Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
And while we’ve written before about audio accessories — including the best noise-canceling headphones, wireless headphones, and workout headphones— here we’ve rounded up the best portable speakers, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.
Best-rated portable speaker
“Buy this speaker before Cambridge SoundWorks realizes they priced it too low,” writes one reviewer, who is one of many who cannot believe the price. But as we read through the many reviews praising this speaker — and there are over 23,000 five-star reviews — it’s clear that people love this speaker for more than just its affordable price. It gets high marks from reviewers on just about everything: water-resistance, high-quality sound, a durable exterior, and reliable Bluetooth pairing.
One reviewer from Florida writes, “This is a seriously awesome speaker! We obviously have super high humidity and torrential downpours all the time, and because this speaker is waterproof, I don’t have to worry about it. Plus you seriously can’t beat the cost!” Another reviewer mentions the simple controls and ease of use: “Bluetooth pairing is a snap. It connects to my iPhone within one second of powering on every time.” And according to one purchaser, “It can get shockingly loud for such a little speaker.” As another reviwer puts it: “If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker under $100 the Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle 3 is a great choice.”
Best-rated (less expensive) portable speaker
Reviewers can’t believe how loud this speaker is for something that comes in such a small package. One writes, “I gifted it to my nephew and when he synced up to it, I had to verify several times that his music was actually blasting from this little speaker. I spent $120 on a Bluetooth speaker for myself that is supposed to have quality sound, but the volume levels don’t even compare!” This is labeled as a shower speaker, and a lot purchasers buy it specifically for that reason; over 100 five-star reviews mention the word “shower.” Some people had trouble with the optional suction cup, but they say the rope makes it easy to hang from a shower hook or loop around a towel rack. One reviewer admits to being “a little skeptical” about this speaker “because of the price,” but after trying it out they became a quick convert: “It works great. Fully waterproof and the sound is pretty darn good for a speaker this size.”
And now, some micro-picks for every type of portable speaker you might be looking for.
Best portable speaker with long battery life
“Oh my god, it lasts forever,” says on reviewer, referring to the Anker Soundcore’s battery life. “I’ve charged it once since I got it (a week ago) and used it every day for at least a few hours.” Another purchaser seconds that point, writing, “The battery life is RIDICULOUS. I gave it a full charge and got over a week play time while playing via bluetooth at around 5 presses below max volume for about 10 hours a day.” There are tons of enthusiastic endorsements of the battery life — almost 2,500 five-star reviews refer to the battery — but this one stands out: “After using the speaker multiple times a week for multiple hours each week I vowed to not write this review until the battery actually needed to be charged. Today is the day. I wholeheartedly recommend this speaker. If you are in the market, look no further.”
Best portable speaker with extra bass
“This is a bass cannon,” writes one reviewer. “It blew me away with the small form factor and the quality and quantity of sound it delivers.” One person compares it to popular competitors like the Bose SoundLink and the UE Megaboom, but says, “The JBL Xtreme speaker blows them all away. Sounds clean with perfect bass.” Another music lover calls out the bass output in particular — “The bass on this small speaker is unbelievable” — but adds, “I have listened to every spectrum of music on my Spotify account and it all sounds superb. You won’t be disappointed, whether you’re listening to Boyz to Men, or Audio Slave, or Santana, Miles Davis, or whatever your genre is. For the price, I feel like this JBL is at the top of the class.” Still, the bass is what gets the most attention, particularly the “exposed bass radiators” on either side of the speaker: reviewers say “the bass radiators are sexy” and “thump hard.”
Best portable speaker for home
This speaker isn’t the most compact, but reviewers say it’s great for home use because its volume output rivals that of a “very large stereo system,” and the sleek design “fits in with any room in the house.” Many mention the built-in HK Connect+ software as an important selling point: “The fact that you can connect 100 of the Onyx 4 speakers through the ‘Connect +’ feature makes it very flexible for home entertainment. I have three of them and I connect them together and it’s just a lovely sounding system.” Another adds, “I wish I could give this speaker 10 stars. Literally the best money I’ve spent in a while. It’s loud, it’s clear, it’s bassy and it’s perfect. And being able to connect multiple devices and just hitting play when it’s your turn is so simple and awesome.” But you can also easily enjoy one speaker on its own according to one purchaser who says, “This is by far one of the best speakers I’ve owned. The bass is smooth and full. I put it in a central location and the music sounds amazing throughout my home.”
Best portable speaker for sports
Reviewers say the Bose SoundLink Micro is great for any sort of outdoor activity because it’s small, durable, and waterproof. A wildlife biologist says this “rugged” speaker was up for every challenge they could throw at it: “I am outside all of the time, and I have to kayak for work, so the physical toughness and the fact that it’s waterproof were really important to me. For $100, this is a steal.” Many purchasers say it’s especially great to use to add a soundtrack to a bike ride: “This has completely solved my bike riding music needs! It connects snugly to my crossbar with the included rubber strap that stretches to fit different sizes and types of mounting areas. It has never fallen off even when going off-road on bumpy terrain.”
Best waterproof portable speaker
“It’s waterproof! I’m talking put-it-right-under-the-shower-head-waterproof!” The Wonderboom’s “rugged” build and “IPX7” waterproof rating get high marks from reviewers across the board: “I’ve thrown this thing in my pool, I’ve dropped it from 5 feet, I’ve beat the thing up pretty good and the only thing wrong with it is a scuff. This speaker is an absolute tank — you will not find a better speaker for the price, I’m in love with it.” One reviewer says they know from experience that “it’s truly waterproof,” and they add that “the sound quality is ridiculously good.”
Best portable speaker for shower
“Wanna take your shower-singing career to the next level? Say no more and welcome this little karaoke friend into your home. It handles water like an Olympic swimmer and it can get loud.” With its waterproof construction, small size, and attached clip, reviewers say the JBL Clip 3 is the perfect Bluetooth speaker to bring into the shower: “The sound is great for such a small speaker. I’ve used it to listen to podcasts and music in the shower and it easily hangs on the shower curtain hook or a shower organizer. The controls are great, too.” One reviewer reiterates the convenience of the built-in clip, “I just leave it clipped to the curtain rings, and it’s ready to go. The waterproof-ness of it is great for the shower!” Another adds, “Perfect speaker! Can’t shower without it! Good battery life and loud!”
Best portable speaker for the beach
Reviewers say this is the perfect speaker to bring to the beach because it’s waterproof, tough, and loud. “This is the perfect beach speaker. It survives the kids dripping and spilling. And it sounds good; in fact, much better than I expected for the price.” Many note that if you purchase two of these speakers, you can easily pair them for “stereo sound.” One person who bought two for a “beach vacation” says the stereo-sound feature sounds great: “We played them from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for 6 straight days, charging at night of course. They never died and sounded great given the outdoor and ocean environment. We even had a dance party on the beach with them!”
Best portable speaker for outdoors
The reviews for the Ultimate Ears BOOM 2 are full of stories that speak to its durability. One notes that because it’s both “drop-proof and waterproof, you don’t need to even think about protecting it as you would other electronics. Bringing it on your adventures will become as automatic as bringing a water bottle.” Another says, “I’ve dropped it, had it in the rain, and every other scenario that speakers usually die in. This thing keeps on working and sounds as good as ever. I would buy again, but I’m not sure this one will die!” It also gets praised for its portability: “People constantly ask me about this product because I take this with me EVERYWHERE! Outdoors, to my friends’ houses, in the garden, to the pool, the beach, and even in the shower. I listen to it while I cook in the kitchen or on the grill, clean my house, do my makeup and more.”
Best portable speaker for iPhones
Apple iPhone users love that the Beats Pill+ works seamlessly with their phones, and can charge with Apple’s lightning cable. “Sound is excellent for its size, and battery life is really good. The build quality is superb. The final icing on the cake, it uses Apple’s Lightning cable for charging so I can finally carry just one cable.” According to many reviewers, the convenience of not having to worry about extra cables is a huge plus: “The best part of this speaker by far is that it charges via lightning cable! Anywhere I take it someone will have a cable,” writes one, while another adds, “I was debating between this and the UE Boom 2 and am very happy with my choice, as I like just bringing my lightning cable, phone, and pill+ with me and not having to worry about an extra mini usb cable.” They also say it has a lot going for it besides the lightning cable compatibility: “The form factor is awesome and the all black looks sexy. Sound quality is on point. I’ve used this outside by the beach with waves rolling in and I can still hear it crystal clear.”
Best portable speaker for travel
“I traveled with one of these for 4 months in Asia and it is AMAZING.” Purchasers love this speaker for traveling because it’s durable, compact, and loud. “We take this speaker almost everywhere when traveling. Puts out great sound, I typically have to tell my husband to turn it down. Used at the beach on a day with rain showers, the speaker never got ‘soaked’ — certainly wet due to wind — but had no issues.” Travelers say the waterproof “IPX7” rating comes in handy when by the beach or doing any sort of outdoor activity. One kayaker shares a story that speaks to its waterproofing: “During a kayaking trip with some friends, I tied this off to the bow lashings so I could paddle and listen to music. Until I flipped the kayak and all my gear was submerged for at least 10 minutes. and when I finally righted the boat, the speaker was STILL PLAYING. I’m blown away at how well the design prevents water damage, the sound quality is just what you’d expect if not more.” One reviewer sums it up succinctly: “The gigantic cherry on top is how small and portable it is. I never pack my suitcase without it. Oh yeah, did you read it’s waterproof too?”
Best portable speaker with SD card slot
Many reviewers sought out this DOSS speaker because of its SD card slot which allows it to play music directly off the card without syncing with a phone or computer. “I’ve been using this speaker mostly outdoors with great results so far. A plus that I discovered is that I can use it when camping at places with no phone reception but still bring my playlist with me by using the SD card.” Many others praise the SD card capability, and say that it functions well: “Using the SD card for music, when you shut off the speaker it remembers where you left off in the cue or mid song next time you turn it back on. If you like the convenience having the SD card & not dealing with your phone/tablet via bluetooth this is soooo convenient.”
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