A Bluetooth speaker is a wonderful thing. Its portability makes it easy to listen to your favorite podcast on the beach, blast music out by the patio, or play DJ right from your phone. In recent years, technology has improved enough that even the smallest and lightest models can pump out quality audio, last all day on a single charge, and offer a better connectivity experience. Some Bluetooth speakers are built to withstand tough conditions, such as hits to the ground, dirt and dust, even water. Not every Bluetooth speaker is designed to be tossed into a backpack and taken to a remote spot, however. Some are larger and meant to stay put, for the most part. And let’s not gloss over the fact that there are so many sizes, shapes, and colors to choose from, it’ll have your head spinning. All of this is to say there are so many options and features to consider when choosing a Bluetooth speaker, you might need a little help in doing so. Keep reading for some tips on what too look for, then check out seven speakers we recommend.
What to Consider When Choosing a Bluetooth Speaker
A Bluetooth speaker is a pretty straightforward device. If your goal is to have music on the go, just about all of them will deliver. But every model is more nuanced than it appears, and unless you know what to look for, you might let aesthetics guide your decision. Things to think about:
Sound Quality: This is the speaker’s ability to successfully deliver bass, treble, and midrange for various types of audio content. While any portable speaker will be superior to your phone speaker, the best, deepest, and fullest sound will come from speakers with larger drivers. A larger driver usually equates to a larger speaker.
Design and Build: The shape and appearance of a speaker might be of the utmost importance to you (you want a contemporary design that looks good on a shelf), but the more critical question is how durable it is for how and where you plan to use it. Look for an IP (ingress protection) rating, in which the IP will be followed by two numbers: The first refers to solids like sand and dirt (the highest number being 6, or completely protected from anything getting in); the second refers to liquids, like raindrops and water (the highest being 8, or completely protected against submersion, up to a meter, for long periods). If you see an X in place of a number, it means the speaker is not protected. If you plan to use your speaker at the beach, where you’ll be surrounded by sand and water, look for one with a high IP rating.
Best Portable Battery Packs for Charging on the Go
Battery Endurance: For most users, battery life isn’t the most important feature, especially if you’re somewhere near a power source. But if you plan to take yourself and your speaker off the grid for a few days, you want one that will last the journey. Most speakers will provide you with at least 10 hours of listening on a single charge, but some last a lot longer. The Anker Soundcore on our list will have keep the party going for 24 hours, and the incredibly stylish Bang & Olufsen can go as long as 43 hours with the volume on low.
Additional Features: If you want more from your speaker than just portable tunes, check out its list of features before buying. Some offer app-enabled controls, built-in microphones, compatibility with virtual assistants, integrated lights, the ability to charge other gadgets, the capability to pair more than one speaker, and more.
How We Selected and Rated Them
We researched 10 expert sources such as PC Mag, Tech Radar, and CNet, as well as 13,000 consumer reviews to select the top seven bluetooth speakers of the year. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Walmart, and manufacturers’ websites.
Consumer Score: 96% gave it 4 stars or more
Sleek design and long-lasting tech.
Beats audio devices have been a fan favorite for years now, and the Pill+ is no exception—more than 8,000 reviewers gave it an average rating of five stars. More of a midsize speaker, it has a clean, crisp sound with a rich range—though its bass is unsurprisingly underwhelming—and a battery that lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge. Reviewers praised the Pill+ for its longevity, some even giving updates two years later, claiming that it works as well as the day they got it. The biggest complaint is that the speaker is angled straight instead of up, so as great as the sound quality is, it could be easily be better. Colors available include white, red, and black.
Consumer Score: 91% gave it 4 stars or more
Great sound on the go.
The JBL Clip 4 may not be the most powerful speaker on our list, but it is certainly one of the most portable. An integrated clip lets you attach it to pretty much anything—a backpack while hiking, a belt loop while walking, your chair at the beach. No worries, either, if a rogue windstorm or wave catches you by surprise—the Clip 4 is rated IP67, which means it’s dust- and waterproof. Aside from the built-in clip, other notable updates (from previous designs) are a sturdier exterior, which makes the speaker slightly heavier, and improved audio, which is pretty impressive considering this speaker’s size. One charge lasts up to 10 hours, and the speaker comes in six cool colors, including pink and camo.
Amazon Basics 15-Watt Bluetooth Stereo Speaker
Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more
Affordable option with commendable audio.
Amazon Basics may be known for its inexpensive home goods, gadgets, and tech, but this speaker’s performance exceeds expectations while staying at a budget price of under $40. It comes in three color options and can last up to 7 hours of play time. Though not completely waterproof, it is water resistant, giving you the option to use it both inside and out. And while it is a bit bulkier than some other options, it still slips easily into the side pocket of a backpack. Customers were impressed with its sound quality, claiming that, despite its super-low price, it sounds comparable to speakers that cost two to three times more. If you can see past its toy-like exterior, you’ll be happy with this speaker’s impressive sound quality.
Responds to Voice Commands
Bose Portable Smart Speaker
Consumer Score: 90% gave it 4 stars or more
Smart speaker with beautiful—and functional—design.
Like Beats, Bose has long been a leader in the audio world, and it has delivered on this portable speaker. At 7.5 inches tall, it’s not as easy to throw into a backpack like most, but a handle at the top does make toting it from one spot to another more convenient. This is the first outdoor speaker in Bose’s product lineup—go ahead and move it from inside to poolside; it’s drop- and water-resistant. It’s also smart—compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa—so it’ll respond to voice commands while you’re sipping a drink on your inflatable pool lounger. The design is sleek and aesthetic—as it should be for the price. Like most smaller speakers, its bass is a bit lacking, but overall the sound quality is crisp, clean, and everything you would expect from a Bose product.
Life of the Party
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
Consumer Score: 91% gave it 4 stars or more
Minimalist look with maximal sound.
If you want some boom in your bass, you’ll have to go a bit bigger, and while this speaker can’t necessarily join you for a walk in the park (it weighs a claimed 13 pounds), you can count on it to be the life of your party. The graphite mesh wraparound design is a minimalist’s dream, and the rubberized controls on top make it easy to control and resistant against spills. Though it isn’t nearly as portable as some of the other options, the large size allows for a better sound and more depth, particularly the bass. It also has an optical output which makes it a great choice for gamers and content streamers. For parties where you have more than one DJ, the Boom app allows for music to be streamed from multiple music services at once.
Longest Battery Life
Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1
Consumer Score: 90% gave it 4 stars or more
Modern design, long battery life.
Spending almost 250 bucks on a speaker that’s barely 2 inches high might be hard to justify. Unless you consider its 18 hours of battery life (up to 43 at low volume), sleek, modern design, and IP67 rating, which means it’s fully dust- and waterproof. Even at this compact size, the Beosound A1 can go full volume without distorting the sound. It also has three microphones, built-in Alexa voice assistant, and Wake Word assist (that works up to 3 hours after the device has been turned off). Its domed design blasts an even 360 degrees of music.
It’s Waterproof—and It Floats!
Anker Soundcore Motion Boom
Consumer Score: 94% gave it 4 stars or more
Today’s tech in a nostalgic package.
If you grew up lugging a boombox around—and, consequently, blazing through hundreds of dollars in D batteries—your experience with portable music started long before Bluetooth speakers existed. Now you can have both. Long and rectangular in shape, and with a beefy handle for easy grip, the Motion Boom is a nostalgic reinvention of the boombox from your youth. And get this: If you drop it in water, all is not lost. Not only is it waterproof (it has an IPX7 rating), it also floats. Battery life is a commendable 24 hours, and Anker’s PowerIQ technology lets you charge your phone while you’re listening to music. The audio is decent, but reviewers at CNet claimed that it can get a bit grating at full volume—still, at $75, it’s a great buy.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io