Tribit speaker attached to a tree
Justin Duino / How-To Geek
Update, 03/21/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best overall and best smart speaker recommendations to their latest models.

What to Look For in a Budget Speaker in 2023

Different people have different needs, so we’ve included a few different types of speakers on this list. You’ll find bookshelf speakers, Bluetooth speakers, soundbars, smart speakers, and subwoofers.

The first thing you need to think about is what you’re buying speakers for. Bookshelf speakers can be useful for music and movies, but a portable Bluetooth speaker doesn’t work for a home theater. Think about what you’ll be using the speakers for the most and let this guide your decision.

Many speakers these days are either battery-powered or use their own power supply that plugs into the wall. For these, all you require is any sort of audio signal, and you’re ready to go. Bookshelf speakers, on the other hand, need an amplifier to reproduce sound.

While most of the speakers we’re looking at here are wireless, some like bookshelf speakers and subwoofers need cables. We’ll make sure to mention the cables you’ll need if they aren’t included in the box.

For Bluetooth and other wireless speakers, you also need to consider where you’re using them. If you’re mostly using a speaker inside your home, it doesn’t need to be that tough. That said, if you’re taking a speaker everywhere with you, make sure it has some protection from the elements.

Finally, while we’ve included a single bespoke smart speaker, other speakers can include voice assistant support that lets them integrate with your smart home. If you value this functionality, make sure any speaker you’re considering has it, as it’s tough to add later on.

Best Budget Speaker Overall: Tribit Stormbox Micro 2

Tribit StormBox Micro 2 in a hand
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


  • IP67 water resistance
  • 12-hour battery life
  • You can pair two for stereo


  • A speaker this small can only sound so big

The Tribit StormBox Micro 2 may be affordable and small, but it’s a far more capable speaker than you’d imagine. This follow-up doesn’t stray too far from the original, but improvements in sound make it better than ever.

This is a speaker meant to go anywhere you do, so it’s IP67-rated waterproof, which means you should be fine in the rain. The speaker also includes a built-in strap that you can use to attach it to handlebars on a bike or any other mounting point you prefer.

Tribit promises up to 12 hours of playback time on the StormBox Micro 2, which is impressive, given the size. Even more impressive is that number seems like a cautious estimate. It seems that the speaker offers even more battery life in practice, as you can read in our sister site Review Geek’s Stormbox Micro 2 review:

The company’s listed battery life for audio playback is 12 hours. To test this, I listened to multiple genres of music at a volume of 65%. After listening for eight and a half hours, the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 still had 70% of the battery remaining. It’s safe to say the 4700mAh / 3.6V battery will last for a day trip.

Looking at photos of the StormBox Micro 2, it’s difficult to imagine that it sounds very big. Thanks to some clever use of DSP, it sounds much bigger than it looks. That said, if you’re looking for stereo, you’ll need to pair two of these together, doubling the price.

The standard finish of the Tribit StormBox Micro 2 is a woven black. If you prefer more color in your speakers, a blue version is also available.

Best Budget Speaker Overall

Tribit StormBox Micro 2

Read Review Geek's Full Review

The Tribit StormBox Micro 2 is super portable and has impressive volume and bass for its size. Add the IP67 water resistance, 12-hour battery life, and handy mounting strap and it's a fantastic option for the price.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker: DOSS Soundbox

pink soundbox on mint green table with macarons


  • 20 hour battery life at 50% volume
  • IPX5 water-resistant
  • Capacitive touch panel is handy


  • A little small for use as a home speaker

Bluetooth speakers typically endure rougher conditions than other speakers, so people don’t always want to spend too much on one. The DOSS Soundbox is a great affordable option, as not only does the speaker pack in all the features you need, but it’s more rugged than many of its affordable colleagues.

The Soundbox is IPX5 rated, which means that while it can’t withstand immersion, it can handle jets and streams of water from any angle. If you’re looking for a speaker to bring to the beach, the Soundbox is a great choice, assuming you don’t toss it into the ocean.

Instead of the usual buttons, the DOSS Soundbox uses a capacitive touch panel for its controls. This lets you pause and resume playback, adjust the volume, change tracks, and answer and end calls using the internal microphone. You can even use the speaker with Siri or Google Assistant.

The Soundbox pumps out 12 watts per channel of stereo sound, and if you’re listening at 50 percent volume, you’ll get up to 20 hours of playtime. When it’s time to top up the battery, you can recharge with the included cable in three to four hours.

In addition to black, the DOSS Soundbox comes in blue, pink, red, white, yellow, and Tiffany Blue color options.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker

DOSS Soundbox

The DOSS Soundbox combines a unique touch interface with powerful sound for the size and nearly all-day battery life.

Best Budget Bookshelf Speaker: ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2



  • 6.5-inch woofers and 120 watts of power make for great sound
  • Ported cabinet means plenty of bass without a subwoofer
  • Internal bracing reduces vibration
  • Great for home theater as well as music


  • Need an external amplifier
  • Volume isn't as loud as you'd expect from the wattage

When you think of a budget speaker, you’re probably imagining that there will be some significant sacrifices regarding sound quality. That may be true in some speakers, but it isn’t the case with the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2.

If you need some help decoding the name, it’s referring to the fact that there is a pair of speakers, each powered by a 6.5-inch aramid fiber woofer, which has been redesigned for this model. A one-inch soft-dome tweeter accompanies this to carry the high frequencies.

The cabinet is also slightly larger overall than the original model. This, combined with the forward-firing bass port, means that these can play frequencies down as low as 44 Hz without the help of a subwoofer.

Unlike some of the other speakers we’re looking at here, these speakers are passive, meaning you’ll need either a receiver or integrated amplifier to power them. They aren’t the most sensitive speakers, so even though they’re rated to handle up to 120 watts, they’re not as loud as others in their class.

Even though they’re not as loud as they could be, they still have plenty of volume on tap to fill a small or medium-sized room with music. They work great for home theater, and ELAC offers them bundled with the C5.2 or C6.2 center channel speakers.

Best Budget Bookshelf Speaker

ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2

With a redesigned cabinet and frontward-facing bass port, the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 are great sounding speakers with plenty of bass. They may not be as loud as you expect, but pair them with a great amp and you're set.

Best Budget Portable Speaker: Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2 outdoors


  • Special designed bass ports make for enhanced low end
  • IPX7 waterproof rating makes it pool-safe
  • 24 hour battery life


  • Sound isn't as good as larger speakers

Anker doesn’t just make speakers, but all kinds of chargers, cables, and other accessories. That said, the company’s Soundcore line of speakers has been popular for years now. While the company offers speakers from tiny to huge, our pick is the company’s update on its original—the Anker Soundcore 2.

The Soundcore 2 pumps 12 watts of power into stereo neodymium drivers. On the Amazon listing, Anker says it uses advanced DSP to make for thumping bass without distortion. This is enhanced by a bass port using a patented spiral design to make for even more powerful lows.

The Anker Soundcore 2 is the most waterproof speaker we’re looking at, with an IPX7-rated build. While these ratings are often provided by the manufacturer, not a third party, IPX7 means that the Soundcore 2 should be able to withstand immersion in up to one meter for up to 30 minutes without damage.

Inside the Soundcore 2, Anker has packed a 5,200 mAh battery that the company says can provide up to 24 hours of non-stop music. Anker doesn’t list the volume it used to get this figure, but if you’re listening at moderate volumes, the battery should easily get you through even longer days.

The Soundcore 2 is available in black, but those who prefer a more vibrant speaker can also choose from blue, red, and teal options.

Best Budget Portable Speaker

Anker Soundcore 2

If you're looking for a speaker that can handle any weather and isn't going to run out of batter life when you least expect it, the Anker Soundcore 2 is a fantastic option.

Best Budget Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th-gen)

Amazon Echo Clock up close
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


  • Bigger inner driver makes for better sound quality
  • New temperature sensors are useful
  • New gesture controls


  • Looks just like the previous model

Amazon’s Echo Dot devices have always worked well as communication hubs, but early models weren’t great as speakers. Fortunately, the sound keeps improving generation after generation, and the Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th-gen) has also added some great new features.

The look hasn’t changed, which is effectively identical to the previous fourth-generation model. That isn’t a problem here, since that model’s redesign opened up space inside, making a less cramped design.

This design allowed Amazon to add a larger audio driver, making this the best-sounding Echo Dot to date. You’re not likely to get audiophile sound quality in this form factor, but if you’re using this for background music as you get things done around the house, the quality is good.

Aside from the updated article, the new Echo Dot also features a built-in thermometer, letting you easily check the temperature in different rooms. If you’ve got a smart thermostat, you can tie these together to control temperatures throughout your home more effectively.

If you’re not quite convinced, we’ve reviewed the Echo Dot with Clock, giving it an Editor’s Choice award:

Standing on the shoulders of smart-speaker giants, the 5th-gen Echo Dot is a versatile little smart home portal, with zippy Alexa access, relatively good sound quality, and some useful new built-in features that make it worth considering over its predecessor.

The Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th-gen) is available in Cloud Blue and Glacier White. If you don’t need the time displayed and want to save some more money, there is also a version with no clock.

Best Budget Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)

Read How-To Geek's Full Review

While the looks may not have changed, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen) has new temperature sensors and an accelerometer, as well as a larger driver inside for better sound quality.

Best Budget Soundbar: Bestisan BYL S9920

Bestisan soundbar in home theater


  • Various sizes available to match your needs
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Various sound modes for movies, music, and voice


  • 40-inch as the largest size is a little small

Most of the speakers we’ve looked at so far come from an approach where making music sound good is the primary goal. If you spend more time watching TV and movies than listening to music, a music-centric speaker doesn’t really work best for you. Instead, consider a soundbar like the excellent Bestisan BYL S9920.

We’re looking at the 40-inch, 100-watt version, which is the largest in the range. If you’ve got a smaller TV or just want a quieter speaker, Bestisan also makes this model in 28-inch and 34-inch models, both with 80 watts of power. If your TV is larger, the 40-inch model will still be the best match.

There are a few different ways to connect the S9920 to your TV. You can connect wirelessly with Bluetooth, assuming your TV supports it, but this can be problematic with lip-syncing at times. Your best bet is to connect with digital audio via the optical connector or analog audio over the RCA connectors.

The Bestisan BYL S9920 doesn’t come with a separate subwoofer or provide a connection for your own subwoofer. That said, the soundbar uses DSP for various sound modes like movies and movies. Adjustable bass and treble let you fine-tune the frequency response for your room.

One neat touch that you often see in TVs but less so in soundbars is the dialog enhancer feature. This tunes the audio to let you hear voices, without turning up the soundbar so loud it bothers your neighbors.

Best Budget Soundbar

Bestisan BYL S9920

With models for everything from small bedroom TVs up to your main living room TV, the Bestisan BYL S9920 is great for movies and TV, especially the dialog enhancement feature.

Best Budget Subwoofer: Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer

Monoprice subwoofer on grey background


  • Compact size makes stowing each
  • Adjustable crossover makes fine tuning bass simple
  • Multiple ways to attach to an existing system


  • Need to use a Y-adapter to use certain subwoofer connections

If you’ve already got a set of speakers you’re happy with but feel like are missing out on the bass department, a subwoofer is a great option. These can get expensive quickly, but the Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer is a solid option at a solid price.

This subwoofer features a frequency range from 50 Hz to 250 Hz, meaning the midrange and highs from your other speakers remain untouched. You can adjust the crossover frequency between 50 Hz and 150 Hz to avoid low subwoofer rumbles from voices and other elements you want to avoid hearing low frequencies from.

I’ve personally used this subwoofer for several years, and it’s a very set-and-forget product. Plug it in, set the volume, set the crossover frequency to match your other speakers, and that’s about it. The subwoofer has an auto-on feature that means it will save power when not in use, then turn itself on when you begin using it.

This is an active subwoofer, so any amp you’re using doesn’t need a separate powered subwoofer output. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a cable. Most amps and A/V receivers have a single RCA output for the subwoofer. This speaker has that connection but can also use left and right line-in or a speaker signal from your amp.

The Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer measures 13.75 × 11.75 × 11.75 inches, so while it isn’t small, it’s more compact than most subwoofers, which means you can easily find a space to stow it away.

Best Budget Subwoofer

Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer

If you're looking to add bass to an existing stereo or home theater system, this compact, powerful subwoofer is all most people will need.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2023

JBL Charge 5
Best Bluetooth Speaker Overall
JBL Charge 5
DOSS Soundbox
Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker
DOSS Soundbox
JBL Clip 4
Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Clip 4
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
Sony SRS-XE200
Best Bluetooth Car Speaker
Sony SRS-XE200
JBL PartyBox 110
Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker
JBL PartyBox 110
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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