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Bluetooth speakers: Yamaha MusicCast reviewed and a costly Don’t Buy uncovered

Our latest tests reveal a good portable speaker and our most expensive Don’t Buy speaker yet – make sure you avoid an expensive mistake

A wireless speaker can come with all the impressive features in the world but how do you know how good it sounds? That’s where we come in. This month we’ve reviewed both home and portable speakers – and there are surprises and shocks in store, with some tech not delivering on its promise.

First up, the Yamaha MusicCast 20 (WX-021) multi-room Bluetooth and wi-fi speaker is part of Yamaha’s MusicCast surround-sound systems range, and can be connected up in a wider setup such as with the MusicCast AV receiver and sound bar. Ruark Audio has also released its rival Ruark Audio MRx Bluetooth and wi-fi speaker, and earlier this month we reviewed another high-profile contender, the Google Home Max – we see which performs the best.

For portable speakers, House of Marley is an increasingly popular name for audio products, and we’ve reviewed the Marley No Bounds Sport (EM-JA016) – a cylindrical speaker with IP67 waterproofing and dustproofing, made from ‘mindfully sourced’ materials. And up against it is the latest in Jam’s popular portable speaker range – the Jam Hang Around (HX-P505).

Our expert panel of music industry professionals aren’t swayed by cutting-edge tech or gold connections – all they care about is sound quality, so you get the amazing sound you deserve.

Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers – skip straight to the best-sounding speakers we’ve tested.

Yamaha MusicCast 20 (WX-021), £199

The Yamaha MusicCast 20 Bluetooth and wi-fi speaker is the successor to the Yamaha WX-010 and it’s now got a larger, more powerful, curved design and many more features as well.

The latest connectivity is on offer with music streaming services supported, including Spotify and Deezer, plus if you have an Alexa device such as an Amazon Echo Dot, you can control the MusicCast 20 with your voice by adding the Alexa skill to the speaker. It also has an ethernet port to avoid wi-fi connection dropouts.

Find out whether this is the ideal Bluetooth speaker for your home in our expert Yamaha MusicCast 20 (WX-021) review.

Jam Hang Around (HX-P505), £50

Similar to the Jam Zero Chill we reviewed last month, Jam’s decided to forgo its usual ball-shaped speakers with the Jam Hang Around. This is in favour of the more conventional elongated design similar to popular speakers from Sony and LG, such as the Sony SRS-XB31 and LG PH4.

The Jam Hang Around aims to be highly practical, with a built-in charging cable that winds into the speaker so you don’t have to carry it separately. It’s IP67 dustproof and waterproof, so you don’t need to worry if it starts raining or if you want to listen on the beach. It also supports hands-free calling, and has a useful 3.5mm socket for a wired connection as well, such as to your MP3 player.

We find out whether this is Jam’s best speaker yet in our Jam Hang Around (HX-P505) review.

Marley No Bounds Sport (EM-JA016), £100

The Marley No Bounds Sport matches the dust and waterproofing credentials of the Jam Hang Around and here the charging cable stashes away in the base of the speaker. The No Bounds Sport is even buoyant, so you won’t have to fish it out from the bottom of the pool.

It’s larger than the Jam Hang Around, so you’d expect a higher maximum volume and more bass. It also has a useful carabiner clip to make it easier to carry around by fastening it to your bag.

So how does the sound quality fare? We put it to the test in the Which? lab in our Marley No Bounds Sport (EM-JA016) review.

Ruark Audio MRx, £399

Located on the South East Coast of England, Ruark Audio was founded as loudspeaker specialist Ruark Acoustics in 1985 and has been making mainstream consumer audio products since 2006.

The Ruark Audio MRx takes the brand back to its roots somewhat, with a high-powered multi-room Bluetooth and wi-fi speaker including lots of connectivity options. It matches the Yamaha MusicCast 20 with Spotify and Deezer music streaming, but adds more wired connection options, including 3.5mm analogue and optical input and playback via its USB port.

There’s internet radio as well, and support for Amazon Music is being added. The speaker can be placed either horizontally or vertically, and can be wall-mounted, too.

See whether this is the ideal Bluetooth speaker system for your home in our comprehensive Ruark Audio MRx review.

Google Home Max, £399

The Google Home Max is one of the highest-profile launches of the year.

With Amazon’s latest Echo smart speakers launching next week, including the second-generation Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Plus and Amazon Echo Show, Google is pinning its hopes on its high-powered Google Home Max to more than match them for sound.

So does it deliver? See how it performed in our Google Home Max review.

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