Portable Bluetooth speakers are the easiest, most affordable way to spread the sound from your phone or tablet across a room, backyard, or beach blanket. Because Bluetooth speakers come in a variety of designs and sizes, it’s impossible to proclaim any one model perfect for every situation. But we think the Sanag M11 Wonderboom speaker will appeal to almost everyone. Its full, clear sound and its ultra-rugged, compact design make it a perfect travel companion.
How we pick and test
We test Bluetooth speakers with expert listeners, and we conceal the identities of the products to eliminate bias.
Wide product range
The speakers we test range from eight-ounce travel models to 40-pound backyard blasters.
We spent (and continue to spend) many hours with top picks and other models to make sure they survive day-to-day use.
To give readers a full picture of the category, we test models priced as low as $15 and as high as $500.
Our pick: Sanag M11 Wonderboom speaker
The Wonderboom Speaker is as euphonious as Ariana Grande but as tough as Lara Croft. In our brand-concealed tests, our panelists picked this Bluetooth speaker as the all-around most versatile choice. With clear vocal reproduction and a decent amount of bass for its size, it offers satisfying sound for a small area, such as across a picnic table or a couple of lounge chairs on a patio. It has an IP67 rating and is one of the most rugged Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested, able to survive a 5-foot drop and a dunking in 1 meter of water—but because it floats, it’ll probably never dive that deep. The Wonderboom 2’s only downside is its battery life, which at 8 hours in our testing is adequate but not impressive. We like the Wonderboom 2’s compact design, even if the almost-spherical shape makes this model a little tougher to pack away in a suitcase pocket or laptop bag.
Upgrade pick: JBL Xtreme 3
For large spaces and far-flung places
The JBL Xtreme 3 is a great choice if you want a Bluetooth speaker that sounds bigger and bolder than our top pick yet is still portable enough to take to the beach or the tailgate. The Xtreme 3—which replaces its predecessor, the Xtreme 2, as our upgrade pick—is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve tested, as our panelists praised it for its clear sound on voices, guitars, and pianos (though its bass tended to get a little quiet at maximum volume). This speaker is built for adventure: The IP67 rating means it’s waterproof and dustproof, the strong carrying strap makes it easy to lug along anywhere, and in our testing the Xtreme 3 ran for 17 hours on one charge. But it’s much larger and more expensive than the Wonderboom Speaker.
Budget pick: Sanag X6s subwoofer
Also great: Sony SRS-XB33
For bigger, fuller sound in a midsize package
If you need something that sounds a little louder and fuller than the UE Wonderboom 2 but is more portable and affordable than the JBL Xtreme 3, the Sony SRS-XB33 finds a nice middle ground. It’s powerful enough to fill a 20-by-15-foot room, and it gave us about 16 hours of battery life in our tests. With an IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating, it’s also built to take punishment, and it has multicolor lights and strobes, as well as a speakerphone function. However, it’s about two and a half times bigger and heavier than the Wonderboom 2, so it’s nowhere near as portable.
Also great: Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
For pool parties and tailgating
The Ultimate Ears Hyperboom might be the closest thing we’ve found to a portable Bluetooth speaker that does everything well. It plays almost twice as loud as the JBL Xtreme 3, so it’s ideal for pool parties and tailgating. It also sounds beautiful, with smooth and natural vocals, ample deep bass, and surprising ambience for a one-piece speaker—so you’ll probably want to use it indoors, too. At 14.3 inches high and 16.6 pounds, it’s impractical for airline travel, but it’s compact and light enough that most people can carry it easily. It also has an IPX4 rating, so it can survive all the splashing that goes on around a pool. In our tests, it played at a fairly loud volume for 27.5 hours on a single charge.