Top six best cheap speakers for 2019
By Oliver Trebilcock
Whether you're after portable or multi-room, these speakers prove you don't need to break the bank to get excellent sound.
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.
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Top cheap Bluetooth speakers
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.
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.
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 cheap home speakers
If you’re looking for a more traditional-looking wireless speaker, this Bluetooth model is an excellent choice – and it won’t break the bank either. Its sound quality is among the very best we’ve tested, performing strongly across a wide range of genres from jazz to classical, rock and pop. It’s easy to set up too, with an excellent app for your smartphone or tablet. It's packed with features too. 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. Find out more about its full feature set in our comprehensive review.
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.
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.
Cheap speakers to avoid
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.