What to Look for in a Bluetooth Speaker
Bluetooth speakers are a simple enough gadget but, still, there are a few things to look for as you’re shopping for one:
- Great Audio Quality: Ultimately, this is the most important part of a speaker, but you can’t really derive much from the store page about a speaker’s audio quality. Sure, almost every manufacturer will tell you that their speakers sound amazing, but you’ll want to rely more on the testimony of reviewers and customers before purchasing. We’ve already taken those steps for these speakers, but it’s always important to do your research before purchasing something like this.
- Size: A lot of Bluetooth speakers place an emphasis on portability, which is then accompanied by smaller builds. Convenient if you’re planning on taking it on the go, but if it’ll only be used at home then being smaller leads to needlessly worse audio quality. That doesn’t mean every small speaker sounds bad, mind you; many of them pack in impressive sound for their size, but if you’re purchasing this for the home don’t be afraid to get something larger.
- RELATEDHow Water Resistance Ratings Work for Gadgets Durability: Water resistance, shock resistance, and dust protection are all useful regardless if the speaker will be at home or on the go. Speakers are expensive, and you don’t want your’s breaking just because you spilled some water on it. Ingress Protection ratings are noteworthy as they let you know exactly what the speaker can withstand before being severely damaged.
- Battery: Part of the advantage of Bluetooth connection is a lack of wires, and that’s further emphasized by portable speakers, which lack power cords as well. In that case battery life is a crucial thing to keep in mind, and longer is always better of course. Some models can last for up to 24 hours on a single charge, but any that can last for around 18 hours are good, too.
Best Overall: Sonos One
- ✓ High-end sound
- ✓ Smart assistant integration
- ✓ Sleek design
- ✗ Needs to be plugged in, so it’s not portable
The Sonos One is an all-encompassing home speaker that keeps things compact while sounding great. The sleek design will look great anywhere in your home. It has convenient media controls on top, but if that doesn’t work for you, then the voice assistant support will. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built-in, so this speaker can fit in fantastically with either smart home ecosystem. You can also use Apple Airplay 2 to smooth things out for iOS users.
It’s a fantastic speaker for whatever you need it for—as long as you’re near a power outlet, as the One needs to be plugged in all the time.
A sleek and stylish home speaker that brings excellent sound and useful smart home features.
Best Budget Pick: Tribit XSound Go
- ✓ Compact
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ 24 hours of battery life
- ✗ Sound isn’t as impressive as high-end speakers
Tribit is known for quality budget audio, and the XSound Go drags the price down even lower while retaining its impressive sound. It’s got media controls on top, an IPX7 water-resistant body, and a sleek exterior that’s easy to throw in your bag and take with you on the go. Plus, with 24 hours of battery life, you’ll be able to listen all day while knowing you got a great deal.
Tribit XSound Go
This compact speaker cuts the price down big time from other speakers, while still offering decent audio quality.
Best Premium Choice: Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
- ✓ Loud
- ✓ Sounds great
- ✓ Durable. travel-friendly design
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ Big (for a portable speaker)
Have you ever been disappointed by how loud a speaker was? Because if so, the Hyperboom‘s ultra-sound speakers will never let you down in the audio department, while delivering high-quality audio in a durable package—for a price. It’s expensive, but for good reason.
Ultimate Ear’s Hyperboom speaker is a travel-oriented powerhouse that features IPX4 water resistance and a massive wireless range of 150 feet. It’s outfitted with a rugged design and a handle to carry it around, along with a big battery with enough juice for 24 hours of use. If you want great sound with no compromises, the Hyperboom gives you that and more.
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
A high-end speaker that can handle extremely loud volumes without compromising quality.
Best Outdoors Speaker: Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3
- ✓ 360-degree audio
- ✓ Gorgeous, durable construction
- ✓ Magic button for media controls
- ✗ Not small
When it comes to balancing price, durability, and sound quality, the MEGABOOM 3 is unrivaled. This speaker features an IP67 rating, meaning it can endure a good amount of dust and water intrusion without taking damage, and the 360 degrees audio can fill up any space with your favorite tunes. There’s 20 hours of battery life, a “Magic Button” on top for media controls, and you can pair it with other Ultimate Ears speakers for a surround sound experience.
Speaking of other Ultimate Ears speakers, the WONDERBOOM 2 comes with similar advantages to the MEGABOOM 3 in a more compact form factor. It’s a great alternative if you want something smaller and less expensive.
Best Outdoors Speaker
Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3
If you want something to hang around outside, the ultra-durable MEGABOOM 3 is excellent for that.
Best Portable Speaker: JBL Flip 5
- ✓ Compact
- ✓ Sounds great
- ✓ Extremely durable
- ✗ Battery life is middling
Size and audio quality can be tricky things to get right for a portable speaker. You want something compact, but not to the point of diminishing the audio quality, and JBL’s Flip 5 strikes a good balance. It can easily fit into any bag while packing excellent audio and features into a waterproof design (rated IPX7). It can last for 12 hours, comes in a wide variety of different colors and styles, and you can connect multiple JBL speakers for surround sound. It’s a very solid speaker all-around, and it’ll be great for any trips you have coming up.
Best Portable Speaker
JBL Flip 5
An all-around solid speaker that keep things compact.
Best Battery: JBL Charge 5
- ✓ Can charge other devices
- ✓ Sounds great
- ✓ Durable
- ✗ Kind of bulky
The JBL Charge 5 lasts for 20 hours on a full charge. That isn’t quite as much compared to some of the other speakers on our list; however, what is more useful is how it lets you use that power. The Charge 5 is a power brick as well as a speaker, so you can connect other devices to it for a quick top-up. This is on top of excellent audio quality, a durable design rated IP67, and surround sound by connecting multiple JBL speakers together. If battery life is always a concern for you, the Charge 5 lets you replace the spare power brick you’ve been carrying around and simplify your bag setup.
JBL Charge 5
If great audio isn’t enough for you, the Charge 5 can double as a power bank for your other devices.