Best Wireless Speakers for Your Office

Great-sounding models from Apple, Bose, and other brands provide music to work by, in a compact package

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Person working at home office Photo: iStock

Whether you’re working at home or in the office, there’s much to be said for adding some music to your workday mix. A number of research studies suggest that listening to music can improve your mood and boost your productivity and creativity. If you’d like to do just that—or simply listen to tunes while you type—a good desktop speaker can be a solid investment.

The first requirement for a work speaker is that it needs to sound good. A grating, annoying midrange—the tones where you hear most vocals and many instruments—might not be such a big problem in a portable speaker you take to the beach, but if you’re listening for hours at a stretch, any sonic flaws will stand out.

On the other hand, while home speakers might have to fill a large living room, most offices are modest in size—so you don’t need a desktop speaker that can crank out a lot of volume. Instead, you want a model that sounds appealing when played quietly and from close range.

And last, the physical package matters, too. If the speaker will be sitting on your desk, you’ll probably want it to be relatively small—desk real estate is precious. And because you’ll be staring at it all day, every day, your speaker should be attractive, or at least unobtrusive.

And these days, you have a lot of good choices.

“Many of today’s best wireless and smart speakers work well in an office or home office environment because they offer impressive sound in a small and simple package,” says Nish Suvarnakar, Consumer Reports’ analyst for the home audio market.

All of the following stylish, good-sounding speakers do well in Consumer Reports’ labs, where we test for ease of use, versatility and, most of all, sound quality.

The Sonos One smart speaker is a great work-at-home option. The One’s small footprint won’t clutter your desk, and it features a clear, articulate reproduction of vocals and instruments alike. The sound can be improved by adding a second Sonos One as part of a stereo pair.

The One can also play reasonably loudly—a nice bonus if you don’t have to worry about disturbing your office mates when you’re cranking Sleater-Kinney.

The Sonos One can integrate seamlessly with other Sonos models in your home, forming a flexible multiroom system for after-hours use. That means the speaker can sync the same song in different rooms and even on different floors, setting your whole house rocking to Martha and the Vandellas if you choose. Or you can create separate listening zones: Bill Evans around your workspace and Ariana Grande in a kid’s bedroom, all controlled by an intuitive mobile app.

If you don’t need or want the One’s smart speaker features (which are compatible with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant) check out the Sonos One SL, which is a slightly less expensive version of the One without the microphones. Our testers report that it sounds identical.

If your desk resembles an Apple Store outpost, with your iPhone and iPad charging next to your MacBook, the HomePod smart speaker might make an ideal office companion.

Just under 6 inches in diameter, the HomePod exudes that Apple aesthetic that fans of the brand have come to love, and it interfaces seamlessly with the Apple Music streaming service. Apple’s Siri digital assistant currently has fewer specialized skills than Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant have; more are on the way.

Soundwise, our testers report that the HomePod sounds good, but they also find that the overblown bass blurs the all-important midrange.

There are few things that can do more to improve your quality of life while working at home more than truly great sound.

That’s where the Edifier S1000MkII comes in. We’ve never tested a speaker that sounds better than this stereo model. It features solid bass, clean extended highs, and, most of all, it has a gorgeous midrange that’s free of distortion and allows you to hear instruments and voices in all their natural glory.

When they’re properly placed, equidistant from side and back walls and preferably placed on stands some distance into the room, the Edifiers also do an amazing job of creating the illusion that the musicians are right there with you. Of course, that assumes that you have ample work space—these aren’t the speakers for someone who has converted a pantry into a micro-office.

The MkII is very similar to the older Edifier S1000DBs model, and our testers find them to sound just about identical. The new model does have an improved remote that makes it quite a bit easier to use.

The Edifiers are not as versatile as some models; they don’t have the multiroom capability of, say, a Sonos system, so you can’t build a whole house system around them. But for the straightforward—but devilishly difficult—task of just playing music in a way that lets you hear things in your favorite recordings that you’ve never heard before, the Edifier certainly excels.

Allen St. John

I believe that technology has the power to change our lives—for better or for worse. That's why I’ve spent my life reporting and writing about it for outlets of all sorts, from newspapers (such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times) to magazines (Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone) and even my own books ("Newton’s Football" and "Clapton’s Guitar"). For me, there's no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story that'll help others be smarter and better informed.