Best Small Bluetooth and Smart Speakers of 2022

These models may be petite, but they perform in a big way in our labs

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Bose and JBL wireless speakers Photo: Bose, JBL

Size does matter, at least in the world of speakers. For reasons that have a lot to do with physics—speakers are basically machines that create vibrations by moving air—bigger speakers tend to sound better than smaller ones.

But there are plenty of good reasons for wanting a more petite speaker. Maybe you’re tight on space. Maybe you want to carry your music with you. Or maybe you just like little things. With that in mind, here’s a selection of small wireless and smart speakers that have performed well in our testing.

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The wireless models have rechargeable batteries, which means they can be tucked into a backpack or even attached to a bike and used on the go. The smart speakers, on the other hand, need to be plugged into an electrical outlet in a space with WiFi access.

All of the models below—listed from most to least expensive—endured our rigorous testing program. Each was purchased through normal retail channels and evaluated in our labs by trained technicians for sound quality, ease of use, and versatility. Please note that the testing protocols for wireless speakers and smart speakers are slightly different, so you shouldn’t compare scores across the two categories.

Best Small Bluetooth and Wireless Speakers

Bose SoundLink Color II
Who should buy it: 
An active music lover looking for a speaker that can tag along.

What’s to like: While it lacks fancy features, such as LED lighting and sound effects, found on other wireless speakers, the SoundLink Color II performs where it really matters. Not only is it cool and colorful and easy to use but it also provides sound quality that compares favorably with that of larger and pricier speakers.

What’s not to like: The IPX-4 certification makes the SoundLink Color II splashproof rather than fully water-resistant like, say, the similarly priced JBL Flip 4. (Consumer Reports doesn’t test speaker manufacturers’ water-resistance claims.)

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

Who it’s for: A listener looking for music by the handful.

What’s to like: The Wonderboom is short and squat, and fits nicely in your hand. Its sound quality is on a par with most portable models. The bass could be stronger and the midrange, which isn’t particularly rich, has a trace of an echo. Our testers found the model to be easy to use with large buttons and a user-friendly Bluetooth pairing mode. It also has an IPX67 rating, which means it’s water- and dust-resistant, according to UE.

What’s not to like: The Wonderboom 2 is a solid performer, but consider how you’re going to use it before you buy it. Among the truly portable models that you’d listen to on the go, it’s relatively large and has a small mesh loop at the top in lieu of a strap or handle. And if you’re going to mostly place the Wonderboom 2 on a picnic table or a beach blanket, there are slightly larger models, like the Sony SRS XB-23 or the JBL Flip 5, that offer better performance for nearly the same money.

JBL Clip 4

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a cheap, cheerful companion for a hike or a bike ride.

What’s to like: This tiny speaker fits easily into your palm and features a carabiner that can clip on to a backpack or beach bag. JBL claims an IP67 rating, which means the speaker is both water-resistant and dustproof. Our testers found the Clip 4 to be easy to pair, and the prominent controls make it easy to adjust the volume.

What’s not to like: Sonically, our testers reported the Clip 4 to be somewhat challenged. The highs are a little sizzly, the midrange is a bit nasal, and there’s not much bass to speak of. The performance falls well short of the similarly sized but significantly more expensive Bose SoundLink Micro.

Best Small Smart Speakers

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation)
Who it’s for: A smart speaker newbie looking for an inexpensive way to see if it really makes sense to add a digital assistant to one’s home.

What’s to like: Despite the small size and low price, the Dot offers the same smart speaker functionality as its far more expensive brethren. The Dot can also serve as an inexpensive way to introduce smart speaker functionality throughout your home in an Alexa-based multiroom system. You can even pair an Echo to a Bluetooth speaker you already own to give it smart speaker functionality.

What’s not to like: The sound quality of the 4th gen Dot isn’t great but it’s better than the older versions, which recalled interactions with a bad telephone connection. The Dot doesn’t deliver great volume except in a very small room, so it’s fine for listening to podcasts. But if you’re going to play music (and you’re not too tight on space), you might consider the better-sounding full-sized Echo.

Apple HomePod Mini

Who it’s for: Someone who’s deeply immersed in the Apple world and doesn’t mind paying a bit of an Apple tax for a $100 speaker that sounds more like a $50 option.

What’s to like: The Mini is a solid option for controlling Apple HomeKit smart home products and services such as Apple Music. The Mini now allows voice control of other music services, including Pandora and iHeart Radio, and can even integrate with Apple CarPlay in your vehicle, permitting you to ask for driving directions while making coffee in the morning, then send the chosen route to your car before leaving.

What’s not to like: In terms of sound quality, our testers found that the Apple HomePod Mini rates significantly lower than the similarly priced Echo or Google Nest Audio. In fact, the somewhat congested sound rates closer to that of the much cheaper Echo Dot, albeit with a fuller bass. Like the Dot, the HomePod Mini is okay for podcasts or background music in a small room, but not great for playing your favorite tunes. And unlike those Echo and Nest devices, the HomePod Mini can’t be paired via Bluetooth with a better-sounding wireless speaker.