So you got that beloved amazon gift card for Christmas but not sure what to spend it on? Bluetooth speakers always make a great option and just might be the best piece of technology that you can put your money down on right now. Although it’s not the newest innovation, these speakers continue to get better and better, while costing less and less. There are not many places that I've traveled without my speaker in my backpack, as there is no better way to experience a new place with the best tunes. Ranging from small to large, colorful to plain, waterproof to luxury, these 10 bluetooth speakers will not disappoint. Whether you’re looking for super compac, large, rugged, or even waterproof bluetooth speakers, you’ll find a perfect match for your next trip on this list.
Side Note: This review is completely based on personal experience, as I have owned and enjoyed many different types of bluetooth speakers. Spending much of my time in the bush of Papua New Guinea, I would put my speakers to the true test. Rankings are in order of my personal favorites and how I feel that they held/could hold up.
10 Best Bluetooth Speakers of All Time
The chart below displays my top picks for the best bluetooth speakers, along with their ratings. Click "See Today's Price" if you want to know the current price for each one.
4.9 out of 5
4.7 out of 5
4.3 out of 5
4.2 out of 5
4.2 out of 5
4.4 out of 5
5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
4.2 out of 5
Benefits of Having A Bluetooth Speaker When Traveling:
How to Choose Your Perfect Bluetooth Speaker:
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Beginning Your Search
It can be easy to just drop money on something that sounds good (literally), but there are things to consider before buying one. Will it end up just collecting dust on your desk, or will you constantly take it out and pump the jams? Do you need a bluetooth speaker or are you ok just to plug into computer speakers?
1. How often would you use a bluetooth speaker?
If you are purchasing a speaker for one trip, instead of over long-term use, consider buying a less-expensive speaker to avoid breaking the bank. If you are looking for a speaker that you hope to use for the next few years, consider a higher-end one.
2. What’s the most important feature for you?
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. But a big speaker is usually sure to deliver beefier bass. Bluetooth speakers sports thier own unique set of features; some with longer range, some charge your phone, some are voice-activated, some with stronger bass, some fully waterproof, etc. It’s important to compare the options and choose the best one for YOUR needs. For example, don’t buy a feature-packed speaker if it’s got a terrible battery life. Weigh your options.
Something to Consider before Buying Your New Bluetooth Speaker
Don’t just buy the nicest looking or the first speaker that you see
We’ve all been in situations where the money has burnt a whole in our pockets. It is easy to go out and see a shiny brand name speaker sitting on the stand calling your name. That’s the power of good marketing. A perfect example of this would be Beats by Dre. They are a brand name and their products look excellent. Even though they are everywhere, they don’t necessarily boast the highest quality of sound. It’s always important to weigh your options before purchasing your next investment.
The Best Bluetooth Speakers for your Buck
1. JBL Charge 3: Perfect for Keeping Your Phone Alive
I must say, this is my favorite of any speaker on the market. Having put it through rough use for 3 months, then selling it to a friend, this speaker takes the cake. It doubles as a speaker and has a battery pack that can be used to charge an external device, like your phone. The bass is crisp, and does not distort at high volumes. It is also waterproof ( 1M for 30 minutes) and creates a cool effect when played underwater. It also is equipped with a built-in microphone for hands-free calling. If you are looking for a small, ultra-portable speaker, this might not be the one for you, as it can be hefty in size and weight in a bag or even in hand. But don’t let that taint you, the JBL Flip 3 is a phenomenal speaker that literally gives you a bang for your buck.
2. UE Boom 2: Best Value / For an Active Lifestyle
UE, or Ultimate Ears, hit a home run when they originally released the original UE Boom. It was affordable, it had excellent sound, good range, and performed well all-around. Since then, the company has released the UE Boom 2, which updates the internals in almost every way. It now responds to your voice, sports a waterproof body, and even boasts a more boisterous sound. This is the speaker I would recommend to any traveller or adventurer, as it is just the perfect size to throw in any bag.
3. Bose SoundLink Color II: Big Compact Sound
With it’s expensive line of products, Bose has made quite an exquisite name for itself. However, the SoundLink Color II is the revamp of the original SoundLink, which was a big step for Bose. My friend Miriam has the original model, and she absolutely tortures it. Surviving the elements and being dropped regularly, you would think it would have thrown in the towel. But it still plays like it’s brand new. With a smaller price tag and more vibrant aesthetic, Bose set out to produce a new generation of it’s successful mid-range speaker. It’s certainly not jaw-dropping sound, but it does live up to its name.
4. JBL Clip 2: Built for the Adventurer with Surprisingly Full Sound
The JBL Clip 2 is an interesting addition to the bunch. When I first looked at it, I would have never believed the sound that this thing could produce. Once you connect to it, the sound is loud enough to fill up an entire room. It comes hooked with an industrial strength hook, that can be clipped to a hiking backpack easy. It is IPX7-certified, so don’t be afraid to make a splash. At this price, the Clip 2 would the perfect stocking stuffer for any adventurer.
5. Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4: For Those who Love Bass
A little larger than your ideal throw-in-a-bag-and-run speaker, the Hardon Kardon Onyx Studio 4 makes up for it in other ways. HK has really made a name for itself here with its bass-booming speaker. I first saw this speaker in a Sprint store where I was able to connect and play my favorite beats, but then when I saw the marked price of $250, I was turned off. After I found it on Amazon for $150 though, I couldn’t recommend a better “stationary” portable bluetooth speaker for the price. Although the speaker doesn’t support hands-free voice connecting, there is a button that you can press that lets you access Siri or Google Now via the HK Connect app. And if you’re into the crowd-DJ kind of thing, you can connect up to more than 100 supported HK speakers. If bass is your first priority, look no further.
6. Oontz Angle 3: Big Sound on a Budget
At first sight, the Oontz Angle 3 may look like the next cheap ebay speaker, but it’s sound says differently. Packing a punch, this 25$ speaker makes itself available to anyone looking for quality sound, but on a tight budget. Although it’s not fully waterproof, don’t worry if it gets a bit wet. Limited to a smaller range of functions, it’s simple enough for the first timer.
7. JBL Flip 4 - For the Active Lifestyle
After using it’s predecessor, the JBL Flip 3 for a year straight with heavy abuse, this is hands-down one of the best bluetooth speakers that $85 can buy. Slightly upgraded, the JBL Flip 4 supports Siri and Google Now at the press of a button. There are passive radiators on each end of the speaker, which show the pumping bass in action. Often compared with the UE Boom 2, the JBL Flip 4 outperforms in many ways. It is half the price, and truly offers better sound. Although both are excellent, the JBL Flip 4 is just able to withstand more abuse in the outdoor world. Considered as the little brother to the JBL Charge 3 (the first on the list), the Flip 3 is a more compact version. Offered in many different colors, this speaker will surely be a conversation starter.
8. UE Wonderboom: For the Kids
You guessed it. Another UE product. The company has really started to take over the bluetooth speaker industry, and this micro-speaker is nothing short of it. It is compact, fully waterproof, and it even floats in water. The bass is so good for its size that it almost confuses. Also great to attach to a bag or lanyard with its loop, the little speaker is a bit more chunky than others in its class. It’s a great little all-around speaker and now on sale for $80, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer.
9. Libratone TOO: For Design Junkies
Another product from Danish designer, Libratone, this speaker is perfect for anyone who takes design as first priority. Like the iPhone of the smartphone world, this speaker wins at the design game. With minimal factors such as a the logo as a touch plate used for various gestures, the speaker is nothing short from fantastic. The bass is strong for such a small package, but isn’t quite as strong as its competition, the UE Boom 2. However, you’re really only buying it for its look.
10. Bose SoundLink Revolve: Best 360 Sound
The list wouldn't be complete without an expensive option, so here’s the last call. Showing off a more signature Bose design, the SoundLink Revolve is just the speaker you should consider purchasing if design and sound quality are both musts. Although it is splash-proof, at no means does this speaker sport a rugged design. So don’t go throwing it around on the beach. The 360 sound, simply put, is the best 360 sound in any speaker under $1000.
Related Travel Products
Check these other travel gadgets that will complete you and your new bluetooth speaker on your next trip.
The Perfect Travel Companion
At the amount of bluetooth speakers there are today, choosing one can be intimidating. Whether looking for a new travel companion, or simply a better way to play your music, any of the chosen 10 would make a perfect option. Don’t forget your tunes!
Dedicated to my brother and friend, Braden Voss, and all of the adventures we had with our bluetooth speakers.