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What are the best Bluetooth speakers?
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.
Buying the right Bluetooth speaker for your needs
If you plan to take your Bluetooth speaker out on the town or onto the campgrounds, you’ll want to make sure that it merits an IP rating. This denotes how dust and/or water-resistant a given product is. In short, 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 heavily dust-resistant.
A Bluetooth codec is how the data gets packaged and transferred between devices, 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.
Best Bluetooth speakers:
- The JBL Charge 4 is a great option for those who want to bring the life of the party anywhere. Sure, this is a bit bulkier than some of JBL’s other offerings, but it has plenty of tricks up its sleeve like the ability to charge your mobile devices.
- The Sonos Roam is a compact smart speaker that is just at home in your living room as it is on your next outdoor adventure.
- The UE Hyperboom is the largest Bluetooth speaker on this list, and it gets loud. If you don’t mind limited mobility, this is a powerful option.
- The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is a budget Bluetooth speaker with plenty of features and a compact design.
- The JBL Flip 5 is a favorite among beach-goers and city cyclists alike.
JBL Charge 4: The best Bluetooth speaker for most people
JBL is one of the top brands when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, and the JBL Charge 4 is a great product for those who want a loud, tough speaker that sounds good. JBL used a fabric wrap to further protect the IPX7-rated speaker, something we’ve seen from previous Charge speakers. You can expect just under 14 hours when it comes to battery life but, as the name implies, you can also siphon off some of that juice to your other devices via a USB output on the back.
The JBL Charge 4 isn’t the best sounding speaker on this list, but it sounds good for a portable Bluetooth speaker, and it gets plenty loud thanks to the dual passive radiators. One thing that’s worth noting is that there is no speakerphone functionality on this speaker, so if that’s something you need you’re probably better off saving some cash and going with the older Charge 3. Alternatively, you may want to wait and save up for the JBL Charge 5, which is slated to hit store shelves this April.
Check out our full review to learn more about the JBL Charge 4.
Sonos Move: The best Bluetooth-enabled smart speaker
The Sonos Roam is the perfect smart speaker for listeners who want something simple to use, with multiple streaming options. The Roam supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth playback. If you want wired audio, you’ll have to look elsewhere — perhaps the Amazon Echo (4th Gen). This speaker is more than just smart, it’s strong too and has an IP67 rating to prove it. This means you can take it to the beach, and even submerge it for up to 3o minutes without issue.
With a 10-hour battery life, you can bring the Roam on any weekend adventure and top it up via USB-C cable or Qi wireless charger. Sound quality is very good, but as with most portable speakers, clarity falls to the wayside as you increase the volume.
UE HyperBoom: The best speaker for parties
There are plenty of waterproof speakers on this list, but the UE HyperBoom is the company’s latest party speaker and is outfitted with an IPX4 water-resistant build. It has a 24-hour playback time, which is huge and fitting of the speaker’s size. One of the coolest features on the HyperBoom is the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices to it at a time; this means you and a friend can both be DJ. It features an adaptive EQ and plenty of bass emphasis to pump out your favorite tunes.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys’ full review to learn more about the UE Hyperboom.
Anker Soundcore Flare 2: The best budget Bluetooth speaker
At only around $69, the Soundcore Flare 2 follows in the mold of great “bang for your buck” products that Anker is known for. It takes some of the best features of the other speakers on this list and puts it in a speaker that costs significantly less. It has an IPX7 build to protect it from water damage and a colorful ring of lights that changes colors while you listen to music.
While the sound quality is fine and the accompanying app does offer some extra EQ settings, don’t expect it to make much of a difference. Similar to other Bluetooth speakers, you can wirelessly connect multiple Flare 2 speakers together for synchronized sound. If you’re a diehard fan, this number maxes out at 100 synched SoundCore Flare 2 speakers. For the price, you can’t go wrong.
JBL Flip 5: The best design
The JBL Flip 5 is one of our favorite Bluetooth speakers, because of its versatility. This IPX7-rated speaker can take a splash and a dip into the pool. Its lightweight, compact build is perfect for any adventure, and it can stow away into your backpack’s water bottle holster. Battery life is greatly improved over the JBL Flip 4, and it even charges via USB-C now.
Bass notes are reproduced loudly by the Flip 5, though sub-bass notes leave a lot to be desired. In all fairness, a proper sub-bass response is nearly impossible for a standalone speaker of this size to achieve. If you have a hard $100 budget, stop reading and get the JBL Flip 5.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys’ full review to learn more about the JBL Flip 5.
The Google Nest Audio is a smart speaker with Bluetooth
The Google Nest Audio smart speaker is a great option for listeners who don’t want to pay the full price for a Sonos One speaker, but want something with more intelligence than most Bluetooth speakers afford. The Nest Audio mainly connects over your home Wi-Fi, but you can resort to Bluetooth in a pinch — or if you subscribe to a music service that Chromecast doesn’t support.
Two of the coolest features the Nest Audio supports are Media EQ and Ambient IQ, both of which reduce the amount of time you need to interact with any hardware. Media EQ dynamically changes the sound profile, depending on the type of content you’re consuming (e.g., music or podcasts). Ambient IQ, on the other hand, automatically increases the volume of spoken word content if the microphones register excess background noise. This is great for anyone who listens to podcasts while cleaning the house.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Nest Audio.
Best Bluetooth speakers: Honorable mentions
- Bose Portable Smart Speaker: This option is for listeners with money to burn. It’s mainly meant for home use, but you can take it to a friends by plucking it up from the handle. The speaker features an IPX4 rating and supports AirPlay 2, so it’s a fine option for iPhone owners.
- Bose SoundLink Mini: Bose made the perfect speaker to wrap around your bike’s handlebars, or to loop through the lash straps of your hiking bag. This water-resistant square pumps out surprisingly loud, accurate audio for its size.
- JBL Clip 4: If you want something ultra-portable look no further than this IP67-rated speaker, which features an integrated carabiner clip.
- UE Wonderboom 2: Like the JBL Clip series speakers, the Wonderboom is meant to be taken anywhere. Rather than a carabiner, this floating speaker features a reinforced loop that you can use to attach to a clip or hang from a shower caddy.
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.