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Technology.

30 November 2021

Top six best cheap speakers for 2021

Whether you're after portable or multi-room, these speakers prove you don't need to break the bank to get excellent sound.
Oliver Trebilcock
Sony SRS-XB01 v2

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.

Best cheap Bluetooth speakers

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can join Which? to get instant access.

  • 82%
    £57.99

    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.

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  • 74%
    £49.99

    This innovative Bluetooth speaker’s ideal for taking down the lawn or to the park. It’s a superb, nice-looking and affordable speaker. Sound has nice energy and high volume, although could have more body at times. The battery lasted almost 20 hours in our tests. You can even buy two for true stereo sound in the garden – it’s a sensation.

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  • 69%
    £28.99

    Many buyers want a compact speaker – the challenge is making one that sounds great, particularly in the bass. This small Bluetooth speaker succeeds where many have failed, despite its slim pocketable design. Speech is clear and music is well-balanced and detailed. Build quality is good, it’s waterproof and the battery lasted more than 9.5 hours in our tests too – it’s a bargain.

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  • 67%
    £39.00

    Some say the best speaker is the one you take with you, and they don’t get more portable than this. It’s a breeze to attach to your belt or backpack and take with you anywhere on your travels. And sound quality impresses too: music has lovely punch, energy and drive and volume is reasonable too. Battery life was a commendable 11.5 hours is our tests – it’s a remarkable package.

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Best cheap home speakers

  • 82%
    £179.00

    This wireless speaker offers exceptional quality sound at a great price. It’s nicely compact, well build and easy to use too via its app on your smartphone. A plethora of music-streaming services are supported (may require subscriptions). Our professional listening panel praised its balanced, warm and engaging sound, packed full of detail and depth.

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  • 65%
    £42.97

    This is the ideal smart speaker for those new to voice control, with its attractive price and conveniently compact size. Sound quality is still very good and well balanced. It’s well-built and setup is simple too. Voice control is snappy and convenient, and your voice can even be heard over loud music. It’s a superb model to choose.

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Pricing and recommendations correct as of December 2021.

Want to know more about what to buy? See our guide to buying the best 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

  • 45%
    £19.99

    This Bluetooth speaker may sound like a neat solution for getting sound wherever you want it – but you’ll soon regret buying. It was already showing signs of wear during our weeks of testing – it’s simply not built to last. Sound is also thin and weedy – you can get much better sound for this price, including from models with equally handy features.

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  • 39%
    £18.99

    There’s no doubt this model is a convenient size and the voice control is great, but if great sound quality is what you’re after, stay well away. Far superior alternatives cost only a little more, so there’s little good reason to choose this model. Here music sounds small and artificial, with speech very nasal as if people have colds.

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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.