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What are the features that make the best portable Bluetooth speakers? Thanks to their compact and rugged designs, you can use these speakers anywhere you go. Plus, with the ability to connect wirelessly and directly to your smart devices, these are the best speakers for students, travelers, and people who enjoy backyard entertaining.
If you’re looking for a speaker that you can take with you without sacrificing precious hours of battery life, audio quality, or convenience, a portable Bluetooth speaker is the best option. These powerful speakers also rarely break the bank, so you can have an enjoyable audio experience on a budget.
Keep on reading to learn more about the top portable Bluetooth speakers, the key considerations to make when buying one, and how you can identify the perfect fit for all of your music-listening needs.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is very light and features an integrated carabiner for users to attach to their school bags. It is available in more than ten different color choices and can deliver up to 16 hours of playback.
The JBL Clip 3 is a compact and well-built, fully waterproof IPX7 speaker that boasts improved battery life and is available in over ten different color choices. The Clip 3 comes with an integrated metal carabiner that can be used to attach it to a backpack or some anchor in the shower. The Bluetooth speaker guarantees up to 10 hours of playtime thanks to its 1000mAh battery, and since it also has a built-in noise-canceling and echo-canceling speakerphone, owners will also be able to enjoy crystal clear calls when they connect it to their phones. However, some have complained about not being satisfied with its bass levels.
The speaker spots three playback buttons embedded on the front fabric of the speaker that is easy to press and weigh only 0.49 pounds, owners will hardly feel its weight when moving about. Its Bluetooth connection has a standard range of up to 10 meters, and if its output is maintained at 75dB, owners will be able to get up to 16 hours of playtime.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It has a decent battery life and produces impressive bass levels for its size. It is available in a wide range of colors and can connect with other Bluetooth devices over long distances.
The Oontz Angle 3 is a small and lightweight Bluetooth speaker with a triangular design. It has an impressive Bluetooth range of up to 100 feet, meaning it can play music from a source that is significantly further away. It has an IPX5 water-resistant rating, which means that it is splashproof, rainproof, and also weatherproof. The speaker’s battery life is also pretty good, as it can deliver up to 30 hours of playback time at moderate volume levels and a decent 14 hours when playing music at the highest volume levels. However, it does not have an equalizer to adjust the sound levels.
The Angle 3 features a downward-firing passive radiator to produce impressive bass levels and also comes with an AUX-IN jack so that owners can connect their non-Bluetooth devices. It also features a built-in mic for hands-free use, and its battery takes up to 4 hours to get charged to full capacity. It also has a unique power-saving feature where it’ll turn off after 15 minutes if there’s no audio playing, and It can also be linked with another Angle 3 speaker to produce a stereo sound. It can also play music while it is still being charged.
Award: BEST FOR LONG BATTERY LIFE
WHY WE LIKE IT: It can have music playing for up to 24 hours and has an impressive range of connectivity of up to 66 feet. It is also pretty lightweight and has a built-in microphone that can be used to answer calls.
The Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker is a compact-looking, IPX5 waterproof speaker that can keep playing music for a full day, and since it also has Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, it can maintain strong connections over a distance of up to 66 ft. Owners will also be able to answer and receive calls after connecting the speaker to their phone since it comes with a built-in mic, and thanks to its dual full-range drivers, it delivers a solid and bassy sound. The speaker can also connect to Alexa and act on voice commands, but some may not appreciate that it cannot be paired with another Bluetooth device to produce a stereo sound.
This speaker also has a clever little feature where it can automatically reconnect to the last Bluetooth device it was connected to for instant music playback, so owners won’t have to spend time setting things up. The speaker also has an array of soft-touch controls on its top that are easy to push and weigh only 0.75 pounds, it should be pretty easy to carry around.
Award: BEST FOR LONG RANGE CONNECTIVITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: It can be connected to devices that are up to a distance of 100 ft, and its battery can keep the music playing for a full day. It also has a microphone for answering calls and can be paired with another similar speaker to produce stereo sound.
The Tribit XSound Go is a sleek-looking, dustproof, waterproof, and shockproof Bluetooth speaker that can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use. The speaker also comes with a tear-resistant strap for convenient portability, and since it is built with Bluetooth 5.0 technology, it’ll be able to connect to smart devices over a distance of up to 100ft. The speaker’s curved edges and matte finish offer a modern touch, and since it also features dual 8-watt high-performance drivers as well as down-firing passive radiators, the speakers can produce a rich and satisfying sound. Still, its five-hour charge time is fairly longer than other speakers in its category.
Weighing only 0.8 pounds, the Tribit XSound Go is a pretty lightweight Bluetooth speaker, and since it comes with a built-in microphone, users will also be able to connect it to their phones and use it as a loudspeaker. Thanks to an IPX7 waterproof rating, the speaker can be used in the pool, shower, or even carried to the beach without any consequences to its functioning, and when paired with another XSound Go speaker, it will be able to produce stereo sound.
Award: BEST FOR SOUND CUSTOMIZATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It has an equalizer setting where users can choose their preferred sound from three modes, and it is also one of the few that can be integrated with Alexa for voice commands. It can be paired with a similar speaker for stereo sound and has an impressive 30-hour playback time.
The Ortizan X10 is a 24 Watt stereo speaker that is designed to output 360° stereo sound and deliver an astounding 30 hours of playback before it cuts off. The speaker has an impressive Bluetooth range of up to 66ft, and because of its IPX7 100% waterproof rating, its functioning will not be affected even when being used in adverse weather conditions. The speaker can also be paired with another to produce stereo sound, and since it comes with a built-in microphone, owners will also be able to use it as a speakerphone for answering calls. Unfortunately, the speaker is only available in black.
The X10 offers three different Equalizer modes for owners to choose from, where they will be able to pick between Vocal, 3D Deep Bass, and Extra Bass. It can also be integrated with Siri or Google Assistant for voice commands, and it features LED lights on its top and bottom that can light up in line with the music that is being played. Its sound quality is nice and crisp, and its bass tones are pretty satisfying.
Award: BEST FOR COMPACT SIZE
WHY WE LIKE IT: It can be integrated with Google Assistant and Siri for voice control and comes with a built-in mic to be used as a speakerphone. Its lithium-ion battery delivers up to 8 hours of playtime, and its silicone covering gives it a soft, pleasurable touch.
The Bose SoundLink Color II is a portable wireless speaker that is pretty compact thanks to its square-shaped design. It is also pretty easy to move around thanks to its 1.1-pound weight, and since it also has an IPX4 water resistance rating, owners shouldn’t have to worry about it getting spilled or splashed over. The speaker has a silicone covering that makes it feel very pleasant to hold and an array of playback controls located on its top. It can also be integrated with Siri or Google Assistant Smart for voice commands and is also available in four color choices. However, its bass levels are not quite impressive.
The speaker has a special NFC pairing function where compatible devices only have to come into contact with it to have it play their media. The speaker’s lithium-ion battery delivers up to 8 hours of playtime, and since it also features a built-in microphone, owners will be able to set it up for use as a speakerphone for receiving and answering calls if they would like to. The speaker can be managed through the Bose Connect app, where owners will be able to pair it with another great Bose speaker for stereo sound and remotely control its volume or even change tracks.
Portable Bluetooth speakers are versatile, flexible, and powerful audio systems that you can take with you anywhere. Thanks to a built-in rechargeable ability and Bluetooth connectivity, you can use these speakers to listen to all of your favorite tunes, even in the middle of nowhere. Simply connect them to a portable device like your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and you can stream an audio signal directly to the speaker without needing any additional equipment.
Where do the best travel Bluetooth speakers differ from more traditional alternatives? The primary difference is in how the two speakers connect to an audio source. Conventional speakers typically need to be wired directly to their audio source through a complicated network of wires and cables. Bluetooth speakers instead focus on offering a wireless connection to other portable and mobile devices that also use Bluetooth technology.
As their name suggests, these wireless speakers are also much more portable than a traditional, hard-wired speaker system. Most portable Bluetooth speakers feature a more compact design that allows you to store them in bags or backpacks. Their overall lightweight design also makes them easier to carry around wherever you go.
Traditional speakers typically need to remain connected to a dedicated power source, like a wall outlet or generator, to continue functioning. Most portable speakers use a built-in rechargeable battery for power. This way, you can be in the middle of the woods and still get power to the device.
Like other speakers, portable Bluetooth options translate audio signals into physical sound waves, which your ears pick up and your brain translates into music. The driver is the speaker’s principal component, and it’s responsible for translating electrical audio signals into sound waves.
Once connected to an audio source and a power source, the speaker will receive the audio signals from the source device. The audio signal comes as alternating electrical currents that run through the driver, which vibrates at the same frequencies. Those vibrations, in turn, push and pull air around the speaker, creating sound waves.
Instead of receiving an audio signal through a connected audio cable, the leading Bluetooth speakers receive the signal wirelessly through radio waves. Bluetooth connectivity is so convenient because it can connect two Bluetooth-capable devices directly without any additional equipment.
If you’ve ever been away from your dedicated sound system and wished you still had your favorite music at your fingertips on speakers better than the ones on your smartphone, then a versatile speaker like a Bluetooth option is an ideal choice for you. These powerful, portable devices give you a high-quality listening experience without breaking the bank or taking up too much space on your person.
Portable Bluetooth speakers typically offer the same general lifespan as other types of speakers. Industry experts, like those at Sound & Communications, estimate that most speakers will give you a lifespan between 10 and 20 years, depending on how well you treat them.
Since portable speakers are meant to be carried around with you, there is a bigger chance of drops, spills, and moisture exposure, which would typically lessen the speaker’s lifespan. However, these speakers are often made with extra-durable features to protect them against these scenarios.
Finding the right portable Bluetooth speaker for your individual needs ultimately comes down to understanding its features and functionality. You’ll need to identify precisely how mobile you want your new speaker to be, for starters. Then, look at its water resistance and rugged design features and compare them to the environments where you’ll be using the speaker. Finally, consider additional features like battery life, user controls, and any extra features you might want.
The best portable Bluetooth speakers are portable enough to throw in your backpack without worrying about space or weight. However, these speakers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, so you’ll need to determine how well your purchase option will work for you.
If you have more room to spare when traveling, you can opt for a larger speaker to get more volume and longer battery life. If you don’t have as much room, you’ll need to go with a smaller speaker.
Since the likelihood of you using a portable speaker outside is high, you’ll definitely need to consider the level of water resistance and ruggedness it offers. A more durable speaker will last you much longer and save you the worry you might experience with a more delicate alternative.
When it comes to water and dust resistance, you’ll want to consider your speaker’s Ingress Protection rating, also known as an IP rating. This is the standard used across most consumer electronics.
You can find out how dust and water-resistant your speaker is by looking at the IP rating the manufacturer has provided. This rating comes as the letters “IP” followed by two numbers. The first number describes how well the speaker keeps dust out, while the second represents how well the speaker keeps water out. Higher numbers mean more protection, so if you’re planning to listen by the pool, you’ll definitely want high-end waterproof speakers with a high IP rating.
Since you’ll be carrying your portable Bluetooth speaker around with you, you’ll want to be sure it can handle the occasional bump or drop. Look at the way the speaker is designed, and take note of anything like rubberized edges or extra-thick housing around the corners. Rugged speakers with these features will add some protection, similar to what you’ll see in our review of the Avantree SP850.
If you’re taking your speaker with you during intense activities like hiking or biking, you’ll also want to consider an option with shock or drop-resistant housing. This way, if your speaker falls roughly, its internal components will stay protected.
Since portable speakers are mostly self-contained audio systems, they tend to be limited in terms of peak power and maximum volume. Larger speakers are louder, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to better and more powerful sound quality. For audio quality, you’ll want to consider the price and manufacturer. More expensive speakers typically offer much better audio with more crisp sound over budget alternatives.
Consider how and where you plan to use your Bluetooth speaker and make your purchase accordingly. For example, if you’re planning to use the speaker for your own enjoyment, you won’t need to purchase an option with tons of volume. Instead, you’ll want to focus on better sound quality.
The hours of battery life you need for your portable speaker will ultimately depend on how long you expect to use it before it needs to be recharged and how portable you want it to be. Speakers with bigger batteries are also bigger and heavier overall, making them slightly less portable. However, these speakers will play music for much longer than smaller options.
Take some time to figure out how long, on average, you might use your speaker. Then, find an option with a battery life that matches. A speaker with a 12-hour battery life is the most common, but if you need more, you can easily find options with a 16-hour battery life or even a 20-hour battery life.
Since you can control volume, playback, and EQ settings on a Bluetooth speaker directly from your phone, laptop, or tablet, there isn’t much need for dedicated user controls on the device. However, speakers with user controls can be incredibly convenient in different circumstances. If you think you’ll ever be closer to your speaker than you are to the connected playback device, you may want to consider an option with physical controls.
If you want physical controls, you’ll need these options at a minimum:
There are infinite possibilities for additional features on portable Bluetooth speakers. Ultimately, the value of those extra features will depend on your own personal preferences.
Consider some of these common extra features: