Your guide

Whether you are looking to take the party outside or just want something louder than your phone for when you’re cleaning your room, a good Bluetooth speaker might be all you need. The problem is there are so many options that it’s hard to know what’s actually good and what’s trash. Luckily, we’re here to help you figure out which are the best Bluetooth speakers that are worth your dollar.

For a closer look at the pros and cons of each pick as well as some other useful information on how to pick the best Bluetooth speaker, make sure to check out the full article over on our sister site SoundGuys.

Most people can’t go wrong with the JBL Charge 4

Pictured is the JBL Charge 4 in a wet outdoor situation to show off its IPX7 rating.

The JBL Charge 3 is a tried-and-true line of speakers that most people won’t have a problem with.

Reasons to consider the JBL Charge 4:

  • The speaker is rocking an IPX7 fabric that makes it highly water resistant.
  • It’s roughly the same price as the previous Charge 3. Why get the older model when you can get the new one for the same price?
  • In our testing, we managed to pump out an impressive 13 hours and 46 minutes of constant music at 75dB output. Plus, it charges via USB-C.
  • Solid low-end thanks to dual passive radiators on either end.
  • You can connect it up to 100 other JBL speakers using JBL Connect+ (if you have them).
  • Has a USB-A output to charge some of your portable devices.

If you’re not going to be moving around much, the Marshall Stanmore sounds the best

Pictured if the Marshall Stanmore from the front on a table next to a stack of books.

The Marshall Stanmore is fairly large, so it is probably best left alone in a single spot, but it gets loud and sounds great.

Reasons to consider the Marshall Stanmore:

  • It features plenty of inputs including RCA, aux, Bluetooth, and RCA.
  • Let’s be honest, the amp design looks pretty damn cool and the build materials are top notch.
  • Seven different presets make it easy to quickly access your favorite internet stations.
  • The large size of the Stanmore allows for a loud output, plus the dedicated bass and treble knobs up top let you tweak the sound slightly to your liking.

If you want one of the coolest looking speakers that still sounds good, go with the Sony XB41

Pictured is the Sony XB41 on a table.

The Sony XB41 sounds good, has a tough build, and tops it off with a colorful strip of lights around the edges.

Reasons to consider the Sony XB-41:

  • The XB41 is upgraded from the previous version with a fabric that gives it an IP67 rating, meaning it’s completely dustproof and waterproof for 30 minutes in up to a meter of water.
  • The speaker has a rubberized strip of multicolored LED lights outlining the speaker. This simple addition of colorful lights is minimal and nicely implemented.
  • It has AAC and LDAC compatibility for higher quality streaming and NFC for quick-pairing as well.
  • Battery life is rated to last 24 hours of constant playback, which is more than enough for your average trip to the beach.

The best waterproof speaker right now is the UE Boom 3

Pictured is the UE Boom on steps in the rain.

Not only is the UE Boom 3 waterproof, it also floats.

Reasons to consider the UE Boom 3:

  • There are plenty of waterproof speakers on this list, but the UE Boom 3 is unique in that it floats, which makes it perfect for bringing next to a pool, lake, or even on a boat.
  • The size and shape is no larger than your average water bottle, so you can carry it in cupholders or backpacks with ease.
  • Considering its size, the speaker does get surprisingly loud.

Not looking to spend too much? Easy, go with the Anker Soundcore Flare

Anker Soundcore Flare pictured from the top down so the logo and LED lights are plainly visible.

The Anker Soundcore Flare packs a punch for the price.

Reasons to consider the Anker Soundcore Flare:

  • At only around $59, the Soundcore Flare follows in the mold of great “bang for your buck” products that Anker is known for.
  • It has a surprisingly good build quality for what is supposed to be a “budget” speaker including an IPX7 build and colorful LED lights around the bottom.
  • The small size makes it very portable and easy to stash in your bag when you need to.
  • The accompanying app offers some extra EQ settings, though don’t expect it to make too much of a difference.

What you should know

When discussing wireless speakers there’s a lot of talk of IP ratings and Bluetooth codecs, but what does that even mean?

IP ratings

A table explaining the IP rating system.

Wirefield This IP rating guide sums everything up nicely for the purposes of this article.

Let’s start with IP rating. The letters “IP” stand for ingress protection, but you have to dig a little deeper to learn what the numbers mean. We have a full explainer that you can read over here, but what you need to know for this article is that an IPX7 speaker is waterproof up to one meter for 30 minutes, while IPX8 is waterproof in up to three meters for 30 minutes. Similarly, an IP6X speaker means that the speaker is completely dustproof.

Bluetooth codecs

List of smartphone bluetooth audio codecs, not including aptX adaptive

Codecs are buried deep in the settings but can play a role in sound quality.

A Bluetooth codec is how the data gets packaged and transferred between devices. Again, Lily Katz wrote a great explainer on this that breaks down all the details, but if you only want the cheat sheet, then an easy way to think of a codec is like a language. If two devices speaker the same language (or codec), then more information can get transferred between them. That means more data and therefore better sound quality. If they don’t have the same codec then Bluetooth devices will default back to SBC, which is the standard and most basic codec. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all codecs play nice, especially if you’re an Android and want to use AAC.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

SoundGuys is the sibling site to Android Authority that mainly focuses on everything audio. If you want to know anything about a pair of headphones or a new Bluetooth speaker, this is a good place to start. The team has a broad understanding of audio and respects that certain aspects are objective and quantifiable without disregarding the importance of subjective enjoyment. When it comes to consumer audio, the SoundGuys team has made it their mission to cut through the noise, giving clear and concise explanations as to why some products might be better (or worse) than others. Ultimately, the team hopes to educate, so make sure to check them out if you haven’t already.

Read next: What are the best Bluetooth speakers under $100?

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