Back in the old days, the best way to listen to music with friends was by using somebody's phone. But while a smartphone's sleek build and compact design are one of its strengths—it's a device that lives primarily in a pants pocket, after all—they don't make for the best speakers.
However, there's a choice between your tiny, low volume phone and those awkwardly-shaped, unportable sound bars. That's where portable Bluetooth speakers come in: compact, portable, and often weather- or water-resistant, they're the natural response to our natural desire to take our tunes on the go.
The only problem with portable Bluetooth speakers? There's just way too many of them. That's why we tested over 20 of the best-selling Bluetooth speakers to discover which are the best of the best. With its long battery life, hard plastic chassis, and awesome sound quality, the JBL Flip 4(available at Amazon) ended up being our top pick. Not your cup of tea? Don't worry, we've got plenty of other options.
These are the best Bluetooth speakers we tested ranked, in order:
JBL Flip 4
Anker Soundcore 2
Bose SoundLink Revolve
JBL Flip 3
Bose SoundLink Micro
Anker Soundcore Flare+
JBL Clip 3
UE Roll 2
harman/kardon Esquire Mini
JBL Clip 2
Aomais Sport II
Oontz Angle 3
Tribit XSound Go
Oontz Angle solo
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The JBL Flip 4 isn't the cheapest speaker on the list, but there's a reason for the high price tag: it sounds awesome, it's decently waterproof (IPX7), and it boasts beefier battery life than smaller options.
From the knock-resistant hard plastic chassis to the cleanly spaced volume, play, and Bluetooth buttons, the Flip 4 stands out from the collective a bit in terms of pure polish and quality. It's not the loudest speaker on the list but it provides a good balance of bass, midtones, and treble frequencies. It's lighter than smaller speakers, which definitely adds to its overall portability, and is available in a wide range of colors like blue, red, teal, and even camo (yikes).
If you need waterproofing, outdoorsy sturdiness, good volume, and the ability to connect more than one Bluetooth source at a time, the Flip 4 is one of the best choices. It also delivers more impressive, rumbling bass than almost anything else I tested, which is one of the hardest attributes to find where portable Bluetooth speakers go. No matter how you plan to use it—indoor, outdoor, dry, wet, stationary, or in motion—the Flip 4 delivers the goods.
The latest iteration in Anker's portable speaker line, dubbed SoundCore, 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 I 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 is, of course, rated IPX7 waterproof, meaning it's capable of at least partial submersion without being rendered useless—exactly what you want 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 7 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!
Testing for these portable Bluetooth speakers was a fairly simple process. I took a big box of them home and over a few weeks, sampled and used them in different locations in my home. I didn't do any objective testing for audio quality, but I did listen to them closely, comparing them to a range of other speaker sources, as well as headphones.
But perhaps just as important (if not more important) than checking out each speaker's audio quality was simply using it like the average person would: connecting over Bluetooth, setting it up on a desk or table, and listening to music. I'd crank the speakers up to max to check for distortion or buzzing, and cycle through each speaker's various functions.
Sometimes speakers sounded great at every volume, connected immediately, had responsive buttons and stylized Bluetooth feedback, and so on. Sometimes they presented a chintzy or questionable experience. The final ranking represents a rough approximation of those traits alongside the cost/value of the speaker.
What You Should Know About Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Technically, a portable Bluetooth speaker is any speaker that doesn’t need to be plugged into power on and play music, that you can connect to, wirelessly, via Bluetooth connection, and are small/light enough to be carried with you or stowed in a bag.
While this can include a pretty wide range of sizes and price points, generally portable Bluetooth speakers fall between $30 and $100 in price and include a suite of key features like Bluetooth connectivity (duh), volume adjustment, 3.5mm aux input, and micro USB charging.
Features like splash or waterproofing, rugged exteriors, LED indicators, and bass boosting vary depending on the model—those kinds of things are usually what you’re paying more (or less) for. But you can always safely assume any portable Bluetooth speaker you buy will be wireless and work with whatever type of phone you have.
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 bookshelf speakers or even 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 a modest 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 wattage 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 that’s probably as good as you’re going to get without using headphones.
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.
What’s the Difference between Splash and Waterproof?
Many portable Bluetooth speakers are splash and/or waterproof on top of being extra rugged or capped with rubber components to help protect them from falls.
But it can be a little hard to know if it’s safe to “accidentally” boot your little speaker into the pool when a song you hate comes on, so check this guide to the ranking system if you’re really curious.
Other Portable Bluetooth Speakers We Tested
Bose SoundLink Revolve
This handsome portable speaker from Bose is definitely for the deeper pockets crowd. For the price, the SoundLink Revolve delivers an altogether different shape, experience, and general level of quality than a lot of the Bluetooth speakers on our list.
Because of its tall, conical shape and heftier size, the Revolve is able to disperse a lot of sound throughout the room but has enough weight to deliver robust sound (and bass/midtones) without introducing distortion or impeding its portability. It's obviously not nearly as loud as a standard bookshelf speaker, but for what it is, the Revolve produces very crisp, pleasing audio. It's also got a microphone for voice prompts, which is admittedly a very niche feature, but certainly a welcome one.
The Revolve is expensive, but I feel that it's priced fairly. You're paying a little more for the vaunted Bose label, but getting a Bluetooth speaker that's this portable but still sounds this good is definitely worth the price for an audiophile crowd.
The JBL Flip 3 is a pill-shaped, portable product available in a huge variety of colors. It features rubber cappings and some splash proofing, giving it good legs to stand on when it comes to toting it along on unplanned adventures.
For the price, the JBL Flip 3 provides a notable laundry list of features. The first thing I noticed was how clear and direct the sound was, filling the space with clear, balanced sound that's mostly omnidirectional and distortion-free. What's more, the addition of splash-proofing and a rugged design mean the high-quality audio is paired with serious portability.
There's really no reason not to go with the JBL Flip 3. If you're looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker that wears many hats, this is it. It's got good audio quality and reliable functionality, allowing it to stand in as a stay-at-home speaker—but also boasts the portability, splash-proof features, and tough rubbery build to allow it to flourish on trips to the beach or at the campsite. Friendly, musical power/pairing cues and the wide variety of colors are just icing on the cake.
If you're looking to secure a fancier-than-average portable Bluetooth speaker, the Bose SoundLink Micro delivers, but you're going to pay for it. My first thought when I encountered this popular little portable speaker was, "Why is it so expensive? Is it worth it, or is it just because it's a Bose?"
Well, yes and no. The SoundLink Micro checks off a lot of the right boxes: it's made of durable but soft-to-the-touch materials and features notably elegant design details. In fact, while most portable Bluetooth speakers of this size are made of cheap, hard plastic, the SoundLink Micro feels nicer in my hands than, frankly, most things I've ever held. It's surprisingly soft—in fact, I asked my co-worker Ashley to hold it, and we agreed it was straight up cuddly. Granted, the silicone finish is what helps the Micro to be waterproof, but it certainly doubles as a silky smooth exterior.
Of course, its svelte design isn't the only reason to pay more for the Micro. In classic Bose fashion, the sound is more or less impeccable. However, it's worth noting that the Micro also costs twice as much as something like the Anker Soundcore 2, while delivering a similar aural presence. It's a little nicer, and it definitely sounds better, but I'm not convinced that in this particular product category, most folks are going to want to pay twice as much for such a subtle improvement in overall quality.
But if the price is no object, this is one of the nicest portable Bluetooth speakers around.
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. Considering the widespread popularity of the SoundCore, I doubt it's a major issue, but if you plan on taking your portable speaker on a lot of dusty or drippy outings, you may want to find one that's sealed up a little better.
The Flare+ lives up to its namesake. This tall, conical speaker is one of the only ones I've seen to feature flashing, music-synced LED lights. It's one of the larger speakers that I tested and features a handsome, deep gray coloration and speaker grill, intuitive controls, and some neat features.
First off, the Flare+ sounds really good. It's one of the bigger speakers we tested, and its 360-degree speaker design and sheer height/size give it a leg up over the smaller, more compact speakers I tested. It's easy to control, and if you don't like the light show you can shut it off. Personally, I'm on the fence about it. During use, I found the light synced up kind of weirdly to the music I was playing and didn't have the satisfying, full glow of the LEDs as they appear on the box. But that's what I get for listening to late 80s Phil Collins.
However, maybe the best thing about the Flare+ is that it's waterproof, which I definitely wouldn't expect if someone just handed it to me on the street. That means not only is it a big, colorful option for your pool party but if the dog accidentally knocks it into the water, it should survive the plunge. Overall, it's a most robust choice, especially as far as waterproof options go.
JBL's "Clip" line of portable Bluetooth speakers have been kicking around for a few 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 without clipping it on anything (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, so if you're going for sheer volume, the Clip may not be a good choice.
For the price, however, the Clip 3 is great. At max volume, I even heard a few vocal lines I hadn't heard in one of my favorite songs before. 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 Clip 3 is the way to go.
The UE Roll 2 is a portable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker. This makes it a great choice if you want to blast some tunes at the pool or on the beach without worrying about water damage. We nabbed the "volcano" version, but it's available in a wide range of colors.
After a bit of fidgeting, getting Spotify playing on the UE Roll 2 was easy. There's a power button on the back of the device that puts it into Bluetooth mode as soon as it's on. The cross pattern on the front of the speaker has two pressable areas that make volume adjustment simple. The device also announces its "on" and "paired" status with audio feedback tones, which is nice.
Where sound quality is concerned, the Roll rocks pretty solidly. I noticed decent bass presence, but a little excess treble, where things like snare hits were notably higher in the mix than they were on my headphones. There's some risk of losing out on mid-range audibility here, but overall the audio quality is decent for the price, especially considering everything else this product offers.
One of the fancier options in the list, the Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini (available in classy black or white) boasts portability and a fetching design, but with its small stature and lack of splash-proofing, it's definitely not gunning for outdoor use.
The Esquire Mini's best foot forward is definitely its elegant, slimmed-down design. It's plenty loud enough for an office desktop, but the audio leans more towards a conference call EQ than something that you can jam to while you're out and about. That's not to say the Esquire Mini sounds bad; it just seems to be doing double duty as a music device and a conference speaker.
I love the finish and design flourishes that the Esquire Mini boasts—the kickstand on the back is an especially cool idea, allowing you to set it up for slightly more private, directional playback. However, the EQ here and lack of any durability or splash proofing makes it much more appropriate for sitting on a desk or living room table.
The Tribit Xboom is a very popular speaker. Its rounded shape, rubber strap, and bright, oversized buttons silhouetted against the black speaker grill give it a rugged, playful aesthetic. This one keeps things pretty simple: it has big volume and pause buttons on the top, and on the backside, clearly labeled Bluetooth and bass buttons. There's good tactile and sound-based feedback when you push buttons, and on the back, inputs for USB charging and an aux cable.
This isn't the most straight-laced speaker. The capped ends where the bass resonates out of tiny woofers display "Tribit" and "Xboom" logos in font that's a little more 90s Mountain Dew commercial than I would like, but that's nit-picking. On the other hand, unlike a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers, it's only available in one color (black), so if you're looking for something a little more colorful, you might want to look elsewhere.
As sound quality goes, the Xboom sounds great. Its rounded form gives it good aural presence (within reason) and it gets plenty loud. At higher volumes it sounds kind of tinny sometimes, but overall it's not a bad sounding speaker at all.
The JBL Clip 2 is an on-the-go portable Bluetooth speaker available in a wide range of colors—black, blue, red, camo, to name a few. It's round and waterproof (or splashproof, more realistically) and gets its name from its big metal carabiner clip.
The Clip 2 is one of the quieter, weaker speakers on the list. It's also one of the most portable devices, and the carabiner clip makes it clear it's meant to accompany a hike through the woods or a nighttime bike ride. It's a usable speaker of course, but lacks the power necessary to really fill a poolside space, and would probably be inaudible on the beach.
With louder, more balanced-sounding portable options available, the Clip 2 is hard to outright recommend, though it excels at simple being a rugged, tough little speaker.
The Archeer A320 is a unique Bluetooth speaker. It delivers a rustic wooden design, and it's big enough to accommodate two 5W speakers and a 15 W subwoofer. It also comes with a carrying bag!
The big, attractive Archeer made a huge impression on me as soon as I started playing a song. The similarity to my pricy over-ear headphones was very noticeable, which the full frequency range sounding cleanly. It also delivered more natural volume throughout the room than some of the smaller and admittedly more portable speakers in the roundup. This three-speaker entry puts out some serious volume.
While it's pretty hard to argue the portability of this product—and it definitely isn't what we'd call feature rich—it delivers a very robust audio experience. This is a great choice if you're just looking for something that's mostly static but still has the option of portability. The wooden veneer is a nice touch, too.
The Aomais Sport II is a surprisingly good choice where affordable, waterproof 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 more robust control scheme than the average Bluetooth speaker. In fact, it's 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.
However, the best thing about the Sport II is that its larger size and familiar boombox shape give it 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. For what you're paying, there's serious value here.
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 kind of 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 in their sound output. While most of the portable Bluetooth speakers we checked out fire in one direction, the angled 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 it's water resistant, there are better poolside options out there—this one's best off indoors.
The Tribit XSound Go is definitely a step up from the average portable Bluetooth speaker. The XSound Go isn't the biggest nor the loudest option in the lineup, but considering it's been recently replaced by the newer "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 that I'm not super sure would hold its weight if you got 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. It's 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. It's available in basic black and a darker blue color.
You've probably never heard of Oontz, but the "Angle" line (actually by Cambridge Soundworks) is a big hit on Amazon. The Angle solo is a small, very affordable Bluetooth speaker that gets its name from the triangular shape of the speaker.
This one's inexpensive, but it feels sturdy/not cheap and features rounded black plastic and a logo-emblazoned speaker grill. Something about it looks really perfect on my 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 built 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 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.
The Touch's big rectangular black plastic chassis isn't going to win any design awards, but it does sound good. 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 I was going to spend more money, I'd go for a slightly nicer speaker with a better design, waterproofing, or whatever. But if you want to shave down costs, the Doss Touch sounds bigger than it is for the price.
One of the cheapest Bluetooth speakers on the list, the tiny Xleader A8 nevertheless enjoys considerable popularity—at least on Amazon, which is probably the only place you can buy it. It's not that hard to guess why the A8 has thousands of reviews, as it's one of the most affordable portable Bluetooth speakers around .
That cheapness does make itself known in various ways, not the least of which is the general audio quality. The A8's small speaker design fires into the surface upon which it sits, which of course is by design, with the small space allowing a higher, tinnier speaker to actually sound more middling/bassy as it bounces off of the floor. It's a smart choice as far as the design goes, however, the A8 also can't be used in any other fashion except to bounce off of a surface, so depending on where you place it, your audio quality mileage may vary.
The touch-response buttons light up a bright blue (it's a bit much) and we received a "gold" A8 instead of a "rose gold" A8. The "you're connected" and "power off" voices sound very bizarre, too, and the presence of a TransFlash card slot is kind of baffling. However, if you can stomach the array of strange design choices and general cheapness, getting this little speaker isn't a bad move.
When I first booted up the Zosam V5, a robotic voice from the PlayStation era informed that "The device is ready for connection." Once I'd synced up my phone it announced "Connected," and I knew I was in for a good time.
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, and the matte black on gray aesthetic really hammers that home. In fact, on Amazon, the available colors are "black" and "black2." Point made.
However, while the V5 might look weird, it sounds fine, though at times elements of the frequency seem "further away" than they do in headphones. Likewise, at higher volumes, the front-facing speaker (which seems to handle treble/mids) seems to outpace the rear speaker a bit in terms of volume. The plastic also feels a bit cheap. The V5 isn't overpriced, but you can probably do better in this price range.
Another mega affordable option that's very popular on Amazon, the ZoeeTree S1 is right in line with thousands of pop-up, shovelware-ish portable Bluetooth speakers: cheap-feeling plastic, weird font, a nonsense brand name, and so on.
While most of the (many) popular or best-selling portable Bluetooth speakers I checked out for this roundup deserved a spot, some of them were just too quirky, cheap, or bereft of quality assurance to recommend, and the ZoeeTree S1 is, unfortunately, one of those. While the model we got worked fine and the audio quality was average, I have to imagine most people would rather spend a bit more to get something less chintzy.
Even if you get one that works, the chance that it will have a defect seems high. There are many Amazon reviewers who are complaining about a litany of issues, and the company's overview of the product features has typos. You get what you pay for, and you should pay a little more.
If there's a speaker on this list for fans of filigree, technical complexity, or customizability, the Kove Commuter is the one. That said, it kind of resembles a big can of Monster Energy (without all the crazy font designs). It's also stuffed with extra settings (like indoor/outdoor settings, adjustable bass boost, and the ability to skip/repeat songs right from the speaker, which is unusual).
However, one gets the impression that the Commuter may not be the most reliable in the long term. While it sounds fine and its various functions seem to work, it isn't the most intuitive product. For one, I can't figure out right off the bat how to swap it from "bass" to "normal" mode. My sample unit also appears to have been assembled wrong: when sitting in "horizontal" orientation, the previous/next labels are upside down.
Listening for a while brought out a bit of fuzziness in the bass, though only in "inside" mode (which seems to simply tamp down the volume/add some compression). I also found that swiping left/right on the Commuter rarely jumped backward/forward as intended, though a few extra swipes would usually get the desired result. Overall, there's something kind of janky about this product, especially for what you're paying. Unless you really like the design or some of the unique features or a big "NFC" symbol on the side, we'd avoid this one.
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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.