There is nothing quite like taking your music mobile, whether that extends to soundtracking your BBQ catch-up, a beach party or providing beats for a picnic in the country.
Wireless speakers have come a long way since the advent of the smart device, matching excellent sound quality with the convenience of portability. Easy to use and connect, the portable speaker has become an essential device for the modern household.
How do they work?
The portable speaker contains an internal battery that can hold anywhere between 10 to 24 hours of play time when fully charged. They connect in one of two ways; Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Once connected, you’re ready to stream your tunes.
Bluetooth – Connecting a portable speaker to Bluetooth is a simple exercise. Select Bluetooth on your smart device, press the pairing button on your speaker (on many units, this isn’t even required – it does so automatically) and wait for the reassuring “Bluetooth connected” message. Fire up your music streaming channel of choice, and away
Wi-Fi – With portable speakers that offer Wi-Fi connectivity, it’s possible to connect multiple speakers across the home network. These speakers can also be isolated to play different music in opposing rooms around the house. Obviously, the portability is dictated by the range of your home Wi-Fi network but you can get a wireless speaker such as the Sonos Move (see below) that connects via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, offering complete versatility.
Protection – An important consideration when buying a portable speaker is where it’s likely to be used. If it’s just kicking around the back garden then you probably won’t need to consider protecting it. However, if the speaker is being used to drive a bush rave or a fishing trip, it’s definitely worth searching for a model that is dust- and splash-proof, so look out for an IPX rating. The higher the rating, the more protected the device.
The Smarts – For ultimate control, you might want to consider a speaker that has voice assistant compatibility so you’ll never need to get out of your chair or leave your hammock again. With various models offering support for Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri, it’s never been easier to cue up a song.
There’s a plethora of portable speakers available on the market. Here’s four of our favourites you can grab in-store.
Marshall Kilburn II
Designed to replicate the company’s famous guitar amps, the speaker delivers everything you would expect from the Marshall name. A rugged build, a pairing button, volume, bass and treble dials sit on the top of the unit, while a cool black and velvet carry handle – reminiscent of a guitar strap – adds an extra dash rock and roll. It’s possible to link multiple users to the speaker, too, so you and a friend can trade track for track. You’ll get up to 20 hours of rocking power from a single charge and at 2.5kg, you can lug it everywhere. But what about the all-important sound quality? For its size, the Kilburn II kicks out a huge sound that can be customised with the bass and treble dials. This is one of the best Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested – just make sure Ace of Spades is the first track you play on it.
The House of Marley Get Together
The Get Together is quite a different proposition in the portable speaker space. For starters, it’s larger than standard and the company has used as many eco-friendly materials as possible in its construction. As for the speaker itself, the design is simple; a volume up/down, Bluetooth and power buttons are situated on the top with an AUX input, a charging MicroUSB B port, and a very handy universal USB port for charging portable devices on the rear of the speaker. You get two woofers, two tweeters and a passive radiator in the back for the bass. Sound-wise, the Get Together delivers a solid performance with an ear for the bass. Better for the environment and great for the budget.
The Bose Portable Speaker
We’re in top shelf territory here. The Portable Speaker – with a purported 12-hour charge – can be added to an existing Bose ecosystem within the home, or taken on a road trip. A quality build, the controls are located on the top of the unit and a rubber grip at the base will keep the speaker stable on all surfaces. Voice support through Google Assistant and Alexa will allow an easy transition to your smart home ecosystem; a mute button affords instant privacy. As for the sound, you’ll be casting your eyes at its diminutive size in disbelief. The 360-degree speaker throws out a huge sound, delivering the goods across dance as much as it does metal. Throw in the Bose Music app to adjust your settings, and this premium product ticks all of the boxes.
The Sonos Move also takes the party into the VIP lounge. Untethering from Sonos’s standard Wi-Fi protocol for chaining speakers throughout the house, the Move features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. An elegant oval shape, the Move is suitable for any environment. As you would expect from a quality brand like Sonos, Move nails the sound, operating as efficiently in a large open space as it does in a small room in the house, providing an excellent balanced output tested across a multitude of different musical genres. The Move is the ideal speaker for both indoors and out and simply adapts to an existing Sonos system, with the additional bonus of voice command supports – Google Assistant, Alexa and even Siri through AirPlay 2. It’s also worth noting that Sonos has updated its app for an all over better user experience.
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
From the Wonderboom 2 to the Boom 3 and Megaboom 3, Ultimate Ears has been evolving their acclaimed Bluetooth speakers to take on an ever expanding range of spaces and needs. This land grab heats up with the arrival of the HYPERBOOM. Weighing in at 5.9kg, and 364 mm high, it’s like a well-stocked food truck ready to cater for any party. A nice feature is the inclusion of two Bluetooth inputs for DJ collaborations. You also get customisable EQ, from extra bass to cinema sound. There is no doubting the overall bottom end response here. So much so, an optical input has been included so the HYPERBOOM can even take on the job of a soundbar if you’re after some room-shaking rumble while viewing or gaming. There’s also a 3.5mm auxiliary input plus a USB-A output for charging during playback. All these and the power service port are housed behind a tidy weather door that also doubles as a pull out strap for portability. With 24 hours of battery life, this is the Bluetooth speaker that can handle just about any space – or party!