The 8 Best Speakers To Make Your Music Sing In All Settings (2024)

Headphones are great, but the best speakers can make your listening experience more natural and more social. You probably don’t want to watch TV exclusively with headphones, after all. Sometimes, you want a speaker to take to the beach or park to listen with your friends. Sometimes, you simply want to make your music sound the best it can in your home.

No speaker is a one-size-fits-all situation, so you might want more than one option—a soundbar for your TV, a portable speaker for gardening and a shower speaker for... showering. Our top pick for the best speaker for most people is the Sonos Era 100, but other options for specific needs are below.

Best Speaker Overall

The Best General-Use Speakers For Most Situations

Sonos Era 100 Smart Speaker

Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.7 x 5.1 inches | Ports: USB-C (supports 3.5 mm and ethernet with dongle) | Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2 | Subwoofer: Supports Sonos Sub and Sub Mini (sold separately) | Voice assistant: Amazon Alexa, Sonos Voice Control | Spatial audio: None

Best for: Anyone who wants a great-sounding speaker that supports smart features and offers a sleek design.

Sonos has been building some of the best modern speakers for years now, and the Sonos Era 100 is a continuation of that tradition. The speaker replaces the much-loved Sonos One, offering even more powerful and rich audio. You can technically use the speaker with a Sonos subwoofer, but it actually offers pretty good bass response without one, along with good clarity and detail in the high end. This isn’t an audiophile-level speaker, but the vast majority of buyers will be surprised by how great the speaker sounds.

The Era 100 has Amazon Alexa and Sonos’ own voice assistant built in, and while it doesn’t have Siri built into it, it does support AirPlay 2 for multi-room audio in the Apple ecosystem. You can also control the speaker straight through the Sonos app, and you can connect it to a wider Sonos speaker system. For example, it can be used as rear speakers in a home theater system in conjunction with a Sonos soundbar. It has Bluetooth, and supports wired audio through the use of an adapter. Note: This isn’t a portable speaker—there’s no battery built into it, and it needs to be plugged in to a power outlet to use.

What our writers say: “The Era 100 isn’t for audiophiles, but it easily punches above its weight-class—and the smart features it has are the icing on the cake.”

Pros:

  • Excellent audio
  • Tons of smart features
  • Sleek and stylish design

Cons:

  • Limited Google support
  • Adapter needed for most wired audio

Best Hi-Fi Speakers

Stunning Audio And A Premium Build

KEF LS50 Meta Passive Speakers (Pair)

Dimensions: 11 x 7.9 x 11.9 inches (each) | Ports: Speaker wire | Wireless connectivity: None

Best for: Those who prioritize top-tier audio and have the money to get it.

If there’s any set of “traditional” speakers on this list, the KEF LS50 Meta is it. These speakers are passive—so they need to be wired to an external amplifier. But if you have the ability to set up a dedicated speaker system, then these are the speakers to get—they sound absolutely stunning. They deliver deep bass and well-tuned mids with excellent detail and clarity in the high end. The speakers make any audio sound its absolute best, with things you’ve never heard before in your favorite tunes.

The speakers are really built for a specific purpose, so they don’t include smart features or voice assistants, and you wouldn’t necessarily expect that. The main issue you might have with the speakers is the price—but again, if the best-sounding audio is what you’re looking for, then they’re worth the cost.

What our writers say: “These embody what audiophile speakers can be, and the clarity and detail in the high-end immediately puts them in a different class than the vast majority of other speakers you’ll find out there right now.”

Pros:

  • Stunning audio
  • Strong, sleek build
  • Available in a few different colors

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • No smart features or wireless connectivity

Best Bluetooth Speaker

Easy Connectivity And A Portable Build

MOST POPULAR

Sonos Roam Bluetooth Speaker

Dimensions: 6.61 x 2.3 x 2.4 inches | Ports: USB-C (charging only) | Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2 | Battery life: 10 hours | Water resistance: IP67 | Voice assistant: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Sonos Voice Control

Best for: Those who want a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that can be taken on the road.

Plenty of speakers on this list support Bluetooth, but if you’re specifically looking for a Bluetooth speaker then you’re probably looking for something you can take on the road—in which case the Sonos Roam is an excellent option. One of the best things about this speaker is the fact that it works with the wider Sonos ecosystem of speakers and, when you’re at home, connects through Wi-Fi for better multi-room audio. It even supports AirPlay 2 for Apple users, and you can use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. It has an IP67 water-resistance for better durability, so you can take it to the pool without having to worry about it getting splashed—just don’t submerge it.

The speaker sounds great, but as a smaller, cheaper speaker, it doesn’t sound as good as Sonos’ other options, especially when it comes to bass response. And, while the 10-hour battery life is enough for a day out, it’s not as high as other options, so keep it charged with the included wireless charger. That said, it’s perfect for those who want a smart speaker that boasts tons of smart features at home, but that can still be taken on the go.

What our writers say: “The fact that this speaker can be taken on the road, but then used at home with Sonos’ full feature-set, makes it much more versatile than the average Bluetooth speaker.”

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Still has all the Sonos smarts
  • IP67 water-resistance

Cons:

  • Battery life is a little low
  • Bass is slightly limited

Best Smart Speaker

Super Smart And Great-Sounding

Sonos Era 300 Wireless Smart Speaker

Dimensions: 6.3 x 10.2 x 7.3 inches | Ports: USB-C (supports 3.5 mm and ethernet with dongle) | Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 | Subwoofer: Supports Sonos Sub (sold separately) | Voice assistant: Amazon Alexa, Sonos Voice Control | Spatial audio: Dolby Atmos

Best for: Those who want the best-sounding smart speaker available right now.

The Sonos Era 100 is a great all-around speaker, but if you want the best smart speaker, the Sonos Era 300 is it. The Era 300 has all the smart features you would expect from a Sonos speaker, such as integration with other Sonos speakers, AirPlay 2 support, and Amazon Alexa and Sonos Voice Control built in.

But where the Era 300 really shines is in its audio quality. Its size allows it to offer deeper and punchier bass than smaller smart speakers, and it still offers excellent detail in the high end. Its unusual shape lets it bounce audio off the ceiling and walls around it for a full Dolby Atmos experience. That can make listening to music a little more immersive, and it helps for those who want to use the speaker with a Sonos home theater system—such as for rear speakers paired with a Sonos soundbar. The speaker is a little expensive and a little bulky, but for those who want the best smart speaker experience out there, it’s the way to go.

What our writers say: “I use two Era 300 speakers in conjunction with a Sonos Arc soundbar, and love the fact that it delivers a more immersive, Dolby Atmos experience, on top of supporting all the smart features I would expect from Sonos.”

Pros:

  • Great frequency response
  • Tons of features
  • Supports Dolby Atmos

Cons:

  • A bit bulky
  • Expensive

Best Waterproof Speaker

Perfect For The Beach Or The Pool

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 Waterproof Speaker

Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.5 x 4.7 inches | Ports: Micro-USB port (charging only) | Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 14 hours | Water resistance: IP67

Best for: Those who want something relatively inexpensive they can use at the beach.

The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 is the best choice for those looking for a portable waterproof speaker. To be clear, the speaker has the same level of water-resistance as the Sonos Roam speaker, which is also on this list. But if you’re looking for something to use occasionally near the pool or at the beach, you probably don’t want to spend as much as the Sonos Roam costs. That’s where the Wonderboom 3 comes in. It’s not as amazing-sounding or as feature-rich, but it does have Bluetooth built into it, and a pretty good frequency response overall, especially for something in its price range.

The speaker is a little low-tech. Unfortunately, it has a Micro-USB port for charging, not a newer USB-C port. And, it really only connects through Bluetooth—there’s no wired or Wi-Fi connectivity. But, it does have some helpful design touches to it, including a loop to hang it up and big volume buttons for easy control. Ultimately, it’s an excellent option for those who want something to blast tunes with their friends by the pool. It’s available in a bunch of cool colors, too.

What the reviews say: One Amazon reviewer was particularly impressed with the audio quality for such a small speaker. “I’ve been searching for a compact speaker that delivers impressive sound quality without sacrificing portability, and this speaker exceeds all expectations.”

Pros:

  • Compact build
  • Inexpensive
  • Solid audio for the price

Cons:

  • Micro-USB
  • Limited feature-set

Best Soundbar

A Full Home Theater In Your Living Room

Samsung HW-Q990D Soundbar (Bundle)

Dimensions: 48.5 x 2.7 x 5.4 inches (main soundbar) | Ports: 2 x HDMi 2.1 in, 1 x HDMI 2.1 out, optical | Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast | Subwoofer: Yes, included | Channels: 11.1.4 | Voice assistant: Amazon Alexa, Bixby | Spatial audio: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X

Best for: Those who want to turn their living room into a full home theater.

The best soundbar available right now is the Samsung HW-Q990D. This is actually a larger home theater package that comes with rear speakers and a subwoofer for full-bodied, immersive audio. When it’s all set up, the system supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, so you get a complete surround-sound experience. The soundbar has two HDMI 2.1 inputs that can pass through to your TV, and it supports all the latest-and-greatest gaming tech, including a variable refresh rate from your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. It also supports all the major wireless connectivity standards, including AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, so you can use it as part of a wider multi-room audio setup.

The main downside is the fact that the system is more expensive than most soundbars out there right now. Additionally, it is a little complicated to install, especially given the fact that installing it involves placing rear speakers for surround sound. That said, if you can afford the HW-Q990D and don’t mind spending some time to set it all up, it’s easily the best soundbar setup you can get right now.

What our writers say: “The HW-Q990D is a follow-up to the HW-Q990C, which offered one of the best-sounding, most immersive audio experiences you could get in your living room.”

Pros:

  • Stunning audio quality
  • Supports all modern wireless standards
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Slightly complicated setup

Best Shower Speaker

Don't Stop Listening, Even In The Shower

Bose SoundLink Flex Waterproof Speaker

Dimensions: 3.6 x 7.9 x 2.1 inches | Ports: USB-C (charging only) | Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 12 hours | Water resistance: IP67

Best for: Those who want to keep up-to-date on their podcasts and favorite tunes even when they’re getting clean.

Who wants to stop listening to music just because they’re headed into the shower? There are plenty of shower speakers out there, but the best of them is the Bose SoundLink Flex. Sure, it’s expensive and slightly bulky, but it looks good, sounds great and is water-resistant enough to survive shower use. The speaker has an IP67 water-resistance rating, which means that while you should do your best to avoid completely submerging it, it withstands splashes from the shower or an accidental quick drop in the tub.

Even better is the fact that the speaker sounds great, as you would expect from Bose. It’s a little larger than many other shower speakers—it has larger drivers that can deliver deeper bass—coupled with a detailed and clear high-end response. It connects to your device through Bluetooth, and comes in a range of fun colors.

What the reviews say: One reviewer on Amazon was particularly impressed with the audio quality for a speaker of this size. “It has surpassed my expectations in several key areas. The sound quality, for starters, is incredible for a speaker of its size. The bass is robust and punchy, mids are clear and crisp, while the highs are distinct, creating a well-rounded and immersive audio experience.”

Pros:

  • Great audio response
  • Fun colors
  • Sleek design

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Bulky for a shower speaker

Best Portable Speaker

Deep, Rich Audio Wherever You Go

Bose Portable Smart Speaker

Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.7 x 4.1 inches | Ports: USB-C (charging only) | Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2 | Battery life: 12 hours | Water resistance: IPX4 | Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant

Best for: Those who want the best on-the-go audio experience they can get.

If you’re looking for a high-end speaker that you can take wherever you go, then the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is the speaker to get. This certainly isn’t the only portable speaker on this list—and if you’re specifically looking for water-resistance, it’s worth considering the others. But, if simply getting something that’s portable yet still sounds amazing is your priority, then the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a great option. The speaker is a little larger than some others, but it delivers deep, rich bass and a well-tuned frequency response overall. It has a 12-hour battery life, which is fine, but not incredible.

The speaker supports Bluetooth for use outside of the home, but it also works with an array of other standards, including AirPlay 2. And, it has the option for either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant built right into it, so it can be integrated into a wider smart home and multi-room audio setup. Sure, the speaker is expensive, but given how versatile it is, and that it’s useful inside the home as much as outside, it could be worth it for many buyers.

What the reviews say: A reviewer on Amazon was particular impressed with the solid bass response on offer by this speaker. “The sound quality is markedly superior to the smaller Bose Flex or the B&O A1 speaker I replaced. A clear difference is being able to hear the distinct bass notes, while the smaller speakers produce bass sound that isn’t clear.”

Pros:

  • Detailed audio
  • Good smart features
  • Strong build

Cons:

  • Battery life could be better
  • Expensive

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Why Trust Forbes Vetted

At Forbes Vetted, we’re proud of our extensive library of tech and audio articles. We offer dozens of guides about speakers and headphones, as well as more niche products like turntables and streaming microphones.

  • This guide was written by Christian de Looper, who has over a decade of experience writing about consumer technology, and specifically has a background in audio. He even earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Technology.
  • Christian has written many consumer tech and audio guides for Forbes Vetted, including on wireless earbuds under $100, the best karaoke machines and our tested best gaming headsets guide.
  • All picks in this guide were approved by Rebecca Isaacs, Forbes Vetted’s tech editor, a consumer technology expert who has years of experience writing about and covering all the latest gadgets.
  • The world of tech and audio moves fast, so we make every effort to keep our content accurate and up-to-date. This article was last updated in May 2024.

How We Chose The Best Speakers

In building this list of the best speakers, we leveraged our own expertise and years of experience covering the speaker and smart home industries.

  • We first looked at the different categories of speakers, and the top products that we’ve tested that are consistently recommended in those categories.
  • Factors we considered included things like audio quality, connectivity options, design, and more.
  • In certain situations, we also looked at metrics like water-resistance— like it the speakers are recommended for outdoor and shower use.
  • We also pored over reviews from real buyers to make sure others’ experience aligned without own. We didn’t include any options that weren’t top-rated by reviewers.

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Christian de Looper

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