Believe it or not, Kiwis waiting for Apple’s latest Bluetooth speaker with its massive $800 price tag should hold on to their wallets until reading our roundup of the best Bluetooth speakers selling in New Zealand today.

Apple’s HomePod build on the iconic white design with a slightly new shape and capabilities. Unfortunately, these added features only manage to bring Apple in line with competitors, not above them. And whilst other Bluetooth speaker operate perfectly with Android and Apple smartphones, Apple has clearly set preference for iOS devices, meaning non-Apple users are left without a full feature set. For the price, we expect Apple to do better.

Our testing process is simple: We check features, sound quality, and overall usability compared to major brands, and then created a list of products Aussies should know about. If you aren’t dead set on purchasing from Apple, you may save quite a bit of money and end up with a better product.

Sonitrek Go XL: Editor’s pick for all around best Bluetooth speaker – $140.00 at Mifo.com.au

Where to buy the Sonitrek Go XL wireless speaker in New Zealand

The best wireless speaker including listening at home, the office, on holiday, and all around gym use come from a brand that is new to New Zealand. But don’t let that scare you off, as this speaker is easily one of the best we have ever tested. The top value with local inventory can be found at Australian electronics retailer Mifo.

BEST VALUE

VIEW AT MIFO.COM.AU

So what makes the Sonitrek Go XL wireless speaker the best all around portable speaker?

The best speaker for active lifestyles, period. The Sonitrek Go XL comes with a bevy of features that improve the tasks of the day immensely, beginning with its rugged form factor. Incredibly light and sleek, the speaker looks equally at home on an office desk or in the shower (yes, it’s fully waterproof). Large buttons for volume, power, and pairing depress easily, yet feel rugged and unbreakable. Readers may remember propensity to break easily was a major problem that prevented us from recommending Beat’s Pill portable speaker in our last wireless review.

Absurd battery life with USB-C rapid charging. The Go XL itself will play continuously for 14+ hours, a feat we tested over several days. Not only that, but the included USB-C charging cable offers a full charge in under 30 minutes. No, that is not a typo. We were able to recharge in under 30 minutes via USB-C. That’s stunning, and makes us wonder why speakers from other brands costing 3-4 times more have just a third of the battery life and take over 90 minutes to recharge.

Big, resonant sound with dual subwoofer chambers you have to hear to believe. The Go XL packs some of the best bass in any wireless speaker we have tested. That’s particularly helpful if you prefer energetic tracks when pushing yourself to the limit during a workout at home, or when relaxing on a holiday outdoors.

Party mode enables two speakers to combine for extra power. Should you feel the need to own two Sonitrek Go XL speakers, you may pair them together to create a left and right channel. Handy onboard software automatically does the trick, and produces a wonderfully raucous effect.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sonitrek have now released an ultra-portable Sling edition, designed with easy travel in mind. It carries with it substantial price reduction, but offers fewer features and cannot match the overall volume and bass levels of the Go XL.

New Zealand-based warehouse and customer support. We have been continuously disappointed with wireless speakers in the past, even from tech giants like JBL. Part of that disappointment comes with poor or absent customer service and shipping to New Zealand from Asia. We tested Sonitrek on several occasions with questions and every time received proper replies within an hour. That demonstrates commitment to New Zealand market and contributes greatly to our award of Editor’s Pick.


JBL Flip 5: Solid but pricey Bluetooth Speaker – $189.00 at HarveyNorman.co.nz

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Where to buy the JBL Flip 5 in New Zealand

If you aren’t price sensitive, JBL may be the brand for you. This wireless speaker comes with fewer accessories than the Sonitrek Go, but offers a more generalist approach to the format.

BEST VALUE

VIEW AT HARVEYNORMAN.CO.NZ

Why JBL makes the list of Bluetooth Speaker winners

Good overall quality for wireless speakers. Since true wireless speakers were invented, we have lamented at poor sound quality, weak bass reproduction, and tinny high note fiascos. JBL have included top quality audio components, and we were pleased with the overall experience.

Excellent marks for sound quality. While bass isn’t as rich as the Sonitrek Go, the overall high and low tones of the Flip 5 are quite good. We’ll leave it to you to determine if they sound $140 good.

Poorly designed user interface and ancient technology. Unfortunately JBL’s big weakness centers around its user interface and controls. Buttons are anemic and hart to locate. Once you do, you’ll immediately find the rubber to be flimsy. It feels as though the buttons could break at any moment. This is a particular peeve of ours as we have seen this same issue on speaker after speaker from many brands.

Limited sports-specific features. While JBL does an excellent job with playing audio, we have concerns about longevity in harsher environments. To put it simply: the Flip 5 has certain components that feel flimsy, and that may be a death sentence when the inevitable drop occurs.


Bose SoundLink Revolve: A Bluetooth speaker that lives up to the Bose name – $349.00 at HarveyNorman.co.nz

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Where to buy the Bose SoundLink Revolve speaker in New Zealand

Bose has delved into the true wireless category by focusing on sports. And while the Soundsport Free is an excellent first product, it suffers from an aging Bluetooth chipset and mediocre battery life, costing Bose a higher position in our list.

BEST VALUE

VIEW AT HARVEYNORMAN.CO.NZ

Why Bose makes the list of portable speaker top picks

Great sound that comes at a cost. While Bose has engineered a product that is indeed worthy of the name, it does come at a cost. Reduced battery life and Bluetooth 4.1 instead of 5.0, and micro USB instead of USB-C hurt the product and age it to the first generation of true wireless speaker product.

Feature-rich, but does not excel in any one are. Of note are the options to use voice commands, and pair two SoundLink speakers together for double the output. That said, controls are difficult to operate, and voice commands fail to register more often than not. Should you have a home with Bose technology, the SoundLink is compatible with the Bose Smart Home family.

Built for portability, but may not work for you. While the SoundLink Revolve is made for portability, we found it a bit bulky. Hauling the bulky and weighty speaker around is not exactly ideal, and we can’t imagine lugging it between office and home, or on holiday. Worth noting: The SoundLink is not waterproof or shock proof. That’s not particularly comfortable when you are trying to focus on your workout or enjoying some fun in the sun.


Runners-up: Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers

There are many, many wireless speakers in the New Zealand market. And while we attempt to test as many as possible for our readers, some units simply don’t make the cut. Here’s a quick peek at Bluetooth speakers that didn’t make the list.


Marshall Stockwell II – $499.00 at AVWorld.co.nz

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Marshall is known for its quality and depth of sound, but the Stockwell II is a halfhearted attempt for retro Bluetooth speaker diehards. Missing is the deep, thumping bass and clear, crisp, unrestrained highs found in larger, not so portable Marshall speaker systems. That’s a disappointment given the brand heritage and price point.


Ultimate Ears Boom 3 – $279.00 at HarveyNorman.co.nz

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The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 was highly anticipated, but unfortunately fails to improve on its predecessors in both sound quality and portability. The oddly thin, cylindrical shape tends to roll when on its side, and easily tips over when not on the included charging stand. Poor signal quality results in music stutter, which is unacceptable at this price point. With a unique design and promising features, we hope the next iteration improves on these glaring flaws.


Sonos Move – $749.00 at AVWorld.co.nz

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Hardly portable, the Sonos Move includes a bevy of features and huge sound that can’t be matched by smaller, more portable all-weather counterparts. That said, the price is outrageous and you also need to subscribe to Sonos’ recurring fee scheme to take full advantage of the product. No thank you.