Tribit StormBox Micro 2 Next to the JBL Clip 4
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek
Update, 01/18/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best car and best loud Blueooth speaker picks.

What to Look For in a Bluetooth Speaker in 2023

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 can result in an all-around amazing, premium product.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I connect a Bluetooth speaker to a device?
Go into your device’s Bluetooth settings and ensure that it is in discovery mode or pairing mode. Many Bluetooth speakers have a dedicated pairing button to initiate the connection, but otherwise power on the speaker and keep holding the power button for a short while. Now select the speaker on your device when it appears.
How do I make a Bluetooth speaker louder?
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While you can’t actually make a Bluetooth speaker louder, where you place it in the room can change the apparent volume. Placing the speaker in a corner or against a wall can make it sound louder, but this may also negatively affect sound quality.
How does a Bluetooth speaker work?
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Bluetooth speakers connect wirelessly to your phone or other device using the Bluetooth communications standard instead of a cable. This means that the digital to analog conversion happens inside the speaker rather than on your playback device.
Why is my Bluetooth speaker cutting out?
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The most typical cause of a Bluetooth speaker cutting out is that your phone or other device is too far away from the speaker. The maximum range for Bluetooth speakers is typically 30 feet, but can extend up to 100 feet. Interference from walls and metal objects can also cause Bluetooth speakers to cut out.
Are Bluetooth speakers waterproof?
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No Bluetooth speaker is entirely waterproof, but many of them are water-resistant. This is shown in the speaker’s IP rating, like IP67 or IPX4. The last number indicates water resistance, with a higher number meaning more resistance.

Best Bluetooth Speaker Overall: JBL Charge 5

JBL Charge 5 on beach
JBL

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 have to remember 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 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 loud enough once a party gets to be more than 15 people, but it is 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 simple Bluetooth speaker that 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 attached to a backpack
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

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. However, it falls a bit short in battery life, as it only lasts about 10 hours. At least, that’s what JBL says—according to our review of the Clip 4, our tester was able to get 25 hours of battery life before charging. If you’re planning on using the Clip 4 continuously at a high volume, you’ll likely get only the 10 hours that JBL claims.

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

β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜† Read How-To Geek's Full Review

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: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

Wonderboom on pink background
Ultimate Ears

Pros

  • IP67-rated water and dust-resistant
  • Floats in water
  • 360-degree sound
  • Pair two for true stereo sound

Cons

  • No auxiliary port
  • Not as loud as larger Ultimate Ears speakers

Most Bluetooth speakers you can buy these days are at least some sort of waterproof. What if you’re looking for a speaker that not only withstands water, but thrives in it? You’re looking for the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3.

Not only does the Wonderboom 3 have an IP rating of IP67, but it floats. You can safely submerge the speaker in up to one meter (3.2 feet) for up to 30 minutes without damaging it, so there’s no need to worry about keeping the speaker safe at a pool party. The speaker is even drop-tested from 1.5 meters (roughly five feet).

Fish it out of the pool, and the Wonderboom 3 serves as the life of the party. Like most other Ultimate Ears speakers, this model offers plenty of volume and sounds big for its compact size. The speaker offers 360-degree sound, meaning you hear the same sound regardless of where you’re standing relative to the speaker.

If that’s not enough, you can pair two Wonderboom 3 speakers. You can leave them both operating in 360-degree mode to bring even more sound to a party, or you can have them operate as left and right channels for true stereo sound. The speaker features a battery life of up to 14 hours, depending on the playback volume.

The Wonderboom 3 comes in a variety of colors, letting you choose a model to suit your style. The speaker is available in Active Black, Hyper Pink, Joyous Brights Grey, and Performance Blue finishes.

Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 practically welcomes water with IP67 and the ability to float. With 360-degree sound and the ability to pair two for true stereo, this is as versatile as it is tough.

Best Bluetooth Car Speaker: Sony SRS-XB43

Sony

Pros

  • Plenty of volume and bass
  • Hands-free speakerphone
  • IP67 dust and water resistance
  • 24-hour battery life
  • Doubles as a power bank to charge your devices

Cons

  • Audio isn't as great near max volume
  • On the bulky side

You might be looking for a few things in a Bluetooth speaker for your car, but no matter what, a few key features will always be important. You need volume and portability, but hands-free speakerphone support is also essential. The Sony SRS-XB43 offers all of the above and more.

Not only does the SRS-XB43 have the volume to spare, but its EXTRA BASS feature means you’ll have plenty of low-end thumps. If you’re looking for comparable sound to what you’d get from a car stereo, this feature is indispensable. The hands-free speakerphone won’t matter to everyone, but it’s essential if you frequently make calls on the road.

You may not need it inside your car, but the SRS-XB43 offers IP67 water and dust resistance. If the speaker mainly lives in your car, the dust resistance could be useful, but that IP rating is more useful if your speaker is going to go everywhere with you, offering plenty of water resistance.

The SRS-XB43 features up to 24 hours of playback time, which is much more juice than you’ll need for a day trip, but that’s handy if you’re taking the SRS-43 on a weekend trip. The speaker charges via a USB-C connection—even better, it doubles as a power bank, letting you charge your other devices on the go.

Like many Sony Bluetooth speakers, the SRS-XB43 features Party Connect, which lets you play music through multiple speakers simultaneously. While it technically allows you to connect up to 100 speakers, most people will use this feature to pair two speakers. The speaker also features a built-in light show mode, but fortunately for in-car use, these can be completely turned off.

The Sony SRS-XB43 is available in Black, Blue, and Taupe color varieties.

Best Bluetooth Car Speaker

Sony SRS-XB43

Volume, bass, and hands-free speakerphone functionality are all essential in a great Bluetooth speaker for your car, and the Sony SRS-XB43 has all of those, plus IP67 dust and water resistance.

Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker: JBL PartyBox 110

JBL PartyBox 110 on deck
JBL

Pros

  • Gets very loud
  • Lighting effects are fun
  • Microphone and guitar inputs are useful for parties
  • Pair two for stereo

Cons

  • Not the most portable speaker
  • Only 12 hour battery life

Are you looking for a Bluetooth speaker loud enough to provide the soundtrack to a party? With 160 watts of power, a built-in bass boost, and a smattering of fun features, the JBL PartyBox 110 goes beyond what we typically expect out of a Bluetooth speaker.

Admittedly, while most Bluetooth speakers aim to be portable, the PartyBox 110 is, well, not quite so portable. You can still bring it with you everywhere, but if you do, you’re not picking it up on the way out the door as an afterthought. The speaker is relatively tough, with IPX4 water resistance that means you don’t need to worry about splashes at a pool party.

As the name hints, the PartyBox 110 is loud. This means that, despite the size, you only get a maximum 12 hours of playback time. All that power is used up pretty quickly, pushing 160 watts into dual eight-inch woofers.

This speaker isn’t just for listening to music from your phone, either. The PartyBox features microphone and guitar inputs, so if you’re looking to be the entertainer rather than the entertained, this speaker will provide adequate volume. It also makes for a great karaoke machine.

The PartyBox 110 features a built-in light show as well, with lights that can pulsate in rhythm with the music. The lights aren’t limited to syncing with your music; you can customize them or use other patterns like the built-in starry night effect.

Are 160 watts not enough for you? Don’t worry, JBL didn’t quit with the PartyBox 110. If you require more volume, the PartyBox 310 and PartyBox 710 are bigger, louder, and pricier.

Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker

JBL PartyBox 110

The JBL PartyBox 110 can power a party in a way few Bluetooth speakers can, with 160 watts of power and dual eight-inch woofers, plus mic and guitar inputs for an impromptu open mic night.

Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
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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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