The best bathroom speakers

Liven up your morning routine with these bathroom-proof options

The best bathroom speakers

Music isn’t relegated to a single room in the home anymore. With wireless streaming all but ubiquitous at this point, there’s nothing stopping anyone from bringing speakers - smart or not - into the bathroom.

Bathroom speakers aren’t an audio sub-category unto themselves. Searching for one in a brick-and-mortar or online retailer will reveal a wide range of prospective options. Speakers have been shrinking in size, yet pumping out bigger sound and getting smarter in the process.

Read this: The best smart speakers

We've rounded up some of the best bathroom speakers for your consideration, all of which have been thoroughly tested in the Ambient lab (bathroom). Some are all-out smart, some have smart elements, and some are just good speakers that will survive a splash. But first…

Bathroom speakers: What to consider

Since there is no distinct category to describe a speaker for this room, there are no set rules to follow. The speaker could be wireless, supporting Bluetooth, or it could be wired, requiring a constant power source. It could be smart with a built-in voice assistant, or just stick to the basics of playing audio. Size will probably matter, depending on how much space you have to work with.

The key is that any modest-sized speaker made for other rooms, or even outdoors, could fit right in. More speakers than ever before, especially of the smaller variety, are waterproof, making them highly resistant to any splash of water. That means you can enjoy listening to something while soaking in a tub or getting ready for the day ahead.

Read this: How to use Alexa and Google Assistant in the bathroom

It should go without saying, but you shouldn't be bringing any speakers or wires into close proximity with water unless they've been made to do so. That stuff's dangerous.

We’ve tried to spread out our testing a little, finding speakers that sound bigger than they seem. Are there trade-offs in trying to save as much space as possible? Should the speaker only work in the bathroom? Read on to find out.

The best bathroom speakers

UE Wonderboom

$49.99, ultimateears.com | Amazon

Ultimate Ears has a knack for making speakers that can pump out big sound and take a beating or two from the elements. About the size of a coffee mug, the Wonderboom maintains the 360-degree design UE is known for, coming in a variety of colour schemes.

It’s not as explosive as others in the company’s lineup, but it can get loud in a hurry, with noticeable bass response. The IPX7 rating delivers water resistance down to one metre of water for up to 30 minutes. UE also claims 10 hours of battery life per charge, but that number drops the louder the speaker plays. Default volume is okay, just not good enough to resonate, which is why we routinely got closer to eight hours.

Being a Bluetooth speaker, we were able to stream from over 40 feet away while showering. The only hiccup we noticed – and it’s an odd one – was with Google’s Pixelbook, where pairing was flawless, yet no audio ever played.

The Wonderboom is light on playback controls beyond volume, and without a microphone, there’s no way to take calls on it. Because of that, we also had no way of triggering Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa. And lastly, the elastic loop at the top wasn’t as useful as we would’ve liked.

the ambient verdict
UE Wonderboom
Small in size but big on sound, what the UE Wonderboom lacks in smarts it makes up for in character. With an IPX7 water rating and up to 10 hours of battery life, it's built perfectly for your bathroom.
PROS
  • Small size
  • Good sound quality, good bass response
  • Water resistant to one metre
CONS
  • Light on playback controls
  • Need for higher volume sucks battery
  • No assistant smarts

The best bathroom speakers

Fugoo Go

$69.99 fugoo.com |Amazon

The Fugoo Go is positioned more as an outdoor speaker that is at home by the pool or at the beach, but its size, weight and battery life make it just as ideal for water in the bathroom. It gets pretty loud, which is why we would recommend this more as a speaker you bring into the bathroom, rather than one that stays in there most of the time.

The integrated cord makes it simple to tighten or loosen the slack, so it’s easy to hang anywhere. We wrapped it around a showerhead and had no problem, though we didn’t leave it there after we were done. It also lays down flat or tilts up at an angle. If we really wanted to add some punch to the audio, we could stereo pair two Fugoo Go units together for dedicated left and right channels.

Battery life was about eight hours or more, though we didn’t have to raise the volume all that often with this thing. The IP67 rating also means it handles up to a metre of water for 30 minutes.

the ambient verdict
Fugoo Go
Size, weight and battery life make it ideal for the bathroom, with an integrated cord that makes it easy to hang anywhere. Audio is punchy enough for the job and the battery life is nice and long. You can even pair two together for some stereo showering.
PROS
  • Eight hours of battery
  • IP67 water rating
CONS
  • No 3.5mm jack
  • Bass could be better

The best bathroom speakers

Sonos One

If you want Alexa in your bathroom but don't want to compromise on sound, the Sonos One packages Amazon's assistant into a fantastic speaker. Even better, the One is moisture resistant, so it's perfectly suited for a spot like a bathroom or kitchen.

You do, however, have to have it connected to a power source at all times, which might limit you a little. But there's no other speaker on this list that beats the Sonos One on sound quality – this thing will fill your bathroom with music no problem – and the addition of Alexa means you never have to get wet fingers on the playback controls.

There are two downsides. First, the mics aren't spectacular and we often find Alexa struggling to hear us on the Sonos One. Second, at $199 it's the priciest speaker on this list by quite some way, but you're paying for superior sound quality, baked-in Alexa and a certain amount of durability.

the ambient verdict
Sonos One
While it's the most expensive of the bunch, the Sonos One ticks all the boxes: it sounds great, it has Alexa built in and it's durable to the elements. If you're a bit more serious about fitting your bathroom with a speaker, the Sonos One is hard to beat.
PROS
  • Super sound
  • Baked-in Alexa
  • Moisture resistance
CONS
  • Alexa is a bit deaf
  • Expensive
  • Needs to be wired

The best bathroom speakers

JBL Clip 3

$59.99, jbl.com | Amazon

It’s a fitting name for a speaker that can sit or clip onto almost anything. Lay it flat on a counter or side of the tub; clip it onto a cabinet or drawer handle. Throughout it all, the Clip 3 withstands any splash of water, thanks to its IPX7 rating.

Its small stature is misleading because it’s considerably louder than it looks. Playback skews toward bass response, but is equally strong in the mids, which is why we found the speaker to be very good for podcasts and audiobooks, too. Even better, it also handles phone calls well through the built-in mic and speakerphone. No matter what it plays, it goes loud enough for any size bathroom, in our estimation.

Battery life is supposed to be 10 hours per charge, and for the most part, it stays close enough to that number. Like any other speaker, cranking up the volume saps the battery.

The carabiner clip is probably more useful in outdoor or mobile situations. We tried hooking it onto the neck of a showerhead, but we found it works best when it has some room to breathe.

the ambient verdict
JBL Clip 3
The Clip 2 had a lot of fans, and the Clip 3 improves on the sound quality and durability of its predecessor. It's also versatile, making it perfectly suited for a bathroom, while the built-in mic lets you take calls.
PROS
  • Surprisingly loud
  • IPX7 water rating
CONS
  • Carabiner clip not that useful
  • Lacking in the highs

The best bathroom speakers

Google Home Mini

$49, google.com

The Home Mini is Google’s answer to the Echo Dot, and by extension, is limited in the same ways. The speaker is diminutive, needs a power source and isn’t splashproof, much less waterproof. It isn’t especially loud, nor all that full, making it tougher to listen to a lot of music on it.

But we liked it for podcasts and any talk content we could access through supported services, like Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and iHeartRadio – perfect for getting those morning briefings while you're brushing your teeth.

While Alexa still has the edge on smart home control, Google Assistant is catching up fast, and in our experience it's proven better at retrieving information – being hooked into the largest internet search engine probably helps.

We didn’t buy any audiobooks through Google’s store, but those should work well (Audible and Kindle ones, not so much). Having a voice assistant in Google Assistant does offset the need to actually touch the speaker with wet hands too. However, this one isn't protected against moisture and humidity, so only those with well ventilated bathrooms should consider it, otherwise it may take damage over time.

the ambient verdict
Google Home Mini
If you're Team Google, the Home Mini will be a better fit for your bathroom than the Echo Dot. Amazon's third-gen speaker is better for music, but Google Assistant has the edge on retrieving information. The Mini is also pretty good at picking up your voice at a distance – handy when the shower's running.
PROS
  • Cute, colourful design
  • Google Assistant always improving
  • No need to touch it
CONS
  • No 3.5mm jack
  • Sound isn't great for music
  • Requires an outlet

The best bathroom speakers

Sony SRS-XB01 Extra Bass

$24.99,sony.com | Amazon

The smallest of this group, the Sony SRS-XB01 is in fact so diminutive that it can easily fit in a jacket pocket. With an IPX5 rating for splash water resistance and a strap for attaching it to virtually anything, there was some versatility to work with here. A built-in microphone also made it decent for phone calls. Plus, it comes in a variety of colours.

It is small, so not especially loud, and it does lack some bass response, which is why we liked it for music and talk content that didn’t need much of that. Sony rates the battery at six hours per charge, but we never got that far because we often raised the volume. Hence, we usually hit four hours.

the ambient verdict
Sony SRS-XB01 Extra Bass
Sony's speaker is the smallest of the bunch, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a spot for it. The downside of this is that the sound quality takes a hit, but not dramatically so. The built-in mic is a nice bonus.
PROS
  • Small and durable
  • Built-in mic
CONS
  • Poor bass response
  • Battery life is average at best

The best bathroom speakers

Amazon Echo Dot (2018)

$49.99 |Amazon

The Echo Dot has long been the entry point for bringing Alexa into the home thanks to its low price point. But it always treated audio quality as an afterthought. The obvious aesthetic improvement over the second-generation Echo Dot is one thing, but it’s the audio boost that’s more impactful here.

Though larger than its predecessor, the bigger speaker driver delivers a fuller sound that actually makes listening to content more enjoyable. It’s far from great, but at least highs, mids and lows are noticeable, especially compared to the tinny sound of the previous model. With the full breadth of Alexa to work with, we were able to even access the equalizer by voice. For example, if we said, “Alexa, more bass,” or “Alexa, reset equalizer,” it would oblige.

And this means access to Alexa and all of its services in the bathroom, including flash briefings, weather reports, on-demand music and podcasts. It can also take a 3.5mm auxiliary cord, should you want to connect it to a different (presumably better sounding) speaker.

Unlike other speakers its size, the Echo Dot needs a constant power source, so plugging it into an outlet is a must. Keeping it close to a bathtub would be ill-advised because it has no water-resistance, but it's small enough to be placed on a shelf or cabinet. Like the Mini, it's only recommended for well ventilated bathrooms.

the ambient verdict
Amazon Echo Dot
The Dot brings Alexa smarts to the bathroom in a much better sounding speaker for 2018, with noticeable highs, mids and lows. It's not perfect, but less tinny than the last Dot, and only marginally bigger, so it should be easy to find a home for it (just not near the bath). In turn you get the company of Alexa for your morning routine.
PROS
  • Improved sound
  • Control equalizer with voice
  • Full Alexa control
CONS
  • Sound quality still not best of the bunch
  • Requires an outlet
  • New power brick is big

TAGGED   speakers

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