Ever since they hit the market, portable smart speakers have been insanely popular. When they first launched, you were limited to your home’s Wi-Fi if you wanted to enjoy your music on something other than your computer or phone speakers. This severely limited travel options and even going outside your house to the backyard meant you were sacrificing music quality. And even if they’re battery powered, you’re still traversing sketch waters as most aren’t waterproof and don’t offer many hours of enjoyment on the batteries.
Enter the new generation of portable speakers. Companies recognized the problems of the previous generations and stepped up their game so we can step up our music. So now whether you’re looking to pump up your favorite jams during a beach volleyball session, want to relax outside to some slow music while you stargaze, or want to take your music with you while you float the river with friends, they’ve got you covered.
However, not all Bluetooth speakers are created equal. Many still aren’t water and shockproof meaning that you’re still very limited with where the speakers can and can’t go. Others have sacrificed music quality in order to insure that they bring you something nearly indestructible. But let’s be honest; with the sound quality you’d get out of these speakers, you could just use your new water resistant smart phone for a comparable music experience.
This prompted us to create a list of our personal favorites in the Bluetooth speaker world. We wanted to make sure that the product you buy ticks all the boxes you have in mind. Like many of our lists, we’ve featured some expensive and budget friendly speakers so that you have a variety to choose from. So with the formalities out of the way, let’s get started!
1. UE Boom 3
The UE Boom 3 takes the first spot on our list because it checks all the boxes that you’re looking for when it comes to a portable Bluetooth Speaker. It’s got a very sleek, clean, attractive design that comes in a number of colors and sizes.
While there are definitely bigger and better competitors in the market, we would take the Boom 3 over them any day. None of the others quite match the convenience and fun of these. For its size, you can expect balanced sound with lots of mids, lows, and of course bass. In our opinion, it’s one of the better sounding speakers; especially for its size.
The cylinder is also waterproof and shock resistant so it’s perfect for a trip to the pool or beach. Plus you’ll get 15 hours of playtime on a charge so you don’t have to worry about it cutting off right in the middle of your favorite jams. So feel free to party all night! The Boom 3 has you covered.
As far as Bluetooth range goes, this one offers you 100 feet of it. This means you’re free to leave your phone in the car and still enjoy your music without being tethered to your smart phone.
You can expect to pay around $150 for these speakers. It’s definitely one of the pricier ones on our list but honestly given the specs, it’s a steal for that price. The company also offers a 2-year warranty on the speakers so if anything goes wrong they’ll replace them.
2. Braven BRV1BCB BRV-1 Portable Wireless Speaker
Admittedly, the name of this one is a mouthful and looks more like something you’d heart over the ham radio than a product you’d purchase on Amazon. However, don’t let the name deter you from this quality wireless speaker.
We’ll be honest here: it isn’t the best-looking speaker on the list. It’s rather plain and limited in color options. You can choose from solid black or black and cyan. It’s also the other generation model and Braven has since upped its game. However, it’s easily the most durable speaker on this list.
Story time! Two years ago we went on a river float along the Guadalupe in New Braunsfels with friends. Our tube got punctured on some rocks and flipped over. Us, our rapidly deflating tube, and the speaker (which was fully submerged) were drug along the shallows across rocks by the heavy current. We emerged very battered, bruised, and bloodied and with a busted tube but the speaker was fine. Not even a scratch! It had been fully submerged for probably around 5 minutes but continued to play music as if it hadn’t just been drug along some rocks.
Sound quality wise, it’s pretty decent and you can expect around 20 hours of runtime after it’s been fully charged. You do need to be semi close to your device, which is a bit of a drag but if you’re looking for something that can survive anything, then this is your speaker.
At the time we bought this speaker, it was still pretty new so we paid around $50 for it on Amazon. Now that Braven has brought out their latest generations, you can expect to pay $36.80 on Amazon. So if you’re looking for something budget friendly, then this is definitely the one you’ll want to pick.
3. LG XBoom Go PK5
We’ll be honest here: we’re a sucker for a good-looking Bluetooth speaker. Sure, we’re obviously more interested in the specs rather than how it looks on the outside, but first impressions are everything and we were immediately drawn in.
Wired.com refers to as a “porta party” and once you read the specs, you’ll quickly understand why. The LG Pk5 is the perfect speaker for outdoors and backyard events (although it’s a great party starter indoors as well). Not only does it have great sound quality, which we’ll take about in a moment, but also the bright lights you see on the outside are beat driven. This means that not only will you have a great music setup, but you’ll also have party lights that will really wow your guests!
The speaker puts out impressive forward-firing sound with decent bass compliments of Meridian Audio. And because it’s LG, you can rest assured that you’ll hear all the ranges of the music you’re playing.
You’ll also be able to keep the party lit for up to 18 hours thanks to the Pk5’s impressive battery life. However, it will take four hours to fully charge so you’ll want to charge it ahead of time.
You’ll pay about $77 for this beauty making it a budget friendly option for those looking for a good Bluetooth speaker. And honestly, you probably won’t find a better looking one for that price either.
4. JBL Pulse 2
Like the LG XBoom Go PK5, we were immediately drawn to this speaker because of its appearance. At its birth, the Pulse was created to compete with the variety of cylindrical portable Bluetooth Speakers. The company wanted something that could stand against the UE Boom and the Beats Pill. Appearance wise, it definitely does just that.
So how does it stack up spec wise? The Pulse 2 took lessons from it’s first generation pulse and placed bass radiators at both ends of the cylinder in order to achieve a wider range of sound quality and project it. At max volume we didn’t really encounter much static or “noise” so that was a definite bonus.
Now let’s talk about the cool light features of this beast. It features eight lighting effects that are controlled through an app on your phone. The lights are powered by 100 LED lights and create some a beautiful light show to accompany your music. So what are the eight lighting effects? You can choose from fire, rain, firefly, stars, canvas, traffic, hourglass and fireworks.
The only drawback that we see is that it’s splash proof rather than water proof so if you’re planning on taking it near water, you’ll want to take some serious precautions. However, it was likely designed as more of an indoor party machine as opposed to an outdoor speaker.
The prices vary on these speakers depending on what website you order through. If you want to order it from JBL’s website, you’ll shell out the full price of $139.99. You’ll also receive a warranty with your purchase.
Want to save money? Newegg has it for $79.98 but without the warranty.
5. UE Megablast
You’re probably looking at the above image and thinking it looks almost exactly like the Boom 3 (number 1 on our list). No, we didn’t add the wrong image this is what the Megablast looks like. The speakers are available in wide variety of colors like the Megablast so you’ll have plenty to choose from.
So since the appearance is nearly exactly the same, what makes these different from the Boom3? Well for starters, they’re integrated with Amazon’s Alexa. This means that if you’re looking for both a great sounding Bluetooth Speaker and an assistant, then these speakers were designed for you. Keep in mind though that Alexa requires internet to assist you so if you’re planning on traveling with these, you won’t be able to take Alexa with you.
So how’s it sound? Well, like the Boom 3 it’s designed to pump out some seriously quality audio without a ton of background noise/static even when cranked to the maximum. It features a variety of ranges and the bass is also definitely prevalent in the speakers.
Size wise, it’s equal to a 24-ounce can of beer or Arizona tea so it’s a bit bulky to tote around. However what it lacks in portability convenience it makes up for in durability. The Megablast is waterproof so it’ll feel right at home sitting poolside.
The price is about as big as these speakers at a whopping $200. However, you are getting both Alexa and a high end Bluetooth speaker so the price really isn’t that outrageous. After all, you’d spend around $50-$75 at the low end for just Alexa by herself. You can also purchase it through Amazon for $193.99 so you’ll save a little money off the original price as well as shipping costs if you have Prime.
6. Scosche BoomBottle MM
The BoomBottle is easily the Swiss Army knife of Bluetooth speakers. Looking at the above picture you’ll see why we call it that. The speaker features a bottle opener so you’ll never have to resort to popping open a bottle top with your keys or asking around for a bottle opener. It also has strong magnets on both ends (don’t worry about your devices; the magnets are safe) meaning that you can connect your device or keys straight onto the speakers. You can also connect the speakers onto any metal surface for some really interesting positions.
The BoomBottle Magic Mount also isn’t lacking in the audio quality area either. It’s roughly the size of a 16-ounce drink so it’s rather impressive that it can pump out such impressive audio. The bass isn’t the strongest in the game, but it features a variety of ranges and once again at max volume you won’t experience that irritating grainy noise quality.
Taking this baby on the go? The BoomBottle is completely waterproof and incredibly durable so feel free to take it to the beach, hiking, bike riding, or anywhere that you want to go outdoors. Once it’s fully charged you can enjoy up to 15 hours of play time so regardless of what you have planned for the day, these speakers are up to the challenge.
Shockingly the BoomBottle isn’t overpriced considering the quality and features. You’ll pay $130 for the product, which is definitely comparable to others we’ve featured on this list as well as its competitors’ prices.
Who’s ready to party?
Now that you’ve gone through the list of our favorite Bluetooth speakers we’d like to know which ones you found the most interesting. Are you an appearance snob like us and are drawn to the Pulse 2 and Xboom? Or are you more into practicality and are now eyeing the Braven device? We’d also love to know if you have a Bluetooth speaker that you swear by that you think deserves a spot on our list.