JBL's Charge 5 is the perfect choice if you want a robust, waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker that also doubles as a charging bank. With 20 hours of a battery life and USB pass-thru in tow, you can rock out to music all day and keep your things charged the whole time.
Solid sound quality
Built-in powerbank is very useful
Dust- and water-proof
Not everyone will want/need the added charging feature
JBL Flip 5
Anker Soundcore 2
How We Tested Portable Bluetooth Speakers
What You Should Know About Portable Bluetooth Speakers
If you're still putting your phone in a red Solo cup to amplify it during parties or beach trips, we've got some bad news: you're behind the times, muchacho. No matter how fancy and high-end your smartphone is, it just isn't big enough to have good speakers (and really, part of why you like it is how slim it is, right?). Unless you're Zack Morris or Gordon Gecko, you wouldn't want a phone that was big enough to house good quality speakers, but the trade off is that your smartphone's speakers suck.
That's where portable Bluetooth speakers come in. And if you want the best portable Bluetooth speaker—for music or podcasts, from the beach to the backyard—we highly recommend the Sonos Roam(available at Amazon). It not only offers great sound and a fetching design, but also other features most competitors don't, like Wi-Fi connection, smart speaker features, and multi-room audio within the Sonos family. If that doesn't suit you (or it's too pricey), we've got a whole list of great picks at multiple price points, so you're sure to find something great.
These are the best Bluetooth speakers we tested, ranked in order:
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
JBL Flip 5
JBL Charge 5
JBL Boombox 2
JBL Clip 4
Bose SoundLink Micro
Ultimate Ears Roll 2
Marshall Stockwell II
Anker Soundcore 2
Anker Soundcore Flare+
The new Sonos Roam is the most versatile portable speaker you can buy, full stop. It works great on the go, no doubt, but unlike other speakers on this list, it also connects over Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth. This not only offers improved sound quality, but it also lets the Roam double as a smart speaker for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, as well as connecting to other Sonos speakers in a multi-room setup.
As for sound quality, the Roam is an absolute ringer for its size and specs. It offers warm and smooth sound with great detail and way more bass response than you’d expect from a six-inch tube. From the moment we pressed play on the Roam, we were simply blown away by not only how good it sounds, but how big. Occasionally its sound gets a little heavy in the midrange, and its fidelity is best at about mid-volume (it loses some luster at low volume), but it's easy to adjust the EQ to taste. What's more, this model's True Volume feature helps it adjust the sound to its environment.
When it comes to serious bass, it won't keep up with bigger sound tubes such as Ultimate Ears’ hefty Megaboom 3, nor does it have the same 360-degree sound field (though it's also a lot easier to take on the road). At just 10 hours of playback time, its battery life is just OK, and we also noticed after using it over time that it tends to drain more quickly than average Bluetooth speakers when idling. Luckily, Sonos put out a firmware update designed to fix the issue in September (opening the Sonos amp should prompt the update).
The Roam's soft-yet-grippy exterior feels good in your hand, as does the speaker’s balanced weight of just under a pound. Incidentally, it also fits perfectly in a backpack’s water bottle holster. The armored front grill keeps the interior parts safe, as does the IP67 dust and water resistance, letting it keep dust at bay and lounge in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes—something you don’t expect from Wi-Fi speakers. Its wireless range on the road is also substantial—we were able to walk nearly an entire practice field before it started to cut out.
Because this is a Sonos speaker, you’ll also get all the convenience of Sonos Wi-Fi setup, the brilliant Sonos 2 app (compatible with 100+ streaming services), and the ability to not only group with other Sonos siblings, but also swap sound from Bluetooth playback, and more.
In short, this is an easy pick for the top portable speaker you can buy. While its cost may be a bit tough to swallow, if you want a portable speaker that does it all—and sounds darn good doing it—the Roam is the way to roll.
As per usual, JBL's Flip line of Bluetooth speakers is an awesome choice for most folks. The Flip 5 brings all the same great features of its predecessors: solid, room-filling sound; IPX7 water-resistance (meaning it can survive a quick dunk in the pool without incident); 12 hours of playback time; and a massive range of color options, from "sand" to "squad."
One of the biggest upgrades for the Flip 5 includes the convenience of USB-C charging (the previous Flip 4 uses micro-USB), but it also adds a newer Bluetooth standard (4.2), improved battery, bigger speaker drivers for improved sound, and a sleep timer. The additions mean the Flip 5 is a bit larger and heavier than the Flip 4, but fear not: it’s still capped with reinforced rubber and wrapped in JBL’s handsome, rounded speaker grills, meaning it’s fairly robust and it also sounds better than ever. Just don’t drop it on your beach-going toesies.
It's worth mentioning that the Flip 5 sounds as good as you'd expect in a speaker of its pedigree: for its size and price point, this speaker really impresses. The rounded chassis provides warm, room-filling audio that sounds especially good bouncing off of the surface of sparkling pool water.
The Flip 5 isn’t the biggest, loudest speaker on our list, nor is it the most affordable. It is, however, an A-plus all-rounder, checking off all the right boxes for a portable, water-ready Bluetooth speaker. And if you want this kind of all-around solidness but want to spend a little less, you can still find the excellent Flip 4 in a lot of locations, too.
A proud member of 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 the treble than a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers and more bass presence, too. 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 super loud, but it pumps out as much sound as most people need, and all without a touch of audible distortion.
Last but definitely not least, the Anker SoundCore 2 is, of course, rated IPX7 water-resistant, meaning it's been tested for 30 minutes in one meter of water. In other words, like JBL's Flip 5, it's very splashproof and should also be good for a quick dunk without being rendered useless. That's a lot of good stuff for under $50.
Howdy, I'm Lee Neikirk, Reviewed's Home Theater Editor. I've been elbows-deep in professional reviews of video and audio products for the last 9 years, and 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 downright delightful than a compact, rugged, or waterproof speaker that can fill space with music; it's like magic!
Hi, I'm Ryan Waniata, Managing Editor for Reviewed's Electronics section. I've been a tech writer and editor since 2013, reviewing TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more. As a former audio engineer, I have a particular passion for sound in all forms and formats. From high-end studio gear and Dolby Atmos home theater systems to cheap headphones and clip-on portable speakers, I love evaluating audio gear and finding the very best for the money.
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 product 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 top 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 Portable 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 products 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 models 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
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
Simply put, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is one of the very best portable speakers you can buy. It sounds fantastic, offering powerful punch in the bass, more detail than you’d expect in the treble, and a clear and present midrange. Thanks to its balanced, “360-degree” soundstage (in which sound is designed to be distributed from all sides), we’d go so far as to say it’s arguably the top speaker for sound in its price class, with only the Charge 5 and Sonos Roam to stand as rivals.
The Megaboom 3 is also built like a tank, with a tactile, dual-tone exterior that keeps it safe from dust and water (it’s IP67 rating means it can be dunked alongside our other top picks). It’s almost actively tough, begging you to throw it like a projectile, or roll it at your friends in an attempt to take out their legs. It also has a solid app, which allows you to do things like tune EQ, connect it to other Megaboom speakers in party mode (with a freakishly large group of up to 150 possible), and even use its top button to directly call up a pre-programmed streaming service.
The Megaboom 3 is a natural choice for the best Bluetooth speaker in your arsenal, but it falls shy of the Sonos Roam in a couple of key areas. For one thing, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi or smarts like the Roam does (the Roam offers the same functionality as homebound Alexa or Google smart speaker when connected to Wi-Fi). The Megaboom 3 also can’t be used as part of a multi-speaker sound system. And while its 20 hours of battery life is massive compared to the Roam (and most other speakers), we found it lasted several hours less than advertised at medium volume.
Most notably, while the Megaboom 3 is an audio wonder, it simply isn’t all that portable. While it’s easy to move around the house or throw in the car, unlike the Roam and the Flip 5, it’s harder to fit into a backpack or purse for travel. If you’re just going to leave it in the yard for barbecues and you don’t need Wi-Fi, though, the Megaboom 3 is a killer Bluetooth speaker with sound as powerful and clear as anything you’ll find at its size.
Suppose you were head-over-heels for JBL's Flip line of Bluetooth speakers, but your phone kept dying on you while you were out at the beach or on a hike. Before you run off and buy a portable battery pack, you should really take a look at the excellent JBL Charge 5.
The Charge 5 is essentially two products in one: it has the same general form factor, robust sound quality, intuitive controls, and IP67 rating as the excellent Flip 5, only it adds pass-thru USB charging. With 20 hours of battery life, the Charge 5 can keep your tunes playing for almost a full day while it simultaneously charges up your smartphone, tablet, or anything else you'd like to plug in there. Just plug your phone's charge cable into the back of the Charge 5 and you're guaranteed almost a full day of music.
It's also worth mentioning that the Charge 5 is no slouch where sound quality is concerned. It sounds even more powerful than JBL's Flip 5, providing bigger bass, solid midrange support and producing robust, enjoyable details in music and podcasts. It's big enough to provide enough volume for a small backyard get-together, but might be a bit lost in the middle of a noisy party.
The only drawback with this speaker is that you're definitely paying more for the battery-charging functionality when you compare the Charge 5 to something like the Flip 5, and if you haven't had battery problems it might not make sense to pick this one up. But it's also very unlikely that you'd regret having this functionality if you did: somebody's phone or tablet is always on its last legs, and the Charge 5 is here to pick it back up again. It's also worth mentioning that the Charge 5 is pretty bulky: that big, charge-bank-type battery needs room, and it reduces the portability here. If you're
Solid sound quality
Built-in powerbank is very useful
Dust- and water-proof
Not everyone will want/need the added charging feature
If you want the biggest, loudest, most party-rocking Bluetooth speaker you can buy, JBL’s Boombox 2 wrote the book on “in your face.” In all seriousness, as with many JBL speakers the Boombox 2 is immaculately designed—rounded, robust, and heavy—and it has the audio presence to match its hefty size. While many of the speakers on this list are around the size of a soda can, the JBL Boombox 2 is a… well, you see, it’s a boombox. A dyed-in-the-wool, walk-down-the-street-with-it-on-your-shoulder boombox.
There are a lot of places where a smaller, more traditional Bluetooth speaker might serve you better. We used the Boombox 2 for several weeks while waiting on other Bluetooth speakers to arrive for evaluation. As it serenaded us in our kitchen every day, we probably never set the volume to more than 50% of its maximum. This Bluetooth speaker is very, very loud—that said, it also sounds really good, featuring more than ample bass presence and good clarity across the frequency spectrum. It fills even the most cavernous rooms, easily heard over party conversation, surging ocean waves, or the buzz of nearby power tools.
It’s also rugged, dunkable thanks to an IPX7 water resistance rating, and designed with covered ports, meaning you can tote it just about anywhere (within reason). And with JBL’s “PartyBoost” feature, you can even add in additional JBL speakers (though why you’d need to, I’m not sure).
So why isn’t this the #1 Bluetooth speaker? Simply put, it’s just too much for most people, even if it’s too much of a good thing. It’s (relatively) huge, heavy, expensive, and will offer diminishing returns for casual, everyday situations. However, if you’ve got the funds and want a Bluetooth speaker that can be nuanced enough for a low-key night in and loud enough that they’ll hear it on Mars, this is the one to get.
JBL’s Clip 4 has no right to sound as good as it does. While you’ll have to limit your expectations when it comes to bass response for any speaker this size, you’ve got to limit them a lot less with this speaker than comparable models from even a few years back. And impressive sound is just one of the enticing aspects of this pint-sized dangler.
The fourth generation of JBL’s popular Clip line has improved over its predecessor in multiple ways, from a more sturdy and ergonomic handle to new rubberized dampeners on its backside to keep it from rumbling on a countertop or distorting when the bass ramps up. The speaker has more accessible control buttons as well, including rubberized front-side controls and side controls for pairing and powering on that you can identify with your fingertips. (Though a word of caution, they’re a bit easier to press accidentally, too.)
If there’s one part of the oval-shaped model we’re not crazy about, it’s the extremely loud look of the new logo which will not let you forget which brand makes this tag-along device. But that’s a small price to pay for a speaker this pocketable that sounds this good.
Getting back to the sound quality, this is one of the few speakers of its size we actually enjoy listening to. It offers relatively impressive detail for everything from jazz to podcasts, and while hip-hop will lose some luster—especially if you try to crank up the jams—it’s the perfect speaker for the shower. It also pairs well with getaways where you simply don’t want to bring something chunkier like an Ultimate Ears Megaboom or even JBL’s own Flip or Charge models.
At 10 hours, battery life isn’t incredible, but it gets you more than a day’s use and an open USB-C port makes it easy to charge. With an IP67 rating, the speaker is both dust resistant and dunkable, though it doesn’t float so you won’t want to drop it in a lake. It connects via Bluetooth 5.1 for solid connection from 30+ feet.
As for downsides, the Clip 4 doesn’t include a speakerphone like its predecessor, nor does it pair with companion speakers over an app. Its rounded edges mean you’ll also need to clip it or lay it flat, which may not always be convenient for sound dispersion.
Those quibbles aside, if you’re looking for a seriously portable speaker with good sound that won’t break the bank, you’ll have a hard time beating the Clip 4. Of course, if you want a very similar experience but would rather save a little cash, you could try to track down the older Clip 3. It sounds a fair bit tinnier than the Clip 4, but will still work well as a shower speaker if you can find it at a good discount.
If you're looking to secure a fancier-than-average portable Bluetooth speaker, the Bose SoundLink Micro delivers. This speaker checks off a lot of the right boxes: it's made of durable but very "touchable" materials and features notably elegant design details, plus it sounds great.
While most portable Bluetooth speakers of this size are made of cheap, hard plastic, the SoundLink Micro feels nicer in your hands than, frankly, most things. It's surprisingly soft—in fact, after passing it around the office, the general opinion was it's straight-up cuddly. Granted, the silicone finish is what helps the Micro to be waterproof, but it certainly doubles as a silky smooth exterior. There's a certain polish and finesse here that is rare for Bluetooth speakers.
Not to mention, in classic Bose fashion, the sound is more or less impeccable. Despite how "micro" the SoundLink Micro is, it still earns marks in terms of full audio frequency support: there's solid bass and midrange tones here, making music sound robust and substantial. It's not the loudest speaker out there due to its size, but if you want something very portable and just a little more fashionable than average, the SoundLink Micro is a great choice.
Here’s the thing about portable Bluetooth speakers these days: they all sound better than you’d expect. Bluetooth speaker buyers never had it so good, with a cornucopia of rugged little devices to choose from in a variety of sizes and styles. Sony’s XB13 is yet another option to choose from, and if you’re looking for portability and ease of use foremost, it’s worth consideration.
Size and punch are perhaps this speaker’s greatest assets. One interesting part of that equation is just how important where you put the speaker can be to its sound quality. Because it uses diffusion to spread sound from a single upfiring driver, and a passive radiator to create bass response, giving the speaker a hearty base pad—say a brick garden bed—vastly improves the overall poise and richness of the sound. You can actually watch the speaker buzz as it spits out surprising bass and punchy, clear audio from a fortified position, with little distortion at medium volumes.
Take the speaker elsewhere, though, and it loses some of its luster. While sound is punchy and provides some good detail, the upfiring driver can only do so much to disperse the sound, and it loses out to other tiny tanks such as the JBL Clip 4 in overall richness in the lower registers. Whereas the Clip can easily shoot sound up from its back or straight on from its clipped position, the XB13’s strap makes it a bit less versatile there.
The speaker makes up some ground thanks to its simplified pairing for Android devices, its hefty 16 hour battery, and its ultra small profile, which makes it among the most pocketable speakers in its class. It can also be paired with another XB13 and, unlike the latest Clip, it also has a microphone for calls, though you’ll usually do just as well with your phone, and much better with a pair of earbuds.
Like most modern portables, the XB13 is ruggedly designed with an IP67 weather resistance rating, alongside a hard-shell exterior, and metal acoustic screen at the top. If you need a spunky speaker that can truly go anywhere, you could do a lot worse for your money.
The UE Roll 2 is an ultra-portable, water-resistant speaker offering, you guessed it, an IPX7 rating for shortlived dunkability. 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 and accessible. Like other Ultimate Ears speakers, 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. We noticed decent bass presence, but a little excess treble, where things like snare hits were notably higher in the mix than they were on headphones. There's some risk of losing out on mid-range audibility here, but overall the audio quality is decent for the price.
The reason the Roll 2 ranks lower than others on the list is the fact that it's a bit pricey for the sound you get and, frankly, the vast majority of speakers we test these days boast similar water resistance. That said, it's still a solid choice, and it's as easy to take along as it is to use.
It’d be almost tongue-in-cheek to say that famed guitar amp aficionado Marshall “knows how to make a speaker,” but that’s also what the company is counting on with its lineup of portable Bluetooth speakers.
The Marshall Stockwell II, which not only bears the classic “Marshall” logo right on its front grill, is designed to look like a little guitar amp. The three physical knobs on top for volume, bass, and treble are heavily reminiscent of amplifier knobs (though, unfortunately, they don’t go to 11). The carrying strap leans into this bit of camp, too: it’s a short, faux-leather band that connects to either side of the amp—er, Bluetooth speaker—by way of classic guitar strap hooks, resplendent in gold finish.
If all this musical paraphernalia is your bag, you’re going to love this thing. If not, you’ll still be glad to know that the amp-esque design details aren’t at all superficial. The Stockwell II is one of the sturdiest-feeling Bluetooth speakers we’ve ever handled: the front and back feature metal-lined speaker grills, while the rounded, rectangular body is made of the same super-durable material you’ll find on many guitar amps.
And while most people will probably just find an EQ/volume setting they like and never touch the knobs again, you’ll be glad to know they actually work, adding or removing bass/treble/volume to or from music splendidly. How many Bluetooth speakers have you used that had tangible EQ controls? It’s an awesome addition, especially if you’re finicky about how your music sounds.
These souped-up design details and hyper-durable build, plus that Marshall branding, mean the Stockwell II doesn’t come cheap. It's also not all that portable, and only offers IPX4 water resistance, meaning you won't want to do much more than splash it. However, it’s an option that’s head-and-shoulders above much of the competition in terms of unique design and customization, and it sounds great, too. Guess we are gonna play Stonehenge tomorrow.
The Flare+ lives up to its namesake. This tall, conical speaker is one of the only ones we've seen to feature flashing, music-synced LED lights. It's one of the larger speakers we've tested and features a handsome, deep gray coloration and speaker grill, intuitive controls, and some neat features.
The Flare+ sounds really good. Its 360-degree speaker design and sheer height/size give it a leg up over the smaller, more compact speakers on our list. It's easy to control, and if you don't like the light show you can shut it off. That said, we're on the fence about it. During use, the light synced up kind of weirdly to the music and didn't have the satisfying, full glow of the LEDs as they appear on the box. But perhaps that's what we get for listening to late '80s Phil Collins.
Maybe the best thing about the Flare+ is that, like many of our favorites on this list, it's IPX7 water-resistant, which we definitely wouldn't expect if someone just handed it to us 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, with plenty of flair to go along with it. But you can do better for your money.
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.
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2013. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
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.