Wireless speakers that go anywhere with style
Our edit of the best wireless speakers on the market for design-minded audiophiles
The world of wireless speakers is one of multiple functions, visual diversity, different sonic tastes and often clashing eco-systems. Whether you’re after something discreet and dual function – a digital assistant – or a standalone object that’ll fill the largest of spaces, here are examples of beautifully designed portable audio kit.
The leftfield choice: Teenage Engineering OB-4
The off-beat option for the music lover, cult Swedish electronics specialist Teenage Engineering ensured its OB-4 speaker was different right from the start. A big square box that channels hi-fi design from the 1970s, the OB-4 is designed as much for performance as playing. A new update brings quirky features like an automatic beat-matching loop creator, as well as the ability to generate its own metronome click track (complete with original 808 kick drum) and an ambient drone-making function. Or you can just kick back and listen to music.
The audiophile’s option: Bose SoundLink Revolve II
Bose is known for cramming big sound into small devices, and the company’s new SoundLink Revolve II is a Bluetooth speaker designed for a true 360-degree experience. The smallest version of the Revolve II family comes with an optional charging cradle so it can be slung in a bag and taken anywhere (with a 13-hour playback time). The circular design projects sound throughout a room, or ensures it gets accurately bounced off any hard surfaces. You can scale up to the Revolve II+ and sync with another device or your home Bose system as well.
The simple, splashproof one: Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
The latest speaker from portable specialist Ultimate Ears, the Hyperboom is a sizeable beast that’s intended to be the life and soul of the party. Loud, splash-proof, and with 24 hours of battery power, this device has enough connectors to hook up audio systems and other phones, with the added bonus of a charge point. The UE app will hook up all the necessary streaming services as well as help you compile your playlists.
The designers’ device: Sonos Roam
We admire the Roam for its effective distillation of the Sonos sound and aesthetic into a pint-size (literally) package. The waterproofed, triangular form is designed to give you options when you’re out and about (no more rolling away), with ten hours of playback, sound that adapts to the background ambience and the ability to seamlessly connect between home wi-fi and smartphone depending on where you are.
The revamped classic: Marshall Emberton
Retro-infused wireless speakers have saved the Marshall brand from audio obscurity, as its stock-in-trade of heavy-duty guitar and bass amplifiers were sidelined by an increasingly space-obsessed world. The company claims its beefy sound has survived the miniaturisation process, and the Emberton certainly looks the part, with the classic logo and grille, an impressive 20 hours of playback, a compact form factor and straightforward controls.
The waterproof one: JBL GO2
A no-nonsense speaker that’s little bigger than a smartphone charger, JBL’s GO2 is available in a wide variety of colours, with a waterproof housing, five hours of playtime and an auxiliary input if Bluetooth isn’t available.
The best-seller: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20
Bang & Olufsen upgraded the Beolit 20 with improved battery life and integrated wireless charging. Already one of the company’s best-selling devices, the fourth-generation Beolit 20 transforms it into a domestic hub, thanks in large part to the wireless charging tray atop the device that lets you set your phone down for a welcome power boost. The device itself has also received a battery boost, offering up to eight hours on a single charge. Available in two distinctive colour ways, with anodised aluminium surfaces and a leather carrying strap, two devices can be paired for true stereo. The gateway to the Bang & Olufsen experience.
The neighbour disruptor: Sony SRS-XP700
Another contender for the portable heavyweight crown, the SRS-XP700 is Sony’s flagship party sound generator. With 25 hours of battery life, plus a quick charge mode that’ll let you blast out tunes for three more hours after a mere ten minutes on the mains, this X-series speaker won’t win favour with the neighbours. There’s a microphone input for impromptu karaoke or PA duties, as well as both Bluetooth and wired connection to the audio input of your choice.