If you need a portable way to pump up the jam, portable Bluetooth speakers—small enough to throw in a bag or backpack take on the go (or even strap to a belt or shower rod)—have quickly become a household commodity. In fact, there are so many thousands of portable Bluetooth speakers, even just on Amazon, that parsing through them all is an almost impossible task.
But luckily for you, we did most of the work already. While we didn't quite send all of Amazon's 40,000 Bluetooth speakers through the lab, we've tangoed with dozens of little music makers. Not only are there a lot of really awesome portable Bluetooth speakers out there, but there are plenty affordable ones. Our favorite under $50 is the Anker Soundcore 2(available at Amazon). Between the easy-to-press buttons and excellent sound quality, it's the definition of solid. But there are plenty of other good options on our list, each with its own specialty.
These are the best Bluetooth speakers we tested ranked, in order:
Anker Soundcore 2
Aomais Sport II
JBL Clip 3
Oontz Angle 3
Tribit XSound Go
Oontz Angle solo
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Anker Soundcore 2
Aomais Sport II
How We Tested
What You Should Know About Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Our favorite affordable option in Anker's Soundcore portable speaker line, the SoundCore 2 is basic, straightforward, and useful. It features a sturdy rectangular design with big, easy-to-push buttons and a very tightly sealed set of inputs for USB charging and a 3.5 input.
The first thing we noticed about the SoundCore 2 was its sound quality. For being small, portable, and fairly lightweight, it has less tinniness in its trebles than a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers and more bass presence. Between the low price point and the wide array of colors, it's a very clear value pick as far as portable speakers go. It doesn't get majorly loud, but it gets about as loud as most people will probably need it to, and all without a touch of distortion.
Last but definitely not least, the Anker SoundCore 2 has an IPX7 water-resistance rating, meaning it can sit in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, and it's capable of taking a dunk in the pool with no ill effects—exactly what you want here.
The Aomais Sport II is a surprisingly good choice where affordable water-resistant Bluetooth speakers go. Available in somewhat tropical colors (orange, green, etc.), the Sport II is a mid-sized speaker that's hugely popular on Amazon—and for good reason.
For being so affordable, the Sport II has a robust scheme, similar to a lot of wireless Bluetooth headphones: short presses of the volume keys will raise and lower volume, while a long press works to scrub between tracks. RGB indicators on the front of the speaker show whether it's powered on, ready for Bluetooth pairing, or running low on battery.
But the best thing about the Sport II is that its larger size (about 9-inches wide) and familiar boombox shape help it to put out some really solid audio quality. For a battery-powered portable speaker, it really pumps out a good amount of volume and has good representation in the middle and bass frequencies. As mentioned, its IPX7 rating also keeps it safe from fresh water in virtually any scenario, just don't let it soak for more than a few minutes. For what you're paying, there's serious value here.
Howdy, I'm Lee Neikirk, Home Theater Editor for Reviewed and casual video/audiophile. I've been elbows-deep in professional reviews of video and audio products for the last nine years, but before that, I was earning a degree in music performance, so it's safe to say that audio quality and presentation are passions of mine. At home, I utilize guitar amplifiers, studio monitors for music mastering, and a sound "plate" for my TV. But nothing is more delightful than a compact, rugged, or waterproof speaker that can fill space with music; it's like magic!
While portable Bluetooth speakers are decidedly products meant mostly for fun—jamming out on the beach or keeping step to the rhythm on a hike or camping trip—we take testing fairly seriously. Every speaker on the list is tested for elements like water- and dust-proofing, battery life, general durability, sound quality, features, and compatibility.
We use each speaker with a range of source devices—Android and Apple smartphones, laptops, and so on—and have no qualms about throwing them in the pool to see how they survive. We listen to a wide variety of musical genres from sources like Spotify and Apple Music, and test Wi-Fi and smart home functionality where applicable. Most importantly, we use the speakers in a range of environments, from backyards to hotel rooms to campsites, as well as in our own homes.
The best speakers are determined by a weighted rating system that takes things like cost, portability, features, and various aspects of sound quality into account. Our ultimate goal is to find the best Bluetooth speakers across a wide variety of use cases and price points.
What You Should Know About Portable Bluetooth Speakers
We count a portable Bluetooth speaker as any speaker that you can connect to wirelessly over Bluetooth connection, has a battery for powering on away from outlets, and is small/light enough to be carried with you or stowed in a bag.
While this can include a very wide range of speaker types and price points, generally portable Bluetooth speakers fall between $30 and $200 in price and include a suite of key features like Bluetooth connectivity (duh), onboard volume adjustment, 3.5mm aux input, and often an accompanying app.
Features like water resistance, a rugged exterior, LED indicators, and bass boosting vary depending on the model—those kinds of things are usually what you’re paying more for. However, these days you'll find speakers at almost every price point will be equipped to survive a dunk in the pool.
How Loud Are Bluetooth Speakers?
Another key thing to understand about portable Bluetooth speakers is that they’re more of a replacement for your smartphone than for traditional home theater speakers or soundbars.
Although you can get really big, boombox-style portable speakers that might be able to blow the roof off a house party, most of the speakers we tested aren’t amazingly loud. They’re loud enough to provide music for a small gathering or, at best, a decent-sized backyard get-together, but if you’re in the raucous throes of a party, most of these will be drowned out.
Where this starts to matter more is when you’re using one of these speakers in an on-the-go situation. Because of the relatively low power of most of the speakers here, using them outside on a windy beach or hanging from your handlebars as you pedal through the woods may not always yield crystal clear audio. But you’ll know music is playing, and for some of our top choices, you'll get powerful enough sound to fully enjoy it in virtually any environment.
As for audio quality, one reason these speakers don’t get mega loud is that if they did, it would introduce distortion. Instead, engineers have capped the relative output to maintain clarity, which is a smart move both for your listening enjoyment and for the life of the soldered wires inside. That said, in recent years compression techniques and advanced hardware engineering have pushed small speakers to great heights when it comes to power and clarity, even at top volume.
What About Dust & Water Resistance?
Most portable Bluetooth speakers these days are splash and/or water-resistant on top of being extra-rugged or capped with rubber components to help protect them from falls.
Anything with an IPX7 or above can be safely booted into the pool when a song is playing without incident, and most new speakers you get these days will have this rating. Dropping to IPX6 means it's not technically dunkable, but should survive rain, jet streams, and other elements.
Speaking of IP ratings, while the second number indicates water resistance, the first is for dust resistance. You'll generally find that a rating of 5 or higher is all you'll need to protect the speaker from ingress. For more information you can check this guide to IP ratings.
Other Portable Bluetooth Speakers We Tested
There's not much reason not to pick the Anker SoundCore if you're just looking for something simple and reliable. One of the most popular Bluetooth speakers of all time, this affordable product may not have any overt quirks, gimmicks, or standout features, but it checks off all the basic boxes for a price that's hard to argue with.
Available in black, blue, and red, the original SoundCore boasts 24 hours of battery life, a sturdy rectangular design, and big, easy-to-press buttons (although they can be a little hard to make out given that they're identically colored with the rest of the chassis). The sound quality is solid, with good bass and treble presence and plenty of volume.
Like the SoundCore 2, the original SoundCore has USB charging and an input for a 3.5mm jack. Unlike the upgraded SoundCore 2, however, the ports are uncovered, which is potentially problematic. Depending on how you plan on using the speaker this may or may not be a major issue—the speaker is still rated for IPX5 water resistance, meaning it can survive a rainy afternoon in the elements. But if you plan on taking your portable speaker on a lot of dusty outings or you think it may take a tumble in the pool, you may want to find one that's sealed up a little better.
JBL's "Clip" line of portable Bluetooth speakers have been kicking around for years, and while they definitely break the mold where most Bluetooth speakers are concerned, they've got sticking power for a reason. The tiny Clip 3 is so named because it features a small partial carabiner clip for it to hang on various things—belt loops, bike handles, shower rods, and so on.
For being a tiny speaker, the Clip 3 has a pretty big sound. Even when its sitting on its backside unclipped (which oriented the drivers skyward ... not super ideal), it fills space and plays back cleanly without distortion. That said, the maximum volume isn't much, and there's also not a ton of bass, so if you're going for sheer power, you may want to consider stepping up to the upgraded JBL Clip 4, or one of our other picks instead.
For the price, however, the Clip 3 is great. At max volume, it puts out more sound than you might expect, and it's perfect for shower tunes or taking podcasts on the road. It's also available in a huge variety of colors, which is just downright fun. If you need a handy little speaker that's waterproof, the IPX7-rated Clip 3 is a fine option.
Surprisingly big sound
Clip for easy, convenient hanging
Free of distortion
Sound is aimed skyward when clipped onto something
The 3rd generation of the "Angle" Bluetooth speaker, you can pick this simple, portable triangle speaker in a wide range of colors (black, blue, red, white, and even "Coca-Cola"). Like the other Angle speakers (and the smaller Angle solo), it features a clean, minimalist design, with materials that avoid that "very cheap" feeling of many Bluetooth speakers in this price range.
The main thing to understand about the Angle speakers (almost regardless of which one you buy) is that they're inherently focused on their sound output. While most of the portable Bluetooth speakers we check out fire in one direction, the Angles are especially directional. This makes them good for isolating sound to a particular space, but not good for situations where you'd want the sound to radiate throughout an area.
With that in mind, the Angle 3 is great for a desktop situation, and it sounds pretty good too. The downward-firing bass speaker provides good warmth within the lower and midrange areas of the frequency spectrum. However, while its IPX5 water-resistance rating means its good for heavy rain, there are better poolside options out there.
The Tribit XSound Go is definitely a step up from the average portable Bluetooth speaker. The XSound Go isn't the biggest or the loudest option in the lineup, but considering the fact that there's an upgraded "MaxSound Go," you can find it on sale pretty readily.
Despite being a bit older, the XSound Go is still worth checking out. Its small form factor feels very sturdy thanks to the metal chassis. The buttons along the top are simple and clearly labeled. Like most Bluetooth speakers, you can't skip tracks using the volume buttons, but there is a big "play" (pause) button. The XSound Go is cool to the touch and features a braided wrist strap, though in our testing it seemed clear you wouldn't want to get too rambunctious with it.
As for the sound, despite its little size, the Go has a good amount of power, but you kind of have to turn it up a lot. Its firm build means it won't vibrate or distort easily, but it also only articulates sound in one direction, meaning it's probably better for a stationary activity than hanging off of someone's bike during a trail ride. That said, it's ready for the elements (and a dunk in the sink or pool) with IPX7 water resistance. It's available in basic black and a darker blue color.
This speaker in the Oontz "Angle" line (actually by Cambridge Soundworks) is another big hit on Amazon. The Angle Solo is a small, very affordable Bluetooth speaker that gets its name from the speaker's triangular shape.
This one's inexpensive, but it feels sturdy and well made, featuring rounded black plastic and a logo-emblazoned speaker grill. Something about it looks really perfect on your desk: the way it sits, angling its speaker upwards towards a listener who is seated at a table. Because it's one of the smaller speakers in the roundup, the Angle solo isn't particularly loud or robust, but it's designed well enough to deliver clean, distortion-free sound even at higher volumes.
The Angle Solo isn't big enough to fill a space with music (in fact, it's small enough to have slots for attaching it to a keychain), but it's a good choice for a desktop or picnic table situation. Maybe not party-ready, but it can take on the weather with its IPX5 water resistance rating, and it could bring the funk to a more intimate gathering.
The Doss Touch is a decent choice, especially if you're on a budget. It's a larger speaker with very robust sound for the price: not the highest quality, but at least pretty loud. While it's not fully waterproof—and can't be dunked—like most speakers these days, it offers IPX5 water resistance to allow you to leave it a heavy rain with no ill effects.
The Touch's big rectangular black plastic chassis isn't going to win any design awards, but it does put out some big sound. In fact, it's one of the louder, clearer, and better-sounding devices in this price range that we tested. You can adjust the volume by running your finger clockwise or counter-clockwise around the blue circle on top of the Touch, and skip forward/backward through tracks with the arrow keys. It's a simple enough system, and the light-up buttons look a bit chintzy, but it works.
If we were recommending speakers to a friend, we'd tell them to go for a slightly nicer speaker with a better design, more detailed sound, and more features. But if you want to shave down costs, the Doss Touch sounds bigger than you'd expect for the price.
When we first booted up the Zosam V5, a robotic voice from the PlayStation era informed us that "The device is ready for connection." Once we'd synced up a phone it announced "Connected," and we knew everything was going to be alright.
Silliness of presentation aside, the Zosam V5 isn't a bad choice, though it has some serious eccentricities. On top of the weird announcer voice, its textured, hard plastic chassis makes it feel more like an '80s action figure than a modern recreation product. The matte black-on-gray aesthetic really hammers that home, too. In fact, on Amazon, the available colors are "black" and "black2." Point made.
The V5 sounds ok—though at times elements of the frequency seem "further away" than they do in higher-quality speakers and headphones. Likewise, at higher volumes, the front-facing speaker (which handles treble/mids) seems to outpace the rear speaker a bit in terms of volume. While the IPX6 water-resistance rating makes it pretty weather-resistant, the plastic also feels a bit cheap. The V5 isn't overpriced, but you can probably do better in this price range.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.