Bose vs Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers: which are the best?
By Oliver Trebilcock
We put the two biggest wireless and Bluetooth speaker brands head to head to find out which you should go for
Bose and Sonos have built up a reputation of quality with their speakers. Whether you’re looking to spend a couple of hundred pounds, or even half a grand, Bose and Sonos promise to offer the best on the market. Our expert tests reveal how they perform.
Bluetooth and wireless speakers from Bose and Sonos come packed with the latest speaker technologies and features, such as multi-room to connect multiple speakers together, equalisers to adjust the sound to your tastes, and compatibility with music streaming services offering millions of songs. They both have dedicated apps for your smartphone or tablet that help personalise the speaker to you.
Regardless of your budget, both of these top-tier brands offer attractively designed, feature-packed wireless and Bluetooth speakers. Working out which is best isn’t easy, particularly if you’re browsing on the internet, where you can’t compare how they will sound.
Below we compare the best low-cost Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers and their high-end models as well, while also looking at our scores of Bose and Sonos speakers. You can click on the links below to jump straight to what you’re interested in.
Best Buy Bluetooth and wireless speakers – skip to our highest-scoring speaker reviews.
Best cheap Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers
If you want excellent sound quality you might think you need to spend big, but we’ve found this often isn’t the case. While more expensive models will typically offer a higher maximum volume, our expert listening panel has found plenty of Best Buy speakers with superb, crystal clear sound for under £200.
Many of these speakers can also be linked together to form a stereo pair or multi-room setup, so buying a cheaper speaker and then another down the line to link to it can be a good way to spread out the cost.
Unlike Sonos, Bose makes portable speakers that run on batteries. So if you’d like to be able to move your speaker around your home, take it out in the garden or on holiday, a Bose portable Bluetooth speaker could be ideal.
Our testing doesn’t factor in price, so whatever your budget you can find a quality speaker. We’ve found plenty of models that punch above their weight, with test scores matching their more expensive peers despite a lower price. Here we’ve picked out the Bose and Sonos speakers that did best in our tests.
Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by joining Which?.
Cheap Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers
This small speaker is ultra-portable and sounds great. Small speakers often lack bass, but that’s not the case here – in fact there’s almost too much of it at higher volumes. The battery runs for more than eight hours of music and there’s a built-in microphone, so you don’t need to disconnect your phone to receive calls. Many portable speakers lack or have poor bass, but this is one certainly delivers.
This speaker is one of the most popular multi-room speakers, and for good reason: it sounds great. It’s one of the smaller speakers in the range but nevertheless creates rich, clear sound that will show off a wide range of genres from classical to jazz and pop. Find out whether it’s easy to use as well.
This speaker sounds surprisingly good for its size. It doesn’t quite have a full-bodied sound but is competent across diverse genres, and it has a well-defined bass that sets it apart from other speakers. It’s also easy to use and has a great range of features. See how this speaker compares with its rivals.
Pricing and recommendations correct at January 2019.
Best high-end Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers
For £200 to £600 you can get some of the best wireless and Bluetooth speakers these brands have to offer, combining top-spec sound tech, sleek designs and premium build quality.
However, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be Best Buys. We’ve found plenty of larger speakers with very unbalanced sound, overly powerful bass, or ones that will tire your ears over time. Their big prices mean buying the wrong one would be an expensive mistake.
The music industry professionals who helped with our tests don’t care about price or brand power or a sleek speaker design. All they focus on is the sound quality and whether it’s up to scratch. All brands will claim their speakers sound great – our experts find the truth. Find out which are the top-performing Bose and Sonos speakers below.
High-end Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers
Easy setup and one of the best apps around mean this is a leading light among multi-room speakers. As clever as it is, sound quality matters most – and we weren’t disappointed. The sound is rich and powerful, but subtle enough that you can still pick out individual instruments and melodies. You can adjust the sound with in-app the equaliser.
This multi-room speaker has an impressively high maximum volume without distortion, despite its reasonable price. The build quality is superb. It’s simple to connect and easy to use, with lots of options in the accompanying smartphone app. It significantly improves on its predecessor. Our expert panel of music industry professionals give their verdict on whether the sound quality matches its rivals.
Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers to avoid
Speakers with good specifications aren’t guaranteed to have the precise, balanced sound quality that’ll make the most of your music. And if you’re looking for a portable speaker, beware that many lack bass and superb sound quality – we’ve found the few that do.
Our expert lab tests prove that no speaker brand has a perfect record – not even Bose and Sonos. We’ve found speakers costing £400 or more that are Don’t Buys, and speakers costing more than £600 that aren’t even close to being a match for speakers a fraction of their price.
Save yourself from sub-par sound by steering clear of the disappointing Bose and Sonos speakers below.
Bose and Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers to avoid
Portable speakers are a real minefield if you’re looking for excellent sound quality, and this model is disappointing considering its price and the brand behind it. Music lacks drive and is thin on bass. We’ve found Best Buy portable speakers for a fraction of the price. Our Best Buys page reveals all the best-performing models.
This speaker promises room-filling sound, but in our tests we found this wasn’t the case – so you’ll hear the sound change as you move about the room. The sound quality isn’t anything to shout about, offering sibilant vocals that are tiring on the ears and aggressively heavy, growling bass. It’s a shock considering the price. Buying this speaker would be an expensive mistake.
This big-brand smart speaker has voice control so you can control your music hands-free and ask for information such as the weather. However, it’s cumbersome to set up and sound quality is surprisingly average as it lacks excitement and feels artificial. It’s a real disappointment compared with other speakers in the brand’s range – make sure you avoid this one.
Bose vs Sonos wireless and Bluetooth speakers: average test scores
Bose and Sonos have excellent Best Buy speakers and are very close competitors. One brand has the highest-scoring model and also avoids having the lowest-scoring model of the two, while the other brand has a higher average score for its speakers overall. It’s particularly important to consider the brand’s whole speaker range if you plan to set up a multi-room sound system with multiple speakers, as you can’t combine speakers of different brands. Compare how the two brands have performed in our tests in the graphic below.
Which? members can see which brand has the best, worst and higher average scores below.
Scores correct at January 2019.
Are other wireless and Bluetooth speaker brands worth considering as well?
Bose and Sonos aren’t the only top wireless and Bluetooth speaker brands in our testing. Home multi-room speaker rivals include Samsung, Sony and B&O, while there are also the popular portable Bluetooth speaker brands Ultimate Ears and JBL.