Portable Sound System Best Buy [EXCLUSIVE]
Note that while compact wireless speakers continue to improve with time -- offering better sound, longer battery life, more reliable connectivity and increased durability since many are now fully waterproof -- most of the portable Bluetooth speakers on this list are technically mono speakers. This means they have some limitations to their sound, particularly when it comes to bass output and overall volume. Often, you can wirelessly link two of the same speakers to create a stereo pair (which does improve sound quality), but not everybody wants or can afford two speakers. If you want to see my picks for the best small Bluetooth speakers currently on the market, read on.
portable sound system best buy
When it launched, Bose made some bold claims about its new SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker, particularly its bass performance. But it mostly lives up to the hype and is arguably the best-sounding wireless speaker for its relatively compact size. Available in three colors -- black, white smoke and stone blue (pictured) -- the speaker is IP67 dust- and waterproof, and rated for 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.
It's also equipped with Bose's PositionIQ technology to automatically detect the speaker's orientation and deliver optimized sound based on whether it's upright, hanging or flat on its back. The Flex also floats and Bose says it can survive drops and bumps, with a soft silicone back and powder-coated steel grille that "won't peel or flake and is resistant to corrosion and UV light."
While Bose's SoundLink Micro also delivers impressive sound for its tiny size, this speaker is bigger, weighing just over a pound (0.45 kg) and measuring 7.9 inches wide, 2.1 inches deep and 3.6 inches high (20 by 5.3 by 9.1cm), so the Flex sounds significantly better than the Micro. For some reason, it uses the older Bluetooth 4.2 instead of 5.0, but I didn't have any problems with connectivity.
Bose says it can fill a living room with sound. From my tests, I'd say it would have to be a relatively small living room -- it can only output so much sound as a single speaker. However, if you pair two of them together in stereo mode, the sound gets to a whole other level and indeed fills a larger room with sound.
Back in 2020, Tribit released the StormBox Micro, a budget version of Bose's excellent SoundLink Micro speaker that delivered surprisingly good sound for its size and modest price. Now we get the StormBox Micro 2, which offers improved sound and battery life, along with a charge-out feature that turns the speaker into a power bank for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. An integrated strap allows you to clip it to your backpack or your bike's handlebars.
With each new version of the Flip, JBL makes small improvements, and while the latest model, the Flip 6, doesn't look much different from the Flip 5 on the outside, it does feature improved sound. It has two-way drivers with a woofer and tweeter and dual passive radiators that help the Flip 6 deliver much deeper bass than you think it could.
It's fully waterproof and dust-proof with an IPX67 rating. Like the Flip 5, it's rated for up to 12 hours of audio playback at moderate volume levels and charges via USB-C. Available in multiple color options, it's one of the best-sounding speakers for its compact size.
The Tribit MaxSound Plus is about 30% bigger than its sibling XSound Go and costs about $25 more, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best sounding speakers in its size and price class. It has a long-lasting rechargeable battery and superior audio quality for a Bluetooth speaker. And be sure to activate the instant coupon on the product page for $10 off.
The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements over the previous model is among the company's smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look -- it's now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors -- and that new design, coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size, makes the Go 3 one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.
The Roam is currently Sonos' smallest and most affordable speaker (if you don't count those $99 Sonos-compatible Symfonisk Ikea Wi-Fi bookshelf speakers). This model, like Sonos' earlier Move portable speaker ($400), is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can tap into an existing Sonos multiroom audio system and link with other Series 2-compatible Sonos speakers. The Sonos Roam makes for a good starter Sonos speaker for those new to the Sonos world. Read our Sonos Roam review.
While Anker's Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 it remains one of best-sounding speakers for around $100. It's larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, but it's still compact. It manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition in its price range, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It's also fully waterproof (IPX7-rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung's Galaxy phones that support it.
This model retains the special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble and you can link two together (or pair a Wonderboom 3 to a Wonderboom 2) to create a stereo sound pairing by simply pressing a button on each speaker. As far as I can tell, the Wonderboom 3 sounds very similar to the Wonderboom 2 and features very good sound for its small size. That said, while there's some punch to the bass (being short yet squat helps it produce more low end), it can only deliver so much kick.
Marshall's little mono Willen speaker is similar to Bose's SoundLink Micro and other micro speakers like the Tribit StormBox Micro 2. Also like those speakers, it has an integrated strap on its base so you can clip it onto a backpack or even to your bike's handlebars. Its 2-inch full range driver and two passive radiators put out more sound than you'd think it would for its tiny size, and it offers decent clarity as well just enough bass to avoid sounding tinny (you can choose from three preset sound modes).
The Willen can stand up vertically or lay down horizontally and has a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls. It comes in a couple of color options and can be linked wirelessly with other Willen speakers to augment the sound.
Tribit is billing the XSound Mega as more of an outdoor speaker -- a lanyard is included for toting it around as a sort of mini boombox -- but it works just fine indoors. It has an LED light show that you can turn on or off and there are three EQ settings for sound: XBass, Music and Audiobook. Additionally, it can be used as a power bank to charge your mobile devices.
In my tests, the speaker compared pretty favorably to more expensive speakers like the JBL Charge 5. There's plenty of bass and the speaker plays loud for its size, with decent clarity. That said, it's a mono speaker with a single driver and two bass radiators -- that's how you get all that bass. So while you can expect big sound, the soundstage doesn't feel all that wide, particularly at lower volumes. It actually sounds better at higher volumes.
For its first three generations, JBL's Clip micro Bluetooth speaker had a circular design. But for the fourth-gen Clip 4, JBL has moved to a more oval shape, bulked up the speaker slightly and added USB-C charging. This portable Bluetooth speaker does seem more durable, with a sturdier integrated carabiner clip. Also, it sounds a little better, with more volume, clearer sound and more bass. With an IP67 water resistance rating, it can survive being dunked in shallow water and is dust-proof. The Clip 4 is right up there with the best overall micro Bluetooth speakers.
With its new canister-like design, perfectly sized to fit in a chair cup holder, Sony has created a portable Bluetooth speaker that has a design you're probably familiar with from popular speakers like the UE Boom and JBL Flip, which have been upgraded over the years with improved bass and battery life.
An Extra Bass model, the SRS-XB23 definitely has a warmer sound. It delivers better sound with more bass and volume than many of the cheaper generic Bluetooth speakers you can find on Amazon in the $40-$100 range on Amazon. It's also a sleeker looking Bluetooth speaker that's available in five different color options: black, taupe, coral red, light blue and olive green. Some colors are available for less.
Bang & Olufsen has upgraded its dome-shaped aluminum-clad A1 speaker with improved battery life, better speakerphone performance (it now has a three-microphone array) and slightly improved sound. It's not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable as it often drops to around $200.
While the speaker drivers remain the same, the Qualcomm chipset that powers the speaker has been upgraded (the speaker uses Bluetooth 5.1), bumping the sound quality up a tad, particularly at higher volumes, with better digital signal processing. It remains one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speaker models, with richer more tonally balanced sound than other Bluetooth speakers its size -- and it should sound good, considering its elevated price point.
I've long been a fan of Sony's smallest Bluetooth speaker, which has been modestly upgraded for 2021 with some design refinements and slightly improved sound. This model is both dust- and waterproof with an IP67 certification and is rated for 16 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels (it has USB-C charging, while the older XB12 didn't). The speaker plays bigger than you'd think for its small size, with some punch to its bass, but it can only output so much sound -- yes, it has its limitations. If you add a second XB13, you can get stereo sound.
At around $30, the Tribit XSound Go is one of the top speakers with Bluetooth connectivity for the money. Besides sounding decent, it's also fully waterproof. It also has excellent battery life -- up to 24 hours at 50% volume levels.
Although a little pricey and due to be upgraded, the Bose SoundLink Micro sounds remarkably decent for its tiny size, delivering more bass than other pocketable speakers. It's a fully waterproof Bluetooth speaker and available in three color options, although the blue version appears to be hard to find. 041b061a72