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Published Oct. 13, 2021

A Bluetooth speaker is a great way to listen to the tunes you love anytime, anywhere, and without getting tangled up in an endless maze of cords. With exceptional audio quality, easy portability, and quick connectivity, the best Bluetooth speakers can elevate any activity. Get better sound during an impromptu movie screening, bust out the backing vocals during a campfire sing-along, and put on the proper playlist for a backyard cookout or trip to the beach. All you need is a Bluetooth-compatible device like a cellphone, computer, or tablet and you’re in business.

However, not all Bluetooth speakers are created equal; you want to find something with a truly great sound and a sleek design that will also last. Below are some specific things to look for when searching for a new Bluetooth speaker as well as some of our favorite picks.

How we picked the best Bluetooth speakers

The PopSci writers and editors are serious music nerds. We scoured dozens of different options across a number of well-known brands to find models that best fit various needs and lifestyles. All the speakers on this list achieve a baseline level of sound quality that will do justice to any music you pump through it. We focused on attainable models that blend value with performance. You can spend huge sums of cash on wireless speakers, but you don’t always need to. Every speaker on the list is portable, though some may require more effort to move than others. Whichever model you pic, you can be confident that it can rock any party you show up at.

Best portable Bluetooth speaker: JBL Boombox 2

JBL Boombox

Keep the music going, 24/7. JBL

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Why it made the cut: Yes, it’s big, but it pumps out enormous sound and the battery is truly prolific, lasting a full day on a single charge.

Specs:

  • Battery life: 24 hours
  • Waterproof
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Pros:

  • Loud
  • Great battery life
  • Slick look despite its size
  • Solid connectivity

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

The JBL Boombox 2 has excellent sound quality and boasts 24 hours of battery life. The party quite literally never has to stop, in fact, you might have to keep up with the Boombox 2. It’s a great Bluetooth speaker to keep at home or take with you on the go. With a convenient handle, an IPX7 waterproof rating, and the ability to dual charge other devices, this JBL speaker will keep you going when you want to entertain (or listen to back-to-back podcasts all day). The bass hits hard and the range is dynamic, so you won’t have to sacrifice anything for long-lasting tunes. Powerful woofers at the ends pump out huge amounts of bass so it can put out enough sound to rock even the largest parties.

Best small Bluetooth speaker: Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker

Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker

Don’t be afraid to get it wet. Amazon

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Why it made the cut: Our pick for the best small Bluetooth speaker, the Tribit XSound Go brings excellent sound quality and battery life for a very small amount of money.

Specs:

  • Battery life: 24 hours
  • Waterproof
  • Weight: 13 ounces

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Long battery life
  • Solid sound for the price

Cons:

  • Other speakers sound better

Tribit’s XSound speaker is designed to withstand drops, dust, dips, and dents. The overall sound quality isn’t as crisp as a higher-end speaker, but won’t have to worry about damage during an outdoor trip or toddler encounter. It is IPX7 waterproof in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes and has a Bluetooth range of up to 100 feet. The battery lasts up to 24 hours, so it’s perfect for various outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and cycling. It also comes with an attached strap, so you can take your music on the go. It has improved sound quality and connectivity over the previous model, which was already an excellent value for its price.

Best Bluetooth party speaker: Bose S1 Pro Portable Bluetooth Speaker System

Bose S1 Pro Portable Bluetooth Speaker System

Bigger speaker, better sound. Amazon

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Why it made the cut: This Bluetooth party speaker cranks out huge volume while minimizing distortion.

Specs:

  • Battery life: 11 hours
  • Weight: 15 pounds
  • Meant for DJs and party pros

Pros:

  • Unmatched volume
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

If you want loud, the Bose S1 Pro will give you loud, without sacrificing quality. This Bluetooth speaker is pretty impressive. There is some extra math to be done when it comes to maximum decibel output because high-end speakers usually have a range of wattage support that affects the sound output, however, the S1 Pro typically peaks at around 109 decibels. It features a 3-channel mixer, with options for reverb and EQ and a dedicated channel for other music sources. The speaker can last up to 11 hours with a QuickCharge function in case you’re in a rush. Though it’s a little bigger than other models, this speaker is still quite portable. With unparalleled sound quality, it’s truly perfect for parties and private concerts. If this isn’t what you’re looking for, there more picks for the best portable Bluetooth speaker.

Best waterproof Bluetooth speaker: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

Ultimate Ears – WONDERBOOM 2

Your favorite songs anytime, anywhere. Amazon

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Why it made the cut: Ultimate Ears has an impeccable talent for pumping out small, waterproof speakers that sound great. This little sound sphere is no exception. It’s awesome all around.

Specs:

  • Battery life: 13 hours
  • Waterproof
  • Weight: 1 pound

Pros:

  • Great sound for its size
  • Light
  • Small
  • Totally waterproof
  • Attractive design

Cons:

  • Not as powerful as other models

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers if you are looking for something that you can easily take with you on the go. The UE WONDERBOOM 2 comes in five, fun two-tone colors with a flexible handle at the top that can easily be attached to a backpack, bike basket, or even a belt loop. This UE speaker also weighs less than one pound, so you won’t be dragged down by your sound. The battery lasts a full 13 hours and produces amazing 360-degree sound coverage. With an IP67 rating, this Bluetooth speaker is waterproof, it even floats and Ultimate Ears suggests trying it out in the shower. It’s small but mighty, measuring just four inches tall but packs a punch when it comes to volume, reaching up to 87 dB (almost concert-level loud).

Best sounding Bluetooth speaker: Sonos Move

Sonos Move

You’ll always be able to stay connected. Amazon

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Why it made the cut: This portable speaker seamlessly ties into the Sonos wireless music system and pumps out excellent audio quality, definitely one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers.

Specs:

  • Battery life: 11 hours
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Weight: 6.6 pounds

Pros:

  • Works with all other Sonos systems
  • Fantastic sounds
  • Automatically adjusts sound to its environment
  • Burly

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires proprietary charging dock

The Sonos Move has a ton of options when it comes to connectivity. Sonos typically operates over wifi, but the Move is also capable of connecting to devices via Bluetooth, making it truly portable. It can also connect to Apple Airplay and includes a built-in Alexa voice assistant that you can enable and disable as you like. It has up to 11 hours of battery life and a super sleek circular charging base. You can easily control all of the various services and settings like Sonos Radio, Alexa, Spotify, Apple Music, and more using the Sonos S2 singular app, making it easy to change things up at the drop of a hat.

Things to consider when choosing the best Bluetooth speaker

Battery life

A Bluetooth speaker’s battery life often coincides with its overall size. Small speakers don’t have much power, but they also don’t have much room inside for battery capacity. Some offer as little as eight hours, while others can promise up to 24 hours on a charge and beyond. Even if you’re not planning to rock out for 24 hours at a time, more battery capacity allows you multiple listening sessions without having to get back on the charger. It’s also worth noting that those estimates are just that. In order to truly max out battery life, you have to keep volume and other environmental conditions like temperature ideal.

Ruggedness

Some Bluetooth speakers are tougher than others. If you want a truly tough model, check for an IPX7 rating, which means it can work while fully submerged under water. IPX6 is still good, but not quite as good. Most portable speakers are fairly rugged, but it’s worth spending a little extra to get something that will last.

Sound quality

Larger Bluetooth speakers tend to offer more volume and generally better sound quality. It’s hard to get great sound out of tiny drivers. Some smaller speakers like the UE models typically punch above their weight when it comes to pure quality, so find a balance between fidelity and utility.

Bluetooth range

Most modern Bluetooth speakers have a connectivity range between 66 feet and 100 feet. If you plant to cover a big area, it’s worth making sure that you get the maximum range you can find.

FAQs

Q: What’s the best Bluetooth speaker brand?

There are a few top-of-the-line brands that immediately come to mind when we think about the best Bluetooth speakers, including Bose, Ultimate Ears, and Sonos. All three promise quality sound with great features that won’t disappoint. They have each been champions of audio lovers for years and make sure to consistently develop products using the latest technology to continuously elevate the listening experience.
Bose

Q: How long should a Bluetooth speaker last?

It all depends on how you use it. The battery will degrade over time. The more you charge and discharge it, the less capacity it will have. Other parts of the speaker will eventually start to break down as well, especially if you’re lugging them around out in the wild. Even if you only occasionally plan to bring your speaker outside, it might be worth looking at something weatherproof for durability.

Q: How do I choose a Bluetooth speaker?

As with any electronics, we recommend picking the most important aspect of the device and focusing on it. So, if you want optimal sound, pick something with serious audio chops. If you want something that will be ultra-tough, be willing to make some concessions when it comes to pure audio quality. If you’re realistic about your needs, you’ll have a much better chance of getting a device that fits your life.

A final word about the best Bluetooth speaker

The best Bluetooth speaker is well within the realm of possibility if you take into consideration where you want to groove, how long you want to dance the night away without charging, how crisp and clear you need your audio to be, and when you’ll want to take it on the go. We recommend starting with our favorite speakers and best picks to begin building your new, portable sound system. Load up your favorite playlists, gather your friends, and get ready to rock out with one of the best wireless speakers.

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