Best bathroom speakers: how to enjoy music in the bathroom
Like listening to music in the bathroom? Chris Haslam reviews the best bathroom speakers
In the past, basic shower radios could kickstart your day until water would inevitably rust the batteries, but nowadays there’s plenty of waterproof streaming speakers and radios to keep you entertained.
Obviously, the most important aspect of any bathroom-ready audio product is its ability to function properly in a hot, steamy and fundamentally wet environment – some Bluetooth speakers are now completely waterproof and can survive a dunking while others are merely splashproof.
How to choose bathroom speakers
To check which products are suitable for wet areas, look for the two digit IP rating. The first number refers to how good it is at resisting dust, while the second relates to waterproofing.
As an example, an IPX5 is considered splashproof while IPX7 speakers could be immersed in the bath (officially rated 15cm to 1m deep) for up to 30 minutes. IP44 is moisture proof, and is acceptable for in-ceiling speakers, while IP67 is the best in terms of both dust and waterproofing, and many portable ‘outdoor’ style speakers have this for added peace of mind.
There are now dozens of good quality waterproof Bluetooth speakers, with brands including JBL, UE Boom and Treblab selling affordable designs predominantly for outdoor use. These tend to have a big sound and rugged style, although the exception to that rule is the Bang & Olufsen A1.
Bluetooth streaming has the advantage of keeping your smartphone away from any watery accidents, but does mean you won’t be able to skip songs while showering. The Sonos Roam is IP67-rated and has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for better audio quality, and integrates seamlessly with other Sonos products as well as offering voice control convenience via Alexa or Google Assistant.
Showerproof radios, meanwhile, remove the need for streaming or smartphones at all, with Pure Radio and Roberts Radio both offering a good selection of splash and waterproof designs in classic styles, with DAB, FM and often Bluetooth for added versatility.
Are in-ceiling speakers worth it?
While not as convenient as a traditional radio or Bluetooth speaker, in-ceiling speakers are superb when it comes to seamless integration and maximum protection from water. Many great brands including Bowers & Wilkins and Kef offer specific bathroom speakers that can be incorporated into a whole-house audio system.
I’d suggest taking this route as part of a wider home or bathroom renovation project, but remember that any mains electrical work will need to be carried out, or signed off for safety, by a qualified electrician. For a list of custom installation specialists, contact CEDIA, the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association.
For an easier in-ceiling option, I recommend the Q Acoustics E120 (IP54 rated) wall-mounted control pad combined with a pair of QI50CW Speakers (£330) for impressive aquatic audio with surprisingly little fuss.
But if all this is a little too obvious for your tastes, maybe you’d be interested in the Mode Stream, an affordable replacement shower head and Bluetooth speaker in one.
Or the elegant Vision mirror (£369; victorianplumbing.com) that has LED lighting and Bluetooth speakers built in.
Best bathroom speakers
Lithe Audio 6.5" Bluetooth 5 IP44 Rated Bathroom Ceiling Speaker
An impressive in-ceiling speaker boasting Bluetooth 5.0, IP67 waterproof rating and amplifier built-in, for a seamlessly wireless solution that easily links to your existing lighting circuit. Available in singles or pairs, they’re compatible with Alex and Google Home voice control, so you can change songs without getting out of the tub.
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Pure Woodland Speaker
A modern take on the classic portable radio, Pure’s brand new DAB+/FM design is built tough, has a generous 14hr battery life, Bluetooth, preset station buttons and all-important IP67 waterproof rating. Thankfully, audio hasn’t been forsaken as the 10-watt dual acoustic set-up is warm and enjoyable. /pure-audio.com
JBL Clip 4
Designed as a travel speaker but ideal for wet areas, this adorable soap-on-a-rope Bluetooth design is available in eight funky colours. It has a 10hr battery life, is just over 13cm long and can clip to just about anything. And impressively, the volume can drown out even the most enthusiastic tenor in the shower.
Chris Haslam is a freelance consumer technology journalist, specialising in tech, audio, lifestyle, health and interiors. He is the monthly audio columnist for BBC Music Magazine, rounding up the best audio equipment on the market for classical music lovers. He is also a contributing editor for Wired UK.