Best cheap Bluetooth speakers of 2017admin
Enhance your audiovisual experience from your smartphone, tablet or laptop with a portable Bluetooth speaker. Once an accessory that could cost you upwards of £100, these days you needn’t spend the earth to get better sound, and here we showcase the best cheap Bluetooth speakers you can buy in the UK in 2017.
We are increasingly using mobile devices as entertainment devices for watching TV, films and video, playing games, and listening to music, radio and audiobooks.
Headphones are a must have when you’re out and about (we’ve rounded up the best cheap headphones, best headphones and best wireless headphones), but when you’re at home you should make the most of the experience with a portable speaker.
You can spend hundreds (or even thousands) on such a device but, nice as these may be, only the wealthy and true audiophiles will want to do so.
Here, we’re setting our sights much lower with a cut-off of £100. The budget Bluetooth speakers we review here won’t produce concert-quality sound, but they will offer a better audio experience than is possible from your mobile device.
Your buying guide to the best cheap Bluetooth speakers
So, what should you look for when in the market for a portable Bluetooth speaker?
A popular feature that seems to be cropping up in Bluetooth speakers is ‘360-degree audio”. What is 360-degree audio? Well, it’s (usually) a tube-shaped Bluetooth speaker that has drivers facing every direction, opposed to the traditional front-facing speaker, to enable better audio projection and produce ‘room-filling audio’.
It’s definitely a nice feature to have, and one we actively look out for when buying new speakers. It was once exclusive to high-end speakers, but we’ve since seen it appear on a number of budget speakers.
What about battery life? While not too long ago the standard battery life for a Bluetooth speaker was around five hours, we’ve reached a golden age in Bluetooth accessory battery life and with many budget speakers offering upwards of 7-10 hours per charge, we wouldn’t recommend buying a speaker that offers anything less.
Also, it’s worth keeping an eye out for speakers that double up as portable battery chargers, as it’ll probably come in handy when using your smartphone to play music.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
Some Bluetooth speakers also offer Wi-Fi capabilities, so which connection should you opt for? Traditionally, using a Bluetooth connection will give you a 10m range, which means that you’ll only be able to play music from a speaker in the same room as you – any further and you’ll probably experience the audio cutting out.
Some speakers offer a wider range though, so it’s worth taking a look at the specifications of the speaker you’re interested in.
Wi-Fi has a much wider reach, and could allow you to play music from anywhere in the house. With this being said, the Wi-Fi setup process can be quite stressful and require users to install a specific app on their smartphone in order to do so, whereas Bluetooth setup takes 30 seconds, even less if it supports NFC setup.
Every now and again, you’ll come across a Bluetooth speaker that offers a remote. While a remote can be useful in certain environments, especially if the volume of the speaker is controlled independently instead of mirroring the input volume, it’s not essential.
This is especially true if you intend to play music from your smartphone via Bluetooth, as you’ll already have the media controls you need in your hand.
Water and dust resistance
If you plan to take your Bluetooth speaker to the park or beach with you, it’s probably a good idea to find a speaker that has some kind of water/dust/shock resistance. While it doesn’t need an IPX7 rating to be used outside, it’s always a good idea to have some kind of protection against spills, rain, and general damage or you’ll quickly find yourself buying another!
Best budget Bluetooth speakers of 2017
Denon Envaya Mini
In terms of design, the Envaya Mini is gorgeous. Peeking through its metal black grille is a vivid shade of blue offering a dash of colour to an otherwise completely black speaker. It’s a weighty speaker with rubberised feet at either end that protrude slightly, further than the speaker itself. These offer extra grip and negate the annoying rattle that some plastic speakers produce when on a hard surface.
The Envaya Mini has physical button control, which is great to see when so many mid-range Bluetooth speaker manufacturers implement frustrating touch capacitive buttons. Don’t worry about getting the Envaya Mini wet either, as it’s IPX4 water resistant.
There are two connections available when it comes to the Envaya Mini; Bluetooth 4.0 and Aux-in. It also offers NFC capabilities for one-touch pairing. Oh, and it can also handle two Bluetooth connections at once – ideal for those last-minute parties.
In the audio department, the Envaya Mini boasts dual 40mm full range drivers with a 40x83mm passive radiator, which produces both crisp sound and impressive bass. The audio is room-filling without a hint of distortion, an impressive feat for a speaker of this size.
Denon claims that the Envaya Mini should generate around 10 hours of playback, although we found it to give up around the 6/7-hour mark.
Read our Denon Envaya Mini review.
Sumvision Psyc Monic
The sleek Sumvision Psyc Monic is powered by two 10W drivers, housed within the speaker’s full-metal brushed aluminium housing. It certainly doesn’t look like a speaker that costs less than £40!
The buttons at the top enable you to power on, play/pause, volume up/down and skip/previous tracks. Unfortunately, the speaker has no in-built microphone which means you won’t be able to take calls directly from your speaker.
We didn’t find the speaker particularly portable, due to its overall weight and size, but still consider it portable given that you can easily put it in a bag to transport it.
The Monic can be connected through Bluetooth 4.0 or an auxiliary 3.5mm jack. However, there is no NFC to quickly connect your speaker to a smartphone, nor does it use AptX technology to transmit CD quality music from your source.
The speaker offers around six to seven hours of playback, a considerable amount of time before having to recharge the 2000mAh battery.
It’s in the sound department that the Monic really excels. It’s able to reproduce all sound frequencies extremely well, especially sub- and mid-bass tones, which are desk-shatteringly good. But despite having a strong presence in the bass department, the mids are relatively unaffected. It’s forward-sounding so may not fill the entire room with music, but has a great overall tonality.
Read our full Sumvision Psyc Monic review.
Lava BrightSounds 2
Smart lightbulbs, power banks and Bluetooth speakers are all the rage at the moment, so it was only a matter of time before a manufacturer merged the three – say hello to the Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker/power bank/smart light hybrid.
Roughly three quarters of the IPX4-rated rectangular speaker is taken up by the light, housed in plastic. The brightness is adjustable, providing everything from a soft glow to bright white light, although there’s no option to change the colour of the light. The top quarter is a wraparound speaker mesh, available in several colours, which seems to provide fire out sound in every direction.
Four control buttons lie flush up top, along with the status LED and Lava logo. If Bluetooth isn’t for you, the rear of the speaker is where you’ll find ports for auxiliary connections, along with a charging port and a full-size USB port for charging smartphones and other mobile accessories while on-the-go.
With a lithium-ion battery inside, the Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker and smart lamp can offer a whopping 36 hours of music playback, all from a three- to four-hour charge from empty.
Despite the budget price tag, we had the Lava BrightSounds 2’s 5W ultra-wide stereo speaker on full-blast and didn’t hear a hint of distortion. It’s loud enough to fill a room with sound, and for a budget Bluetooth speaker, audio quality is more than acceptable with decent bass and a clear mid-range, although there’s a slight compromise at the top-end.
Read our Lava Brightsounds 2 review.
Most budget Bluetooth speakers are all-in-one devices, but Logitech has decided to cram Bluetooth support into a pair of 2.1 desktop speakers, resulting in the Z337. This set includes two small free-standing speaker blocks paired with a larger subwoofer, along with a wired volume dial to control it all.
Aesthetically, it’s all simple matt black and grey, with blue accenting that actually makes the Bluetooth logo a surprisingly welcome addition to the front of the speakers, which recline at a very slight angle. It’s all quite blocky – you wouldn’t exactly call these sleek – but it works in an attractively minimalist sort of way.
The Z337’s neatest trick is that it will seamlessly support both wired and wireless connections simultaneously. That means you can keep it wired into your desktop or laptop computer for gaming or TV, then pair it with your phone for controlling music remotely without any need to fiddle about swapping between the connections.
Finally, what really matters: the sound. As you might have guessed with that towering subwoofer, there’s a big focus on bass, which makes these very solid speakers for gaming or watching films. Mids and trebles can get a little lost, but this is great sound for the price. Sound quality is consistent across volumes – though we haven’t dared push it anywhere near its loudest, which should be more than enough for most setups.
The Creative Nuno speaker has a very lightweight construction at only 390g, making it portable and easy to carry around, and is available to buy in two fabric colours: and Heather Grey. It’s an appealing design and is one of the major selling points of the Nuno, as we feel it’ll appeal to a variety of tastes.
The Nuno has a quoted battery life of six hours (via a 1050mAh battery) and connects through Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and Aux 3.5mm. Unfortunately, the speaker doesn’t utilise aptX lossless technology, but does have A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth).
The speaker’s sound quality is good, and we found the Nuno to be able to reproduce good mid-range tone while providing a fantastic soundstage.
The lows, on the other hand, were wobbly and not very well presented. We found the sub-bass almost non-existent, while the mid-bass slam was weak and lacked presence. The highs were rolled off at the top end, but did provide sufficient sparkle to the speaker’s sound presentation.
Overall, the sound quality could have been more refined, but for its price tag and overall build quality, we were left impressed.
Read our Creative Nuno review.
We loved the Jam Double Down in 2016, but now there’s a similar-looking gadget from the company that comes with Amazon’s Alexa assistant built-in.
Compared to the Echo Dot, the Jam Voice has one big advantage: it’s battery powered and portable. This means that you can take Alexa around the house (even in the garden) without having to plug in a mains power supply.
The Voice itself is a dinky little thing, just three inches across and just as tall. It’s well made and has rubber membrane-type buttons underneath and on the side. It isn’t waterproof, though.
Aside from having to push the button before speaking, Alexa can do everything she can do on an Echo. The Voice also boasts the ability to sync multiple units for multi-room use.
Don’t forget that this is a Bluetooth speaker too, so you can also use it to play music from your phone when there’s no Wi-Fi connection.
Audio quality is good considering the diminutive size. There’s a port at the rear which helps give a little bass, and there’s little distortion even at high volumes. If you’re choosing between this and the Echo Dot, we’d say audio quality for music is better on the Jam Voice.
Battery life could be better: it will run for roughly four hours before a female voice tells you the battery is low. You can, however, use it while it charges, and since it will charge via microUSB, you could hook it up to a power bank for longer sessions away from the mains.
Read our Jam Voice review.
Anker SoundCore Sport XL
If you’re looking for a sturdy, rugged speaker then you might like the Anker SoundCore Sport XL. The speaker may be heavy but it’s waterproof and built to be taken to the beach, camping and other rugged outdoor areas where you might want to listen to some sweet tunes.
The smooth rubber exterior is shock-resistance, IP67 waterproof rated (1m depth) and dust-tight. The device comes with an attachable wristband, and simple but effective play, power, volume and Bluetooth buttons. These buttons double as answer and reject controls when taking a hands-free call with a built-in noise-cancelling mic.
The speaker uses Bluetooth 4.1, and comes with a 5V 2A USB output, Micro-USB charging port and 3.5mm AUX input. It takes three to four hours to fully charge, offering up to 15 hours of playtime (although this depends on usage and whether you use it to charge your smartphone).
Two 8W stereo drivers are built into this black box, along with two dual passive subwoofers for bass.
The bass has a good impact but doesn’t extend into the sub-bass regions, and the treble provides a decent output but also doesn’t extend or give sparkle compared to other speakers at a similar price point. We found the sound to be slightly V-shaped and have recessed mids, which is unfortunate, given its price tag.
We did find its soundstage to be wide and have a good depth, providing you with a good surround sound from a Bluetooth speaker.
Read our Anker SoundCore Sport XL review.
Jam Double Down
Jam’s Double Down Bluetooth speaker broadly resembles the shape of a bongo drum with a rounded body and flat top, which is where the single speaker is housed. It’s mainly clad in a rubber-like material which should give it some extra grip when playing bassy tunes, as well as extra protection if/when it gets dropped.
The Jam Double Down features physical buttons on the front of the speaker to control audio playback, allowing users the option to control music via the speaker itself and not the source of the audio.
The main draw for the Double Down is arguably the ability to pair the speaker with another Double Down, providing users with wireless stereo audio.
In terms of connectivity, the Jam Double Down features Bluetooth 4.1 built-in along with a 3.5mm auxiliary input. It also features a built-in mic for hands-free calls, and will last an average of six hours per charge – but don’t worry, it requires a readily available micro-USB to charge.
The Jam Double Down features a 4W speaker that provides punchy, rounded bass tones ideal for dance/Dubstep songs, although the bass levels did start to decrease as the volume levels rose.
However, despite the slight drop in bass at high volume, it didn’t ruin the overall audio experience for us – if you continuously desire loud music, think about buying two and pairing them up. Despite the above-average levels of bass provided by the Double Down, it doesn’t drown out the mid-tones, although the vocals weren’t always as clear as we’d have liked.
Read our Jam Double Down review.
Edifier MP280 Bluetooth speaker
The Edifier MP280 boasts a cylindrical design reminding us of a lighter, thinner UE BOOM. It features a combination of metal and material with a detailed metal grille protected by a soft silicone body. It gives the MP280 a rough-and-ready outdoor look, with the silicone also providing protection against knocks and drops.
It’s worth noting that despite featuring a rugged, outdoor look, the MP280 doesn’t feature any kind of water or dust resistance, so make sure you keep it away from water!
The MP280 offers around 10 hours of usage per charge, and can also double up as a powerbank for your smartphone.
In terms of connectivity, the MP280 features Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC for one-tap setup, along with a 3.5mm aux input. And if that wasn’t enough, you can even load your favourite tracks onto a microSD card and plug that directly into the speaker for music playback without a connected smartphone.
The speaker is loud enough to be used at the park or beach, although we did expect something a little louder, especially with 2x4w speakers. The saving grace of this is that there is no sign of distortion, even when playing music at full volume.
Edifier claims that the MP280 features a “professional grade audio DSP chip” for high quality audio, although we found that the quality of the audio provided was a bit hit-and-miss. While it provides sufficient bass and mid-range tones, there’s practically no high-end and vocals were lacking the clarity present in similarly-priced Bluetooth speakers.
Read our Edifier MP280 review.
House of Marley Chant Mini
House of Marley puts a huge emphasis on the design and materials used in its product range, offering consumers a blend of technology and nature with the “socially responsible” materials it uses to craft its range of speakers and headphones. This is no different with the Chant Mini; featuring REWIND fabric covering, blended bio-plastic, recyclable aluminium and a bamboo trim ring, the speaker has a unique style that the company has crafted over a number of years.
The small (14 x 10.8 x 10.8cm) bongo-esque design and curved shape makes it easy to carry around either in the hand or in a bag/rucksack, and weighing a fairly lightweight 399g, it’s something that can be left in a bag and forgotten about.
The Chant Mini features Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless audio playback with a range of 10m, although this is likely to decrease if objects (like walls) are in the way. As well as Bluetooth connectivity, it also features an Aux-in port for those without Bluetooth connectivity. In terms of battery life, you get around 10 hours per charge, although we’ve found this to vary depending on the volume of the speaker.
What we were surprised about was the amount of bass produced by the tiny speaker, as we could feel slight vibration through the floor when it was sat on a table.
However, while the bass and mid tones were well rounded and deep, the highs let the speaker down, as the audio lacked the crispness with vocals that you find with well-balanced Bluetooth speakers. It’s pretty loud for a small speaker, although it has to be said that as the volume of the speaker increases, the quality of audio decreases.
Read our House of Marley Chant Mini review.