast and Apple AirPlay 2.

Unlike its predecessor, the 2nd Gen comes with a handy remote, although you can also control the speaker via the Naim Audio app on your smartphone. With connection flexibility, sensational sound and a compact, cuboid design, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation cements its position as one of the best wireless speakers around.

Read our full Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation review for details

Key specs – Drivers: 4; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 210 x 218 x 212 mm; Weight: 5.6kg

Image of Mu-so QB 2nd Gen

Mu-so QB 2nd Gen

£818.80 Buy now

8. Ruark R5: Legacy features meet modern technology

Price: £995 | Buy now from Amazon

In many ways, the Ruark R5 is a blast from the past. It houses a CD player, a detachable DAB-FM antenna and a pair of phono inputs and integrated phono preamp for hooking up a turntable.

However, it blends these seamlessly with its more modern wireless and Bluetooth streaming features and is delightfully designed, borrowing heavily from the radiograms that were popular with affluent families in post-War Britain.

Not only does it look the part, the Ruark R5’s two full-range drivers, combined with its integrated subwoofer, deliver excellent sound across the full range of musical genres. It’s a big financial investment, but if you’re looking for a supreme wireless speaker that incorporates retro features, the Ruark R5 is as good as it gets.

Read our full Ruark R5 review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 3; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, DLNA; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 520 x 300 x 140mm; Weight: 9.5kg

Image of Ruark Audio R5 high fidelity music system - Rich Walnut

Ruark Audio R5 high fidelity music system – Rich Walnut

£995.00 Buy now

9. KEF LSX: Gorgeous stereo bookshelf speakers

Price: £999 | Buy now from Amazon

Unlike the other entries on this list, the LEF LSX isn’t just a single speaker unit, it comes as a pair that connects wirelessly to provide exceptional stereo sound. It’s also, perhaps, the best looking wireless speaker product on the market.

Created with assistance from designer Michael Young, they’re both modern and elegant, with KEF’s signature Uni-Q driver taking centre stage. The driver features a tweeter at the centre of the midrange and bass cone and creates a powerful yet extremely detailed sound, with tuneful bass delivery and a broad stereo soundstage.

There’s no voice assistant but there is support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, which allows for high-quality streaming, in addition to support for Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and the TIDAL streaming service. You also have the option to connect the speakers to your TV or console via optical S/PDIF and add a subwoofer via a dedicated single phono output.

Available in black, green, blue, red and white, the KEF LSX is a pair of beautiful, great-sounding speakers to grace any living room.

Read our full KEF LSX review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 2; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 155 x 180 x 1240mm; Weight: 3.6kg per speaker

Image of KEF LSX - Wireless Active Stereo Speakers with Bluetooth and Wifi Multiroom connectivity, Olive Green

KEF LSX – Wireless Active Stereo Speakers with Bluetooth and Wifi Multiroom connectivity, Olive Green

£999.00 Buy now Image of KEF LSX Wireless Music System (Black, Pair)

KEF LSX Wireless Music System (Black, Pair)

$1,249.99 Buy now

10. Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation: An all-in-one audiophile’s dream

Price: £1,279 | Buy now from Amazon

The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation is an all-in-one wireless speaker for those with no budgetary constraints. Delivering 450W of audio power, the Mu-so 2nd Gen is a muscular speaker that can be used in place of a soundbar for your TV thanks to its HDMI ARC input but it’s a bit bulky so check your measurements before splashing out.

That’s just one of a number of inputs, with the Mu-so 2nd Gen also housing a 3.5mm analogue input, USB Type-A port and Optical SPDIF. Sonically, it’s a powerhouse across the frequency range and can reach extremely high levels of volume with no noticeable drop off in quality or clarity. There’s no support for voice assistants but the Mu-so 2nd Gen is a room-filling wonder of a wireless speaker.

Read our full Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation review for more details

Key specs – Speakers: 6; Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in; Voice Assistant: No; Remote: Yes; Companion App: Yes; Dimensions: 628 x 122 x 264mm; Weight: 11.2kg

Image of Naim Mu-So 2nd Generation Premium Wireless Music System

Naim Mu-So 2nd Generation Premium Wireless Music System

£1,279.00 Buy now Image of Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Wireless Speaker

Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Wireless Speaker

$1,690.00 Buy now

How to choose the best wireless speaker for you

There are a few key things you should consider when purchasing a wireless speaker. Depending on your needs, some will prove more important than others, and as ever, make sure you set yourself a budget before splashing out.

Wireless connections and inputs

This is probably the most crucial aspect when you’re looking at buying a wireless speaker. All of the options on our list below can play audio over a Wi-Fi connection but not all have Bluetooth functionality. You’ll typically find the pricier a speaker is, the more options it offers.

Modern wireless speakers do sometimes come with physical analogue connections but don’t expect the earth. Most affordable wireless speakers will be limited to a stereo 3.5mm input; don’t expect extras until you move up to more expensive, audiophile-class gear.

Big and small

Wireless speakers range considerably in size, from compact, desktop speakers to large systems that will take up a significant proportion of your living room. As alluring as a beefy setup may be, sometimes less is more.

Smart features and voice assistants

You don’t have to buy an Echo or a Google Home speaker to get access to voice control. Many smart speakers also support the technologies.

The key is to look for one that fits with the devices you already own. Although some support multiple digital assistants, the vast majority support one or another so be careful which you buy if this is a priority.

It’s also worth noting the range of features on a third-party smart wireless speaker can be curtailed compared with first-party devices produced by Amazon and Google. Non-Amazon Alexa-enabled smart speakers, for example, can’t be used to make calls to mobile phones and other Echo devices in your home.

Companion apps

While many wireless speakers allow you to simply stream audio to them directly from your favourite music app most also come with a companion app that lets you control various aspects of the speakers’ functionality. Not all of these are made equal, however, and it’s worth checking if they allow you to do what you expect.

Things to think about here include support for the streaming services you use. Most will work well with Spotify, for example, but how about Tidal, Qobuz or Amazon Music HD? You’ll want the widest support for these as possible because although you may not need something now, you may well do in the future. The last thing you want to do is have to buy a new speaker just because you switched streaming platforms or your phone from iPhone to Android.

Streaming standards

The same thing applies to streaming standards. The best wireless speakers will support a range of these so you can send audio directly from your phone, tablet or laptop over your home Wi-Fi network to your wireless speaker. The big three standards are Spotify Connect, Google Cast, and Apple AirPlay but others such as DTS Play-Fi and, for audiophiles, Roon Ready support are worth looking out for as well.

Finally, if you already have a selection of music files somewhere at home, maybe on a shared network drive or folder on your PC, you’ll also want to look for DLNA and UPnP support so your speaker and its app can recognise those sources and browse/play music from them.

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