The Bluetooth revolution began quietly in 1998 with just 5 companies joining the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. By the end of that same year, 400 companies had signed up. By the turn of the millennium, the first phone with Bluetooth technology was available to consumers. Since then there’s been a rush to integrate this wireless connectivity into an increasing number of devices, with printers, laptops, and even cooking appliances bearing the ability to tether wirelessly to any aptly enabled machine. The result is an increasingly wireless world.
Best High-End Bluetooth Speakers
For audiophiles, the Bluetooth movement couldn’t happen soon enough. Wires that run to speakers are the curse of anyone who wishes to have astounding audio quality in their home, but also desires some aesthetics. As technology has matured, the gap between the beautiful sounds of wired speakers and the tinny pop and sizzle of Bluetooth speakers has narrowed considerably. Today you can have quality audio that rivals many corded options, all tied to your device of choice though the airwaves. The only requirement: one of the best high-end Bluetooth speakers for serious sound junkies.
#1 – UE BOOM 2
Simple Pleasures: Easily dismissed as a beginner’s box, there’s nothing better for high-end audio that is conveniently portable. Given rating of IPX7, the Boom 2 is waterproof, shockproof, and lifeproof, yet still manages to find time to bring more than a little bump to any gathering.
#2 – Beats Pill+
Sweet & Lowdown: Though most of the Beats line suffers from inflated prices, the Pill+ actually lands near where it should on the cost spectrum. A good thumper for low-end listening, the portable pill is as close as you’re going to get to a modern ghetto blaster, only this one comes complete with speakerphone and 12-hour battery.
#3 – Libratone ZIPP
Chorus: Alone the Zipp is a refined individual speaker for use in an office, bedroom, or den, but the more you add to the mix, the better the sound quality. Up to 6 Zipps can be interconnected for multi-room sound, or tearing the proverbial roof off this equally proverbial sucker. 5 speakers are packed into each model with dual lows and highs and a single midrange completing the package.
#4 – Marshall Kilburn
Kick the PA: The Kilburn calls up the days of yore with its vintage grill. It’s a dedicated Bluetooth only speaker meant to be played portably. The battery produces 20+ hours worth of life and room-filling sound in a style any old roadie would love.
Unboxed: Unlikely to be allowed to enter into any beauty pageants, the Square looks like a box fan, and that’s being generous. Polk realized this, which is why it also has six speakers rounded up inside a body that’s fairly easy to carry and intended to be used while mobile. Full Complement Bass (FCB) turns every speaker into a miniaturized sub for more push.
Carry-On My Wayward Son: Slim as an iPad Pro, the A2 creates a bubble of sound in a tight package that’s easy to take along for the ride. Dual channels on the speaker create a rich soundstage which comes in your choice of customizable colors with straps for simple movement and easy listening anywhere you roam.
This is the End: Bose has been trying to get this speaker right for three different iterations, and they seem to have finally done it. The first was solid on hardware, but weak on tech and accessories. Series II provided intensive app support and innovation in use, while the III reinvigorates the hardware with plenty of upgrades. Bose dropped Airplay for Bluetooth and added a glut of connectivity that makes this black box feel complete.
#8 – KEF EGG
Working for the Weekend: The Egg speaker set is intended for listeners who prefer to bob their head while at the computer. Using an integrated amplifier along with DAC, a mini USB input running at 96kHz/24-bit for wired times, and Uni-Q driver array, the “Eggs” can be taken all the way up to the big leagues for computer audio mixing at the professional level.
Going the Distance: Modular speakers usually focus more on portability, with audio taking a sad, distant second. Instead, Beoplay began their journey with True360 sound powered by 240 watts of power that can run for a full 24 hours without ceasing. Social Bluetooth and an understated but appealing aluminum body are just the icing on this sonorous cake.
#10 – Polk Audio Woodbourne
Clean Sweep: Instead of yet another bland black soundbar, Polk has created something you’d be proud to showcase in your home. Outfitted with a 4-channel amp and proprietary DSP for Dolby surround sound that comes through clear as a coyote’s howl, the real surprise is the bass, which has acoustic suspension tuning, allowing it to blend with other noises so it isn’t overpowering.
Modern Camouflage: Made for appearance as much as acoustics, the slender parabolic body from Bowers & Wilkins hides a whole assemblage of secrets. There’s the pair of double-dome tweeters that handle your sonic highs while FST-enabled midrange drivers mop up the middle. For lows, a 6 1/2-inch sub gives the neighbors something to complain about.
#12 – Geneva AeroSphère Large
Black Hole Sun: True, this is a large system, but not nearly as large as it could be considering how much raw audio power it’s working with. You get two of both 1-inch tweeters and 4-inch woofers with a 6-inch up-firing subwoofer rattling the windows.
Garden Party: Designed to operate exclusively in the open air and to withstand inclement weather, the Outdoor Wireless uses a pair of 251 speakers that are hardy enough to survive the apocalypse and clean enough to due justice to your Celine collection. Each speaker carries a set of full-range speakers along with a woofer housed in bodies built for abuse.
Shot the Sheriff: A 220-watt, 2-way system, the One Foundation has a couple of screaming silk-domed tweeters that are supported admirably by twin 5 1/4-inch, wood-fiber impregnated/pressed-fiber cones sunk into an acoustic chamber that brings the bass out. Crank it up, and it’s sure to satisfy your soul.
#15 – Mu-So by Naim Audio
All Told: The Mu-So is not exclusively a Bluetooth device, but rather a whole wireless audio streaming system. It can use AirPlay, Wi-Fi, internet radio, and might be able to pick up HAM signals with a little rewiring. Behind the curtain is six full 75-watt amplifiers complete with 32-Bit DSP for sound you can sink your teeth into.
#16 – Devialet Phantom
The Grail: Audio fiends who seek the best in Bluetooth audio have now found it. The Phantom is hermetically sealed using more than a ton of pressure, and the woofers are vibrated using 30 kilograms of thrust. Protected by 88 different patents, this is the future of audio in a box.