old boombox on ground
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What to Look For in a Boombox in 2022

We live in a different world than the one that produced the boomboxes of old. As much as we might feel nostalgic for the style and utility of older boomboxes, that doesn’t mean we’re not looking for modern features.

Bluetooth, or wireless communication in general, is the cornerstone of those modern features we’re talking about. For most of us, our phone, tablet, or computer is the main source of our music. Every single model we’re looking at in this article features Bluetooth, so the boomboxes can link up to these devices and play the sounds you want.

Of course, if you’re looking for improved audio fidelity, you might prefer another option on your boombox like an auxiliary input jack. Not every boombox we’re looking at here has an aux jack, but we’ll mention when they do.

If you’re looking to buy a boombox, chances are good that you’re looking for one with a built-in radio, as well. Most of the boomboxes we’re focusing on in this article feature a built-in radio, but not all of them do, and some are limited to FM radio only.

The original boomboxes relied on physical media in addition to their built-in radios. More and more people are going digital-only with their music, so this may not apply to you. But if you have physical media, you’re likely looking for a CD player. Some of the boomboxes we’re highlighting here also feature cassette playback if you’re feeling truly old-school.

Finally, size is a major consideration. Some people want something small and portable, while others are seeking something huge that really pumps out the sound. Before you decide on a boombox, it’s important to consider just when and how you’ll be using it to make sure you’re buying the proper size.

If you’re ready to pick up a modern boombox, check out one of our recommendations below!

Best Boombox Overall: JBL Boombox 2

People on rooftop with JBL boombox
JBL

Pros

  • Can get very loud
  • Massive bass response
  • Waterproof
  • Can charge other devices

Cons

  • No CD player or radio

To some people, the very idea of a boombox is defined by the image of a giant rectangular contraption with a cassette deck and a radio. For others, it’s all about the volume. The JBL Boombox 2 is meant for the latter camp, and the ultra-modern boombox design is meant to bring the party wherever you go.

If there’s one thing JBL wants you to know about its Boombox 2, it’s that it’s loud. If there’s another thing the company wants you to know, it’s that it can pump out some serious bass. Assuming that’s not enough, you can link it up with other JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers to play music over multiple speakers at once.

Compared to some of the other boomboxes we’re looking at, the JBL Boombox 2 is essentially a large Bluetooth speaker with a handle. It doesn’t have a built-in CD player or radio, though there is an auxiliary input jack. Similarly, the extras are more in line with what you’d expect from a Bluetooth speaker.

For example, the speaker can double as a power bank thanks to its massive battery, which can provide up to 24 hours of playback time, depending on volume. This speaker is also IPX7-rated waterproof, meaning you don’t have to worry about bringing it to a picnic or outdoor party.

The built-in handle makes carrying the Boombox 2 easy, but at around 13 pounds, it isn’t exactly light. That said, if you don’t care about CDs or the radio but do care about powerful sound, JBL’s offering is tough to beat.

Best Boombox Overall

JBL Boombox 2

The JBL Boombox 2 has the heart of a Bluetooth speaker and the style of a boombox, bringing the two together to create the ultimate modern boombox.

Best Budget Boombox: Jensen FM Stereo CD555

Jensen FM boombox on table
Jensen

Pros

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Built-in CD player
  • Auxiliary jack for other playback devices

Cons

  • Radio is FM-only
  • Small speakers lead to somewhat thin sound

Not only does the Jensen FM Stereo CD555 not look like your standard boombox, but it also doesn’t look like it has speakers. Take a closer look at the sides, and you’ll find the speakers hidden away, and that is only the first of the tricks this budget boombox has up its sleeve.

To start, the top-loading CD player is far from hidden, making it easy to play discs, including CD-Rs and CD-RWs. That’s not your only playback option, as you also have an FM radio and anΒ auxiliary input to plug in your digital players. If you’d prefer not to plug in, this boombox is also equipped with Bluetooth connectivity.

Because of the small size, you’re not going to get a ton of volume out of the Jensen CD555. Bass is typically a challenge for smaller speakers as well, but Jensen has included a bass boost button that does somewhat make up for the lacking low end.

Jensen’s boombox is portable thanks to the built-in handle and optional battery power from six C batteries. That said, you may want to be careful where you bring it, as it isn’t waterproof, and it doesn’t look like it would survive a drop.

Assuming you’re using this boombox at home, you can forget the batteries in favor of the included AC adapter and save some additional dollars.

Best Budget Boombox

JBL Boombox 2

The Jensen CD555 combines a radio, CD playback, and Bluetooth into an easily portable boombox at a price that nearly everyone can afford.

Best Bluetooth Boombox: Anker Soundcore Motion Boom

Anker Soundcore on top of rock
Anker

Pros

  • Spacious stereo sound
  • Excellent bass response
  • Waterproof and floats
  • Lightweight and easy to carry

Cons

  • Smaller size means somewhat lower volume

If you like the idea of a modern-style boombox like our overall pick but don’t want to pay the premium price, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is a fantastic alternative. It offers much of the same potential for volume and room-shaking bass, but at a price that’s much easier to swallow.

Like the JBL Boombox 2, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is a boombox evolved from a Bluetooth speaker. In addition to stereo sound, Anker boasts on the store page that this speaker’s titanium driver diaphragm provides bass you can feel and clarity up to frequencies that you can’t even hear.

The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is meant to go anywhere you too, thanks to its IPX7-rated waterproof design. This speaker will also float, meaning you can feel safe when you bring it to a pool party, even if the boombox happens to take a dive.

You can make sure that the party keeps going, too. Anker claims that the 10,000 mAh battery in the Soundcore Motion Boom can keep the music playing for up to 24 hours. Obviously, this will vary with volume, but it’s still impressive.

While this is a smaller speaker than JBL’s similar boombox, that also means it’s significantly lighter. At a little over four pounds, it’s easy to carry wherever you may be headed.

If you’re looking for a quality boombox that doesn’t have a CD player, Anker’s option is one of your best bets that won’t break the bank.

Best Bluetooth Boombox

Anker Soundcore Motion Boom

The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom offers the same build and functions as more expensive Bluetooth boomboxes in a lower-priced package that's still packed with features.

Best Boombox With CD Player: Sony ZSRS60BT CD Boombox

Sony boombox on pink and yellow background
Sony

Pros

  • USB, CD, FM radio, and Bluetooth playback
  • Up to 26 hours of battery life
  • Auxiliary jack for plugging in other devices

Cons

  • Limited volume

Sony has a long relationship with portable audio, thanks to its history as the creator of the precursor to the iPod—the Sony Walkman. That legacy is apparent with the Sony ZSRS60BT CD Boombox, but it’s also clear that the company is far from stuck in the past.

More so than any other boombox we’re looking at, theΒ ZSRS60BT takes the familiar concept of the boombox and brings it just forward enough that it doesn’t feel out of date. This means you get a boombox with an AM/FM radio, a CD player, and Bluetooth connectivity.

That CD player can handle CDR and CD-RW discs as well as MP3 CDs, letting you cram hours of music onto a single disc. It also features USB playback for playing songs from a USB drive, as well as an auxiliary input jack for plugging in any other playback device.

This is a compact design, with a relatively low wattage of 2 watts per side. Volume isn’t the issue that you might imagine it is, and Sony has included a Mega Bass feature to combat the loss of low frequencies that you typically get with smaller speakers.

Add batteries and the Sony ZSRS60BT becomes portable, offering up to 9 hours of CD playback, or up to 26 hours of FM radio playback.

Best Boombox w/ CD player

Sony ZSRS60BT

Sony modernizes the traditional boombox by adding features like Bluetooth and NFC pairing to the standard CD player and AM/FM radio.

Best Vintage Boombox: Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox

Victrola boombox on grey background
Victrola

Pros

  • Awesome retro style
  • Built-in cassette deck
  • Records cassette tapes to USB
  • Features Bluetooth playback

Cons

  • Maximum volume doesn't shake the walls
  • Build quality isn't the best

If you want the boombox you likely see in your mind’s eye whenever you utter the word, chances are good that the Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox is precisely what you’re thinking of. The only difference is that this boombox still has all the features we’ve come to expect in a modern portable music machine.

The first thing we need to mention about the Victrola boombox is the style. With its bold silver finish and proud antenna, this is the type of boombox you just don’t see anymore. Then there are the extra touches, like the LED light on the front that pulse with volume.

Of course, this is also a functional boombox, as evidenced by the cassette deck on the front. This isn’t an aesthetic touch, either. If you’ve got cassettes you haven’t heard in a long time, or you just scored big at a garage sale, this will play them and can even record them to a USB drive if you want.

That USB port also plays back MP3s and has an SD card port. In case these don’t provide enough playback options, you also get Bluetooth connectivity and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input jack for any playback device you want.

In case the Victrola boombox doesn’t play your cassettes loud enough for your liking and an included RCA output jack lets you use it as a cassette player for your stereo.

Best Vintage Boombox

Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox

Victrola's 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox looks straight from the era and even features a cassette deck, but it's loaded with modern features.

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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