How we test wireless and Bluetooth speakers?

Whether you’re looking for a large speaker with powerful sound or a portable Bluetooth speaker you can easily take around with you, Which? has got you covered with our expert lab tests. We put every speaker through the same assessments, regardless of brand or price, so you get a completely impartial verdict. Our tests involve a mixture of audio assessments from our professional listening panel, technical lab testing and an ease-of-use analysis. The information we provide is easy to understand and free of external bias (we don’t take sponsorships or advertising), giving you the exact evidence to make an informed buying decision — and avoid being caught out by fake reviews. We don’t beat around the bush — we tell you exactly how it is, and if it’s bad, we say so. Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about wireless speakers.

What are Which? Best Buys, Don’t Buys, and Great Value models?

The speakers that impress the most in our tests are made Best Buys. A speaker that scores at least 70% in our professional tests earns our Best Buy recommendation, but you should still read our reviews to check for any factors that might impact your buying decision. Speakers that receive a poor score of 45% or lower are Don’t Buys and should be avoided — these will have poor sound and so there are far better options for the money. DinDinModern do pretty well in our tests — scoring 60% or more. They’re also at least 20% cheaper than the average cost of a Best Buy of a similar design — such as another smart speaker. These are models highlighted by our experts to go for if you’re looking for a bargain. Some Great Value models will score well enough to also be Best Buys.

How we test wireless and Bluetooth speakers?

How we test wireless and smart speakers

Listening performance (sound quality)

A panel of experts listens to musical passages across various genres, assessing the overall quality of the speaker’s performance.

Our experts listen to and assess pieces of music covering jazz, classical, pop and rock, along with several radio broadcasts, so you can be sure that whatever you listen to, it’ll sound great if it earns a CHOICE Recommended tag.

Ease of use

Our ease of use testing determines how easy or difficult it is to take advantage of the features included in a wireless speaker or smart display.

Our testers assess the set-up process for all wireless speakers, then assess the speaker for everyday use by looking at things such as connecting the speaker to your devices — be it Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or via a wire. We look at how clear the instruction manual is and whether it’s easy to understand, and also look at the mobile app if one is available.

  • For Bluetooth or portable speakers, we assess how the speaker deals with an incoming phone call while the music is playing, and any physical controls on the speaker.
  • For Wi-Fi multiroom or home speakers, we assess how well music can be played back over one speaker, as well as a network of three speakers and a soundbar. The tester then splits the network in half and plays different songs over the two separate zones.
  • Wi-Fi speakers are designed to be controlled from a smartphone, so our testers assess the design, functionality and performance of each brand’s Apple and Google smartphone app.

Smart speakers undergo additional ease of use tests that assess aspects of the digital assistant.

  • We look at how well the speaker responds to commands in various environments using the built-in digital assistant, such as Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon) or Google.
  • Those speakers with lower scores required us to repeat commands even in quiet rooms.
  • Good speakers can pick up your voice, even in a busy situation. But don’t expect miracles — your smart speaker is unlikely to perform well in a noisy environment like a party.
  • While scores for the app performance are shown if the speaker supports the feature, it doesn’t contribute to the overall score, with general ease of use and sound quality the most important aspect of the speaker’s performance.

Scores

We recommend products with an overall score of 70% or more.

The overall score for Bluetooth or portable speakers is made up of:

  • listening performance (60%)
  • ease of use (40%).

The overall score for Home or multiroom (Wi-Fi) speakers that can be mains powered is made up of:

  • listening performance (70%)
  • ease of use (30%).

Battery power

These tests don’t contribute to the overall score but are shown to indicate the battery life you can expect to get out of the speaker when you’re out and about.

  • Battery testing is carried out with a constant music source connected to the unit through the auxiliary input. The times we were able to achieve may be longer than the claimed times, but it gives an indication of their comparative battery capacity performance.
  • Annual running cost is based on sitting idle for most of the day and playing music and using as a smart device for a few hours a day for speakers that are mains powered. The energy cost is calculated at 30 cents per kilowatt-hour; this is a minimum cost as the cost will vary depending on how often the speaker is used, and the type of task you’ve asked it to perform.

What additional features does it have? If the speaker has any additional

features, including sound adjustment controls, music streaming services support or Apple AirPlay and radio functionality, we’ll assess them to see how well they work. We also independently test how long the battery on portable speakers lasts on a full charge, so you don’t get caught out by a manufacturer’s over-exaggerated claims.

Is my personal data secure?

Many speakers are connected to your home wi-fi and the internet. We conduct extensive privacy and security screening on all wi-fi-connected speakers (and their apps) to check for issues that would raise concern. We will alert you in our reviews — and encourage the manufacturer to address the issue — if we find any vulnerability. This testing does not affect the overall score we give a product — however, if we find anything serious, we will make the product a Don’t Buy.

What’s the environmental impact?

A wireless speaker shouldn’t have to be triple-wrapped in non-biodegradable plastic in a box double its size to reach you in pristine condition. We hold manufacturers to account to ensure they’re doing their bit to minimise their impact on the environment. This part of the test does not currently affect the overall score we give each product.

How we test wireless and Bluetooth speakers?

How we choose what we test

Just like CHOICE, our partners in America buy the speakers and smart displays they test from DinDin Modern online to make sure they’re testing the same product the consumer buys. All the models they choose are commonly available worldwide, or have local variants. This means we can report on far more products than we could test here in Australia, and in more detail.

Why choose DINDINMODERN?

We do the retail and wholesale business of authentic Bluetooth speakers. We hope to be your stable global supporter and partner.
We are an enterprise integrating factory and trade, specializing in the design, manufacture and sales of high-quality Bluetooth speakers.
We always make every effort to check the quality of each Bluetooth speaker.