The Best Speakers For Small Rooms: Libratone, Sony, Marshall, Braven - Rolling Stone
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The Best Speakers For Small Spaces

Getting a small speaker for your room doesn’t mean giving up big sound and great features

Libratone Zipp 2 Mini

Amazon

Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

The rise of affordable home theater equipment and soundbars has made it easy to find large speakers for your living room or den, but what about smaller spaces like your bedroom, dorm room, bathroom, or kitchen?

Smaller speakers get a bad reputation because the assumption is that their size automatically means poor audio quality but that’s no longer the case. While it’s true that larger speakers have bigger drivers (the part of the speaker responsible for creating sound), the best mini speakers can still pack a big punch.

If you’re looking for a speaker that’ll fill a small room with sound and hold its own against larger ones, our recommendations have you covered.

What Are the Best Small Speakers?

There are many factors to think about when shopping for the best speaker for small rooms; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Size: If you’re shopping for a small speaker, it’s likely because you don’t have the space for a large unit. All of our picks are under 10 inches tall (or wide, if oriented horizontally).

Portability: Small speakers are defined by their physical size, but our guide features a mix of battery-powered and A/C (outlet) powered options. Powered ones are typically a little larger, and may have additional features because they aren’t designed to optimize battery life. Small wireless speakers are better if you want to use a single speaker in multiple rooms of your home, or outdoors.

Battery Life: The portable speakers we’re recommending all get 12 hours of battery life, which is more than enough to get you through a workday, a week’s worth of showers, or a small gathering with friends.

Durability: The durability of technology is measured on the IP (Ingress Protection) scale, which determines how well it can resist (or prevent) damage from dust and water. The wireless speakers we recommend have at least an IP67 rating, which means they’re completely dust-proof, and waterproof enough to be held under 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Smart Features: Getting a speaker for a small room doesn’t mean settling for fewer features. Some of the speakers we recommend can be programmed to work with Alexa, Amazon’s smart home assistant. Once it’s set up, you can use the speaker for more than just listening to music, and control it by using your voice.

Multi-Speaker Pairing: Every speaker in our guide can be paired to another one, so you can play music in true stereo, or listen to the same track in multiple rooms simultaneously. Each speaker can also be paired to different devices, or used on its own.

1. Braven BRV-Mini

Braven BRV Mini

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

At 4.21 inches tall, Braven’s BRV-Mini is the smallest speaker in our guide by a fair margin, but don’t let its size fool you. I’ve been testing this speaker for over a month, and have really enjoyed my time with it.

The BRV-Mini is totally wireless, and supports Bluetooth 5.0, a new wireless standard that gives it better range and a more solid connection. In my tests, the BRV-Mini has never cut out or stuttered, even if the phone I paired it to was in my pocket, and I was walking around the room.

Braven says this speaker’s battery lasts for up to 12 hours per charge, and while I haven’t timed it out exactly, I’ve only needed to plug it in a couple of times after days of use. The BRV Mini has earned an IPX7 durability rating, which means it’s totally dust-proof, and can be fully submerged under 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

You can pair two BRV-Mini speakers to create a stereo pair, which in my experience has worked really well. When placed several feet apart, and angled toward you, the stereo soundscape has a surprising amount of depth.

I’ve been impressed with this speaker’s audio performance in general — the bass is there, but not too overwhelming, and mid-range sounds are pretty accurate — but have detected sibilance (extra sharp sound each time a performer sings a word with the letter “S”). When listening to instrumental music, this isn’t a problem.

This speaker doesn’t have any smart features, so it isn’t the best choice if you want a good sounding speaker that can also be used to control your lightbulbs, but it covers all the other bases very well. If you want an ultra portable totally wireless speaker, this one gets my highest recommendation.

2. Sony SRS-XB21

Sony SRS-XB21

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

Sony’s SRS-XB speakers have made waves over the past few years by bringing a visual element to the small speaker game. At 9.2 inches long it’s the largest speaker in our guide, but it’s still totally portable. It gets 12 hours of battery life per charge, and has earned an IP67 durability rating. The only technical downside to this speaker is that it only supports Bluetooth 4.2, a slightly older and less reliable version of the wireless standard.

The SRS-XB21 stands out from the competition in a couple of ways. The biggest difference is that this speaker has a light strip that runs across the top and bottom of the speaker. You can adjust the color and light pattern via an app (iOS and Android), or turn it on and off by pressing buttons on the speaker itself.

The second difference is that this speaker can be paired with up to 99 other Sony speakers, so you could conceivably have a massive party and play your music from every angle. More realistically, you could keep one of these speakers in every small room in your home, and have a synchronized, house-wide, totally wireless sound system.

In terms of audio quality, the speaker’s name says it all. XB stands for (e)Xtra Bass, which is what you should expect when you listen to music. I’ve tested some of Sony’s other XB audio gear, and found the bass prominent, but not overwhelming. If you prefer a more neutral sound, you can adjust the speaker’s EQ (equalization) settings via an app (iOS and Android) on your phone or tablet.

If you want a speaker that lets you take a light show everywhere, or want to slowly create a house-wide wireless audio system, Sony’s SRS-XB21 is the right call.

3. Marshall Uxbridge

Marshall Uxbridge

Courtesy Marshall

Marshall

The Uxbridge is Marshall’s latest speaker, and what it lacks in size, it makes up for in functionality. It’s 6.6 inches tall and 4.48 inches wide, which puts it in the middle of the pack size-wise, and is the only speaker in our guide that’s not totally wireless. Yes, the Uxbridge needs to be plugged in, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You may not be able to take it to the beach — and you shouldn’t, it’s not waterproof — but you can use this speaker for more than just playing music. The Uxbridge has a microphone, and can be configured to work with Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant. Once it’s set up, you can ask Alexa to play music from your favorite streaming service, to check the weather, or to control your smart-home accessories.

The Uxbridge also support’s Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard, which lets you stream uncompressed audio to the speaker wirelessly. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0, so you can pair it with any computer, phone, or tablet. And because it’s plugged in all the time, you never need to worry about whether or not it’s on, or whether the battery is going to die; just connect your device, and start playing music.

I’ve been testing the Uxbridge for myself for about a month, and the audio quality is very good. Bass, mid-range, and treble all sound very well-balanced, and I haven’t detected any consistent audio hiccups like sibilance. I’ve been especially impressed at how well this speaker performs at loud volumes, there’s no distortion.

A final note on audio quality: I like how this speaker sounds right out of the box, but you can adjust the bass and treble using buttons on the Uxbridge itself instead of having to fumble around in an app. You can pair the Uxbridge with any other Marshall smart speaker if you’d like to create a stereo pair, or multi-room sound system.

If you don’t mind having to keep your speaker connected to an outlet in your small room, and are searching for a way to make your home a little smarter, Marshall’s Uxbridge has you covered.

4. Libratone Zipp 2 Mini

Libratone Zipp Mini 2

Facebook/Libratone

Facebook/Libratone

Libratone’s Zipp Mini 2 is the most fully-featured small speaker in our guide, and it’s a good choice for audiophiles who also care about aesthetics.

The speaker is 8.1 inches tall, which makes it among the largest speakers in our guide. It’s totally portable, lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge, and can pair with up to 11 other Libratone speakers to create a totally wireless audio system. Unlike the other wireless speakers in our guide, it is not waterproof or dust-proof, so the Zipp Mini 2 should only be used in your home, and away from water.

It may not be the most durable speaker in our guide, but it is the smartest totally wireless option. The Zipp Mini 2 has Amazon’s Alexa built in, so you can bring a smart speaker around with you anywhere. It also supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 wireless standard, Bluetooth 4.1, and the ability to stream music to it over WiFi.

I’ve tested multiple speakers from Libratone, including the original Zipp Mini, and have always found their audio quality to be very solid. The Zipp Mini 2 has multiple drivers facing outward and upward to create “360 degree” sound, so you don’t have to position it in a certain way to find a “sweet spot.” If you keep your speaker on a dresser in the middle of your smaller room, 360 audio will have an even greater surround sound effect.

Finally, Libratone’s Zipp 2 Mini stands out because of its modern, minimalist design. Looks aren’t everything — especially when it comes to audio gear, which needs to sound good — but there’s no denying that the mesh-covered casing, and cream colored top and bottom look really nice. The top of the speaker is also a touch screen, which allows you to change the speaker’s volume, silence it completely, or play and pause music with a single tap.

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