I test Bluetooth speakers for a living and these are the best for every budget

Ultimate Ears Epicboom on a dinner table with diners
(Image credit: Ultimate Ears)

The best wireless headphones are what I use for the majority of my music listening. But when I'm cleaning up the yard, picnicking in the park, hanging out at the beach or relaxing by a pool, I always take along one of the best Bluetooth speakers to create the perfect soundtrack that can be enjoyed by others.

Most models are durable enough to survive a sudden rain shower, hot tub splashes or even the occasional dunk in the pool. Many have decent enough battery life to allow you to listen for most of the day, too. 

With this in mind, here are my favorite portable Bluetooth speakers for all kinds of activities. Whether you're partying by the pool, or just having a cookout or BBQ in the backyard with family and friends, these portable speakers for all budgets are perfectly suited to keeping everyone entertained.

Best value Bluetooth speaker overall

1. Sony SRS-XB100

Sony SRS-XB100 sitting in the sand on the beach

Great portable sound and 16-hour battery life. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Sony SRS-XB100 proves that Bluetooth speakers don't need to have a big body and price tag to deliver impressive performance. For $59 / £55 / AU$78, Sony’s most portable speaker provides a personal, on-the-go listening experience in a grippy can-shaped package.

This tiny powerhouse delivers loud, well-balanced audio within a tough, durable design.

This tiny powerhouse delivers loud, well-balanced audio within an IP67-rated design that can survive water, dust, while the UV coating means you won’t need to worry about outdoor use. It can stand its own against the sun, sand, rain, and accidental submersion and comes in a choice of black, blue, light grey, and orange color options. Battery life runs to an impressive 16 hours, which isn't as long as the Soundcore 3 which can play for a whopping 24 hours.

Despite the small speaker driver, the Sony produces a bigger sound than we expected thanks to the passive radiator and sound diffusion processor work together to produce more powerful sound. Our review mentioned that it doesn’t get as loud as the UE Wonderboom 3 or offer the same sound sophistication as the Sonos Roam (both listed below), but audio quality was truly impressive for its size. It might not have the features of the more expensive models, but the XB100 is a great portable Bluetooth speaker at the price.

Also consider

The Anker Soundcore 3 is an amazing little Bluetooth speaker for outdoor sounds. At $50 @ Amazon (£56 / AU$89) right now, it's one of the best-sounding portable speakers I've heard at the price. It gives up to 24 hours of playback, and comes in blue, red and silver colors for a little extra cost in addition to the standard slick black version I tested.

Best under $100

2. Anker Soundcore Motion Boom

Anker Soundcore Motion Boom

The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom isn't much of a looker, but it delivers on sound. (Image credit: Amazon / Anker)

The Anker Motion Boom may not be much of a looker, but it has all the right credentials to deliver big stereo sound anywhere. It costs $99/ £90 / AU$160. Its practical size belies its ability to fill whatever space you are in with bassy sound, and has the power to project sound outwards into an open space with impressive clarity.

Party-goers remarked on its performance, and were blown away by the stereo sound it delivered at the budget price.

Although I've not yet reviewed this particular portable Bluetooth speaker, I have used it extensively at home and can vouch for its credentials. In a yard party setting it sounded nearly as good as bigger 'boombox' models I've heard costing twice as much. In fact, several party-goers remarked on its performance, and were blown away by the stereo sound it delivered at the budget price.

If you’re looking for a compact speaker that's durable enough to withstand water splashes, the Motion Boom has a lot going for it. It's IPX7-rated, making it fully waterproof, and it even floats! Like the Anker Soundcore 3 (above), it can play all day without needing a recharge, has BassUp technology for more powerful bass, and can be controlled by the Soundcore app to switch between EQ modes for personalized sound.

Also consider

The Ultimate Ears WonderBoom 3 ranks as one of the best waterproof speakers. It's a bit more expensive at $99 MSRP (£90 / AU$149), and although I've not tried this model myself, our reviewer was impressed by its performance and remarked on the impressively bass-rich sound delivery despite the small, go-anywhere enclosure.

The JBL Flip 6 retails at $129 / £129 / AU$169 but can regularly be found discounted for less at Amazon.  This next-gen version introduces a new cosmetic design and comes in eight color options including black, white, green, blue, red, gray, teal, and squad. The IP67 rating means it's protected from water splashes, and there's an app to tinker with EQ controls, and the PartyBoost tab enables it to be paired with another JBL speaker to either mirror the sound, or assign speakers as a left/right stereo pair. Better still, you can pair it with up to 100 JBL speakers.

Best portable Bluetooth speaker with Wi-Fi

3. Sonos Move 2

Sonos Move 2

The Sonos Move 2 and Roam are two of the best portable Bluetooth speakers that also offer Wi-Fi connectivity. (Image credit: Future)

The Sonos Move 2 ($449 / £449 / AU$799) might not be as portable as the Roam (below), but it ranks as one of the best smart speakers and is one of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market. The Move takes the well-tuned sound and rich feature set found in the Sonos One and lets you take it on the go, with a 24-hour battery packed into a portable (albeit fairly hefty) design. 

The Move 2 takes the well-tuned sound and rich feature set found in the Sonos One and throws in 24 hours of battery life.

In our review, we found the Move delivers a crisp sound with satisfying bass and clear vocals. The speaker works with all major streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music, it sports Apple AirPlay 2 support and can seamlessly switch from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi on the fly. Alexa and Google Assistant support allow you to do anything from check the weather to control your smart home, while the Sonos Voice Assistant offers hands-free playback even when you're on Bluetooth. 

But the best part? The Move's Auto Trueplay tunes the speaker's audio output for wherever you're listening, whether you're having a rooftop party or rocking out in your bedroom.

Also consider

The Sonos Roam is much more portable than the Sonos Move 2 as well as more affordable ($169 / £179 / AU$299). It has many of the same smarts though, including auto Trueplay to adjust the sound to suit your surroundings wherever you’re listening. It is available in five color options, and although we wish the battery lasted more than 10 hours, it juices up quickly via USB-C or wireless charging. Like the Move 2, it gives you the option to hand off your current soundtrack to the nearest Sonos speaker. Or you could stick to Roam, bringing your voice assistant and streaming services room-to-room, or as far as your Wi-Fi can reach.

Best for durability

4. Ultimate Ears Epicboom

Ultimate Ears Epicboom PR image on showing speakers in black and white versions by a pool

The Ultimate Ears Epicboom sounds great anywhere. (Image credit: Ultimate Ears)

As the model name suggests, the Ultimate Ears Epicboom — or UE Epicboom —  is a Bluetooth speaker that sets out to deliver plenty of bass energy from its mid-sized dimensions. The all-new design is one of the most rugged Bluetooth speakers I've seen, and has an Outdoor Boost mode to help make music sound better in the open air.

With 17 hours of battery life, the carry anywhere Epicboom is a great partner for on-the-go lifestyles.

It's priced at $349 / £340 / AU$499 and comes in a choice of charcoal black or cotton white color options. Despite its tough looking design, it weighs just 4.4 pounds and comes with a practical carry strap. As one of the best waterproof speakers I've tested, it has and IP67 rating for durability and it even floats. Add in 17 hours of playtime to keep your music soundtrack playing wherever you go, and the carry anywhere Epicboom is a great partner for on-the-go lifestyles.

Also consider

At $199 / £169 / AU$329, the Megaboom 3 is a lot more affordable but just as durbable. It tops the best waterproof speakers list for its substantial assortment of bonus features, including the ability to pair with another Megaboom 3 for stereo sound, and its enviable IP67 waterproofing. That’s enough to let the speaker get utterly soaked and still keep playing without issue, something we confirmed by dunking it in a sink to no ill effect. It's a great combination of portability, practicality and sound quality.

Best for bass

5. JBL Boombox 3

JBL Boombox 3 on a fence outdoors

The JBL Boombox 3 gets the party started and comes finished in black or squad color options.  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The JBL Boombox 3 is easily the largest portable Bluetooth speaker model I've used, as well as the most costly at $499 / £449 / AU$699.

I've been using this speaker for occasional outdoor sounds, and it's been a big hit with family and friends. Its deep bass and vocal clarity fills large open spaces with a big sound that's perfect for larger outdoor parties, and is an IP67-rated beast that means it's perfect for outdoors events and pool parties.  

Its deep bass and vocal clarity fills large open spaces with a big sound that's perfect for larger outdoor parties.

As the name suggests, this isn’t the first Boombox in the series, and JBL has built on its predecessors with a new three-way speaker system made up of two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a racetrack-shaped subwoofer.

Its size and shape feels like a bit of a throw-back to those nineties boombox days. But unlike the bulky models of the era, the JBL measures 19.0 x 10.1 x 7.9-inches and weighs an entirely portable 14.7 pounds. Battery life is entirely practical too, and runs to 24 hours for all-day sounds from a 6.5 hour charge. It comes in two color options: black or a more conspicuous squad colors design (pictured above).

Also consider

The Ultimate Ears Hyperboom ($449 / £409 / AU$599) is as rugged as it is big, with IPX4 water resistance for surviving splashes. And you'll get 24 hours of battery life for keeping the outdoor tunes going all day and night long. Pair that with seamless Bluetooth connectivity and plenty of volume, and you have the ultimate speaker for filling a large outdoor space with great sound.

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Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.

  • Don't Even Bother
    The JBL Flip is atrocious. Every bass hit sounds like a flat tire. The fact that it's being recommended suggests either you didn't actually use it, or you don't know what you're talking about.