Best Wireless Speakers of 2022

·9 min read

Top-rated models from our labs include options from Como, Edifier, JBL, Sonos, and Ultimate Ears

Edifier S1000MKII wireless speakers

By Allen St. John

Your favorite tunes sound a lot better when played through speakers you love. But the best speaker isn’t the same for every listener.

Some want a versatile multiroom system that fills a home with music from basement to attic. Others prefer a rugged and waterproof portable to take to the park. And for many, audio nirvana is a wireless speaker that couples benchmark sound quality with a reasonable price.

Whether you enjoy Frank Sinatra or Bruno Mars, you’ve never had better choices. And unlike many other products—say, laptops and phones—great speakers don’t become outmoded quickly. Find one that sounds great now and it should satisfy you for years to come.

Below are six impressive models, each ideal for a specific use or listener.

Consumer Reports buys its test samples the same way you do, through regular retail channels. We then put them through a rigorous standardized evaluation program in a dedicated lab with trained testers. We review each speaker for ease of use and versatility, but most of all sound quality. Our testers listen to each speaker using the same variety of music in the same specially designed listening room, comparing the sound to both expensive reference speakers and top-performing models from our ratings.

Best-Sounding Wireless Speaker

Speakers are all about sound. That’s why our testing protocol places more emphasis on sound quality than any other single factor. And two different but similar Edifier models sound better than all other models in our wireless speaker ratings (available to CR members).

Like the earlier Edifier S1000DB, the Edifier S1000MKII—a reasonably priced Bluetooth speaker system sold in a stereo pair—excels sonically. It features smooth trebles but lets you hear the delicate shimmer of a cymbal, too. Its musical low frequencies allow you to differentiate between an acoustic doghouse bass and a Fender Jazz bass cranking through an Ampeg amp. The all-important midrange, where most vocals and solo instruments live, is free of the distortions and colorations that can make lesser speakers tiring to listen to after a while.

And with its classic stereo configuration, the Edifier provides a truly convincing illusion that the musicians are in the room with you. Want to hear for yourself? Listen to Pink Floyd’s epic “Dark Side of the Moon” on the model.

Edifier S1000MKII

The S1000MKII is only slightly changed from the highly rated S1000DB. The two models sound almost identical, according to our testers. They’re also very similar in size and appearance, but a new and much-improved remote control makes the MKII easier to use and bumps its Overall Score just a bit.

Note that the S1000DB is still available through Edifier and from a few retailers for around the same price as the newer MKII. So unless you’re getting a discount on the S1000DB, make sure you’re buying the higher-rated MKIII.

The Edifier speakers don’t offer multiroom functionality, unlike models from Sonos and Denon, but they do provide a full array of connections.

Best Home Multiroom Speaker

The Sonos Five sounds great, but just as important, it plays well with others . . . as long as those others are Sonos-compatible speakers.

Almost identical in sound and functionality to the manufacturer’s venerable Sonos Play:5, the Sonos Five is a large stereo speaker in a single enclosure. Its powerful bass, shimmering trebles, and sparkling clear midrange earn it a spot near the very top of our sound-quality rankings. If you’re willing to spend $1,000 to pair two Sonos Fives in stereo, the sound quality jumps a notch, to our highest ranking, a distinction shared with the Edifier S1000MKII and Edifier S1000DB.

Sonos Five

The Sonos Five also has the flexibility to let you spread that superb sound throughout your home. You can link a Five with any other Sonos-compatible device—from a Sonos sound bar to a portable Move or Roam smart speaker or even an inexpensive Sonos-compatible speaker from Ikea (see below)—to form a flexible multiroom system.

That allows you to control the tracks and the volume from your smartphone app, which means you can play Lorde in the family room, stream NPR in the kitchen, and pipe Al Green into the bedroom all with the touch of a finger. Note, however, that like the company’s other home models, the Sonos Five is WiFi only, with no Bluetooth streaming.

Best-Sounding Portable Speaker

If you’re looking for a great-sounding speaker that can be moved (including outdoors) as needed but doesn’t have to fit in a backpack, the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom is likely to serve you well.

Our testers commend its robust bass and clean midrange, and report that the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom is plenty loud indoors and out. They also find the large controls to be easy to use, which helps the model earn good grades for versatility. The Ultimate Ears Hyperboom features an optical input, so it can double as a TV soundbar or upgrade the sound of a game console.

Ultimate Ears Hyperboom

The vertically oriented design doesn’t take up much space on a table or shelf, and the subdued styling allows it to blend in better than most portables when you take the speaker indoors. If you’d prefer a model that’s easier to carry around, you might consider the more portable JBL Boombox 2.

Ultimate Ears claims an IPX4 water-resistance rating for the Hyperboom, which means that it’s splashproof and spillproof but not designed to stand up to a full-fledged dunking.

Most Versatile Wireless Speaker

Remember that thing called a radio? A box that allowed you to listen to the news or sports talk shows, not to mention your favorite DJ playing tunes destined to become classics? The Como Solo hasn’t forgotten.

This compact, retro-cool Bluetooth speaker has what’s now quite a unique feature: an AM/FM tuner. Further boosting its best-in-class versatility score is an impressive array of inputs, including an optical port for connecting a TV, a USB port that allows you to play music on a stick, a headphone jack for personal listening, and a couple of additional auxiliary-in jacks.

The Como Solo, designed by Tom DeVesto, who created similarly stylish devices for Tivoli, features a real wood cabinet (available in Walnut, Hickory, Piano White, or Piano Black) and a screen that displays a vintage-style analog clock when not in use. All in all, the Como Solo is a handsome companion for a nightstand.

Como Audio Solo

Our testers say the sound isn’t spectacular, but it’s easy to live with. The midrange is even, with a little less detail than that of the best speakers, while both the bass and treble are a bit subdued, which is often better than strident or bass-heavy speakers that impose their own sonic signature on your music.

The Como Solo is monophonic but can be stereo-paired via an 11-foot wired connection with the company’s Ambiente auxiliary speaker (starting at $110, depending on the finish).

Best Inexpensive Home Multiroom Speaker

The $120 Symfonisk Bookshelf speaker is sold by Ikea but its sound and its brains are all Sonos. The model works like Sonos’s other multiroom options; you can control it from your smartphone, and integrate it into a system that allows you to listen to the London Symphony in the den and London Calling in the kitchen. Like other Sonos home speakers, the Symfonisk Bookshelf lacks Bluetooth capability; it needs WiFi to function.

Our testers report that this second-generation model sounds almost identical to the earlier one. The Symfonisk Bookshelf bears a strong sonic resemblance to its Sonos brethren, with clear trebles, a balanced and detailed midrange, and bass that’s tuneful although not especially deep. The sound-quality ranking falls just a bit below more expensive models like the Sonos One and Sonos One SL, but the gap is small enough that most casual listeners won’t notice the difference. Our testers noted that a stereo pair of Symfonisk speakers sounds significantly better than a single unit, especially when it comes to capturing that you-are-there factor on a good recording.

Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf (gen 2)

The Symfonisk is literally a bookshelf speaker, too: You can use hardware to mount it on a wall, although it’s better for light poetry volumes than heavy historical biographies. Ikea is now selling optional grills for $12 to help you change up the look. For a more radical reimagining, a company called Unisk sells wood, felt, and fabric grills ranging in price from $24 to $32.

Best Inexpensive Portable Wireless Speaker

The JBL Flip 5 is a bargain. It lists for $100 and often sells for significantly less. But don’t be fooled by the low price: There’s a lot of speaker here for the money.

The classic cylindrical design takes up relatively little space in a beach bag or on a picnic table. And the JBL Flip 5 comes in six fun colors, all the better to coordinate with your favorite sunglasses. (If you’d like to take that stylishness even further, how about personalizing the colors and grill cloth design for a small fee?)

JBL Flip 5

The company claims a battery life of up to 12 hours and the advertised IPX7 water-resistance rating means the JBL Flip 5 can survive being fully submerged, which makes it perfect for the beach or any outdoor setting where a shower—or a dunking—is a distinct possibility.

Compared with the best-sounding speakers we’ve tested, the model does have a few shortcomings, with bass that’s a bit boomy and trebles that are somewhat subdued. But when played outdoors and in other casual environments where a speaker like this works best, the Flip 5’s largely forgiving sonic signature encourages you to play tunes one right after the other.

What Makes a Great Speaker?

Do you know the difference between good speakers and excellent speakers? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Elias Arias explains to host Jack Rico the art of identifying high-quality devices.

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