Best Wireless Speakers for $100 or Less

Models from Ikea, JBL, Edifier, and Bose offer impressive sound for grocery money

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Speakers Photo: Edifer, Bose

One of the benefits of the wireless speaker revolution has been the appearance of fine and fun speakers that are downright cheap. For less than you might spend on a trip to Trader Joe’s, you can now buy a versatile speaker with decent sound.

The wireless speakers listed here cost about $100 or less. But beyond sharing a price range, they're a varied group, from a WiFi-only model designed to work in a multiroom system at home to a tiny speaker that can easily attach to your backpack for a ramble through the park.

Despite that diversity, all the models deliver enjoyable sound quality combined with ease of use and versatility, as we determined in our audio labs. Consumer Reports buys all tested samples, from trucks to TVs, through regular retail channels; no freebies for us.

Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf

This $100 bookshelf speaker by the Swedish furniture giant is a solid performer on its own. It also represents the cheapest way into the Sonos ecosystem of speakers that can work together to create a multiroom system.

The Ikea-designed box—which can serve as a light-duty bookshelf when mounted horizontally on a wall—doesn’t look much like other Sonos models, but when it comes to sound and function, there’s a definite family resemblance.

Our testers report that the Symfonisk delivers clear trebles that make cymbals shimmer, a balanced and detailed midrange that lets you hear the nuance in Taylor Swift’s vocals, and bass that’s musical although not especially deep. The sound quality falls just a bit below that of the Sonos One SL, which costs almost twice as much, but the gap is so subtle that most listeners probably won’t notice the difference.

With Sonos’s easy-to-use smartphone app, it’s simple to add the Symfonisk into a Sonos-based whole-house system, allowing you to listen to the “Dolly Parton’s America” podcast in the kitchen while the kids blast Ariana Grande in the basement.

Keep in mind that, like Sonos’ other home wireless speakers, the Symfonisk lacks Bluetooth capability; it needs WiFi to function. And there’s no rechargeable battery, so it runs on juice from an outlet.

JBL by Harman Flip 4

Don’t be fooled by the low price: The Flip 4 is a lot of speaker for the money and a smart choice if you want a model that’s rugged and portable.

The classic cylindrical design takes up relatively little space in a beach bag or on a picnic table. And the Flip 4 comes in a variety of fun colors just in case you want to coordinate with your favorite beach towel.

The company claims a battery life of up to 12 hours, and the Flip 4’s claimed IPX7 waterproofness rating means it should survive being fully submerged, which makes it perfect for an afternoon by the pool or when a sudden shower or spilled drink is a risk.

Compared with the best-sounding portable speakers we’ve tested, the Flip 4 has a few sonic shortcomings. The bass is a bit boomy and the trebles are somewhat subdued. But when played outdoors and in other casual environments where a speaker like this is likely to do its work, the Flip 4’s sound encourages you to just hit shuffle and let the tunes keep coming.

Edifier MP700

Edifier is probably best known for its high-flying S1000DB speaker, which tops our wireless speaker ratings, but the MP700 illustrates that the company can provide decent performance at a much lower price.

Our testers found a few sonic faults with the small Edifier, a wireless speaker priced around $100. The bass doesn’t go deep, and the all-important midrange (the neighborhood in the sonic spectrum where most vocals and instruments live) is a little muffled compared with what speakers like the more expensive S1000DB can produce. The MP700 does, however, deliver enough volume to fill a midsized room.

Our testers found the Edifier to be easy to pair. Its controls are large and prominent, but they’re not quite as intuitive as those on some other speakers. The Edifier also features a handy 3.5-mm jack that allows you to plug in a music source without Bluetooth.

The MP features robust construction topped off by a subtly retro aluminum grill that will look good just about anywhere. The Edifier’s elegant metal handle can also double as a stand to angle the speaker upward and is a reminder that the MP700 is easily portable.

JBL Clip 4

The JBL Clip 4 is hardly the best-sounding speaker we've tested. It's even world's away, sonically speaking, from the $99 Ikea Symfonisk. But it does have two important things going for it: It's inexpensive and it's small.

The model fits easily into your palm and features a carabiner that easily clips onto a backpack or a beach bag. JBL claims an IPX 67 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 turn up the volume.

Sonically, our testers found 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.

The Clip 4 is hardly the right tool for a dance party or careful listening of any kind. But if you're taking a walk or bicycle ride and want to bring along your tunes (or, better still, your favorite podcast), the Clip 4 will do so both cheaply and cheerfully.

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.