Banner image credit: Ayman alakhras / Shutterstock.com
By now, you already know that an essential thing at family gatherings and parties is the music. That's exactly why you already have a speaker system installed in your yard, on your deck or throughout your home.
But what happens when the party moves elsewhere?
Maybe you're spending the day at the beach and need some tunes as you relax in the sun. Or perhaps you're on a camping trip deep in the woods and plan on firing up a barbecue. That regular old speaker system just isn't going to cut it here, and headphones don't allow for a group to listen together.
That's where you'll need a portable speaker instead.
So, let's go over what portable speakers are and what you should be looking for. Then, we'll review 9 of the best portable speakers that'll change your next gathering for the better.
Related: Top 5 Workout Headphones Under $50
Key Features to Look For
A portable speaker is one that you can easily bring with you when you're on the go. Most portable speakers run on battery power and don't require you to hook up any wiring thanks to Bluetooth connectivity.
Here are some key features to look for when buying portable speakers.
We all have our own definition of "portable."
What makes some speakers portable is the fact that they can fit into your car and don't require a whole lot of set-up. On the other hand, some speakers are so portable that they can fit snugly in your pocket or your backpack.
You need to think about how much you're willing to carry and for how long. After all, it wouldn't make much sense to get a 30-pound portable speaker if you need to carry it 2 miles to get down to the shoreline.
A portable speaker is virtually useless if you can't even power it on once when you get to where you're going.
The good news is that most portable speakers are powered by rechargeable batteries. That means you can bring these speakers wherever you go and play music for up to 24 hours on a single charge.
Other portable speakers are lightweight but need to be plugged in. These will do if you plan on using your speakers strictly indoors.
It's hard to change the song and volume on your smartphone when you're doing yard work or grilling up some burgers. To help with this, a lot of manufacturers are making portable speakers that run on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
These speakers can be entirely controlled via voice commands. You might even be able to use these speakers to send and receive text messages or secure the locks in your home.
Think about where you plan to use your speakers. The last thing you want is to accidentally drop your speaker into the pool or onto the concrete and render it useless.
Some portable speakers are actually waterproof, dustproof, shockproof or any combination of the three. Extremely durable speakers fare pretty well if you like to adventure out into the forest, out on the beach or even in areas where rain is guaranteed.
Bluetooth Range & Connection
Bluetooth technology means you don't need to be a few feet from your speaker to play your music. But you also can't expect your Bluetooth to be fully functional when you're hundreds of yards away.
It's a good idea to think about how far you might wind up from your speakers at your next gathering. Some speakers can support ranges well over 100 feet while others are a mere 30 feet or less.
Yet, the problem with Bluetooth connectivity is that it can drain your phone's battery, and quickly That's why you might want a portable speaker that also allows you to wire in your smartphone or iPhone via an auxiliary cord.
Now that we know what we are looking for, here are the 9 best portable speakers and why you should check them out.
This portable boombox is on the upper end in terms of price. But it just might be worth the investment if you like being the life of the party and bumping up the bass on your favorite tunes.
If you've ever brought a radio or boombox outside, then you know how much the sound quality drowns out due to poor acoustics. That's not a problem, thanks to the indoor and outdoor modes. Just choose the right mode and get the perfect playback every time!
The battery supports up to 24 hours of airplay on a single charge, so you don't have to worry about the music being cut short due to a dead boombox battery. You can also rely on the battery to charge up to two devices (like your smartphone) via the USB ports.
And if the party moves outside for a pool party, accidentally splashing this boombox won't short out the battery. That's all thanks to the insanely waterproof design. This waterproof Bluetooth speaker has the whole package.
When you're low on space but still need a big sound, then this is the portable Bluetooth speaker for you. Measuring in at fewer than 4 inches all around, you can easily store this speaker in your pocket, backpack or glove compartment.
Though very tiny at just over 10 ounces, you don't have to risk incredible sound quality. This portable speaker can bust out a crisp sound and unbeatable bass for such a small device.
Yet, this Bose portable speaker does a bit more than just 6 hours of music playback. It also has an enabled microphone that you can use to hook up to your smartphone to use on speakerphone. That means you can actually use this speaker at the office while on call too.
This portable speaker is also a great option if you live somewhat of a rugged and adventurous lifestyle. The waterproof and damage-proof design makes this speaker the perfect companion for your next hiking trip.
You might have to shell out a little extra cash for this speaker, but you won't find sound quality even close to what Beats speakers provide. All you need to do is enable Bluetooth on your iOS or Android device, and your favorite music will play through the speaker.
The problem with a lot of portable speakers is battery life. They either support a few hours of playback, or they take forever to charge. What's great about this speaker is that a single charge can give you 12 hours of battery life in a mere 3-hour charge.
Better yet, you won't be surprised by a suddenly dead battery mid-barbecue. That's because this speaker has a led light "fuel gauge" to let you know how long until your next charge.
When you value the high treble and low bass of your music, then you'll want to give this tiny speaker a try. That's because it infuses both tweeter and woofer technology to amplify every single detail of your favorite playlist.
With 11 colors to choose from, this JBL portable speaker is the best in terms of how much you can personalize your party speaker. It also comes with an easy to carry hardshell case that'll keep your speaker safe from bumps and scratches during transport.
This is one of the best speakers when it comes to outdoor water activities. The waterproof design supports submersion in water up to 4 feet. That means you don't have to be nervous about leaving this speaker poolside or floating on a raft.
Battery life is a key feature of this speaker too. In just 2 ½ hours, you can completely charge the battery and get a whopping 12 hours of playback per charge. You can easily plug this speaker on the morning of your beach trip and have it ready for an entire day of fun by the shore.
And if the sound isn't exactly as powerful as you'd like, you can add in another JBL speaker and activate PartyBoost. There's nothing like stereo sound quality.
Packing light is vital when you're on a hike or a camping trip. The issue is that locking your speaker into your backpack will muffle the sound and limit your playback. This is no longer an issue with the JBL Clip 3.
The best feature of this portable Bluetooth speaker is just how portable it is. Not only is this speaker comfortable to hold in your hand, but you can also use the attached carabiner to latch it onto your backpack or belt loop. Now you have complete access to your tunes without digging through your bag for excellent audio quality.
Though very small at a little over 7 ounces in weight, this portable Bluetooth speaker is very rugged. It's designed to be waterproof and can handle all sorts of minor drops and falls. That means you don't have to limit your adventures into the woods due to a delicate speaker.
The battery life for this speaker supports about 10 hours of music playback. But you can also use it as a playback device for your business calls on speakerphone.
You don't always need to be hosting a party or a gathering to make use of a portable speaker. If your job has you always on the move and electrical hookups are limited, you might also want a portable speaker.
This portable speaker from Klein Tools is a solid option if you work in a garage or are simply on the go a lot. That's all thanks to the magnet system attached to the back of this speaker. You can attach it to the hood of a car, piping, or any other metal to keep your music where you are.
Though a mere 11 ounces and just about 4 inches all around, this portable speaker is pretty durable. It's able to handle drops of up to 6 feet in height, so don't feel like you need to be gentle with this speaker.
This portable speaker can support 10 hours of playback and has a Bluetooth connection up to 33 feet away. You can also use an AUX cord if you're looking to save battery on your phone.
When you prefer functionality over sound quality, you'll want to invest in a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo Dot. That's because it can double as an alarm clock and a security device in addition to playing music.
AI technology allows you to use just your voice to control the speaker. You can easily use voice commands to control playback through streaming services like Spotify or Amazon Music. You can even ask questions with Alexa and get a well-researched answer immediately.
This device does rely on a WiFi connection on both your phone and speaker. Also, keep in mind that this speaker does need to be plugged in when in use. That makes this a great speaker for purely indoor use.
When you have a good chunk of money to spend and really want to bring the party wherever you go, this portable speaker from Bose is a great option. It's a little heavy at just over 15 pounds, but it's also small enough to be carried with one hand or to store in a trunk.
You won't find a big sound from a portable speaker quite like you do with this one. The Bose S1 Pro speaker is the right choice if your backyard gatherings tend to end up as jam sessions. You can quickly hook up your guitar, microphone, or any Bluetooth device and start rocking out.
A single charge on this portable speaker will give you about 11 hours of playback. But you can also depend on this speaker to give you powerful sound every time thanks to the automatic positional sensors.
Without a waterproof or even water-resistant rating, keep this one away from pool parties.
If you're on a tight budget and want a great sounding speaker, then you'll want to give this Sony portable speaker a try. At just 11 ounces and about 3 inches all around, this speaker is incredibly easy to store in any bag or large pocket.
Yet, where this speaker sets itself apart is the durability aspect. It's considered waterproof and dustproof. That means you can depend on this speaker to survive your camping trips, family barbecues, and long days at the lake.
Each charge will give you about 16 hours of playback. So listening to music a few hours a day with this device might require you to charge it only once a week.
What is the Best Portable Speaker?
The best portable speaker is the JBL Portable Boombox. Though pricey, this speaker will provide you with up to 24 hours of playback of great sound and extra bass. No matter where you are, you can have the perfect sound thanks to the outdoor and indoor modes.
The waterproof feature makes this the ideal speaker for poolside and beach gatherings too.
You might also be interested in: The 6 Best Bookshelf Speakers Of 2020
The 9 Best Portable Speakers: