How we test wireless and Bluetooth speakers
By Lewis Skinner
Discover how our experts test wireless and Bluetooth speakers for sound quality and ease of use. Only the very best earn our Best Buy award.
What makes a Best Buy speaker?
Whether you're looking for a large speaker with powerful sound and a remote control or a portable Bluetooth speaker that you can fit in your suitcase, Which? has got you covered with the most accurate and up-to-date information.
We put every speaker through the same test, regardless of brand or price, so we can find the best model for you. Our tests involve a mixture of audio assessments from our expert listening panel, technical lab testing and an ease of use analysis. The information we provide is easy to understand and free of external bias, giving you the evidence to make an informed buying decision. Read on to find out how.
- What's the sound quality like?
- How easy is it to use?
- Which additional features are available?
- Should I buy it?
Head straight to our wireless and Bluetooth speaker reviews - or read on to find out more about how we test to answer each of these questions.
What's the sound quality like?
We connect each speaker to an iPod and put it through a mixture of technical and subjective sound quality tests. Our expert listening panel is made up of experienced listeners who can discern small differences in sound quality.
Our experts listen to and assess contrasting pieces of music covering jazz, classical, pop and rock and several radio broadcasts.
How easy is it to use?
We assess each speaker according to a series of typical everyday scenarios, including the initial set up and creating any connections needed - be it Bluetooth or wi-fi. We also look at how clear the instruction manual is and if the remote control or mobile app is simple to use or not.
For wi-fi speakers we also assess how easy is it to create a multi-room speaker system.
What additional features does it have?
We also assess any additional features the speaker may have; including tone controls, any wireless connections such as Bluetooth streaming, or Apple AirPlay and radio functionality. We also record how long the battery on portable speakers lasts on a full charge.
70%the score speakers need to earn our Best Buy logo
Should I buy it?
We give every speaker we test a Which? test score so you can see which are the best and worst, as well as exactly how each compares to other models. If there's a fault, we'll buy a replacement to see whether it's a one-off issue, or symptomatic of a larger problem. We'll also speak to manufacturers directly to help remedy any problems that may arise and what they plan to do about the problem.
We use set criteria to determine the overall test score. These are weighted differently depending on whether a wireless speaker is portable or for home use.
Portable speaker scores are based on the following criteria:
Ease of use...............20%
Home wireless speaker scores are based on the following criteria:
Ease of use...............20%
Speakers must score at least 70% to be a Best Buy. Speakers that score 45% or less are highlighted as Don't Buy models to avoid.
Will it last?
As well as our tough lab tests we also assess how reliable speaker brands are in our annual member survey. Each year we get data on over 50,000 devices - including nearly 1,000 speakers - and use this to determine which products are built to last. If we find that speakers from a brand are unreliable and likely to experience a fault then we won't name them as Best Buys, no matter how well they did in our lab assessment.
Click the link to read all our independent wireless and Bluetooth speaker reviews.