Speaker tech has changed a surprising amount over the past few years, with improvements in batteries, Bluetooth, and the internet of things making speakers portable, wireless, and internet-connected almost by default now. All that means this is a great time to think about an upgrade, which could net you a wealth of new functionality alongside improvements to actual audio.
Like most tech, audio gear sees some significant reductions year-round, but with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day will see even greater discounts and deals.
Best speaker deals right now
We've gathered up the best speaker deals that are live right now - and you can head to our deals site to find more of our curated picks.
What to look for in a speaker?
When buying a speaker online, it’s hard to know what to expect without having first heard the speaker, but here are a few things to look out for.
Power rating and sound
The volume of a speaker depends on the output power, which is the watts rating. The higher the watts, the higher the sound. On portable speakers, usually 15 to 20W should offer sufficient power for 80dB of sound, which is loud enough for indoor and outdoor use.
Smaller speakers have a lower wattage due to the size, but some can pack power too. One of our favourites is the Aukey Eclipse Bluetooth speaker, which ranked first place in our our round up of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers and offers 20W of power despite its small frame.
Keep in mind, listening at full volume can also cause distortions.
Bluetooth 4.0 vs Bluetooth 5.0
Some speakers may offer Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. The benefit of Bluetooth 5.0 is that it has greater range, uses less power to broadcast, and can even allow you to stream to two devices at the same time. Most of the latest phones, from the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 8 onwards for example, come with Bluetooth 5.0, so it’s worth checking if your phone does as well.
However, while a speaker that offers the latest version of Bluetooth may seem like an upgrade from one that doesn’t, you won’t see the difference unless both your phone and the speaker have Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility.
Battery life becomes an important feature when buying a portable speaker. On average, portable speakers offer about 7 to 10 hours per charge, so anything that offers less isn’t worth it.
Ultimate Ears’s Megablast Bluetooth speakers, which is also Alexa-enabled, is one of the best with a strong bass sound and a 12 hour battery life – rather, 16 hours in practice as we found in our review. It retails at £269.99/US249, but we've seen discounts as low as £140 off, so deals in this range are worth pouncing on.
What speaker deals are available?
What you should look out for depends a lot on what sort of speaker you're looking to buy, as pricing can vary hugely, even within each product category. Here's a quick breakdown.
Just about every major audio brand makes Bluetooth speakers these days, so there's no longer any need to connect your phone or other device to your speaker with a cable - you can just wirelessly beam the sound over.
It's also worth remembering that some wireless speakers - including the whole Sonos range - use Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. This offers the potential for better audio quality, but at the cost of power efficiency if you're on a version of Bluetooth 4.0 - so Bluetooth is much more common in portable speakers.
Discounts will vary a lot by price range - at the lower end some speakers could be 50% off or more, while more expensive speakers might see lower percentage discounts - though they could be bigger sums. It also varies by brand - Sonos rarely drops its prices at all, so a discount of even £20 on a Sonos speaker is worth jumping at.
Soundbars are long, thin single speakers designed to sit just above or below a TV screen (ideally whichever is closer to your ear level) that do their best to replace multi-speaker systems and simplify a home cinema audio setup.
They've also been joined more recently by soundbases, which are deeper and intended for your TV to sit on top of, though they otherwise offer much the same functionality.
Look out for enough connections to link up to your various bits of hardware, along with some sort of wireless support so that you can use it to play music from your phone too when you want to. You'll also want to check if you can pair it with a subwoofer - you might want to in order to amp up the bass, which tends to be a bit thinner given the speakers themselves are so slim.
You should normally expect to pay £200-300 for a decent soundbar, so check our guide to the best soundbars to help you decide which one is best for you.
Home cinema systems
Multi-speaker home cinema systems are less popular than they used to be, as speakers have gotten better at spreading sound around, but there'll always be some people willing to invest money (and space) into proper 5.1 or 7.1 sound systems.
These numbers indicate the number of speakers to subwoofer. A 5.1 speaker, for instance, means there are five speakers and one subwoofer.
We'd recommend going for wired rather than wireless - if you're already accepting the inconvenience of having that many speakers, you might as well commit to cables for the sake of better audio quality - and check out our guide to setting up surround sound to find out how to make the most out of them.
Finally, the speaker market is going through a major upheaval right now as tech companies like Amazon, Google and Apple move in with their new smart speakers, in turn prompting audio companies to introduce smart voice assistants into their own sound systems.
That means you can now buy speakers from various companies that come with Alexa or Google Assistant built in, so you can use your sound system as a hub for all of your smart home tech without having to compromise at all on sound quality.
Smart speakers are too complex to go into fully here, so take a look at our round-up of the best smart speakers for more. Amazon's core smart speakers are the Echo Dot and new Echo 2, while Google has the Home and Home Mini. Apple's Siri-enabled equivalent is the Homepod, which you can read more about here.
You can find Amazon's Alexa built into on a number of non-Amazon devices too. Ultimate Ear’s Blast and Megablast are a couple of such speakers, as is the Bose Soundbar 500. Third-party devices running Alexa have the benefit of a more powerful speaker in comparison to Echo devices, though Amazon now has the louder Echo Dot 3 and its own deep bass subwoofer the Echo Sub.
Where to find speaker deals
Amazon has some of the biggest bargains, but if you find that you’re missing out on Amazon’s Lightning deals, which run for just a few hours and offer limited stock, we'd recommend signing up for Amazon's 30 day free trial of Prime, which will get you access to deals 30 minutes before everyone else. Plus, you'll get free next-day delivery with the Prime trial, as well as access to Prime Instant Video and more.
Sign up for Prime now.
Beyond Amazon, here are a few of the best places to check for great bargains:
Best speaker deals
1. Sony SRS-XB21
Now: £59.99 (£40 off)
This Sony Bluetooth speaker is waterproof and can be connected to up to 100 others for a huge party.
2. Sonos Play:1
Now: £139 (£10 off)
The lowest ever price for this excellent multi-room speaker - read more in our Sonos Play:1 review.
3. Marshall Acton
Now: £99 (£70 off)
If you want style and great audio then Marshall knows how to do both. The Acton is similar to the Stanmore featured in our best Bluetooth speaker chart.
4. Ultimate Ears Blast (with Alexa)
Now: £97.85 (£102 off)
This deal (which is a lot better than Amazon offered for Black Friday) also gets you three months of Amazon Music Unlimited.