JBL Clip surrounded by evergreen leaves
Yevhen Roshchyn/Shutterstock.com

Happy Holidays! This article is part of our Holiday 2021 Gift Guide where you can find the best-of-the-best recommendations from How-To Geek, LifeSavvy, and Review Geek to help you pick the perfect gift for everyone on your list!

What to Look For in a Bluetooth Speaker in 2021

The best Bluetooth speaker for one person is not always the best for another. When shopping for a Bluetooth speaker, it is best to take your lifestyle into consideration. You want your purchase to reflect how you will use the speaker to get the best bang for your buck.

Portability is usually the biggest factor when choosing a speaker. All of our picks are under 10 pounds (although most are actually under three pounds) so that none are too heavy or bothersome to carry while traveling. Having the convenience of throwing a speaker right into your bag makes it that much easier to carry around and actually use.

Another big factor when choosing a Bluetooth speaker is the sound quality and volume level. When a speaker reaches its highest volumes, bass-heavy music will sometimes cause an audio distortion in low-quality speakers. We made it a point to choose speakers that don’t do this because, to put it simply, nobody wants that.

Typically, spending more on a speaker will mean better clarity of sound, louder volume, and more bells and whistles. However, there are some very affordable gems that get the job done just as well, if not better, than the more expensive competition.

Sometimes choosing a big brand name speaker in a lower price range actually sacrifices some features you could get with a lesser-known brand if you take the chance on them. With that being said, choosing a big brand name in a slightly higher price range ($80 or more) can result in an all-around amazing, premium product.

With all of that out of the way, here are our recommendations.

Best Bluetooth Speaker Overall: JBL Charge 5

JBL Charge 5 on beach
JBL by Harman

Pros

  • Best sound quality out of every speaker on this list
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • Loud enough to suit a party
  • Built-in power bank to charge devices
  • 20-hour battery life for average use
  • Premium materials make this high-quality and durable

Cons

  • High price
  • Slightly larger than an average portable Bluetooth speaker

The JBL Charge 5 is a versatile Bluetooth speaker that will ensure your audio can be heard loud and crystal clear. At $179, you get a speaker that is IP67 waterproof, has a 20-hour battery life, and includes a power bank to charge your device while you listen.

When holding the Charge 5, the premium materials used make it feel like it can take a beating and last a long time. It is the perfect speaker to take to the beach for an outdoor party without having to worry about keeping it away from the water or sand, as well. You do have to keep in mind that the Charge 5 is larger than an average portable speaker, though, so you have to account for the space it’ll take up in a bag more.

But what makes the Charge 5 stand out compared to other Bluetooth speakers is the sound quality. The bass isn’t overpowering, but it is present and clear. The mids and treble are superb, and they make vocals ring out as if they are being sung right in front of you. This JBL Bluetooth speaker can also get quite loud so that you can use it in a wide range of scenarios. This is one versatile speaker!

The Charge 5 is also versatile in terms of connectivity. You can connect up to two phones to the speaker at once, which is useful. The speaker is also part of JBL’s Partyboost series, which means you can connect it to other compatible speakers to play the same music simultaneously. As a result, you get a more immersive listening experience when playing music in stereo with Partyboost due to the added ease of hearing instrument separation and stereo effects.

Overall, the JBL Charge 5 is a powerhouse of a speaker that has the durability, versatility, and battery life to be used every day in every way.

Best Bluetooth Speaker Overall

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is an excellent Bluetooth speaker with an IP67 waterproof rating, great sound, and the awesome Partyboost feature for multi-speaker audio.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker: DOSS Soundbox

DOSS Soundboxes on deck
DOSS

Pros

  • Low Price
  • IPX5 water-resistant
  • 20-hour battery life with average use
  • Small size
  • Durable

Cons

  • Lacking in features
  • Sound quality is not the most impressive

At $30, The DOSS Soundbox gives you a big bang for your buck. It is small, portable, has a 20-hour battery life, and is incredibly durable. The design consists of easy-to-use touch buttons on the top of the simple, boxy body. You can also choose from a variety of colorways as well, which is a nice touch at this price point.

The Soundbox is IPX5 rated, which means that it’s alright near the shower or the pool and in the rain, but the speaker cannot be submerged. In terms of build quality, most reviewers highlight how durable this speaker is. There’s even an Amazon review thatΒ claims this speaker still works after it has been dropped in mud, rained on, and used consistently for over four years.

With 12 watts of power packed into a small body, this wireless speaker can get pretty loud. It may not be quite loud enough once a party gets to be more than 15 people or so, but it is plenty loud for personal everyday use or for smaller gatherings.

This speaker is great for the price, but don’t expect to get a ton of bells and whistles. But if you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker that is simple and can be carried just about anywhere, the DOSS Soundbox is a great pick.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker

DOSS Soundbox

JBL speakers are great, but they're also not cheap. If you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker that has excellent audio without the price tag, DOSS's Soundbox will do the trick.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Clip 4

JBL Clip 4 on backbad in campground

Pros

  • Ultra-portable carabiner design easy transport
  • Great sound quality for small size
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof

Cons

  • High price for a small speaker

If you need something ultra-portable, the JBL Clip 4 is the way to go. The obvious selling point is that this speaker already has a built-in carabiner, so you can clip it anywhere and you’re ready to take it wherever.

Just because this is a small speaker doesn’t mean that it won’t impress you. It only has five watts of power, but JBL’s signature sound clarity still shines through. Even at high volumes, this speaker does not have any audio distortion, which is a unique quality for such a small Bluetooth speaker. Typically, a speaker of this size will begin to sound muddy in the bass when brought to volumes past 90% or so, so it’s impressive that the Clip 4 manages to avoid it.

JBL’s Clip 4 is IP67 rated, so it is waterproof and dustproof, just like the JBL Charge 5. It does fall a bit short in battery life, however, as it only lasts about 10 hours of juice available. For a speaker that has the appeal of staying with you all day, you would like to see it have all-day battery life.

Nonetheless, the Clip 4 is still the best pick for a portable Bluetooth speaker. If you need something super small with clear sound quality to clip onto your bag and rock out or listen to podcasts on hikes or bike rides, this is the one.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Clip 4

Many Bluetooth speakers are portable, but you can't get much more portable than the JBL Clip 4. You can attach it to anything and have great audio wherever you go.

Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: LEHII BT-A7Pro

LEHII BT-A7Pro on stone
Amazon

Pros

  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • 60 watts of power in a small package
  • Durable design with a hook to attach a carabiner
  • 20-hour battery life
  • Great bass response

Cons

  • Sound quality less impressive in mids and highs

The LEHII BT-A7Pro is the waterproof speaker for all beachgoers, lake dwellers, and poolside tanners. This is an IP67 rated speaker with 60 watts of power booming from a compact body style. There’s also a hook on the side that you can use with a carabiner for easy carrying. It’s not hard to dedicate a bag hoop to this speaker.

For $70, the BT-A7 has a fair amount of the features the Charge 5 also provides. If you would like a Charge 5 but can’t justify the JBL price tag, this speaker is a great option for you. It has a 20-hour average battery life and includes a USB port to charge your devices while on the go.

When it comes to sound, the mids and highs aren’t as clear as the Charge 5, but the LEHII bass response does hold up to JBL’s high-quality speaker. If the type of music you enjoy is bass-heavy, this speaker will leave you satisfied. The Charge 5 is still our top pick due to the superior materials used and better sound quality overall, but the LEHII BT-A7Pro is still a heavy hitter in the Bluetooth speaker arena.

Of course, the best waterproof speaker can’t be just waterproof. It has to be durable, has to have a long-lasting battery, and has the ability to charge your devices when electricity isn’t readily available. TheΒ LEHII BT-A7Pro checks all of those boxes and genuinely is built for adventure.

Best Waterproof Speaker

LEHII BT-A7Pro

If you're the type that wants a good, loud speaker by the pool or on the beach, LEHII's speaker will be the one you want with its IP67 certification.

Best Bluetooth Car Speaker: Sony SRS-XB33

Sony SRS-XB33 hitting ground and throwing up dirt
Sony

Pros

  • Immersive stereo sound
  • Loud enough to replace car stereo, plus built-in mic for phone calls
  • IP67 waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof
  • Live Sound Mode- enables an auditorium-like listening experience
  • 24 hour average battery life

Cons

  • Price is high, yet relatively fair considering features
  • Slightly larger size than most portable speakers (comparable to JBL's Charge 5)

The Sony SRS-XB33Β is the best Bluetooth speaker for a car for three simple reasons: It’s loud, immersive, and has great sound quality. Its size and profile are similar to the JBL Charge 5Β and is small enough to be portable, but it will take up a little more room than most speakers in a bag or purse.

We cannot understate how immerse the audio is on the XB33. It features 2 balanced speakers to deliver stereo sound, enhancing instrument separation. The SRS-XB33 also includes Sony’s Live Sound mode, making the music sound like it is being performed right in front of you. This is achieved by projecting the sound in different outward directions, emulating a 3D listening experience.

This Sony speaker also has a lot of features previously mentioned with other speakers. This includes 24-hour battery life, an IP67 waterproof rating, a standard USB port, and a USB-C portΒ so you can charge your smartphone while on the go. Sony also has Party Connect, a feature similar to JBL’s Partyboost that allows you to connect with compatible speakers for a louder, more immersive experience.

If you are going to replace your car stereo with a Bluetooth speaker, you might as well get something that can replicate how your car’s speaker surrounds you and put you in the middle of the music. The Sony SRS-XB33 is the speaker to do exactly that.

Best Bluetooth Car Speaker

Sony SRS-XB33

If you want great audio in the car but don't want to pay hundreds for a stereo system, Sony's Bluetooth speaker will certainly get the job done with a loud volume and Live Sound Mode.

Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker: Gemini GC-206BTB

Gemini GC-206BTB set on black background
Gemini Sound

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Loud enough to light up a party
  • Fun color-changing LED design
  • Includes ports for a microphone or guitar
  • 500 watts of power for a low price

Cons

  • The largest sized speaker on this list (22 inches tall and about a foot wide)
  • Battery only lasts up to six hours
  • Not waterproof

The Gemini GC-206BTB may be the least “portable” Bluetooth speaker on this list, but it can kick any party up a notch with its 500 watts of power and color-changing LED body. It may be too big to throw into a bag with the rest of your essentials, but it is still lightweight, weighing just over eight pounds. This speaker also comes with a shoulder strap to free up your hands and make portability a bit easier.

There are also a variety of ways to use Gemini’s speaker. It is of course Bluetooth compatible, but you can also use it with an SD card, USB slot, AUX port, or a quarter-inch input to plug in a guitar or microphone.

Obviously, the biggest upside of this speaker is the volume. This is similar to a PA speaker and can get loud enough to pump out audio to an entire party. Gemini is a brand typically known for industry-standard DJ equipment, and the quality from this speaker lives up to that.

In terms of downsides, the first obvious one would be the size. It is the largest speaker on this list, although the included lightweight and shoulder strap makes it still easily portable. However, the GC-206BTB rechargeable battery only lasts 6 hours on average. If that isn’t enough battery power, the Alto Uber LT is a speaker with similar features but with 35-hours of battery life. It has much less power than the Gemini at only 50 watts, but it is still loud enough to entertain a party.

Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker

Gemini GC-206BTB

Gemini's Bluetooth speaker may not be the easiest to transport, but it's very loud and has pleasing RGB, making it perfect for a party.

Profile Photo for Nicholas Fysz Nicholas Fysz
Nicholas Fysz is a freelance writer for How-To Geek, where he shares his excitement about smart home technology with readers. Between countless hours of research and hands-on experience with a wide variety of gadgets, he strives to teach people everything they need to know.
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