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Best Wireless Speakers for Father's Day

These models offer useful features, solid value, and great sound

What's a better way to show Dad how much you care than to give the gift of music? Whether your father plays air guitar to "Aqualung" or appreciates less-cringe-worthy Dad rock (Wilco, anyone?), a great wireless speaker is an ideal choice for Father's Day.

And the best of today's speakers pair easily, stream without hiccups, and offer unique styling options.

Better still, even compact wireless speakers can provide sound quality that will make a father forget about the beloved Technics receiver of his youth. And make him remember you every time he loads his Prince playlist.

CR's selections of wireless speakers run the gamut from sleek-and-stylish portables to system speakers that can help fill a house with music. And we even have options for adding smart speaker functionality to the mix. 

1
Marshall Kilburn

Marshall Kilburn

Rock on, Dad. That's the metamessage of the Marshall Killburn, a Bluetooth wireless speaker that channels the company's legendary guitar amps. CR's testing determined that the Killburn sounds really good, but mostly it makes a bold style statement.

 

A beefy old-school toggle switch turns the unit on, and the knurled metal knobs adjust the treble, bass, and volume. (One suggestion for next time—Marshall missed a chance here for "Spinal Tap" homage, leaving the Kilburn's highest settings marked at 10 rather than a Nigel-Tufnel-inspired 11. Which is one louder, isn't it? )

 

The Marshall Killburn even comes with a coiled AUX cable that resembles a guitar cable and a red carrying strap that wouldn't look totally out of place on a Les Paul guitar, all the better to help Dad get in touch with his inner Jimmy Page. 

    2
    Sony SRS-X55

    Sony SRS-X55

    This minimalist Sony is a simple black box with a modernist lack of flair—there's nothing more than a gray grill to add visual interest. But don't be fooled by its understated appearance. The Sony SRS-X55, $125, is a really good speaker and a great value.

     

    Our testers reported that the sound quality was very impressive for a wireless Bluetooth speaker at this price. Its elegant controls are intiuitive and easy to use and its battery life is sufficient for a day full of tunes. So use it while you're hanging out in the backyard, but don't turn on the sprinkler because this Sony speaker isn't waterproof.

     

    The SRS-X55 also includes a convenient 3.5mm audio jack, perfect for plugging in Dad's 8-track (or maybe just his smartphone), as well as a USB port. 

      3
      Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

      Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

      For $50 or less the Amazon Dot is a smart speaker that's a really solid budget choice. It doesn't sound as good as the more expensive speakers in our roundup, but it has a neat trick that makes up for that: The Dot can add smart-speaker skills to any other wireless speaker Dad already owns.

       

      A Dot-powered wireless speaker has all the same tricks as an Amazon Echo, meaning it's a speaker that can tell Dad jokes. ("I used to work in an orange juice factory. But I quit because I couldn't concentrate.") It's hard to beat that in a Father's Day gift.

        4
        Denon HEOS 5 HS2

        Denon HEOS 5 HS2

        The HEOS 5, $300, has exceptional sound on its own, but it can also function as the cornerstone of a flexible multiroom system. This makes it a great gift if you're the type to already start thinking about next Father's Day; you can always add more speakers to Dad's system.

         

        Follow up with HEOS 7 in the family room for his birthday, or a battery-powered HEOS 1 for outdoor fun on the deck or patio next Father's Day, and they'll all integrate seamlessly throughout the home. 

         

        This makes the HEOS family a rival to Sonos's lineup, which is famous for multiroom audio. But the HEOS 5 adds one bit of flexibility that Sonos models don't. It features Bluetooth pairing—letting you call up a favorite playlist from your phone or a friend's—in addition to a more stable WiFi connection. 

          5
          Google Home Max

          Google Home Max

          The Google Home Max was the best-sounding smart speaker that we tested this year.

           

          At $400, the Home Max isn't cheap but it offers powerful, extended bass, crystalline highs, and unusually good stereo imaging from a single enclosure, all while pumping out enough volume to fill a large room. (It couldn't match the sound of the very best non-smart speakers, to be clear.)

           

          In addition to providing solid sound, our testers found the Home Max, which is powered by Google Assistant, to be plenty smart. So whether Dad wants last night's Detroit Tigers score or more songs like "Eye of the Tiger," the Home Max delivers. 

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            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.