The Top Bluetooth Speakers in 2016- Reviews & Comparisons
Wireless speakers, especially smaller portable ones, have recently made quite a splash in the consumer electronics market. Although they have received heavy criticism from high-end audiophiles for their apparent inferiority compared to much larger wired speakers, they nonetheless fill a necessary need for portable speakers that are not time consuming and will provide audio for a small gathering or social event. Many companies have released wireless Bluetooth speakers but here I will be reviewing the top five speakers that comprise every different niche in the market.
Bose Soundlink 3
Best known for their home audio systems, noise cancelling headphones, and car systems multi-billion dollar company Bose Corporation is a mega player in the audio world. The Bose Soundlink 3 is the third generation Bluetooth speaker and one of the best in the industry.
A frequent complaint regarding wireless speakers is that they do not produce enough bass, this is a non-issue with the Bose Soundlink 3. This device delivers great bass but not so much that it overwhelms the speaker and leads to distortion, it’s clean and it’s crisp. There are four drivers and two passive radiators that provide a full spectrum audio experience with clarity at any level of listening. Also Bose has improved the digital signal processing for a better sound connection.
The Bose Soundlink 3 is one of the more expensive wireless Bluetooth options coming in at around $300. It has a sturdy look to it but still sleek with its curved edges and the thin profile that makes it easy to slip into a backpack for easy travel. In the box you will find an auxiliary input cable, a USB port so you can connect your Bose Soundlink 3 to your desktop for updates, an optional 12 volt charger and adapter which can be folded easily.
The dimensions are 5.18 height x 10.08 Width y 1.89 Depth and it weighs exactly 3.03 pounds. The Wall charger cord is 54 inches. Unfortunately the Bose Soundlink 3 does not accept phone calls so if you receive a call while your phone is connected to the Soundlink 3 you have to accept it on your phone.
Creative Soundblaster Roar
Creative Technology Ltd., the company behind the Soundblaster Roar, is a Singapore based company who primarily manufacture and design sound and video boards, computers, and related multimedia and consumer entertainment products. The Creative Soundblaster is in fact one of the most recognizable names in the PC audio market, first released in 1987 and subsequently sold in RadioShack stores around the globe. The Soundblaster Roar is one of Creative Technologies attempts at Bluetooth audio and given their previous success in this field it’s no surprise how well this product has done.
The Soundblaster roar is a bi-amplified five driver system that works with Android devices, iPhones, Laptops, virtually any device with Bluetooth enabled, and it also has the added bonus of working as a standalone mp3 player by utilizing the built in microSD slot. This is a well-rounded Bluetooth speaker. Unlock most Bluetooth speakers which utilize only one amplifier, the Creative Soundblaster Roar has two high performance amplifiers as well as five speaker drives to reproduce the full spectrum of sound for a wonderful sonic experience.
The Creative Soundblaster Roar was named that way because of the “Roar” button. The Roar button is can be activated to boost loudness, depth, and spaciousness to provide a high quality listening experience in loud scenarios such as parties or social gatherings where many other sounds may interfere with the music. Conversely, you can also activate TeraBass for less than ideal acoustic situations like low volume listening. Megastereo is the third listening option, with Megastereo you can add more Creative Soundblaster Roar’s, up to 8, to create a cinematic surround sound effect. However, you will have to connect these via cords.
Unlike many Bluetooth wireless speakers, the Creative Soundblaster Roar supports aptX and AAC- advanced HD audio codecs that deliver very high quality audio. You can also charge your device via USB thanks to the 6000 mAH battery. There is also a microphone built into the device that can work as a voice recorder or it can be used for phone calls. The Soundblaster Roar can easily accept phone calls from your device, acting as a speaker phone, this way you don’t even have to leave your seat to pick up the phone. Unfortunately every device has its flaws and the Soundblaster Roar can only last a measly 8 hours of continuous play, also it is quite heavy at 2.5lbs (1.10 kg) with a 153g power adapter ,making it not as portable as some other speakers.
As far as sound, the lows are deep and rich, medium tones are well pronounced, highs also blend well. The Bluetooth profiles supported are A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth) AVRCP (Bluetooth Remote Control) and HFP (Hands Free Profile). The speakers themselves are 2.2 x 7.9 x 4.5 inches (57.0 x 202.0 x 115.0 mm). In the package you will receive 1 micro USB charging cable that is 0.75 meters long, 1 power adaptor, and 2 interchangeable adaptor plugs which vary based on what country you live in.
The Creative Soundblaster Roar supports MP3s up to 320kbps, WMA up to 320kbps, and WAV files if they’re 16 bit 48kHz PCM). If you plug the Creative Soundblaster Roar into your computer you will activate the NFC feature which gives you access to a comprehensive suite of SBX pro studio audio enhancements. You can also connect the device to your Play Station 4 by plugging it into the micro USB slot, this allows you to play the audio from your Play Station through the speakers.
The Creative Sounblaster Pro won the President’s Design Award for Singapore under the topic of “Design of the Year” for the year 2014, it also won the RedDot award in 2014.
JBL Flip 2
In the category for best speaker at a very reasonable price comes the JBL Flip 2 which retails at just under $100, much like it’s predecessor this is the best speaker at that price range for the most part. Much like its predecessor The JBL Flip 2 looks the same but don’t let that fool you into believing they are equal in terms or quality, JBL really took it to the next level with the Flip 2.
Out of the box it comes with a carrying case, a USB power adaptor, and a charging cord, not a lot of accessories but just enough to get the job done. The JBL Flip 2 comes in a variety of colors, not as many as the options for the original Flip but still a pretty sizeable collection, also the case will be the same color as your Flip so if color coordination is your thing than you’ll really enjoy that feature.
Perhaps the best feature of the JBL Flip 2, and probably the reason for its popularity, is just how versatile and portable this thing is. The JBL Flip 2 is small, it is easy to carry around since it weighs less than one pound, and it can be placed both horizontally and vertically to suit your storage needs. There are volume buttons on the device itself but there are no buttons to control playback, which has to be done through your device.
The range is pretty good on this one, most Bluetooth speakers have a range of about 30ft, this when can easily make it to 40 feet and even phone calls work well at this range. This is also due to the fact that it uses SoundClear echo and noise cancellation to get the best sound quality with the least amount of noise. The major drawback of the JBL Flip 2 is its battery life, at only 5 hours this device won’t even last an entire party.
Anker is one of the newest brands coming out with Bluetooth speakers, founded in 2009 by CEO Steven Yang, Anker develops mobile devices and accessories across a spectrum of fields. The Anker MP141 was released on March 31st, 2014 it has dimensions of 3.2 x 3.2 x 2.4 inches and weighs 8.8 oz, an incredibly small frame that hides a powerful punch.
The Anker MP141 boasts an astonishing 15-20 hours of continuous play time if not longer, this is due to its rechargeable 2100 mAH lithium ion battery. The Anker MP141 is compatible with all Bluetooth devices version 2.1 or later or via the 3.5 mm auxiliary port for non-Bluetooth enabled devices.
Connect with your device from up to 33 feet. The Anker MP141 also has a built in microphone with a 2 foot pickup range so it can also double as a speaker phone. The Anker MP141 package comes with the speaker, a micro USB cable a 3.5mm audio cable, a travel pouch, an 18 month warranty, and the instruction manual.
There aren’t many color options for the Anker MP141, it comes in either black or white and it takes roughly 3 to 4 hours to fully charge. The bottom is ported for extra bass. If there was one issue to cite with the Anker MP141 it’s that overall volume is not great, the Anker cannot get very loud making it a poor choice for parties or social gatherings.
Unlike some companies which dip their toes in every proverbial pond, Wren Sound Systems is dedicated exclusively to creating high quality speakers that immerse you in your favorite music. The Wren V5US is a sound powerhouse that combines Apple Airplay, DTS Play-Fi, and Bluetooth with aptX to allow streaming from all sorts of mobile devices, both in multi room and in multi zone settings with up to 8 attachable speakers.
In the package for the Wren V5US you will find a manual, the speaker, a remote control, and you will notice the speaker looks similar to others in the V5 series except this time there is a wood finish and the color schemes are either light toned cream or espresso.
Unlike many other Bluetooth speakers, the Wren V5US is not intended to be a portable speaker but it’s really created to enhance your multiroom home audio system. It’s relatively heavy and acts more like a true cabinet speaker. The inclusion of the remote is rare for Bluetooth speakers but this full featured remote only solidifies that this is a part of a home entertainment system, not something you would take to the beach.
The Wren even has Wi-Fi which can be set up fairly easily, in the future Wren says they are teaming up with Spotify to allow customers to control the playback via their Spotify account. Bass is great thanks to the bass port on the back of the Wren V5US, the 1000hz make for nice crisp clean audio playback. This is a speaker that can really fill a room if not several. The Wren V5US craves higher volumes and it sounds amazing when cranked up. The Wren V5US is all around just a great speaker, it’s as if Wren took all of the best features from their past products and molded them into one stylish piece.