13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers

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Bluetooth Speakers

The best portable speakers for phones are made by JBL, but this does not mean that other brands do not offer decent models. For example, Marshalls stand out for their “rock” sound and retro design, Harman / Kardon for premium materials and looks.

The Best Portable Speakers Consumer Report 2022

JBL Flip 5

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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JBL is the most popular manufacturer of wireless portable speakers, and Flip is one of the most affordable lines.

Visually, the JBL Flip does not differ from the third and fourth generations, but this is not necessary, because such a design has already become an example to follow: a cylindrical shape and a strong fabric braid over the entire area.

The column is protected from moisture and dust according to IPX7 standard. That is, it will calmly survive a short-term immersion under water.

The device plays loudly, with pronounced bass and more muffled highs. The Flip 5 can last up to 12 hours on a single charge.

PROS

  • Nice design;
  • High level of protection against dust and moisture;
  • Good battery life;
  • High quality sound;
  • USB-C connector.

CONS

  • One physical speaker;
  • Does not connect with other JBL speakers.

The JBL Flip 5 is one of the most affordable, attractive and popular speakers on the market. For most buyers, its disadvantages will not be critical.

Sony SRS-XB21 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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The youngest model in the Sony portable speaker line. Outwardly, the device resembles JBL, but due to a pair of glossy stripes it stands out from the competitor. There are also LEDs that flash in time to the music, but they can be turned off.

The column is completely protected from dust and moisture, so it is suitable for any use – at home or on the face. Plays loud, but no bass – in this regard, she clearly loses to JBL. Overall, however, the sound quality is not bad.

PROS

  • Design;
  • High quality body materials;
  • Decent sound with a good headroom;
  • Protection against moisture and dust;
  • Built-in microphone.

CONS

  • Little bass;
  • Autonomy is highly dependent on the volume level.

The youngest model in the Sony lineup is considered JBL’s main competitor in this price range, which lacks only one thing – the bass.

Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini 2

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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Harman / Kardon is an expensive brand, so this model loses to all competitors in its price segment.

If we consider it with the understanding that half of the cost is a fee for the manufacturer’s name, then Esquire Mini is quite capable of pleasing.

A very small speaker no larger than modern smartphones. But it is more convex due to the battery, thanks to which the device works up to 10 hours without recharging.

It reproduces frequencies from 130 to 20,000 Hz, so you shouldn’t expect any expressive bass or general detail. This is primarily an accessory on which you can listen to simple music.

PROS

  • Compactness;
  • Excellent body materials;
  • Nice design;
  • Quite good autonomy;
  • Good equipment;
  • The presence of a microphone.

CONS

  • Average sound quality – even for this price.

A speaker for those who need a beautiful device that can reproduce sound better than the speaker built into a smartphone. You shouldn’t expect more from her.

JBL Charge 4 Portable Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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JBL Charge is one of the most popular lines of portable speakers, which, in addition to traditional chips for the manufacturer, offers the ability to use it as a power bank to charge gadgets.

The new generation has become larger than its predecessors, but retained its signature features: a fabric surface and rubber inserts. The column weighs almost a kilogram and is sold in 10 colors.

The column is fully protected from dust and moisture according to the IPX7 standard. It works up to 20 hours – this is a very high indicator, so the extra energy can be used to charge your gadgets.

Like the last Flip, there is only one speaker, but this did not affect the sound quality much. The model sounds traditionally good – loud, with bass and detailed elaboration of all frequencies.

PROS

  • Signature design and bright colors;
  • High quality body materials;
  • Good detailed sound;
  • Excellent autonomy;
  • The ability to use as a power bank.

CONS

  • There is no support for aptX and LDAC.

The best device in a line that has gained its cult status thanks to the ability to use it as a power bank. Naturally, such a column simply has no problems with autonomy.

Bose SoundLink Micro

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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SoundLink Micro lives up to its name – it is a truly miniature speaker that you can attach to your clothes or backpack.

There are only 3 colors on sale, but among them there is a bright orange. The device is completely protected from dust and moisture. A convenient proprietary application is used to connect to a smartphone.

Despite its size, the model sounds very good: it is suitable for any genre, since the creators have not forgotten about bass either. Nevertheless, for listening to FLAC files, something larger and more expensive is better.

PROS

  • Compact size and stylish design;
  • Moisture protection;
  • Great sound for this size;
  • Quite good autonomy;
  • Convenient program for connection.

CONS

  • Not supported by aptX.

An excellent model for those who need a really small speaker that can reproduce music in good quality.

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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The main feature of this column is its shape. While other manufacturers try to make their devices compact by putting them in boxes or cylinders, Harman / Kardon uses a round shape with a hole for easy portability.

It should not be attached to clothes, a backpack or a bicycle, but it will be convenient to carry it in your hands.

Two speakers are installed inside, which sound very good: you can listen to music of different genres and watch a movie. One charge Onyx Studio works for 8 hours, but then charges as much as 5.

PROS

  • Original design;
  • Cool sound;
  • Nice body materials;
  • Decent autonomy;
  • Convenient management.

CONS

  • It takes a long time to charge.

Onyx Studio looks very interesting and sounds good, but you will have to pay for it with ease of portability, charging time and, which is typical for the company, one and a half times more money in comparison with competitors.

Marshall Stockwell II

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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Marshall devices will recognize everything at a glance: the design in the style of guitar amplifiers, a nice protective grille and the corporate white logo have already become rock classics.

Stockwell II has a square shape and a belt is used to carry it. The model weighs 1.4 kg.

In terms of sound, this is one of the best options in its price range. Here and pronounced bass, and not clear high frequencies without squealing, and detailed mids, which will be appreciated by lovers of rock music. From a single charge, the column lasts up to 30 hours.

PROS

  • Recognizable rock design;
  • Outstanding autonomy;
  • Thorough study of all frequencies;
  • Solid body;
  • The ability to basic tune the sound directly on the speaker.

CONS

  • No track controls.

Stockwell II costs a lot, but for the money it offers cool design, equally great sound and unattainable 30 hours of battery life.

LG PK7 XBOOM Go Water-Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Party Speaker

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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Compared to its competitors, the portable LG speaker does not look very impressive. It looks more like a speaker system from 10 years ago. In addition, the model has only splash protection.

For carrying, handles are used, which are also a design element. There are elements of light and music, but they can be turned off.

PK7 can work up to 25 hours on a single charge, but you only need to charge it with the supplied cable. The main feature of the model is support for aptX, which allows you to transmit sound 24 bit / 48 kHz without wires.

Meridian helped improve LG audio quality. Thanks to them, the Enhanced Bass and Clear Vocal modes appeared in the column, so the “seven” sounds very good.

PROS

  • Beautiful sounding;
  • Good battery life;
  • Splash proof;
  • Light music function;
  • AptX HD support.

CONS

  • Out of date design.

There is excellent sound with support for aptX HD, and splash protection, and good autonomy, but the design of the company should be improved.

Denon DSB-250BT Envaya Portable Bluetooth 8.25” Speaker

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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Denon is not the most popular, but respected brand among connoisseurs of good sound. And the DSB-250BT is a compact and very beautiful speaker that can be used as an element of home decor.

Despite its small size, the device works up to 13 hours from one charge. It is possible to combine several columns into one system.

The speaker sounds very good and produces a high volume level, plus it lends itself perfectly to adjusting with an equalizer. The model has a built-in microphone.

PROS

  • Original design and high-quality body materials;
  • Beautiful sound;
  • Excellent autonomy.

CONS

  • The buttons will take some getting used to;
  • Poor equipment.

The case when a non-publicized brand offers a really cool and balanced device. DSB-250BT is a serious competitor for any of the models presented here.

JBL Xtreme 2

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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It is difficult to call this column portable due to its size and weight, but the manufacturer positions it that way.

Moreover, it is presented as a solution for extreme lovers. The Xtreme 2 is dust, sand and water resistant. A secure carrying strap is included.

Thanks to the dimensions, the manufacturer managed to fit 4 speakers into the case: a pair of active and passive radiators.

This resulted in excellent volume, good detail and pronounced bass. From a single charge, the column works up to 15 hours, and charges in 3.

PROS

  • Great sound;
  • Complete protection against dust and water;
  • Good battery life;
  • Solid body materials;
  • Brand design.

CONS

  • The dimensions and weight of the speaker are not particularly conducive to traveling with it.

The perfect choice for JBL fans worried that even a protected Flip or Charge won’t handle the harsh environment. Xtreme 2 is definitely not afraid of anything – only with portability it has some problems.

Sonos Move

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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Sonos is a popular American company that makes expensive wired speakers. Move is her first attempt at offering a wireless model.

Due to its shape, it is difficult to listen to it on weight, but otherwise the dimensions do not raise questions. This is a very expensive device and it is difficult to find competitors on the market.

The design is quite simple: an oval cylinder with a metal mesh and several control buttons on the top edge.

Four speakers deliver balanced and omnidirectional sound. The speaker is protected from water and dust (IP56) and also shock resistant. One charge lasts 10 hours.

The main feature of Move is a set of functions: the ability to combine multiple devices into a network, connect to streaming services, support for voice assistants, adjust the sound to the environment using microphones, and others.

PROS

  • Sound level of wired speakers;
  • Shock, dust and moisture protection;
  • “Smart” functions;
  • Omni-directional sound;
  • The ability to combine columns into a system.

CONS

  • Average autonomy;
  • Price.

The Sonos Move is expensive compared to the competition, but it also sounds better. And even the non-record 10 hours of battery life is not perceived as a serious drawback.

Marshall Kilburn II Portable Bluetooth Speaker

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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The Kilburn II is one of the least portable Marshall speakers. But this disadvantage makes up for the cool looks and sound quality. Despite its size, you want to carry the column with you.

There are only 3 speakers installed inside, but the device still sounds good with clearly audible bass.

Basic settings can be adjusted on the top panel. The column supports Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX, from one charge it works up to 20 hours.

PROS

  • Great design;
  • Good battery life;
  • 5th generation Bluetooth and aptX;
  • Moisture protection;
  • Bass, high quality sound.

CONS

  • You cannot switch tracks on the speaker itself;
  • A bit big.

This model is not as versatile as the Stockwell II in terms of sound, but it will have its fans – those who love good, juicy bass.

Sony SRS-XB41

13 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers|The Consumer Reports

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The older model from the Sony line is better than the XB21 in all respects. Like other speakers, it is made using a metal grille throughout the area.

There is also an LED strip that flashes to the beat of the music – it can be turned off.

The device is protected from moisture and dust according to the IP67 standard, supports Bluetooth 4.2 and connectivity via NFC.

Wireless systems allow multiple speakers to be networked simultaneously. The battery of the model provides it with up to a day of listening from one charge.

The speaker sounds very loud. There is an Extra Bass mode, which affects the reproduction of low frequencies, but even without it, the device is impressively bass.

The XB41 is primarily suitable for electronic music and hip-hop, but there is also an equalizer and many different modes that affect the sound in different ways.

PROS

  • Nice design and light music;
  • Good sound with rich bass;
  • Excellent autonomy;
  • Full protection from external factors;
  • Entertainment modes such as Party Booster.

CONS

  • Not suitable for all styles of music;
  • Poor equipment.

The Sony SRS-XB41 is an excellent speaker for noisy party lovers offering ample audio customization options.

How to choose a portable speaker

Let’s look at the main parameters that you should pay attention to when choosing a wireless speaker.

Dimensions

First of all, you need to imagine in what situations you most often need portable acoustics. This can be a small speaker with a carabiner to hang it from your backpack or belt while jogging, cycling or fishing. Or, for example, compact acoustics for outdoor recreation in a small company. Or maybe, on the contrary, you need a large powerful speaker to pump this park with music? The clearer you are about the tasks you will set, the easier it will be to choose.

Power

Everything is pretty simple here. As a rule, it correlates with size: the larger the speaker, the easier it is to put a more powerful battery, amplifier and larger speakers in it, and vice versa. For all manufacturers, the numbers will be quite similar. Deviations from these figures should be questionable. There won’t be a tiny column that gives out a hundred watts of power.

Sound quality

The concept is very subjective. Especially when you consider what different devices exist on the market. In addition, they are not professional equipment, so serious frequency response tests for many models cannot be found. Naturally, the best way to appreciate the sound is to listen to it with your ears. But some patterns in performance characteristics can still be traced, and in most cases they help to choose the best option without getting up from the couch. The first and foremost is, in fact, the name of the manufacturer. It is clear that if we choose between an old well-known company that has been dealing only with acoustic systems for many years, and a young, little-known one that produces everything from irons to plasma panels, then, of course, the former should be preferred. You can also pay attention to the number of speakers and the number of bands. The more speakers of different sizes in the acoustics, the better. The number of bands means that each speaker plays only its part of the frequency range, this has a positive effect on the detail of reproduction.

Frequency range

Here it is more important to pay attention to the lower threshold, since everything is about the same with the upper one, all manufacturers indicate the upper limit at 18-20 kHz, and we don’t need more. The lower limit largely depends, again, on the size. The larger the physical size of the speaker and the larger the enclosure in which it is placed, the easier it will be to reproduce low frequencies. Therefore, do not expect an excellent sub-bass from a pocket speaker, it will only cope with frequencies from 120-150 Hz and above. The most optimal lower limit of the range, I would conventionally designate at 70 Hz. Above this figure, the lack of bass will already seem. Large boomboxes are capable of delivering lows from 50-60 Hz. Believe me, it won’t seem a little.

Working hours

Most of all it depends on the capacity of the battery. Everything is extremely simple here: the more, the better. Most of the popular models are capable of working an average of 12 to 24 hours, which is great! Again, the clearer the tasks, the easier it is to select the optimal characteristics for them.

Interface

Everything here is individual. The main points are the presence / absence of some buttons, backlight, indication or screen, as well as slots for a flash card and AUX input.

Additional functions

This can be protection against water and dust, the ability to simultaneously connect several speakers, stereo mode (you can put two identical speakers to the right and left of the listener and each will play only its own channel), dynamic lighting (light music), the ability to charge other devices (some the speakers have such a powerful battery that they can charge a dead mobile phone) and so on. These are the most common features among the most popular models. But, in principle, everything here is limited only by the imagination of manufacturers and users.

Checklist for choosing the best portable speaker

1. If you choose a speaker that will mainly live in an apartment as the main speaker system, then it is better to consider medium or large models so that they give out a power of at least 30W, and preferably 50-60W. If the system is with single-way speakers, then at least there are low-frequency passive radiators, but it is even better that the system is two-way and with a lower threshold of the frequency range of 50Hz. Then the acoustics will be pleasant to fill the whole room with sound, not overstrain or get lost at a low volume level. And you can always take it with you to the dacha or to visit your friends.

2. If you just need a speaker as an auxiliary device for your home (provided you have decent basic home acoustics) and for outings with friends, then you can consider compact and mid-range models. A power of 20-30W and a lower frequency threshold of 70Hz will be enough. The bass will be fine, you can dance, you will not get lost in the surrounding noise on the street or in nature. The presence of protection against water in this case does not hurt.

3. In any unclear situation, buy Flip 5. Joke. If you cannot choose which speaker will be most suitable for you, then consider one of the compact popular devices. The aforementioned model or Sony SRS-XB21, or similar but from another reputable manufacturer, will cope with most everyday tasks. They are not bulky, moderately powerful, they are not afraid of harsh operating conditions, they can work for a long time and you can choose from a huge variety of colors.

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