When I was researching an audio solution for the bathroom, I came across lots of posts written by sound engineers. They used terms like “sub-bass” and “resonance” and lost me at the first sentence.
A perfect bathroom audio solution for someone who loves music but isn’t a pro includes a voice-activated speaker that is waterproof. If wireless, the battery should last at least 10 hours and it should hang by suction, hook or mount. Most importantly, the sound should be rich and not tinny.
I honestly don’t know if “rich and not tinny” would pass muster with some of the writers of the other posts that I read. But I don’t care! That’s exactly the type of sound I want.
8 Great Features in a Bathroom Audio Solution
Angie’s List commissioned a study of bath and shower habits. The study found that 47% of respondents like to sing in the shower and 43% listen to music in the shower. Needless to say, almost half the population enjoys some form of music in the bathroom. If you belong to this segment of the population, you deserve a great bathroom audio solution that enhances your relaxation and fun in the bathroom.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 8 features and how they impact your ideal bathroom audio solution. It’s extremely hard to find a bathroom speaker with all 8, so it’s important to rank these features in order of importance to you. This will make finding your bathroom audio solution easier.
1. Sound Quality
I live with two musicians—my husband and teenage son. They don’t even walk the dog around the block without taking some form of wireless speaker with them.
While they might not want anything less than a massive, full-powered system for the house, even they agree that wireless is the way to go in the bathroom. They want to effortlessly stream their playlists while they shower or bathe or brush their teeth or floss or…
With some small Bluetooth speaker, you may not hear the lowest frequencies like you will with a full-sized speaker.
However, if you tried a Bluetooth speaker a few years ago and were fed up with the tinny sound, you don’t have to tolerate that anymore, as long as you choose the right speaker. Technology has evolved a great deal–and it continues to do so. In fact, now Bluetooth can connect with a device 100 feet away.
For my bathroom audio solution, I want sound quality that is defined enough for me to enjoy the variations over the noise of the filling tub or the shower water. I don’t want it to sound like faint elevator music.
Any decent bathroom audio system is going to be waterproof to some extent.
Just like the label “nutritious” can be slapped on any food item, the label “waterproof” is similar. What you want to know is exactly how waterproof. Some speakers can tolerate moisture, so you could mount them in the bathroom, but not near the shower or tub. Other speakers can actually survive a fall into a meter of water.
There’s a whole rating system dedicated to helping consumers understand the degree to which an electronic product is waterproofed. In the US, the rating system is controlled by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Products are tested and assigned an IP code.
For example, a speaker assigned IP3 can survive being sprayed with water for 5 minutes, but nothing more consequential such as full immersion. An audio speaker rated IP6 can survive water sprayed from jets for 1 minute.
So while you will definitely want some degree of waterproofing, you need to think about exactly how much you need. This will depend on where you plan to mount the speaker in the bathroom. Will you put it directly in the shower area or rest it on the bathroom vanity.
3. Hands-Free Voice Assistant
It’s important to me not to have to touch any buttons on my phone or the speaker while I’m all wet.
First of all, it’s not necessarily safe for me. Second of all, I don’t want to wreck my phone if I’m pairing it with the speaker, and I want to adjust the volume or change the playlist.
I want to be able to call out from my steamy bath to say, “Hey, Alexa, play…” and my wish is her command.
Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant, while the Google Assistant has no special name. But did you know that there are some bathroom audio solutions like those from Sonos that enable you to use both Alexa and the Google Assistant? Between the two assistants, you get access to 56 streaming services, thousands of radio stations, and audiobooks.
In any case, I think it’s important to have at least one voice assistant at your beck and call. After all, time in the tub is all about relaxation. And to maximize my serenity, it helps to avoid the fear of electrocution — or having to buy a new speaker or phone.
Your audio solution for the bathroom should include a way to mount your speakers. By placing the bathroom speakers out of the way, they’re less likely to get knocked over and break or get drenched. Plus, mounting your speakers just gives your bathroom a cleaner look.
Some bathroom audio solutions come with everything you need to mount the speakers to the wall. Speakers affix by suction. Others include a clip that you can attach to the showerhead or towel bar. And some high-end speakers will mount inside the wall, so it’s easiest to install these during a bathroom remodel.
If your bathroom is medium or large, you may want to try to create a surround-sound effect. Should you choose this path, you’ll want to find speakers that can pair at least two speakers.
While this can work well in a large bathroom, it can quickly become overkill in a tiny bathroom. But at least to me it could. That said, the rest of my family lives by the mantra “the louder the better” so even in our smallest bathroom, they would love that kind of setup. But so far, I’m glad to say, I’ve overruled.
You’re either going to have a wired system or a wireless system. With a wired audio bathroom solution, you’re going to want to tuck away cords as much as possible for safety reasons and aesthetic reasons.
Also, consider how many outlets you have and what you use them for. If you use an electric toothbrush and a hairdryer on a routine basis and you only have two outlets, you don’t want to constantly have to unplug different items that you routinely use in order to make room for another.
If you choose a wireless speaker, first of all, it’s automatically safer in the bathroom, as there’s no fear of mixing electricity and water. Second, it’s easier to make it look great, since you don’t need to worry about cords.
You’re going to need to charge a wireless speaker. Most speakers you’ll put in the bathroom will take a few hours to charge and provide at least 10 hours of playing time. As long as you remember to turn your speaker off after you’re done using it, you’ll be powered up for dozens of baths and showers.
Think about if you’re going to want to use your speaker outside of the bathroom. Do you want one that you can also take on a roadtrip to the lake? Do you want one that you can bring out to your pool and will float on the water?
Consider how easy it is to move your bathroom audio setup. For example, a speaker that adheres to the wall with suction or a speaker that hooks onto your showerhead will be more mobile than a ceiling-mounted speaker.
If you’re going to use your bathroom audio solution for multiple purposes, you’re going to need a speaker that’s extra durable. Also, remember to consider the highest waterproofing rating that you’ll need for the various places you want to use your speaker.
For my husband and son, sound quality is far and away the most important feature in a bathroom audio solution. For me, the aesthetic is even more important. I’m sorry, but I want my bathroom to look nice and uncluttered whenever possible.
They will never understand that the aesthetic impacts my mood and level of relaxation I can achieve in the tub.
Fortunately, even for someone like me, there are many affordable solutions. Many speakers come in an array of colors, so you can pick the one that best matches your bathroom decor.
Personally, I find the in-wall installed speakers the most beautiful to look at, but these tend to be the most costly, especially if you’re not undergoing a remodel anyway. I’d need to take down drywall to install these and then repaint, which I’m not ready to do.
So a wireless speaker mounted by the ceiling that matches the color palette of my smaller bathroom is my go-to choice. A beautiful speaker can be one essential part of transforming your bathroom into a spa. If you’d like to make your bathroom a true sanctuary, read 12 Elements of a Spa Bathroom on Bathtubber.com
The Best Bathroom Audio Solutions
These are my picks for the best bathroom audio solutions at three price tiers: low-cost (under $99), medium-cost ($100-$499) and high-cost ($500+).
My Lower-Price Pick: Wonderboom 2
You can find waterproof speakers for even less than this one, but you definitely won’t get as many must-have features. The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is receiving rave reviews in the audio world, both for the quality of sound and the fact that this speaker actually can float. You can definitely keep it right in the tub/shower area.
- Bluetooth enabled
- 360 degree sound with crisp quality and loud volume.
- Waterproof rating of IP67. Will survive immersion. Intended to float on the surface.
- 13 hours of battery power at mid-volume.
- You can pair two of these.
- Comes with carbiner for easy clipping to showerhead or towel bar.
- Portable and light! This speaker only weighs 425 grams or 0.9 pounds.
- Choose from colors such as Bermuda Blue, Just Peach and Radical Red.
- If you want to blast the volume, the batteries will drain much faster.
- I prefer white accessories in my bathroom. Why do they not make this in white?
Overall, you get great value with this speaker. Even music lovers appreciate the sound quality. And it can play loud enough to hear over the shower.
My Medium-Price Pick: Sonos One (Gen 2)
In the medium price range, you’re usually forced to choose between a wireless speaker and one with a built-in voice assistant. Because I hate to touch my devices when I’m dripping wet, I would prioritize the voice assistant. I recommend the Sonos One (Gen 2) voice-controlled smart speaker with built-in Alexa. Though this speaker is hands-free, in most cases it needs to be plugged in.
- Great sound. Fills the bathroom, and you can adjust treble, bass and volume.
- It’s humidity resistant, so you can put it in the bathroom. But you don’t want it to get soaked–it doesn’t belong in the shower.
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in.
- Pairs with a second speaker for stereo effect and more detailed sound.
- At 4.72 x 4.72 x 6.34 inches the Sonos One is a compact device. It weighs in at 4.08 pounds. The small size makes it aesthetically pleasing to look at, though it does only come in black and white.
- It’s made to sit on a counter or shelf. But because of its small size, it won’t be obtrusive. Still, I wish it had some suction cups so I could place it near the ceiling.
- The biggest drawback is that it must be plugged in. However, you have other Sonos One speakers in the house, then you can use it wirelessly as only one needs to be plugged in.
- If you want something with a higher waterproof rating, check the Sonos Move. It’s battery-powered and BlueTooth enabled. However, you will pay more for the extra features.
My Higher-Price Pick: Kohler SoundTile Speakers
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel, you’re probably focused on shower doors, the bathroom vanity, and tile. But don’t forget the bathroom audio solution.
Note: The Polished Chrome finish is significantly less expensive! So much so, that it would move these speakers into the Medium-Price category.
- Absolutely gorgeous. These speakers are unobtrusive, as they rest flush to the wall or the ceiling. They come in beautiful metal finishes, including polished nickel, brushed nickel and polished chrome.
- Compatible with any audio system and integrated with the DTV Custom Showering Experience
- They have a high waterproof rating, since they are specifically designed for use in the shower and tub area.
- You get two in a set, so you’re automatically going to get a stereo effect.
- Install on a finished wall or even the ceiling. Comes with mounting brackets.
- You’ll need an external amp.
Next Level: The Smart Home Revolution
It’s fun to think about some of the most cutting-edge innovations in bathroom music! If you’re someone who loves to innovate, why not take it to the next level?
These days can get nearly any bathroom fixture to double as a sound system. I kid you not: there are music playing toilets, sinks, bathtubs and bathroom fans.
For example, the M Boenn Bluetooth Music Shower System is a rain showerhead that incorporates color-changing chromotherapy while streaming your favorite tunes.
And Kohler’s VibrAcoustic Technology will allow you to have a SmartTub that plays sound above and below the waterline. It hides transducers behind the shell of the bathtub. When you play certain songs, it will send healing vibrations through the water.
Day after day, our homes are getting smarter and we’re able to control more devices with a quick touch on an app. It’s exciting to imagine how options for bathroom sound will evolve and become more affordable for everyone.
Bathroom Audio Solutions for Everyone
The good news is that whether you like to sing along or simply listen to your beats in the bathroom, there’s an audio solution out there for you. The key to getting the right one is to prioritize features such as sound quality, aesthetics, and power–and then, of course, try to stay within your budget!