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Top six best cheap speakers for 2018

By Lewis Skinner

Whether you're after portable or multi-room, these speakers prove you don't need to break the bank to get excellent sound.

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Top-of-the-range speakers from premium brands can cost more than £500. But you don't need to spend that much money to improve the sound of your music, with Best Buy models available for a fraction of the cost of a Sonos or B&O speaker.

A low asking price doesn't mean you should have to sacrifice battery life on a Bluetooth speaker, or features on a multi-room system. And no matter the cost, sound quality should never be compromised.

Below, we've listed the top-scoring Bluetooth and multi-room speakers. These Best Buys are easy to use and deliver excellent sound, no matter what type of music you like to play.

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 taking a £1 trial to Which?.

Top three cheap Bluetooth speakers

Lowest price (in stock) £29.99
Which? score 82%
Reviewed Jul 2015
Performance:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Portability:
5 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Battery life (hrs:mins):
Member exclusive

This speaker is on the small side, but don’t let that fool you. It’s capable of impressive volume and the audio is warm and crisp. It’s easy to use, too, thanks to built-in NFC that makes pairing your phone a breeze. The icing on the cake for this Bluetooth speaker is the battery life, which lasts over 10 hours.

Lowest price (in stock) £85.00
Which? score 79%
Reviewed Nov 2015
Performance:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Portability:
3 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Battery life (hrs:mins):
Member exclusive

The speaker will stand out with its sound quality as much as its striking, colourful design. It’s not a huge speaker, but the sound is and it never distorts, even on higher volumes. Gentler classical music and soft vocals sound just as good as bass-heavy pop and rock on this versatile speaker. The battery life is excellent, too, lasting 19 hours.

Lowest price (in stock) £69.98
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Nov 2015
Performance:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Portability:
3 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Battery life (hrs:mins):
Member exclusive

This splash-proof cylindrical speaker isn’t short on bass. It’s punchy, but not overpowering, so you can still hear the vocals and treble. It isn’t exactly room-filling sound and you’ll get the best audio if you’re directly in front of the speaker but, in fairness, it was designed for listening outside the house rather than in. With that in mind, the battery life won’t disappoint, you’ll get 11 hours of playback on a single charge.

Top three cheap multi-room speakers

Typical price £119.00
Which? score 84%
Reviewed Sep 2017
Performance:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Features:
4 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Claimed speaker output:
Member exclusive

It isn’t as striking to look at as its rivals, but it’s more than a match for speakers twice its price when it comes to sound quality. Small size doesn’t necessarily mean small sound and this speaker is proof of that. Music is crystal clear even at high volumes and the well-balanced audio means bass never overpowers the top end or vocals. It isn’t short on features either. As well as giving you control over the music in each room, the speakers can be connected wirelessly to sound bars to give you a surround-sound set-up.

Lowest price (in stock) £125.00
Which? score 83%
Reviewed Nov 2015
Performance:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Features:
3 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Claimed speaker output:
Member exclusive

Every speaker in this range excelled in our tests. Regardless of the size, each model impressed us with its sound quality and how evenly it dispersed sound around the room. The app for controlling the speakers is easy to set up and to use, and each model in the range has the added benefit of being able to connect with certain Blu-ray players and TVs to give an audio boost to your favourite shows and films.

Lowest price (in stock) £149.00
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Feb 2017
Performance:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Features:
5 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Claimed speaker output:
Member exclusive

This small wireless speaker is the perfect marriage of price, looks and great multi-room sound. The smallest in a multi-room range of speakers that can all pair to each other, it may not be able to achieve the loud volumes of its bigger brothers, but it has good clarity, and a nice balance between bass and treble, and can comfortably spread sound throughout a room. It is straightforward to set up, and has a humidity-resistant case; you can also buy a battery pack for it, which would make it great for use in the bathroom, or a greenhouse in the garden. It also has an ethernet port meaning you can connect to it to the internet wirelessly or via a cable.

Not found the speaker for you? Browse all our wireless and Bluetooth speakers.

And here are three cheap speakers to avoid

We've found low-cost speakers that do an excellent job, whether you're looking to add some music to more rooms in your home or you want something to take on holiday with you. Unfortunately, a hefty portion of the cheap speakers we've tested sound abysmal.

Little or no bass, unpleasant distortion if you push the volume beyond a whisper and an atrocious battery life are all hallmarks of cheap speakers that reinforce the notion that you can't get good sound without spending hundreds of pounds.

We've shown you the speakers that buck the trend by delivering excellent sound for less - now look at the models giving cheap speakers a bad name.

Three cheap speakers to avoid

Lowest price (in stock) £23.01
Which? score 44%
Reviewed Feb 2017
Performance:
3 out of 5
Initial Set Up:
4 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Claimed speaker output:
Member exclusive

A speaker being small is no excuse for bad sound and that’s why this one is a Don’t Buy. The sound is woeful and, incredibly, you can’t use it while it’s charging. Although, in fairness, that could be a blessing in disguise.

Lowest price (in stock) £13.99
Which? score 41%
Reviewed Dec 2016
Performance:
1 out of 5
Initial Set Up:
5 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Claimed speaker output:
Member exclusive

A 23-hour battery life is impressive, but the sound quality is abysmal. The speaker promises to boost the bass but, rather than being punchy and exciting, it’s more of an annoying drone. Avoid this speaker at all costs.

Lowest price (in stock) £24.95
Which? score 39%
Reviewed Mar 2017
Performance:
2 out of 5
Initial Set Up:
5 out of 5
Size H x W x D (mm):
Member exclusive
Weight (kg):
Member exclusive
Claimed speaker output:
Member exclusive

This brand is capable of making an excellent speaker, but this one is way wide of the mark. Its battery life is a paltry four-and –a-half hours and the sound has virtually no bass, which leaves music sounding flat and dull.

What to look our for when you buy a cheap speaker

You don't need to compromise on sound quality to get a speaker for less, but it's a good idea to have realistic expectations, particularly when it comes to Bluetooth speakers.

Low-cost models are often smaller portable speakers. These aren't going to be your best option if you're looking for room-filling sound. 

This issue won't be as pronounced for multi-room systems, but Sonos, Samsung and Bose have bigger more powerful speakers designed for your main listening room and smaller ones for bedrooms or your kitchen. You may find that the smaller speakers don't have the oomph you were looking for your living room and that spending a bit more for a larger speaker is a better option.

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