The latest trend in personal listening devices is the around the neck Bluetooth speaker. These wearable personal speakers go around your neck and sit on your upper chest, delivering music close to your ears without the need for earbuds or speakers.
They also don’t have the anti-social aspect of headphones since you are not totally isolated from the people around you, can still carry on a conversation and can also be a cool way to share your music.
They are gaining popularity, walk around the house while your music follows you. Listening to a podcast and need to do do stuff around the house- you can easily move around out of normal speaker range with a standard speaker.
If you are looking for a quick recommendation, our overall top pick is the Bose SoundWear Companion, the quality build and clear sound took them to the top of the list. However the sticker price may not make them the ideal option for everyone.
There are really no decent “budget” options in this category but you could look at these wearable speakers by Zulu. At about a third the price of the Bose, they are a good value pick and many of our readers have reported back positively. They are lightweight and have a unique design featuring strong magnetic clips to keep them pinned to your shirt when you run, work out or do other activities.
While wireless Bluetooth portable speakers have solved this problem for a lot of scenarios, there are still people that like having the wearable speakers without the need to carry it around or move it from room to room.
These wearable neck speakers create a comfortable, intimate sound experience that’s more natural and well suited for users that don’t want to be totally isolated from the world around them.
If you’re looking for this kind of experience, here’s a guide to finding a wearable bluetooth speaker in 2018.
Best Bluetooth Wearable Neck Speakers
Bose SoundWear Companion
Bose has a reputation for creating elegant, high-quality audio devices. Their entry into the wearable speaker market, the Bose SoundWear Companion, doesn’t disappoint. It features:
- 12-hour battery life
- Bose’s patented waveguide technology for accurate sound reproduction
- 30-foot Bluetooth range
- 15-minute fast charge for up to 2.5 hours of listening
- 3 button remote to control your device, with advanced microphone for calls and digital assistant use
- Weight: 0.57 lb (259 g)
As with any Bose device, the most impressive aspect is the sound quality. The upward facing speaker design creates a sound field that envelops the wearer but doesn’t (block out ambient sound.
This is handy for users that need to remain aware of their environment during use.
The sound quality is crisp, with an excellent deep bass response, and clear mids and highs. The effect is akin to hearing a live performance with vocals appearing to come from ear level while the bass surrounds you.
The overall design lends itself to an experience so comfortable that it’s very easy to forget you’re even wearing it.
This provides a clear advantage over other types of personal listening devices. In addition, the included Bose connect app (for IOS or Android) makes switching between sources seamless and hassle-free.
One nice feature about this speaker from Bose is that you can personalize it with one of these form fitting Companion Covers that come in blue, grey and plum.
They are designed to fit perfectly and to both protect the speaker and make it more comfortable to wear. They are made of soft, stretchable fabric that is also moisture resistant. While these are not a necessary buy and adds about 10% to your total purchase it’s a nice option to have if you decide to upgrade.
- Excellent sound
- Long battery life
- Stable Bluetooth connection
- Phone feature works great
- A bit bulky and heavy
The JBL SoundGear was positioned as a wearable that was designed with users of VR headsets and apps in mind. Key features include:
- 6 hours of playtime per charge
- Lightweight design
- Dual-microphone system with active noise cancellation
- Compatability with all major Bluetooth-enabled VR headsets
JBL has designed their unit to be well suited for the gaming crowd as well as the casual user. The nature of the CES demonstration made it difficult to judge the overall sound quality, but if it turns out to be anything like JBL’s other products, it should be an quality product with excellent sound.
The SoundGear is made of lightweight materials and is very comfortable to wear. It has rubber anti-slip material included to keep it stable but is also wrapped in soft fabrics to make sure it won’t be irritating with frequent use.
It can be paired with up to two Bluetooth sources for added versatility and mobility. The dual-microphones and noise canceling technology make it a great option for phone calls, and the VR compatibility should mean an easy comfort upgrade for headset-wearers.
LG TONE Studio
The LG TONE Studio is jam-packed with features to make it a great fit for a variety of uses.
- Real 3D surround sound
- A 3.5mm auxiliary input jack
- Tethered earbuds for discreet listening
- Haptic feedback bass response
- 6-hour battery life
- Weight: 4.4 oz (125 g)
If you’re looking for an all-in-one listening solution, the LG TONE Studio may hit the spot. The sound quality may not win any awards but it is decent. The design includes downward facing subwoofers and a haptic feedback system that delivers low tones with a mixture of audible sound and vibration transmitted to the wearer.
While the bass response isn’t great, the overall effect is satisfying. This unit shines when being used with dedicated to sound content or with the simulated surround sound feature. The depth of field is excellent and provides a great experience for movie audio and video gaming.
The tethered earbuds are a nice option for on the go use, and the auxiliary jack makes it easy to use with non-Bluetooth devices. If you’ve got more than one set, they can be simultaneously connected to a single source so you can share the sound with a friend. The only major drawback is that they’re a little heavy, but it’s a tradeoff that comes with having a set that includes so many features.
LG is notable for their around the neck headphones, the LG Tone series. Unlike their rivals in the market, LG has produced a veritable swiss army knife of mobile sound.
- Earbuds for private listening
- Portable and comfortable to wear on the neck
- Both earbuds and speaker have mediocre sound quality
Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers
These wearable speakers by Zulu are the most unique looking on the list. While almost all of the wearable speakers currently on the market use a rigid around-the-neck solid band, this lighter design uses just the cable to go around your neck. This design is similar to many of the short cable bluetooth earbud designs where the cable runs around the wearers neck to connect the two earbuds. However in this case, each end of the cable there is a small wearable speaker attached along with an ingeniously designed magnetic clip.
Zulu did a nice job containing all of the hardware inside the relatively small and light speaker housing.
The main selling point on the Zulu’s is the design. The small bluetooth speakers each have a circular magnetic clip on the back side. To keep them in place you put the magnet on the inside of your shirt or jacket to keep it in place. A wider variety of users that have reported back say the speakers do in fact stay put when doing all kinds of sports from running and working out to fat-tire biking in the snow…
For an active lifestyle these are much more practical than the much bulkier options above but you are sacrificing some sound quality. The sound quality is actually pretty crisp and clear.
The heavier designs above also come with superior sound, so the real question is: what you are going to use your speakers for?
If your going to be outdoors, in the gym, running or mountain biking then these win hands down for being lightweight and staying in place.
If you are looking for speakers with the best sound to listen to music while you lounge on the sofa, then I would go for something like the Bose model above.
They are water resistant with an rating of IPX4 which is high enough to make these sweat-resistant and even enough for some light drizzle. Batter life claims up to 4 hours, users report back that 3 is more realistic. Not the greatest but similar to what you would get with most lightweight bluetooth sports earbuds.
- Water resistant, IPX4 rated
- Ingenious design
- Reasonably priced
- Very strong magnets.
- Battery life
- Sound quality
The magnets themselves might be a little hard to imagine just from the pictures so here is a quick video of the Zulu Speakers
It’s a promo from the company – so a little over the top, but I thought it was worth sharing since it does show them in action.
Sony SRS-WS1 Wearable Neck Speaker
The recently released Sony SRS-WS1 Wearable Neck Speaker is a slightly different concept than the other units we’ve covered because it is aimed specifically at home users and isn’t really mobile at all.
This device is great for sharing sound from a television or stereo.
- A 30 to 90-foot range (depending on the number of attached devices)
- 7-hour battery life
- Stand-alone transmitter
- 3-hour charging time
The Sony SRS-WS1 has recently been released in the US domestic market and users can expect decent sound from an ergonomically designed package. The system can produce three levels of vibration users can select to assist with bass response, but with only two speakers, it’s not likely going to be the best sound you’ve heard.
Since it’s used with a proprietary transmitter, it can’t be used on the go or with a mobile device unless you connect it via the included 3.5mm input jack.
The included charging stand makes it easy to keep the headset ready for use easy, but it’s only suited for those that need personal sound from their television or computer.
After being developed through an Indiegogo campaign, the Necksound is designed with runners in mind. It’s made of hypoallergenic silicone to provide an anti-slip grip and excellent water-resistance. It features a necklace-style design and built-in storage for stand-alone use. It features:
- 6-hour battery life
- 4 GB internal storage for about 1000 songs
- Vibrating call indicator
- Resilient flexible PCB electronics
- Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
Since this device hasn’t been released yet, the jury’s still out on the audio performance. The real benefit is in the flexible water-resistant design. It’s thin, light and recharges in just 2 hours. Not only can it store and play back music internally, but it can also be synchronized with up to 2 additional units for running in groups. Another feature that’s sure to please active users is a magnetic attachment system that keeps the unit securely attached to the wearer’s shirt.
The Necksound is also a good fit for the style conscious. It will be available in three colors, making it a nice accessory when paired with most activewear. The sleek design and built-in microphone, call, and volume controls make taking calls on the run a snap. Due to the innovative design, it’s also likely to be better suited to the wear and tear of everyday use than the other available options.
Hopefully this summary along with the detailed reviews of the top Bluetooth wearable neck speakers helped you with your buying decision or at least pointed you in the right direction. As some readers have pointed out, these wearable speakers raised a question: does it annoy others if you play your own music in public? These are becoming more popular and anyone with a smart phone can play their music in public at a relatively loud volume even with out external speakers so it’s something we’ll all need to decide- where and when is it inappropriate or how loud can you play these in public without disturbing others…?