A Guide to the Best Bluetooth Speakers
What makes the best Bluetooth speakers the best ones? The answer is obviously subjective, but it's still something any prospective buyer will be looking for when in the market for a new wireless speaker. To help clear things up, we provided we rounded up some of the best Bluetooth speakers currently on our site—from rugged to wallet-friendly to the highest-rated speakers on our site—and provided some quick definitions on tech terms you're likely to see when shopping around.
An outdoor-friendly speaker should have durable housing that will protect it from drops, a long battery life to keep the tunes going away from a power source, and a good IP rating to keep it safe from splashes (the higher the number, the more water resistant).
Altec Lansing Life Jacket 2
The Life Jacket 2 is as rugged as it looks: it's a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that doesn't just stay working in water, but on top of water. Yes, its durable housing (which also keeps out sand and absorbs shock) lets it float. Pool parties will never be the same.
Jarv X97 Rugged Speaker with Bike Mount
An IPX-rated housing keeps droplets, dust, and debris from damaging this speaker, which comes with a bike-frame mount to keep city commutes and runs through the park soundtracked.
SoundBox Splash 2
Not only is this little speaker designed to withstand splashes, but it's also outfitted with a built-in flashlight and a hand-crank turbine charger, making it an ideal pick for soundtracking campsites and other remote (and outlet-free) sites.
LAX Gadgets LED Speaker with Disco Lights
By day, this modest, cylindrical device plays your podcasts and work music. When the sun goes down and the lights dim, though, the speaker pulses in bright color to the rhythm of your jams, turning an ordinary party into a technicolor rave spectacular. Not bad for under $10.
ASX Shower Speaker XXL with Built-in Bass Pod
Water-safe housing? Check. Suction-cup wall mount? Check. Bass pod for lower lows and a more harmonic pairing with your dulcet tones as you sing in the shower? Check and check.
Jarv X96 Rugged Indoor/Outdoor Speaker with Subwoofer
A perfect gift for a camping enthusiast, this speaker crams a 5-hour battery life, enhanced bass response, loud 5W drivers, and a microphone inside a frame that has an IPX5 water-resistance rating and is also smaller than a sandwich. Its nylon rope attachment makes it easy to attach to backpacks, too.
Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 3
It might be tough to imagine powerful yet nuanced sound coming out of the Onyx Studio 3's satellite-dish shape, but that's just what you'll get. Dual tweeters and a pair of woofers pump out audio at up to 60 watts, making it a worthy replacement for multi-speaker setups in living rooms.
Too often, bookshelf speakers are quickly relegated from actual, functioning speakers to glorified bookends. That's not the case with the Play:1 from Sonos. While it'll easily slide onto a shelf, its class-D amps, custom tweeter and mid-woofer, and controls for bass and treble make it much more than a fancy-looking knickknack.
Beats by Dre Pill (Refurbished)
At this point, you're well aware of the power and sound quality of the Pill. It debuted as the crown jewel of Dr. Dre's suite of Beats products in 2013, and it still reigns supreme in the portable-audio world. A 12-hour battery life, professionally tuned acoustic settings, and an undeniable cool factor make the Pill one of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market.
SoundBot SB520 Premium 3D HD Speaker
Buy now from $34.99. 4.5/5 stars, 515 ratings
A slight curve in the SB520's front housing does more than just give it a sleek exterior: it also helps project sound outward to fill rooms with richer audio. That's in addition to the dual 5W subwoofers and 50mm drivers that punch, pop, and smoothly lie down beats for up to 15 hours at a time.
Axess 2.1-Channel Wireless Speaker
Buy now from $26.99. 4/5 stars, 187 ratings
If you miss the old-school feel of a boom box, this is the speaker for you. Its shoulder strap gives it a throwback vibe and makes it easy to carry to parties, and its side panel is outfitted with USB, auxiliary, and SD inputs lets it connect with older, non-Bluetooth devices. There's the sound quality, too: its 2.1-channel setup means it's equally capable of hitting crisp highs and rumbling lows.
Jawbone Mini JamBox
Buy now from $38.99 | 4/5 stars, 59 ratings
Yes, the Mini JamBox's grille looks cool. And it comes in a bunch of fun colors. But it's more than just a funky-looking brick. Its passive bass radiator gives it a cleaner-sounding low notes, and it can also be paired with two Bluetooth devices at once.
Bluetooth-Speaker Tech Defined
When shopping around for a new Bluetooth speaker, you're bound to page through lots of tech jargon. Read through this handy table to get a better handle on what some of these terms actually mean.
|Tech Term||What's it mean?|
|aptX||A digital-audio technology designed to increase the quality of streamed music|
|Bluetooth + EDR||"EDR" stands for "enhanced data rate;" this means the speaker will transfer more data at once, which leads to better audio quality.|
|Decibels (dB)||A measure of volume where the higher the dB rating, the louder the speaker. For exmaple, a normal conversation is usually 50-65 dB, while, conversely, a jet taking off can hit 140 dB.|
|Frequency Response||A measure of the range of tones a speaker is capable of reproducing, where the larger the range, the more faithfully the speaker can reproduce audio|
|mAh||An abbreviation of milliampere hours, which is the measure of a speaker battery's maximum capacity, where the higher the number, the more robust the battery|
|Near Field Communication (NFC)||Think of this as Bluetooth's tech-savvy cousin: tapping an NFC-compatible phone with an NFC-equipped speaker immediately syncs them, eliminating the need to configure any Bluetooth settings in the devices.|