Ever since its inception, Bluetooth speakers have come a long way. Especially, in the last few years, when smartphone manufacturers started ditching the good old audio jack, and improved Bluetooth capabilities to offer a much better experience. During this phase, the world opened up to a ‘wireless’ dream, with an increased demand for Bluetooth speakers and headphones, opening a massive opportunity for manufacturers to capitalize. However, this left consumers muddled with a slew of speaker options to choose from. So, here’s a buying guide with some of the best portable Bluetooth speakers (in no particular order) in the market.
1. JBL Charge 3
JBL, a popular audio equipment brand, has a wide range of Bluetooth speakers in its catalog to choose from. One such is the Charge 3, which, in case you are unfamiliar, is a part of the company’s Charge series of speakers that offer the ability to charge the device while simultaneously blasting out songs. The speaker has an IPX7 rating that allows it to withstand up to a meter of submergence in water for 30 minutes. Further, there is a 6000mAh battery, which the company claims offers up to 20 hours of playtime on a single charge.
In terms of the overall design, the speaker is slightly bigger than most of its competitors and weighs in at 2.12 pounds. So, if you are looking for something that is portable and fits comfortably in your backpack (without adding too much bulk), you should consider some of our other options. However, if that’s not the case, the bigger frame does add to the speaker’s sound profile, offering good bass level and undistorted sound even at high volume levels. The newer model, JBL Enceinte Bluetooth Charge 4 Noir starts at a much steeper price of $200+ and hence we are counting it out.
Price: USD 94.95 / INR 10,490
2. UE Wonderboom 2
The Wonderboom 2 from UE is one of the most portable Bluetooth speakers in the market. And despite its smaller footprint, it does not compromise on the sound quality and offers a comparatively better sound than most speakers of its size. It comes with IP67 dust and water resistance, which means you can carry the speakers to a beach or pool without encountering any issues.
What’s interesting with the Wonderboom 2 is its design, which, besides being portable, also offers a 360-degree sound experience. So no matter where you keep the speaker, you can expect it to fill up the sound throughout the room. The speaker also comes with an Outdoor Boost feature, which is its key selling features, and just as it sounds, increases the volume levels to make it ideal for an outdoor setting. However, a thing to note here is that Outdoor Boost can sometimes make the speaker sound distorted, and the lows a bit mushy. But, that’s more of nitpicking, and it is hard to notice much difference in the sound quality on a day-to-day basis.
3. JBL Xtreme 2
The Xtreme 2 is another option from JBL, which, much like the Charge 3, also has a large and bulky design that might discourage those with portability as a major deterrent. The speaker comes with 10000mAh of battery that offers up to 15 hours of playtime, which, when compared to the Charge 3 is a bit on the lower side. Similar to Charge 3, the Xtreme 2 also comes with an IPX7 rating that allows it to withstand up to a meter of submergence in water for 30 minutes.
For someone looking for a speaker that offers a good, balanced sound experience, both indoors and outdoors, the Xtreme 2 is one good option you should consider. Not only does it have distortionless sound at high volumes, but it also manages to make the lows sound clear and distinguishable at lower volume levels. In a nutshell, it is a small, rugged, and portable stereo system that is ideal for most use case scenarios.
4. UE Boom 3
Another portable Bluetooth speaker from UE is the UE Boom 3. The speaker has been designed for use in outdoor settings or adventure scenarios, with its high-density fabric and IP67 rating, both coming into the picture to offer good protection. It claims to offer a 360-degree sound experience, filling up the entire space it is placed in. Despite its indestructible-looking feel, the speaker falls under the portable category, allowing you to carry it places.
Talking about sound, the UE Boom 3 is right up on the list of some of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers in the market. It offers a very impressive sound experience, with its 360-degree sound dispersion adding further to the experience. The passive radiator provides deeper and punchier bass, which, combined with the overall sound profile of the speaker, offers an immersive audio experience. Although, the mid-range is where the speaker seems to struggle a bit, with its slightly mushy and less clear audio.
5. Sony SRS-XB10
The SRS-XB10 is the smallest and most portable speaker in Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth lineup. It has a small, cylindrical design and weighs in at only half a pound, which makes it one of the most easy-to-carry speakers in the market. With that, however, comes some restrictions. For instance, the speaker has an IPX5 rating that limits its use at the beach or in the pool.
Irrespective of a few shortcomings, the one thing that the speaker does not compromise on, despite its small form factor, is the sound quality. Although it does not offer distortionless sound at high volumes, it would be safe to say that it does offer quite balanced output across different volume levels. There’s enough bass — to make it not sound unnatural and adequate treble — that does not make it sound tinny. Overall, for its size and price, the speaker is a bang for the buck.
6. JBL Flip 4
The Flip 4 from JBL is another cylindrical form-factor Bluetooth speaker with good sound output. It has a canvas and rubber style body that makes it rugged and ideal for outdoor conditions. In addition, the IPX7 certification offers the ability to carry the speaker to the pool or muddy beaches. Further, to offer uninterrupted music, the speaker comes with a 3000mAh battery, which, according to the company, offers up to 12 hours of playtime on a single charge.
In terms of the overall sound profile, Flip 4 might not be the best sounding speaker of the lot, but it certainly does offer a good listening experience in both indoor and outdoor environments. When compared to some of its competitors, the speaker sounds slightly mushy with the lows and mids, and also has some distortion in the bass at very high volume levels. However, that said, for its price, the JBL Flip 4 offers good sound quality, and the lack of certain aspects of the sound is not something that most people would notice with regular use.
7. Bose SoundLink Mini II
Bose is another popular brand in the audio industry, which is primarily known for noise-canceling headphones. However, that does not deny the fact that it also produces some of the best sounding speakers. The SoundLink Mini II launched way back in 2015, is one such speaker in its lineup. Although it does lack some basic features like NFC, multipoint Bluetooth, and an IP rating, it is still among one of the best sounding speakers in the market.
The SoundLink Mini II feels like a solid build with its aluminum casing and weighs in at 1.5 pounds. Although it does not have a considerably bigger footprint, the aluminum does add to the heft. Coming to the sound quality, the speaker offers a well-balanced sound profile and distortionless bass, even at high volumes. Interestingly, it does a great job of maintaining consistent bass and preserving details at different volume levels.
8. JBL Clip 3
One of the most preferred choices for best portable Bluetooth speakers for many has to be the JBL Clip 3. And its form factor and build justify that to a greater extent. The lightweight design and weight make it easier-to-carry around for people who listen to a lot of music on-the-go or like an adventure. Further, the IPX7 rating makes the speaker dust-and-water resistant, allowing you to carry it to beaches or swimming pools.
As is the case with most JBL audio products, Clip 3 is no different. It provides a pretty balanced audio profile, except for slightly less-pronounced mids and lows. Although the bass appears to be on the lower side, it is quite consistent throughout, and not mushy at all. Further, the speaker includes a 3.5mm audio jack to allow you to connect it with devices using a wired connection. Overall, for its price, Clip 3 is a fairly good option with its portable design, and probably one of the best speakers (if not the best) offering a decent audio experience for this size.
Those were some of our recommendations for the best portable Bluetooth speakers. And while some of them hold an upper hand over the other, each of these speakers offers a good audio experience with the flexibility to carry them along anywhere.