Best Wireless Speakers Under $200
These models, recommended by Consumer Reports, are perfect for music lovers
Wireless speakers are one of the quiet triumphs in modern electronics. They offer a convenient way to listen to music, news, sports, and more. And unlike many other electronic gadgets, they aren’t likely to become outdated in a year or two.
But which wireless speaker to choose? If you’re thinking about using it away from home, say, at a park or beach, look for a Bluetooth model that’s rugged and water-resistant. If the speaker will spend life indoors, opt for a WiFi model to get greater signal range so you won’t need to have your smartphone, laptop, or tablet nearby to keep the music playing.
Above all, you want to find a model that’s easy to use and has good sound for the money. You can check off both of those boxes with the following speakers, which are recommended by Consumer Reports.
To learn more about selecting the right wireless speaker, check out our wireless speakers buying guide and ratings.
Sure, the faux-wood finish and retro design may remind you of grandpa’s Vista Cruiser station wagon from the 1970s. But performance-wise, the Fluance Fi50 is very much a creature of the 21st century.
The enclosure of this hefty 13-pound speaker is made of MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, which is often used in kitchen cabinets and speaker cabinets of high-end models. The manufacturer claims that the material damps resonance and allows the twin 5-inch speakers to perform at their best.
Our testers report that the Fi50 delivers very good sound quality and is easy to use. It features analog audio inputs along with Bluetooth, an LCD display, and a remote. The Fi50 operates on AC power and is designed for indoor use.
Some portable speakers allow you to take them along because of their rechargeable batteries. Others, like the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5, all but demand that you pick them up and go.
The built-in handle helps, of course. But for all of its visual impact, this Bluetooth speaker delivers sonically as well. Our testers like the way it reproduces bass and drums. The boomy bass, however, can overwhelm male voices and certain instruments just a bit.
It’s also worth noting that unlike many similar speakers, the Onyx Studio 5 provides purely mono sound even when you pair it with another speaker.
The Ion Tailgater Sport is proof that in audio, size matters. This beefy block of a speaker, about a foot in each dimension, uses its considerable mass to produce impressive sound.
The Tailgater Sport is well-suited for pumping out tunes between the grill and the cooler on the patio, in the park, or at your favorite tailgating spot. The sound lacks a little nuance and detail compared with those of the very best wireless speakers, but if you’re blasting music in the great outdoors, those aspects are not as important as sheer volume. And that’s what this speaker delivers.
Our testers also give this modestly priced speaker high marks for versatility and ease of use. It boasts a large and well-labeled volume knob, and includes not only a microphone input but also the mic itself, which makes it easy to channel your inner DJ.
Ever wonder what a speaker sounds like underwater? JBL says this model can be submerged without damage, which, at a minimum, means it should stand up to a rainstorm or a spilled water bottle. (Consumer Reports hasn’t tested the claim.)
Water resistance aside, this cylindrical Bluetooth speaker from JBL earns a CR Best Buy designation for its attractive combination of good performance and low price. It’s available in six colors and a number of patterns, including camouflage.
Our testers found the sound quality to be good. Two units can be used in stereo—buy a pair, and you can better fill a room with sound while still paying less than you would for many mono speakers. The test team also liked the Flip’s ease of use, including its fuss-free pairing.
If you’re looking for the foundation of a multiroom music system, consider this stylish, solidly constructed Sonos speaker. It delivers very good sound quality all on its own, but if you pair it with another Play:1 in a stereo configuration, you get even better sound.
And you can easily add more Sonos wireless speakers to create a whole-house system capable of playing different selections in different rooms. How about some Miles Davis in the dining room for the grown-ups and Jay-Z in the family room for the kids? Nice. (The Play:1 operates on WiFi and AC power.)
The Sonos line also features an Alexa-powered smart speaker, the updated Sonos One, $200, that provides similarly fine sound. The Sonos One can integrate with the Play:1 in a Sonos multiroom system, but you need two identical speakers—either two Ones or two Play:1s—to form a stereo pair.
If you want a Bluetooth speaker capable of putting on a show of its own, check out the Sony XB41. It makes a visual statement with a series of LED lights that sync to the music and can be customized via a smartphone app. The XB41 can augment your music, too. Bang on it in the right place and you can hear a series of fun sound effects.
None of those features would mean much if the XB41 didn’t deliver decent sound quality as well. This Sony doesn't disappoint. The XB stands for extra bass, and the model features a solid low end. “Boom Boom Pow” from the Black Eyed Peas lives up to its billing, at least in a midsized room.
Our testers also found the XB41 to be easy to use, noting that pairing two units in stereo improved the sound.