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The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers to Take Anywhere

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers 0 Hero

Heading out to the beach or into the woods for a weekend of camping has traditionally meant having to leave behind many of the amenities of our homes, though due to advancements in Bluetooth and battery technology, your music is no longer a luxury you have to forgo when going off-grid thanks to the portable Bluetooth speaker. And in the last decade or so, as this product space has steadily risen in demand, the market has been treated to an increasing number of these wireless portable speakers. And while this affords buyers an enormous number of options, it can also make it difficult to narrow down which speaker is best for you.

With this in mind, we’ve reviewed the last few years of releases and launches to generate this guide to the best portable Bluetooth speakers currently on the market. Below we’ll be exploring what factors and features to consider when in the market for one of these wireless speakers, as well as our choices for the dozen best items that are out there. So, whether you’re looking for a small personal speaker to take to the trails, or a plus-sized stereo to provide the soundtrack at your next party, this list has you covered.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Breakdown

Do You Need Wi-Fi to Use a Bluetooth Speaker?

No, as long as both devices (commonly your smartphone and the speaker) are Bluetooth-compatible, you can connect and start listening. Keep in mind that Wi-Fi will generally give you a better sound, but it’s not nearly as convenient because you can’t connect outside (without a Hot Spot), and the distance from the router will affect the quality of the experience. Some Bluetooth speakers may come with the ability to stream via Wi-Fi, and it helps to have multiple options at your disposal if you’re going to use the speaker at home as well as on the move.

what to Look For

Because every portable Bluetooth speaker performs the same primary function of playing music, it can be a bit confusing on the surface to understand the finer points of what distinguishes the different available models on the market. Knowing this, we’ve put together this section to educate you on what to focus on when buying a portable Bluetooth speaker.

Intended Use: One of, if not the biggest guiding factor when shopping for a portable Bluetooth speaker, intended use will dictate what size product you want and what features and amenities you’ll need. Today’s market boasts everything from pocket-sized speakers with built-in carabiners all the way up to classic boombox-sized party speakers. Think about the setting and conditions in which you plan on using the speaker and use that as a starting point to help determine how much battery life you’ll need and what kind of volume outputs you’ll want your speaker to be capable of.

Size & Weight: Portable Bluetooth speakers come in a huge range of sizes, from items you can fit in the palm of one hand, to speakers that require two to hold. If you plan on using a speaker for camping or off-the-grid use, compactness and minimal weight are going to be king, though if you plan on using the speaker for rooftop kickbacks or backyard BBQs, compactness and weight are much less an issue.

Music Playback Time: Far more important than general battery life, music playback time gives you a realistic understanding of how long a speaker can blare out your tunes before needing to be reconnected to a power source. It is important to note that this metric can be affected by factors such as volume, boosted bass, or other supplementary features or functions.

Recharge Time: Just as important as how long a battery can last is how long it takes that battery to charge. Most modern portable Bluetooth speakers can be fully recharged within a few hours, though there are some that can yield several hours of music playback after only a few minutes of charging.

Materials & Construction: This area is also one of the more important ones, as it determines the materials used to house a stereo’s audio components as well as how they were pieced together. Manufacturers that use high-quality materials such as steel, aluminum, leather, etc., will seldom fail to highlight such.

Ruggedness & Waterproofing: Because portable Bluetooth speakers are designed for use outside of the home, they face a much larger number of potential hazards compared to indoor floor-standing or bookshelf speakers. As such, portable Bluetooth speakers are often designed and engineered to withstand some abuse, though to what degree can hugely vary. Another important element to keep an eye out for is a speaker’s waterproof/water-resistance rating, which is usually denoted via an IP/IPX rating.

Sound Quality: Just like with any other type of speaker or headphones, the different transducers and components used to comprise a speaker will massively affect said speaker’s audio quality (and clarity). The lion’s share of speakers will list specific specs that should help give you a general sense of a speaker’s sound quality.

Manufacturer: Even if you aren’t able to glean any meaningful info from looking at a given speaker’s frequency ranges and response rates, you can often get a general sense of how a speaker will perform in terms of sound quality and clarity based on who happens to be the manufacturer. While there are occasionally exceptions and outliers, you can typically trust that a speaker made by a reputable American, Scandinavian, or German brand will likely boast a level of audio quality roughly on par with the rest of that particular brand’s standards.

Extra Amenities: Every portable Bluetooth speaker on the market will provide you with an on-the-go means of listening to your music via a wireless connection, though some speakers also afford their users supplementary features such as built-in LED lights, internal power banks and USB ports for charging smartphones and other devices, and integrated microphones for taking calls or hands-free music playback controls.

Industrial Design: Aside from usually being fairly compact, portable Bluetooth speakers come in a myriad of shapes, designs, and colors. From simple cylindrical items to modern Scandinavian-designed speakers, to carabiner-style items, there’s a surprising amount of aesthetic diversity in this space, making it well worth researching what all is out there before pulling the trigger on your purchase.

Price: While construction and materials, battery life, and sound quality are all of utmost importance, they should all be viewed relative to a speaker’s MSRP. Just like any other modern gadget, portable Bluetooth speakers can vary hugely in price, and though there are some ridiculously-competitively-priced items out there, we’d argue it’s well worth investing a little extra to ensure you’re getting your hands on a quality product that will serve you for years.

Bose SoundLink Flex
  • Floats on water
  • Built-in mic for calls and voice assistance
  • Great for camping
  • Surprisingly good sound and bass for the size
  • App can be finicky sometimes

Best Starter Speaker: The Bose Soundlink Micro is a potent little speaker that, despite its incredibly compact form, manages to cram a slew of modern amenities into the lightweight device. The gadget earns a rugged IP67 rating thanks to an entirely silicone-covered housing that makes it resistant to water damage, and it can even float on water. Inside, custom-designed transducers have been paired with a set of silicone passive radiators that together afford shockingly crisp and clear sound considering the speaker’s size. Offering a generous range, the device also has a built-in microphone that allows you to calls and use Siri or a smart home assistant, plus the Soundlink Micro can be linked to the Bose Connect app, where the speaker can be tweaked and adjusted, or set in “party” mode to link up with other nearby speakers. Other noteworthy elements include 12 hours of music playback time per charge and a tear-resistant strap that can conveniently loop around a carabiner, MOLLE webbing, or on a bike’s handlebars.

Battery: 12 hours
Charging Time: 4 hours
Resistance: IP67
Size: 3.56 x 7.93 x 2.06 inches (1.3 lbs)

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen

Bang Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen
  • Equipped with a mic
  • Alexa-compatible with voice control
  • Solid EQ settings through B&O’s app
  • True360 sound
  • Need to have Alexa app open for smart functions

Best Waterproof Speaker: An even more refined version of the Danish company’s Beosound A1, the second generation of the speaker gains a host of updates and upgrades, including IP67-certification Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, and bolstered (3,000mAh) battery life with a collective 18 hours of music playback. Debuting in May 2020, this new version of the Beosound A1 also gets a trio of internal microphones that allow for hands-free functionality and the use of smart voice assistants. Bestowed with True360 omnidirectional sound, this Scandinavian speaker’s transducers consist of a 3.5” woofer and a 3/5” tweeter — with a frequency range between 55-20.000Hz – that is backed by a pair of 30W Class D amps, enabling the circular speaker to blare out at up to 92dB. The speaker’s sound is also adjustable, with five preset EQs, plus the option for full customization via the Bang & Olufsen app. Offer in Black Anthracite (seen here) and Grey Mist, this Cecilie Manz-designed speaker is constructed from pearl-blasted aluminum and polymer and is complemented via a custom aluminum-bead-adorned waterproof leather band.

Battery: 18 hours
Charging Time: 3 hours
Resistance: IP67
Size: ‎5.24 x 1.83 x 5.24 inches (1.23 lbs)

Marshall Middleton

Marshall Middleton
  • Multi-directional stereo sound
  • Long battery life
  • Can connect to other Middleton speakers for bigger sound
  • Can adjust bass and treble on the speaker
  • Stack Mode can be inconsistent

Best Loud Speaker: Released at the beginning of the month, the Emberton is a cutting-edge portable Bluetooth speaker dressed up in the British brand’s signature style. The crisp booming sound comes from a pair of 2” 10W full-range drivers with passive radiators set behind Marshall’s classic white script badge and cross-wire grille. The Emberton’s timeless design has been paired with a minimalistic and intuitive control layout boasting only the bare essentials, with the top of the device sporting a brass multi-directional control knob, an LED battery level indicator, and a Bluetooth pairing button. The speaker also benefits from the London-based firm’s True Stereophonic 360-degree sound, which emits sound waves in every direction. The battery on the Emberton is no less impressive, offering more than 20 hours of music playback time and only taking three hours to fully recharge, though 20 minutes of charging allows for another five hours of playback. Utilizing Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, the Emberton also has a 30’ range. Weighing 1.5lbs, the speaker is also IPX7-rated.

Battery: 20 hours
Charging Time: 4.5 hours
Resistance: IPX7
Size: 4.29 x 9.06 x 3.74 inches (4 lbs)

JBL Xtreme 3

JBL Xtreme 3
  • Solid volume with deep bass
  • Convenient hooks for a carrying strap
  • Comes with a built-in bottle opener
  • App could use more features

Best Speaker Overall: Building on the success of the 2nd model, JBL’s Xtreme 3 offers better sound with markedly better bass and a newer version of Bluetooth connectivity while retaining the rugged construction and long-lasting battery life that made the first-gen Xtreme a best-seller for the American audio outfit. Built around a metal base and adorned in a hard-wearing fabric, this IP67-rated Bluetooth speaker packs built-in microphones for speakerphone and voice assistant use and a 5000mAh battery that offers up to 15 hours of music playback and can receive a full recharge in 2.5 hours. Offered in a variety of colors, this stereo also features integrated hooks and a removable nylon carrying strap with an integrated bottle opener for easy carrying. Using the JBL Connect app, the Xtreme 3 can also have its sound parameters tweaked, or be linked up with as many as 100 other JBL Connect-linked speakers in the immediate vicinity. And, unlike some of the pint-sized items earlier on this list, this speaker can ring out at high enough volumes to keep a party going without suffering from any distortion.

Battery: 15 hours
Charging Time: 2.5 hours
Resistance: IP67
Size: 11.75 x 5.35 x 5.28 inches (4.34 lbs)

Sony SRS-XP500 X-Series

Sony SRS XP700 X Series
  • Karaoke mood
  • Inputs for mics and guitars
  • LED lighting
  • Can charge other devices
  • Large, but still portable and relatively easy to transport

Best Party Speaker: What the Sony SRS-XP500 X-Series speaker lacks in portability, it more than makes up for with an extended 20-hour battery life (that only requires 3 hours to replenish, with a quick charge of 10 minutes providing 80 minutes of playback time) and enough volume and range to rock any party (with an added karaoke mood to boot). While this may be a bit harder to lug around, it comes with an integrated carry handle and can easily be transported by one person. You’re getting powerful sound and deep bass, with support for SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs, along with IPX4 resistance to keep water at bay. You can rock the party with the karaoke mode, and there are 2 mic/guitar rear inputs if you’re in the mood for an impromptu live show. Again, this may not be quite as portable as the previous picks, but it’s super convenient for large gatherings, camping trips, and sing-a-longs, with even more convenience provided by the speaker’s ability to charge other devices. Adding to the party vibe, the speaker is equipped with LED indirect illumination lighting.

Battery: 20 hours
Charging Time: 3 hours
Resistance: IPX4
Size: 10.83 x 22.52 x 11.61 inches (24 lbs)

Sonos Move 2

Sonos Move 2
  • Included wireless charging base
  • Made with shock absorbent materials
  • Built-in handle
  • Voice control
  • On the heavy side, but still portable

Best Sounding Speaker: Another option for those seeking something of an audiophile-grade experience, the Sonos Move 2 speaker offers incredible sound thanks to a cabinet-integrated mid-woofer and two tweeters (one more than the original) helped along by twin Class-D digital amplifiers. The speaker’s amazing sound quality also hugely benefits from the use of Trueplay tuning, which constantly adapts to the speaker’s surroundings to deliver optimized sound regardless of a location’s acoustics. The Move 2 is also fairly rugged, with a shock-resistant case and an IP56 rating. The speaker is also compatible with Apple AirPlay, the Sonos app (and the Sonos S2 and Sonos Radio apps), and Amazon Alexa, and can be connected via WiFi or Bluetooth. Another premium touch is the Move’s included wireless charging base, though additional charging bases are available for an additional cost. There’s also a 24-hour battery, capacitive touch controls, and a cabinet-integrated, sunken, ergonomic carrying handle. Once connected to your home’s WiFi, this smart speaker can automatically run software updates.

Battery: 24 hours
Charging Time: 3 hours
Resistance: IP56
Size: 24.1 x 16 x 12.7cm (6 lbs)

The Best Travel Headphones Right Now

Best Travel Headphones 0 Hero

If you’re planning on traveling with your new speaker, you might want some travel headphones for personal use when the party is over.