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
This is our best-scoring portable speaker since 2015 – and it’s at a great price too. This Bluetooth speaker is fully waterproof, and you have the option of a 3.5mm wired connection to connect to your devices. It’s easy to use with a choice of using the buttons on the speaker or the accompanying smartphone app. Music is engaging and detailed, and you can connect two together for stereo sound.
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.
With a durable cylindrical design, this portable and waterproof Bluetooth and wi-fi speaker produces well-balanced, powerful and clear sound, with crystal-clear speech. It performs strongly across genres from classical to pop, and has a high maximum volume. It also has Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant integrated so you can control the unit hands-free, and the 12.4-hour battery life will see you through the day.
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.
Among the very best-sounding smart speakers, this Bluetooth and wi-fi wireless speaker has internet radio voice control with Google Assistant, which allows you to control the speaker hands-free plus perform tasks like setting calendar reminders. There’s also multi-room support to connect other speakers, and the beautifully warm, well-balanced sound will do justice to whatever you listen to. See how easy it is to use and what music services are supported in our expert review.
The popularity of this speaker is richly deserved. It’s the smallest speaker in manufacturer’s range, but there’s no compromise: sound is rich and clear across a wide range of music and radio genres. It’s also easy to set up and use via the accompanying smartphone app. Music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music are supported, plus you can connect two of them together for stereo sound.
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, but can be great for small group listening and for taking out and about.
If you're looking for multi-room speakers to add to each room in your home, top multi-room speaker brands such as 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.