Buyer’s Guide 2020: Best Speakers

Fill your home with high-quality sound.

If you are looking for a speaker that won't disappoint, our 2020 Buyer's Guide has something that will fit you and your needs. Our selections include speakers ranging from wired to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, high-end to budget friendly, portable to plug in and basic to smart. So whether you're a casual listener or a serious audiophile, this guide is for you.

AirPlay vs. Bluetooth

In 2017, Apple unveiled AirPlay 2, an improved version of its proprietary music streaming system. AirPlay, which lets you stream audio from your iPhone to a speaker via Wi-Fi, has several advantages over Bluetooth. It makes it easier to connect to the speaker, and it lets you stream music to multiple speakers around your house simultaneously. AirPlay uses lossless compression, which allows you to stream wirelessly without compromising your sound quality. AirPlay is ideal for speakers you intend to use exclusively around your house and control solely with Apple products. Bluetooth, on the other hand, pairs directly with the speaker and doesn’t require Wi-Fi. The sound quality isn’t quite as good and pairing is a little trickier, but it’s ideal for portable speakers. Other wireless streaming options use Wi-Fi, including Sonos’ proprietary system and Spotify Connect, which is ideal for home speakers that you want to control using both Apple and Android devices.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 ($149.99)

Ultimate Ears has long produced some of my favorite portable speakers, and Boom 3 is no exception. The can-shaped design fits easily into a backpack or carrier bag while still producing impressive sound. It has a surprisingly rich bass and loud volume without distortion for its size. The UE Boom is also water-resistant and comes with 15-hour battery life. I never go on a trip without it!

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Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation ($990)

Believe it or not, the Mu-so Qb is the budget option from Naim. The original Mu-so sold for $1,500 and was a favorite in Apple Stores. Naim has a storied history of manufacturing high-end speakers for brands including Bentley Motors. The Mu-so Qb is smaller than its predecessor but still packs a punch and is impeccably designed. The speaker has an easy-to-use touchscreen that allows you to control the many ways to connect to it, including AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, and Spotify Connect.

Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge ($899.99)

Bowers & Wilkins was one of the first companies to produce high-end speakers for the iPod and early iPhone models. The Formation Wedge continues the company’s legacy of unique design and excellent sound quality. Unfortunately, the speaker also continues its history of premium prices. This speaker isn’t for everyone, but if the price doesn’t scare you away and the design appeals to you, the Formation Wedge is powerful enough to fill your home with impressive sound. You can stream audio using Airplay 2, Bluetooth, and Spotify Connect.

Apple HomePod mini ($99)

The HomePod is one of Apple’s most underrated products, especially now with the release of the budget-conscious mini. While Amazon’s smart speaker line has a more extensive library of third-party apps (called skills), the HomePod is more convenient to use if you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem. This is especially true if you subscribe to Apple Music. The HomePod allows you to use Siri from across the room and comes with voice recognition for up to six family members. Amazon also falls behind Apple when it comes to sound quality and user privacy.

Sonos Move ($399)

The Sonos Move is a jack of all trades that comes with AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth support. It’s powerful enough to fill a room, but it also has a built-in battery, making it portable in a way most of the other speakers on this list are not. It’s also water-resistant, which is a great feature for the current times. Finally, the Sonos Move is also a smart speaker with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in.

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Author Details

David Averbach's picture

Author Details

David Averbach

David Averbach is the CEO and Publisher of iPhone Life and has been teaching readers how to get the most out of their iPhone for 8+ years. He has shared his Apple expertise on multiple industry panels and was awarded FOLIO magazine’s 2014 media industry’s innovators 20 in Their 20s. David co-hosts the iPhone Life Podcast and writes regular columns for iPhone Life magazine and iPhoneLife.com. He grew up on Macs and now has a MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad Pro, Apple Watch HomePod, Apple TV, and AirPods. David enjoys a good cup of coffee and loves traveling (he’s been to over 25 countries and was featured in a San Antonio Express News article on travel apps.)

To contact David, email him at david@iphonelife.com.