The 10 best portable Bluetooth speakers for rocking out anywhere

From ease and durability to style and audio quality, these excellent devices are indispensable for any serious music lover

Portable speakers have come a long way. Yes, there was a time when enjoying the best tunes on the go required lugging around a boombox, complete with the hassle of six hefty batteries. Think of the forlorn lover holding one outside a window à la John Cusack in Say Anything. But times have changed, and our mobile audio options have advanced significantly. Whether it is complimenting a home music setup or soundtracking an outdoor party, the best portable Bluetooth speaker is indispensable for any serious music lover.

The device largely replaced traditional two-speaker stereos for a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to hold portable Bluetooth speakers in the same esteem as my vintage high-fidelity stereo system. Thanks to advancements in sound, design, and durability, I now find myself spending most of my time listening to playlists on my single-speaker companion. This is largely for the sake of convenience—enabling me to enjoy new music, podcasts, and movies from room to room to the outdoors—but also because I genuinely love the enhanced audio quality.

Since I spend a lot of time listening at home, my two biggest needs in a portable Bluetooth speaker are sound and style—it’s got to perform and look amazing in equal measure. But everyone is different. Maybe you need something that can handle everyday commutes that isn’t so visually appealing. Or maybe you need something heavy-duty for a backyard pool party. Thankfully, there are options for all these scenarios. And though it can be a bit confusing navigating all the different varieties, we aim to simplify.

Below, some important considerations when choosing the best portable Bluetooth speaker that speaks to you.

What to consider before buying the best Bluetooth speaker:

Battery Life: The battery life of a portable speaker typically ranges from 8 to 12 hours, and some can even last up to 24 hours. However, playing the speaker at higher volumes or under various stresses can decrease battery usage. Larger units generally have larger batteries and produce more substantial sound—but they may sacrifice portability. If you primarily use the speaker at home, where an outlet is convenient, battery life may not be a significant concern. But if you plan to use it on the go or outdoors all day, the lifespan of the battery should be a top priority.

Durability: Many portable Bluetooth speakers use an IP rating, which indicates the dust- and water-resistance. An IP67 rating, for example, means the speaker can be dropped in a pool for a short time and can handle heavy gusts, while an IP64 rating indicates some dust-resistance and ability to withstand some splashing (read: not waterproof). Everything really boils down to the activity planned. If you’re biking daily through inclement weather with one in your bag, for example, you should consider a higher IP. But if you plan to primarily listen at home, the number can decrease. Fortunately, most portable Bluetooth speakers are now built with durability in mind, offering water-, drop-, and dust-resistance to a certain degree.

Portability and Range: Keep in mind: With greater size comes richer sound, which may sacrifice portability—and vice versa. Moreover, most new portable speakers utilise Bluetooth V.5 or higher, offering a wireless range that is up to four times that of any V.4 iteration. For commercial audio, this can vary quite a bit due to factors such as speaker size, efficiency, and design. But at least 10 metres, the standard, will more than suffice for listening to sounds. Also consider that the effective range of the portable Bluetooth speaker from its tethered device depends heavily on various external factors, particularly weather conditions.

Design: For a long time, speakers in general were not aesthetically pleasing. But in the past several years, heavy-hitting brands have started to put just as much thought into the form as much the function. There are now a slew of eye-catching options, from retro designs that’ll compliment a vinyl collection to minimalist ones that gel nicely in a, say, Brutalist space to colourful ones that will be easy to spot outdoors. Even the smallest portable speakers have the overall look in mind.

Sound: The best portable Bluetooth speakers, at their core, should sound great. While a single speaker may not exactly match the fidelity of a dual setup, new models will surprise even the most discerning audiophiles with their warm sound, true reproduction, and rich bass—qualities once thought impossible from portable devices. Look for driver combinations: Some will have two tweeters and a woofer, while others might have a mid-woofer to help the midrange, or even two woofers. Various components address different frequency responses, and generally, a wider range contributes to better audio reproduction.

Photo by Sonos

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for the house

Sonos Move 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

If you’re looking for an all-around speaker that sounds amazing, boasts a sleek minimal design, and stands up well to wear and tear both indoors and in the backyard, the Sonos Move 2 might be your best move. It has an impressive battery life of up to 24 hours, a water- and drop-resistant design, and USB-C port, making it versatile for connecting to turntables, laptops, or other devices. Internally, it features an overhauled dual-tweeter and precision-tuned woofer that gives pseudo-audiophile vibes, and its Trueplay feature uses internal microphones to adjust to the acoustics of your surroundings to give you the best sound possible. Another detail we love is the sleek charging base that rests underneath the speaker. Form meets function with this excellent model.

Wireless Range: N/A.
Drivers: Two angled tweeters and one midwoofer.
Battery Life: 24 hours.
IP Rating: IP56.
Waterproof: Water-resisant.

Photo by Bang & Olufsen

Best compact portable Bluetooth speaker

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Bang & Olufsen pays meticulous attention not only to the designs but also to the functionality, and a shining example is the B&O A1. This compact speaker effortlessly fits in the palm of a hand and could easily slip into the side pocket of a backpack or tote bag. There’s also an attached leather cord, allowing you to hang it from a hook or wrist, providing maximum listening vibes wherever you go. In addition to being highly waterproof and durable with its all-aluminium casing, this speaker produces a remarkably rich, deep, and musical sound. I was amazed that such impressive audio came from such a small speaker.

Wireless Range: 30 metres.
Drivers: One 8.9 centimetres woofer and one 1.5 centimetres tweeter.
Battery Life: 18 hours.
Frequency Response: 55 – 20K hertz.
IP Rating: IP67.
Waterproof: Yes.

Photo by JBL

Best designed portable Bluetooth speaker

JBL Authentics 300 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

For anyone with a passing interest in vintage high-fidelity gear, the JBL L100 stands as a grail speaker, boasting not only a superb, sought-after sound but also an iconic textured grill that truly induces design envy. The new JBL Authentics 300 reimagines this iconic style in the form of a portable Bluetooth speaker. It features a redesigned Quadrex grill, a custom leather enclosure, and a cast aluminium handle for easy carrying. And with two 2.5 centimetres tweeters, a 13.3 centimetres woofer, and a 16.5 centimetres passive radiator, it also delivers superb sound—a true homage to JBL’s iconic hi-fi past. It truly is a retro-inspired beauty, one that is both visually and audibly appealing.

Wireless Range: N/A.
Drivers: Twp 2.5 centimetres tweeters and one 13.3 centimetres woofer.
Battery Life: 8 hours.
Frequency Response: 45 – 20K hertz.
Waterproof: No.

Photo by Marshall

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for musicians

Marshall Middleton Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Leave it to the good folks at Marshall—whose amps have been amplifying icons since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll—to create a Bluetooth speaker that seamlessly blends cool looks with sonic fidelity. The Middleton, in particular, packs a serious punch in terms of volume and durability. I appreciate the ability to connect the device to as many other Marshall speakers as I like, creating a multi-stack colossal sound that would make any artist proud. For those who are particular about tailoring their audio experience, they can also download an app and customise sound settings. Simply put, the Marshall Middleton rocks.

Wireless Range: 10 metres.
Drivers: Two 7.6 centimetres woofers and two tweeters.
Battery Life: 20 hours.
Frequency Response: 50 – 20K hertz.
IP Rating: IP67.
Waterproof: Yes.

Photo by Ultimate Ears

Most durable portable Bluetooth speaker

Ultimate Ears EpicBoom Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Drop tested from 0.9 metres? Check. Floats in water? Check. Dust-resistant? Check. The EpicBoom from Ultimate Ears is epically tough, designed for those who demand a speaker that can endure the drops, dings, and downpours that life may bring. Beyond its durability, it excels as a lifestyle speaker, delivering not only resilience to the elements but also an epic sound. With a powerful woofer and high-frequency transducers, it produces substantial bass and clarity. Boasting a wireless range of 55 metres, it ensures a reliable connection, no matter how rugged the terrain. This speaker will take a beating and keep the beats coming.

Wireless Range: 55 metres.
Drivers: Two 3.8 centimetres active mid-high frequency transducers and one 11.7 centimetres woofer.
Battery Life: 17 hours.
Frequency Response: 50 – 20K hertz.
IP Rating: IP67.
Waterproof: Yes.

Photo by Sony

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for travelling

Sony XB100 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

If your primary purpose is to have the smallest, most travel-friendly portable Bluetooth speaker, the new Sony model should be your choice. Despite its super compact body, it delivers remarkably clear and surprisingly robust sound. With an IP67 waterproof and dustproof design, you shouldn’t hesitate to let this mini bad boy dangle from your bike handles or endure a drop at the airport—it can handle it. Not to mention, the up to 16 hours of battery life will keep you grooving all day. Just be mindful not to play it at the terminal: Save it for the destination.

Wireless Range: 30 metres.
Drivers: One full range driver.
Battery Life: 16 hours
Frequency Response: 20 -n20K hertz.
IP Rating: IP67.
Waterproof: Yes.

Photo by The House of Marley

Best eco-conscious portable Bluetooth speaker

The House of Marley Get Together 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The House of Marley embodies music. Developed in collaboration with the Marley family, the brand is dedicated to carrying the legacy of its patriarch, Bob, and his passion for the healing power of beats and lyrics—an ethos particularly relevant in today’s times. Constructed with natural bamboo, upcycled fabric, and recycled silicone and aluminium, this speaker is as close to sustainable as it’s going to get. Moreover, it boasts dustproof and water-resistant features. Accompanied by Marley’s signature sound EQs, this speaker will undoubtedly “make you want to move your dancing feet.”

Wireless Range: 30 metres.
Drivers: One 6.4 centimetres woofer and two 2.5 centimetres tweeters.
Battery Life: 20 hours.
IP Rating: IP65.
Waterproof: Water-resistant.

Photo by Harman Kardon

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for bass lovers

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

We all know that one music fan who lives for deep bass, the kind that reverberates through the body and penetrates walls. Most reviews of Harman Kardon’s Studio 6 highlight its exceptional performance in the low-end department—and we agree. With a powerful woofer that delves deep into low frequencies, it also boasts crisp highs that will fill a room with outstanding sound. Not to mention the super unique design with a handle, which feels like you are almost carrying a high-end tote—albeit one that is also capable of waking the neighbours.

Wireless Range: N/A.
Drivers: One 11.9 centimetres woofer and one 2.5 centimetres tweeter
Battery Life: 8 hours.
Frequency Response: 50 – 20K hertz.
IP Rating: IPX7(not dust resistant).
Waterproof: Yes.

Photo by Devialet

Best portable bluetooth speaker for 360-degree sound

Devialet Mania Portable Bluetooth Speaker

French audio company Devialet entered the high-end speaker market with significant buzz—the result of its uniquely designed portable speakers. Featuring high-quality components, the brand also prides itself on discovering new proprietary technologies. Equipped with two woofers, the Mania uses a patented active stereo calibration that morphs and adapts to a living space. This delivers an authentic 360-degree sound experience, ensuring impressive audio from any vantage point. And these objects don’t just deliver on tech. They also boast an intriguing, almost alien-like design that is sure to become a conversation topic.

Wireless Range: N/A.
Drivers: Four aluminium full-range drivers and two woofers.
Battery Life: 10 hours.
Frequency Response: 30 – 20k hertz.
IP Rating: N/A.
Water Resistant: Yes.

Photo by Bose

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for the outdoors

Bose SoundLink Flex Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The SoundLink Flex by Bose is dubbed the perfect “sidekick,” and we wholeheartedly agree. Ideal for those with a highly active lifestyle, this small and slim powerhouse can be effortlessly tossed into your rain jacket, hiking backpack, or beach tote. With its powder-coated steel grille and silicon exterior resistant to rust and corrosion, this speaker means serious business. Despite its compact size, it delivers impressive sound, and thanks to PositionIQ technology, it also optimises audio regardless of its orientation. Whether you’re sleeping in a tent or relaxing on the beach, this portable Bluetooth speaker is ready for wherever you choose your adventure.

Wireless Range: 10 metres.
Drivers: One transducer and one passive radiator.
Battery Life: 12 hours.
IP Rating: IP67.
Waterproof: Yes.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA