Best Bluetooth Speaker Under $200
I dont know what kind of engineering sorcery goes into Boses Bluetooth speakers I just know that going back to the SoundLink Mini II, theyve simply sounded clearer and better to my ears, at least than any competitors in the same size range. The $149 SoundLink Flex is Boses latest portable speaker, and it continues to make good on that reputation.
Despite only having a mono driver , the SoundLink Flex delivers expansive sound with a genuinely surprising amount of bass. And crucially, that low end isnt muddy or boomy. Everything about this speaker is rich and clear. Thats even more surprising when you consider that it only supports the baseline SBC Bluetooth codec instead of AAC or the more advanced LDAC. And yet, this speaker sounds excellent.
- 14% off
Boses newest Bluetooth speaker, the SoundLink Flex, offers pristine, detailed sound quality with a surprising amount of bass for its size all in a rugged design that you can take anywhere.
The UE Boom 3 remains a popular Bluetooth speaker several years after release.
The Best Cheap Bluetooth Speaker: Tribit Stormbox Micro
Why should you buy this? You want a small speaker with a big sound at a low price.
Whos it for? Anyone looking for a portable and competent Bluetooth speaker without spending a lot of money.
Why we picked the Tribit Stormbox Micro:
Whether youre an avid mountain biker, rock climber, or an all-around nature-lover, the Tribit Stormbox is the perfect, compact Bluetooth speaker to take on your next wilderness outing. Rocking an IP67 rating, this tiny titan can stand up against full water submergence and is totally protected from dirt and debris of any kind. If youre planning on making a day out of your next outdoor adventure, the Stormbox will deliver up to eight hours of playtime on a single charge and features an LED battery indicator for letting you know just how much juice you have left.
Dont let the size fool you when it comes to sound, either. The Tritbit Stormbox Micros patented XBass tech provides a deep low-frequency underbelly, with plenty of shine in the midrange and treble layers, too. Sure, it may not get as loud or provide as much clarity as some of the other offerings on this list, but for the size, durability, and quick-access USB-C recharging, the Stormbox is a solid contender for those that dont want to break the bank on their next speaker purchase.
The Best Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
Why should you buy this? For its size, this latest version of the Wonderboom is still the most capable micro waterproof speaker you can find that still produces decent sound.
Whos it for? Those who value portability but arent willing to sacrifice sound quality or durability.
Why we picked the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2:
Mini Bluetooth speakers often suffer from terrible audio quality and volume levels that simply cant keep up with their larger cousins. The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 defies this tendency and does it in a fully floating, waterproof package.
If you need a boost in bass for your next outdoor event, hit the boost button to get a push in volume and clarity. As many images will indicate, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is a floating water companion like no other, thanks in part to its IP67 rating that covers full submergence. And with 13 hours of battery life, you can have the Wonderboom 2 in the pool with you all day long before recharging the speaker. While it may not touch the sound quality of speakers like the JBL Flip 5 or the Soundlink Revolve+ Series II, the Wonderboom 2 is perfect for getting tossed around and thrown in your beach bag.
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Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
Why it made the cut: Ultimate Ears has an impeccable talent for pumping out small, waterproof speakers that sound great. This little sound sphere is no exception. Its awesome all around.
- Not as powerful as other models
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers if you are looking for something that you can easily take with you on the go. The UE WONDERBOOM 2 comes in five, fun two-tone colors with a flexible handle at the top that can easily be attached to a backpack, bike basket, or even a belt loop. This UE speaker also weighs less than one pound, so you wont be dragged down by your sound. The battery lasts a full 13 hours and produces amazing 360-degree sound coverage. With an IP67 rating, this Bluetooth speaker is waterproof, it even floats and Ultimate Ears suggests trying it out in the shower. Its small but mighty, measuring just four inches tall but packs a punch when it comes to volume, reaching up to 87 dB .
Best For Portable Outdoor Audio
- Powerful, bass-forward, bright sound signature
- Gets loud for its relatively compact size
- Fully waterproof design
- USB-A port for charging mobile devices
- Multi-room audio with flexible stereo and surround configurations.
- Powerful sound for its size.
- Offers both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants.
- Supports AirPlay.
- Sound can distort at top volumes.
- No Bluetooth or wired audio connections.
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Anker Soundcore 3 Review: Design
Measuring 6.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 inches and weighing in at 13 ounces, the Soundcore 3 is roughly the same size as the Sonos Roam but just a couple of ounces lighter. Like the Roam, the compact speaker is easy to toss into a bag and take with you. A carry strap is supplied to loop through the fixing hook at one end of the cabinet. This gives a useful degree of extra security with the strap wrapped around your hand for transporting the speaker from room to room or around the garden.
In terms of how the Soundcore 3 looks, the rectangular shape is perhaps more utilitarian than some of the portable Bluetooth speaker designs featured in our best Bluetooth speakers guide. But it has nicely rounded edges and a rubberized finish that looks like it will adequately protect the Soundcore 3 from any knocks or scrapes while on the road. The finish is nicely tactile and the only downside I can see is that the black version reviewed here marked very easily, and showed up fingerprints within seconds of being unboxed. A quick wipe over with a damp, lint-free cloth cleans these off nicely, though.
The Soundcore 3 is rated at IPX7 for waterproofing, which means it’s protected from water ingress even if submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, making it perfectly suitable for poolside parties or bathroom playback.
For The Ultimate Party Speaker Get The Ue Hyperboom
Ultimate Ears has been in the Bluetooth speaker market for years now, and the one thing its product line-up was missing was a giant speaker that could power your parties. That ends with the UE HYPERBOOM, which is the new giant speaker from the company. This speaker has an IPX4 splash-resistant build along with a battery life that should last you about 24 hours of constant playback.
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Anker Soundcore 3 Review: Setup And Controls
The raised buttons on the surface of the Soundcore 3 are a delight to use and provide a good amount of tactile feedback. From left to right, functionality is as follows: power on/off decrease volume playback control increase volume Bluetooth pairing.
The Soundcore control app is freely available to download via the iOS App Store or Google Play for Android devices, and provides access to playback controls, EQ settings and zoomable PDF of the detailed instructions. An instruction booklet is supplied, but the print is likely to be too small to read for many. A USB-C charging cable is also included, but there’s no plug-in wall adaptor in the box.
With the Soundcore app downloaded and the speaker paired to my iPhone, the app set about downloading a firmware update for a bug fix that was needed. The update took about 10 minutes to complete and the Soundcore 3 automatically restarted the Bluetooth connection to my phone was also maintained.
The app provides four preset EQ modes, including one designated Signature Sound, plus the flexibility to tailor the sound to your own preference. There’s also the ability to set an auto-power off time.
The Best Bluetooth Speakers 2021 The List
The Beosound A1 v2 finds its way to the top of this list thanks to sheer audio quality for the size if you want a full, punchy sound that’s fairly expansive, and that doesn’t crush when going loud, then this is the place to start.
That’s no surprise when it comes from Bang & Olufsen, of course. And it follow B& O’s usual MO of having quite a neutral sound out of the box, but you can use the app to customise the audio we at T3 like to push up the bass of B& O’s products a little, and that’s so easy to do and then save as a preset.
There’s another smart trick here too, though you can even use Alexa from the device, despite it lacking Wi-Fi, thanks to the Bluetooth connection. That means you can just request music without touching your phone .
And, being a B& O speaker, it’s also an object of desire, and is available in a great range of colours, with new ones added to the range over time. The build quality can certainly take a tumble, and is dust and waterproof, for lighter dunkings. Here’s our full B& O Beosound A1 2nd Gen review.
The original Wonderboom from Logitech subsidiary Ultimate Ears was great. Wonderboom 2 is, as you’d imagine, one better. Better sound, longer battery life , cool new buttons to play with, dust- and sand-proofing , and a great price.
The Wonderboom 2 is the state of the art in waterproof, outdoor portable speakers. Keep an eye out for the original Wonderboom speaker going cheap, though it’s still an excellent product.
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What Devices Will A Bluetooth Speaker Work With
A Bluetooth speaker is designed to stream music or audio content from any compatible device it is paired withsuch as a smartphone, tablet, or computer. In some cases, these speakers can also be paired with smart TVs and video game console .
In general, the device youre using to stream music from needs to stay within about 33 feet. But if the speaker and your device utilizes the latest Bluetooth technology, this wireless range can be substantially larger.
Most Bluetooth speakers cant connect to more than one device at a time, but in some cases, you can pair multiple speakers together or stream music to the speaker using two or more different devices . In some cases, you can automatically switch between devices the speaker is paired with.
The Jbl Flip 6 Is A Small But Mighty Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The JBL Flip 6 builds upon the signature Flip series design with its cylindrical shape and dual-passive bass radiators that cap off either end of it. The Flip 6 has a new IP67 rating, along with better battery life than the Flip 5. JBL didnt reintegrate the headphone jack here, but you get Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth multipoint instead.
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The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The UE Wonderboom 2 is the all-around best portable Bluetooth speaker because it sounds good and looks cool, and its the most rugged model weve ever tested.
We began our research by surveying online retailers, reviews, and product announcements to see what new models were available. We also looked through the comments on the previous version of this guide to see whether Wirecutter readers had requested any models we hadnt tested before. Dedicated Bluetooth-only tabletop speakers are becoming increasingly less common as Wi-Fi speakers grow in popularity, so for our most recent update in fall 2021, weve added only a couple of new products that fit this category .
In the course of testing for the original version of this article and five updates, weve tested 37 different speakers in total.
Ue Megaboom 3 Review: Performance
The Megaboom 3 has nicely balanced bass, mid and treble tones. It has slightly more bass than the Megaboom and fuller overall sound than the Fugoo Style-S. UE’s speaker plays a variety of music styles well.
The throbbing bass line of Cardi B’s “I Like It” rumbled without sounding muddy or overwhelming the vocals. On The 1975’s “Love It If We Made It,” the bass propelled the song as Matthew Healy’s singing was easy to hear. The acoustic guitar on Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” sounded sharp and realistic, while Gaga’s soaring vocals were full and clear.
The Megaboom 3 gets seriously loud. I measured it at almost 100 decibels when turned up to max, but at that volume, the sound gets fairly distorted.
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What Is The Best Bluetooth Speaker
The No.1 pick for best Bluetooth speaker is the UE Megaboom 3. This portable and rugged sound blaster delivers big bass and full vocals, and pairs with older Megaboom and Boom models for loud stereo sound. You also get 20 hours of playback on a full charge, which is more than sufficient for outdoor gatherings or road trips. And whats not to love about the waterproof design?
Our favorite budget option is the Anker Soundcore 2. For less than $50, this model delivers loud sound in a durable, compact body. It might seem too small for any backyard party, but its a great travel companion that can be tossed into any laptop or gym bag. A 24-hour battery means you can play it all day long, too.
If the budget allows, then consider dropping $399 on the Sonos Move, the brands first portable speaker with both WiFi and Bluetooth, and lots of features to boot. However, were even bigger fans of the newer and smaller Sonos Roam, which offers much of the same functionality for a lower MSRP.
If youre looking for something specific or just want to know the best Bluetooth speaker based on performance and price, check out our full list of picks below.
Do You Need A Smart Speaker
Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant let you simply tell your speaker what to play instead of looking through your smartphone. These voice assistants are useful for more than just playing music. You can ask them for weather forecasts, sports scores, unit conversions, and even language translation. They also generally support third-party skills that let you do anything from order pizza to play trivia games. If you have other smart home devices, you might even be able to integrate them as well, letting you control the lights and thermostat with your voice.
Voice assistant speakers have one universal requirement: Wi-Fi. They need an internet connection, and without one voice recognition and all of the processing needed to find your music, answer your questions, and control your smart home devices simply won’t work. These speakers can still be portable, and even offer Bluetooth connectivity when you’re away from your network, but those features aren’t certain. The most prominent first-party voice assistant speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home don’t have batteries.
For more, see our picks for the best smart speakers.
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Are Bluetooth Speakers Compatible With Amazon Alexa And Google Assistant
The answer is no for the majority of Bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth speakers tend to just transmit sound from your phone or other compatible devices. For smart assistant support, you need a microphone and, either, an onboard assistant or allowing you to communicate with the assistant on your phone.
If a smart assistant is your main focus then you could opt for an Amazon Echo or Google Nest speaker, but these are typically limited in their portability.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The One II has a few flaws that are worth noting. The most significant is that its volume control works independently of the volume control on the source device. As a result, if the One IIs volume control is turned way down, theres no way to get loud volume out of it, no matter how far the volume is turned up on your source device. If you leave the speakers volume set fairly loud, this will not be a concern.
Weve gotten used to Bluetooth speakers with volume controls for which the maximum settings are conservative enough to prevent gross distortion. But if you crank the One IIs volume and your phones volume at full blast, the sound will distort, which makes the bass boomy and garbles the sound of voices. Fortunately, a moderate volume setting on the Klipsch will deliver clear sound with ample volume to fill a room and then some, although both the Morel Högtalare and the Marshall Woburn II will play a lot louder.
One more minor complaint: Instead of having a built-in power supply with a direct power cord connection to a wall AC socket, the One II uses a wall-wart power supply, which could get lost and wouldnt be easy to replace because its an unusual voltage . However, most people who buy this speaker will likely plug it in and leave it in one place for a long time.
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How To Determine The Loudest Bluetooth Speaker
While we’re delighted to see the return of the live scene after such a long layoff, we have to say we’ve become quite partial to checking out sound systems and speakers in our own property or, more recently, over at a friend’s place.
As you can see, the online marketplace is stacked with speakers and choosing the right option for you can be a minefield. For starters, just how do you know that the speaker you have your eye on in, in fact, the loudest?