Here at the Strategist we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like bed sheets or pillows), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we’re introducing People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ‘em) products and single out the most convincing. Here, the best portable speakers on Amazon according to the people (note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity).
Best Very Small Speaker
4.2 stars, 5,530 reviews
“I’m an airline pilot spending about ten to 12 nights a month in hotels. This speaker is my new best friend. Sound quality: very good. I like talk radio, news, website sounds, etc. I listen to music, also, but if I only wanted this for music, I’d get something else. It’s as good as a high-quality radio; but for music, I’d spend a little more money for a higher-quality sound. For my usage, I’m very happy. Size: larger than a golf ball, about the size of a plum. It’s surprisingly small for the sound it emits. I pack it in my shoe for travel, in the little bag it comes with.”
Best Audio Quality at $200
4.6 stars, 3,143 reviews
“In summary (and to my surprise): The SoundLink II produced the highest-quality audio of any wireless-speaker device I have auditioned. It is the unit I kept, and will continue to use. For context, I almost exclusively listen to Spotify on this device, and almost exclusively around the pool. From a music-reproduction perspective, nothing I have heard in this price range matches the SoundLink II for wireless sound. It emits truly high-quality audio.”
Best Audio Quality at $300
4.8 stars, 631 reviews
“I did weeks of research on high-end Bluetooth speakers (JBL, Harman, Fugoo, Bose, etc.), and being a very indecisive person, it was a difficult task. Do you want the speaker that you can throw in a bag, has 35 hours of battery, and is waterproof. … Or the speaker that will beat the block down? At the end of the day, I chose SOUND, and I could not be happier. This speaker has great bass, and if you were playing baseball in the outfield and this speaker was at home plate, you could hear it clearly. Can the competition do that? Not even close.”
Best 360-Degree Speaker
4.5 stars, 1,376 reviews
“I am a Zumba fitness instructor and have used a huge music box for several years, but I needed to purchase a new one. The Best Buy salesman recommended the UE BOOM 2, but I thought it was too small. I asked someone who I totally trust with electronic products, and he had one, too. I bought it, and immediately got it hooked up with my iPhone 6 Plus to see how it would be. I used it in my class tonight and LOVED the sound. I was SO IMPRESSED. Never thought it would be as good as it is. I’m planning to purchase another one in case I do some outside classes, the two combined will have a great sound. Definitely recommend this product.”
Speaker With the Best Battery Life
4.5 stars, 5,952 reviews
“Dang this speaker is amazing. Cannot beat the metal-build quality and huge sound from this compact, but well-designed, cube speaker! Overall, I personally love this device, and it will be my daily Bluetooth from now on. I had an older 2.1 Bluetooth bar that sucked compared to this one. The ease of use, quality of the product, and just great sound from such a small package are worth way more than the price and reliability of this Anker product. I’m surprised by how low the price is, as this is a premium product! Charging and battery life — five stars. Battery life is definitely impressive with 2100mAh of power! I was able to get 20 hours of playtime with this device, as advertised, using the latest 4.0 Bluetooth devices.”
Best Affordable Speaker
4.5 stars, 15,724 reviews
“I bought this as a gift for my boyfriend; unfortunately, his radio in his car no longer works, and he was the only person at work unable to listen to their own music, because he had no source. I think of all the gifts I’ve gotten him, this is definitely a favorite. He constantly tells me how good it is, and how long the battery lasts for him. He works in a loud factory, and while he said it can sometimes drown out the speaker a bit, he’s still able to hear it. I haven’t used it much — other than a quick test after I received it, just to get an idea — but he loves it, so I’d say it’s worth it.”
Best Kids’ Speaker
4.7 stars, 450 reviews
“Shut the front door! I have an array of Bluetooth speakers from cheapest to high-end. I opened this, expecting to hear well if I were sitting at my desk with it on my desk, or in my kitchen IF the dishwasher or no other noise was competing. WAS I SURPRISED!!!!! This little cutie has a rich, quality sound, with volume that will blow your mind! In fact, if it’s playing in my kitchen? You can hear clearly in every adjoining room and farther. It also connects quickly with zero fuss. With some devices, it’s almost as if you have to stand on one leg with an arm next to device, and after ten minutes, you MAY be connected. This connected lickety-split. I purchased it as an extra gift to have on hand, or a last-minute stocking stuffer. Instead, I had two teens fighting over it during my trial run! I am absolutely beyond shocked at the volume and quality in this bitty, cute speaker.”
Best High-Design Speaker
4.5 stars, 39 reviews
“This HK Onyx Mini exceeded all my expectations. It is smaller than I imagined, but this Bluetooth speaker puts out big music sound. In keeping with Harman Kardon sound, this Bluetooth speaker is very clean and crisp in the sound it emits, and can get quite loud in relation to its size. The bass is tight and not boomy, with the nice separation of the lows where bass-guitar notes are clear, as well as the bass drum in music. The bass is definitely there and can be felt, but not overpowering and boomy like my JBL Charge 2+ ( which I like quite a bit as well). I would say the frequency response is more on the flat side, and not boosted on the lows or highs, just a clean, crisp, all-around great small speaker.”
4.6 stars, 1,318 reviews
“JBL is in it to win it. I own the JBL Xtreme, the Charge 2+, and now the Charge 3. If I had to pick one, it would be the Charge 3. I love the sound of the Charge 2+, but the volume is not loud enough. If you are going to listen to the speaker right next to you, the Charge 2+ is very good, as the treble and bass are boosted like a smiley-face-equalizer setting. The Xtreme is pretty much the same, treble and bass are boosted, and the volume goes pretty loud. However, it is not very portable, as it is a medium- to larger-size speaker. The JBL Charge 3, on the other hand, is a lot smaller than the Xtreme, and slightly larger than the Charge 2+. The sound is very well-balanced, with an emphasis on midrange and vocals. The treble and bass are not boosted like the other two; yet the volume can go twice as loud as the Charge 2+, and almost as loud as the Xtreme, with less treble and bass, but with better midrange. If you stream music using Spotify on an iOS device, you can go into the settings, into playback, and adjust the equalizer settings to boost the treble and bass a bit, and make the Charge 3 sound even better.”
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