Sonos Move on table
Sonos
Update, 01/27/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best portable speakers you can buy.

What to Look For in a Portable Speaker in 2023

Because portability is key, one of the first things you’ll want to consider while speaker shopping is size. On one hand, larger speakers tend to sound better and offer more volume, but they sacrifice some easy portability in the process. Likewise, smaller speakers may have less volume, but they’re far easier to carry.

Weather resistance is another important factor when shopping for a portable speaker. Every speaker we’re looking at here features an IP rating, which describes how weather-resistant a given speaker is. If you’re mainly using your speaker indoors, you can disregard this, but the higher the IP rating, the more water and dust-resistant a speaker is.

Another major aspect to consider is the battery life. If you’re only using your speaker for an hour or two a day and frequently recharging, this doesn’t matter as much. That said, if you’re looking for a speaker to bring with you on a weekend trip, a bigger battery (which is measured in milliamp hours) will let you leave the charger at home.

Of course, while most boomboxes feature built-in playback methods like an FM radio or built-in CD player, portable speakers don’t. Instead, you’ll need to rely on an external device like your phone for music. The most common way you’ll connect is via Bluetooth, but some portable speakers offer alternate wireless connectivity options like Wi-Fi.

Finally, there are the other features offered by each speaker to consider. Some speakers offer a built-in power bank to charge your other devices, while others let you link multiple speakers for louder music or stereo sound. We’ll point these extra features for each speaker.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring a portable speaker on a plane?
In the United States, the TSA allows Bluetooth speakers both in checked luggage and carry-ons. If the speaker has a lithium-ion battery (which many do), you are only allowed to pack the speaker in your carry-on luggage, not your checked baggage.
How important are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on a portable speaker?
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Unless you intend to plug in an MP3 player or other device, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are essential for a portable speaker. Bluetooth is more convenient in many cases, but Wi-Fi can offer higher quality audio.
What kind of weather-proofing should I look for in a portable speaker?
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Most portable speakers these days offer an IP rating to show how weather resistant a speaker is. If you plan on regularly using your speaker outdoors, you should aim for an IP rating of IP67.
What is the maximum range of a portable speaker?
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It depends on how the speaker connects, but most Bluetooth speakers offer a maximum usable range of around 30 feet or 10 meters. Some speakers offer a Bluetooth range of over 100 feet, but this is far less common.
Why is my portable speaker cutting out?
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Your speaker may be cutting out because it’s too far away from your playback device. Move your phone or other device closer to the speaker and see if this resolves your issue.

Best Portable Speaker Overall: Sonos Move

Sonos Move in back of truck
Sonos

Pros

  • Works like a standard Sonos speaker at home
  • Works like a Bluetooth speaker on the go
  • Charging cradle is handy
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Great sound quality

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Heavy for a portable speaker

Sonos has been making wireless speakers and whole home audio systems for years, but it took the company until 2019 to launch a truly portable speaker. The Sonos Move takes everything great about Sonos speakers and packs it into a portable package that works wonderfully at home and on the road.

As is typical for a Sonos speaker, the Move features Wi-Fi connectivity. This not only lets you stream your music, but lets Sonos speakers easily communicate with each other and act as a multi-speaker system. When using Wi-Fi, you can also use voice assistants like Amazon Alexa.

On the other hand, unlike most other Sonos speakers, the Move supports Bluetooth connectivity. This means you can use Wi-Fi at home and the Move acts like a traditional Sonos speaker, but you can also take it on the move and treat it like a Bluetooth speaker.

While the Sonos Move is weather-resistant, it’s not quite as tough as some of the other speakers we’re looking at. It has an IP56 rating, and Sonos says it can withstand exposure to humidity, rain, snow, dust, and extreme temperatures. On the other hand, most of the other speakers we’re looking at have a higher IP67 rating.

The Sonos Move offers up to 11 hours of playtime on a single charge. When it comes time to power it back up, you’ve got two options. A USB-C port makes for easy charging while you’re on the move, but Sonos includes a charging base that you can place the speaker on when you’re at home.

The Sonos Move comes in Black and White color options. As Sonos is synonymous with multiroom audio, you can also buy the Move in a two-room set or a four-room set.

Best Portable Speaker Overall

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move combines the convenience and sound of a standard Sonos speaker with everything you'd expect from a Bluetooth speaker. The Move also works great as a first step into the Sonos world.

Best Budget Portable Speaker: DOSS SoundBox Touch

DOSS

Pros

  • True stereo sound in a tiny package
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Available in many different colors
  • Capacative touch
  • 20-hour battery life

Cons

  • Only 12 watts means it won't get very loud
  • 3-4 hour recharge time

Many people shopping for portable speakers aren’t looking for audiophile clarity, but a simple speaker they can take with them everywhere that also sounds pretty good. The DOSS SoundBox Touch ticks all those boxes and more, which is what earned it the top spot on ourΒ best budget Bluetooth speakersΒ roundup.

While the speaker is small enough that it can nearly fit in the palm of your hand, the SoundBox Touch features stereo sound. Despite the small size, Doss managed to fit a pair of drivers into the speaker, powered by a 12-watt class D amplifier.

The SoundBox Touch is IPX4-rated water-resistant, which means it can withstand a few splashes, but you want to avoid dunking it in water. Fortunately, the capacitive touch controls mean there are far fewer points where water can get inside the speaker.

The SoundBox Touch’s lithium-ion battery can keep the music playing for up to 20 hours, assuming you’re listening at 50 percent volume. You can fully recharge the speaker in three to four hours by plugging into the micro USB port.

If you like colorful speakers, Doss has plenty of options for you. The SoundBox Touch is available in Black, Blue,Β Green, Light Pink, and plenty more.

Best Budget Portable Speaker

DOSS Soundbox Touch

The DOSS Soundbox Touch packs a pair of stereo speakers into a compact enclosure, and that's no small feat. Add IPX4 water resistance and 20 hours of playback time, and this is a great speaker for the money.

Best Bluetooth Portable Speaker: JBL Charge 5

JBL Charge 5 in the rain
JBL

Pros

  • Great sound quality for a portable speaker
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • JBL PartyBoost lets you pair multiple speakers
  • Built-in power bank to charge your phone
  • 20-hour battery life

Cons

  • Not cheap
  • May be too heavy to be truly portable for some

Portable speakers aren’t always just a way to listen to music wherever you find yourself. Some portable models like the JBL Charge 5 function as the Swiss Army knife of the speaker world, which is why the speaker ended up as our favorite on our list of the best Bluetooth speakers.

The Charge 5 doesn’t focus on stereo out of a single speaker but instead uses a racetrack-shaped driver, a separate tweeter, and dual bass radiators to deliver big sound. Some portable speakers start to distort at higher volumes, but you don’t have to worry about that with the Charge 5.

For stereo, JBL offers the PartyBoost feature. This lets you pair two or more PartyBoost-compatible speakers. You can link two for stereo sound, or add multiple speakers to provide ample volume and coverage for music in an outdoor party setting.

The JBL Charge 5 is IP67-rated waterproof and dustproof so you can take it anywhere. With up to 20 hours of battery life, you can ensure that you won’t need to charge the speaker too often. That said, the Charge 5 gets its name from its built-in power bank, which lets you charge your phone and other devices right from the speaker.

The Charge 5 comes in Black or Gray for those who prefer a minimalist look. If you prefer a splash of color, the speaker is also available in Blue, Camouflage, Red, and Teal.

Best Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 isn't just a speaker, it's a portable battery too. It's loud, it sounds great, and on the rare occasion that it isn't loud enough, you can always pair multiple speakers with JBL PartyBoost.

Best Waterproof Portable Speaker: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

person swimming with ultimate ears megaboom 3
Ultimate Ears

Pros

  • IP67 weather-resistant, plus it floats
  • 360-degree sound means it sounds great from every angle
  • Range of up to 131 feet or 40 meters
  • Pair multiple speakers for stereo or extra volume

Cons

  • Starts to sound slightly worse as you approach max volume
  • Sound can be on the boomy side

Look no further than Ultimate Ears if you’re looking for a speaker for pool parties or just listening to music in the rain. We’ve featured the company’s speakers before due to the superior water resistance, and the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 features that same weatherproof nature, plus some other nice features.

Like other Ultimate Ears speakers like the Wonderboom 3, the Megaboom 3 uses a 360-degree design, meaning you get the same sound in every direction around the speaker. This is great for parties, as regardless of where people are, they can hear the music like they’re standing in front of the speaker. With 20 hours of playtime, you can keep the party going for a while.

If that party happens to be near a pool, the Megaboom 3 really comes into its element. Not only is the speaker IP67-rated water-resistant, but it can withstand being submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This shouldn’t ever come into play, however, as the speaker also floats.

The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 features an extended range compared to most Bluetooth speakers. The maximum range here is 131 feet or 40 meters. That’s impressive, but keep in mind that walls and other structures between you and the speaker will reduce the overall range.

If you’re looking for stereo sound, the Megaboom 3 can pair with another Megaboom 3 for true stereo. Are you looking for a volume boost instead? You can also pair the Megaboom 3 and take them out of stereo mode for pure volume.

The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is available in Active Black, Hyper Pink, Joyous Brights Grey, and Performance Blue.

Best Waterproof Portable Speaker

Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

If you're looking for a speaker to throw the ultimate pool party, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is it. It has 360-degree sound to make sure everyone can hear the music, plus it's IP67 water-resistant and it even floats.

Best Outdoor Portable Speaker: Sony SRS-XE300

Sony SRS-XE300 on step
Sony

Pros

  • Plenty of volume on tap
  • 24-hour battery life with quick charging
  • IP67-rated weather-resistant and shock resistant
  • Plenty of bass
  • Pair up to 100 compatible speakers

Cons

  • Sound quality suffers at higher volume levels
  • May be too directional for some cases

If you’re looking for a portable speaker with outdoor use in mind, you need volume, a wide soundstage to ensure you can hear from all angles, and great battery life. The Sony SRS-XE300 has all of that, plus some features that make it even better suited outdoors.

Sony doesn’t call the SRS-XE300 a 360-degree, instead saying on Amazon that a “line-shaped diffuser distributes music evenly across a wide sound stage.” In practice, you hear music the same from almost every angle as long as you’re in front of the speaker. Even better, you can pair up to 100 of them, making for some serious volume.

If you’re taking a speaker outside, you want to ensure it can stand up to the elements. The SRS-XE300 is IP67-rated resistant to water and dust. It also uses a shockproof design, meaning you don’t need to worry if the speaker takes the occasional short drop.

The SRS-XE300 offers up to 24 hours of playback, depending on your listening volume. When it comes time to charge up, the speaker features quick charging so that you won’t be stuck waiting for hours. Just 10 minutes of charge time gets you up to 70 minutes of playback.

Color options are somewhat limited compared to other speakers. You can find the Sony SRS-XE300 in Black, Blue, and Light Gray.

Best Outdoor Portable Speaker

Sony SRS-XE300

β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜† Read Review Geek's Full Review

If you're looking for a speaker to set up an outdoor party, the rugged nature of the Sony SRS-XE300 makes it a great option. Plus, you can pair up to 100 of them so you can cover an area in sound.

Best Portable Speaker with Bass: JBL Boombox 3

People sitting around JBL Boombox 3
JBL

Pros

  • Massive bass for a portable speaker
  • 24-hour battery life
  • Built-in power bank to charge your other devices
  • Supports JBL PartyBoost to pair multiple compatible speakers

Cons

  • On the large and heavy side for a portable speaker
  • Expensive

If you’re looking for big bass, you will need a larger speaker. The JBL Boombox 3 manages to walk the fine line between being large enough to provide ample low end while still being easy to carry around.

The Boombox 3 uses three-way speakers that JBL says delivers higher sensitivity, which in turn minimizes low-end distortion, making for gigantic bass. No matter how high you crank the volume, the Boombox 3 won’t sound flabby or like the speaker is destroying itself.

Thanks to its size, the Boombox 3 offers 24-hour battery life, and just like JBL’s Charge 5, this speaker can also act as a power bank to charge your other devices. The Boombox also features the same PartyBoost feature that lets you pair multiple speakers for even bigger sound.

The Boombox 3 seems sturdy from every angle. Not only is it IP67 weather-resistant, but it is solidly built overall. The handle is made from sturdy metal, meaning you don’t have to worry about it wearing down and breaking off over time.

One downside of the Boombox 3 is the price, which is on the high side. If you’re looking for a similar speaker on a smaller budget, consider the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom Plus as an alternative. Like the Boombox, it’s large, features a built-in power bank, and has a heavy emphasis on bass.

The JBL Boombox 3 is available in Black and Camouflage.

Best Portable Speaker with Bass

JBL Boombox 3

The JBL Boombox 3 packs the bass you'd expect from a massive sound system into a portable package. If you're looking for all the music you need for the perfect party soundtrack in one box, this is it.

The Best Speakers of 2023

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Best Speaker Overall
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Tribit StormBox Micro
Best Budget Speaker
Tribit StormBox Micro
JBL Charge 5
Best Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Charge 5
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2
Best Outdoor Speaker
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2
Sonos One
Best Smart Speaker
Sonos One
ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2
Best Bookshelf Speaker
ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
Best Speaker for Music
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
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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