Portable Bluetooth speakers have become an essential way to play music on the go. Whether you’re headed to the beach, hosting a backyard bash, or just chilling at home, a good Bluetooth speaker makes it easy to wirelessly stream all your favorite tunes and podcasts from your phone or tablet. No more being chained to a stereo or limited by annoying cables.
With portability, convenience, and often surprisingly powerful sound packed into compact designs, portable Bluetooth speakers open up a world of musical freedom. But with so many models and features to consider, how do you choose the right one for your needs? The key is determining how you’ll use it, your budget, and what elements matter most, like sound quality, battery life, durability and wireless range.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll highlight everything you need to know about getting the best portable Bluetooth speaker for parties or everyday use. Read on to learn how to pick the perfect speaker, get the inside scoop on the top models on the market, and find answers to frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in and get that next party started right!
Key Factors to Look For in a Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes nowadays, with a wide variety of options at different price points. Here are some of the most important factors to consider while shopping around:
Pumping Up the Sound Quality
First and foremost, you want a speaker that sounds great playing your favorite tracks. Key elements that affect audio quality include:
- Bass – Does it have deep, rich bass you can feel, or is it tinny and flat? More bass radiators or larger drivers can deliver better bass.
- Treble – Are the highs crisp and clear without being shrill? Broader frequency response produces better treble.
- Clarity – Can you pick out all the different instruments and vocal elements? Drivers and amplifiers that limit distortion provide cleaner clarity across the frequency spectrum.
- Volume – Does it play loud enough to fill a room or energize an outdoor gathering? Higher RMS and peak wattage ratings allow louder maximum volumes.
- Overall fidelity – How close does it sound to a wired speaker? Advanced drivers, solid enclosures and quality amplification lead to fidelity closer to wired speakers in a compact form.
Primed for Portability
Since the whole point is listening on the move, portability is a huge consideration. Things to evaluate:
- Size and weight – Is it light and compact enough to easily throw in a bag or backpack? Larger drivers mean bigger and heavier designs typically.
- Battery life – How long can you expect it to last on a charge? Average is 10-20 hours, but some boast 30+ hours of play time before needing to be recharged.
- Charging – Does it charge via Micro USB or USB-C? Fast charging support? Can it be used while charging? More ports allow simultaneous charging and audio.
- Durability – IPX4 and above ratings indicate speakers can withstand splashes. IPX7 rated models can even be submerged temporarily. Rugged designs also help durability.
- Voice Control – Can you access phone voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant? Hands-free voice control is convenient on the go.
Seamless Wireless Connectivity
Since these speakers use Bluetooth to stream audio wirelessly, connectivity factors like range and device pairing are vital as well.
- Bluetooth version – Bluetooth 5.0 or higher provides longer range and faster pairing speeds. Also ensures compatibility with the latest phones and tablets.
- Wireless range – How far can you roam from the speaker before dropouts occur? Up to 30 feet indoors or 100 feet outdoors is excellent.
- Multi-pairing – Can the speaker connect to two or more source devices at once for easy switching between phones and tablets?
- Speaker linking – Some speakers can wirelessly link together for synchronized audio over multiple speakers. Useful for whole-home audio or intensifying the party.
While not strictly necessary, some nice extra features can make certain Bluetooth speakers stand out:
- Speakerphone – Built-in mics allow you to take calls through the speaker hands-free.
- App control – Adjust settings like EQ from your phone via a speaker app. Create speaker groups and preset modes.
- LED lighting – LED strips or panels pulse to the beat of your music. Makes a statement day or night.
- Rugged design – Rubber housing withstands drops. Carabiner clips attach to bags. Ideal for hiking or camping trips.
Top 5 Portable Bluetooth Party Speakers
Now that you know what features to look for in a quality portable Bluetooth speaker, let’s spotlight the top models that deliver stellar sound, portability, and wireless performance ideal for parties and events. We’ve selected our top 5 favorites across various price points and styles:
JBL Charge 5 – Best Overall
JBL dominates the Bluetooth speaker market, and the Charge 5 shows why. It punches out bold sound cocooned in a cylinder-shaped, waterproof and durable design.
- Specs – 6.88 x 3.43 x 3.43 inches, 1.76 lbs, 20 hour battery life
- Sound – Punchy bass, crisp highs and distortion-free volume perfect for any party.
- Portability – Compact size, IP67 waterproof rating, rugged fabric design. Integrated strap for toting.
- Features – Bluetooth 5.1, PartyBoost mode links multiple JBL speakers, speakerphone
With vibrant stereo sound, marathon battery life and rugged build, the JBL Charge 5 is the total package – and our pick for best overall portable Bluetooth party speaker.
Aiwa Exos-9 – Best for Bass
Aiwa made its name in the 80s and 90s for its iconic boomboxes. The Exos-9 brings that spirit into a powerful portable Bluetooth speaker.
- Specs – 10 x 5.5 x 5.1 inches, 9.5 lbs, 9 hour battery life
- Sound – Dual 5.25″ woofers and 30W x 2 amp deliver earthshaking bass ideal for EDM and hip hop. Crisp mids and highs too.
- Portability – Large but fairly compact, wheels let you roll it anywhere. Charges phones on top.
- Features – Bluetooth 4.2, customizable LEDs, Exos-9 app with EQ settings
If you demand skull-rattling bass for max party impact, the Aiwa Exos-9 brings the boom like few others.
Anker Soundcore Flare 2 – Best for LEDs
The Soundcore Flare 2 provides a visual feast with pulsing LEDs that sync to the beat. Vibrant 360° sound makes it perfect for small gatherings.
- Specs – 3.43 x 3.43 x 5.91 inches, 1.65 lbs, 15 hour battery life
- Sound – Crisp treble, bold bass and max volume of 100db – not ground-shaking but solid for smaller parties.
- Portability – Compact cylindrical design with IPX7 waterproofing rating. Lanyard for easy transport.
- Features – Bluetooth 5.0, pulsating LEDs, customizable light shows via app, speakerphone
With dazzling 360° LEDs and lively sound, the Flare 2 brings the party to life visually and audibly for under $100.
JBL Boombox 2 – Best Volume
When you need earth-rattling volume for giant gatherings, the JBL Boombox 2 delivers with monstrous bass and loudness.
- Specs – 10.5 x 20.1 x 7.5 inches, 13 lbs, 24 hours battery life
- Sound – Whopping 60,000 mAh battery powers thunderous bass and ear-splitting volume over 120db. Vibrant mids and highs.
- Portability – Large but has wheels and a retractable handle. Waterproof IPX7 rated.
- Features – Bluetooth, links with over 100 JBL speakers, speakerphone
With window-rattling volume and vibrant stereo separation, the Boombox 2 provides incredible loudness tailor-made for massive parties.
Bose Soundlink Micro – Best Budget
The Bose Soundlink Micro delivers surprisingly good sound in a tiny, portable package at a budget-friendly price.
- Specs – 3.87 x 1.37 x 1.37 inches, 0.65 lbs, 6 hour battery life
- Sound – Crisp highs and midrange combined with shockingly punchy bass for its tiny size. Gets loud enough for small gatherings.
- Portability – Ultra-compact and lightweight with integrated strap. IPX7 waterproof rating.
- Features – Bluetooth, speakerphone
For great sound in a tiny, affordable package, the Bose Soundlink Micro punches above its weight class while remaining very wallet-friendly.
Compare and Contrast
While each of these models shine in their own way, the JBL Charge 5 provides the best all-around blend of warm, stereo sound quality and portable convenience. But die-hard bass lovers may prefer the earth-shaking Aiwa Exos-9. For an intense visual feast, the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 pumps out great 360° sound with mesmerizing LEDs. If raw power is all that matters, the window-rattling JBL Boombox 2 can’t be beaten. And those on a tight budget will appreciate the diminutive Bose Soundlink Micro.
So consider how you’ll use your speaker, then choose the model that best fits your needs. Ready to take the party anywhere? Here’s how to pick the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for good times on the go.
Choosing the Right Portable Bluetooth Speaker
With so many options on the market, choosing the ideal portable Bluetooth speaker takes some careful consideration – but follow these tips and you’ll soon be rocking out anywhere!
Think About How You’ll Use It
First, determine your primary usage scenarios. This helps narrow down your best options. Will you be:
- Jamming at home in a smaller room?
- Lounging outdoors by the pool or at the beach?
- Heading out camping or hiking?
- Carting it to large house parties or events?
Each situation may call for a different size speaker with certain features. For example, outdoor pool parties demand high volume and water/dust resistance, while camping trips require extreme portability and durability.
Sound Quality Needs
Secondly, decide if sound quality is your top priority, or if portability and convenience outweigh ideal audio. Things to think about:
- Will you be listening to bass-heavy EDM and hip hop that demands powerful low end? Or more balanced music like rock or pop?
- Do you need crisp highs to hear every guitar riff and vocal nuance in your favorite songs?
- Will a podcast or audiobook listener appreciate wider clarity across mids and highs?
- What kind of max volume do you need to fill larger rooms or outdoor areas?
Matching your audio needs to speaker specs prevents disappointment.
Also factor in where and how you’ll transport the speaker. Key considerations:
- Will you walk or bike with it frequently? If so, smaller and lighter is crucial.
- How long does the battery need to last between charges? Marathon 20+ hour batterys are ideal for extended outings.
- Do you need full waterproofing for pool and beach days? Or just splash resistance?
- Will you toss it in bags often? Rugged designs and protective cases help.
Prioritizing portability means choosing more compact speakers with extensive battery life.
Lastly, decide if any extra features are dealbreakers, like:
- Speakerphone – Convenient for hands-free calls
- Voice assistant access – Use Siri or Google Assistant entirely hands-free
- App control – EQ and preset modes
- LED lighting – Pulse and dance to the music
- Rugged design – For active outdoor use
While not required, the right extra features can prove useful depending on your usage.
Set Your Budget
With an idea of your needs and which features matter most, set a realistic budget. Entry-level speakers can be found for $25-50, mid-range runs from $50-150, and high-end audiophile models go up to $500+.
Within your price bracket, read reviews and compare specs of the top options. Seek out reputable brands known for quality as well. Consider warranties too for peace of mind.
Once you settle on the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for your needs, just pair it with your phone, cue up your party playlist, and let the good times roll!
Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Still have some questions about getting the most out of portable Bluetooth party speakers? Here are answers to some FAQs to help you choose and use your speaker like a pro:
Q: What Bluetooth version should I look for?
A: Bluetooth 5.0 or higher is ideal. It offers longer wireless range, quicker pairing, and compatibility with the latest devices. Also ensures backwards compatibility with older Bluetooth devices.
Q: How long does the battery last on average?
A: For most portable models, you can expect 10-20 hours of continuous playback per charge. Some speakers boast even longer 30+ hour battery life. Battery saving features like auto shut-off further extend play time.
Q: What’s the typical wireless range I can expect?
A: With Bluetooth 5.0, speakers can maintain a stable connection up to 30 feet indoors and up to 100 feet outdoors without dropouts. Walls and interference can reduce effective range.
Q: Can I use a portable speaker as a speakerphone?
A: Many models nowadays feature built-in microphones that allow you to use the speaker for hands-free personal calls. Just check specs to confirm speakerphone support before buying.
Q: Are portable speakers safe to use in the rain or near water?
A: Speakers with IPX4 ratings or higher are splash-proof, but not fully waterproof. Look for IPX7 ratings to indicate speakers that can be submerged temporarily without damage.
Q: How many devices can I pair at one time?
A: Most portable speakers support multi-point pairing to connect 2-3 source devices like your phone and tablet simultaneously for quick switching between music sources. Some support up to 8-10 paired devices.
Q: Should I fully charge the speaker before first use?
A: Yes! It’s recommended to give a full charge before powering on for the first time. This allows the battery to properly calibrate for most accurate power level monitoring and extended lifespan.
Q: How do I reconnect to a previously paired device?
A: Simply turn on the Bluetooth connection on your source device like your phone, then power on your speaker – it should automatically reconnect to available previously paired devices within range.
Q: Why does the sound distort at high volumes?
A: Most likely you’ve reached the maximum loudness the speaker can deliver cleanly. Try turning the volume down a notch or two on your device if you hear distortion at higher volumes.
Q: Can I pair two of the same portable speakers together?
A: Some speakers support linking multiple speakers together to play audio in sync over both for louder sound or a wider stereo effect. Check your speaker’s specs to see if it supports this feature.
Start the Party with Portable Bluetooth Speakers!
With their incredible portability, durable designs, and ability to wirelessly stream all your favorite audio from any Bluetooth device, it’s easy to see the appeal of portable Bluetooth speakers for parties, events, travel and everyday use.
The most critical factors in choosing your perfect speaker are sound quality, battery life, Bluetooth wireless performance, and portability. Consider which features matter most for how you plan to use it. Top brands like JBL, Bose and Sony tend to offer the best overall package of audio, convenience and connectivity.
Review our top picks like the JBL Charge 5 to see prime examples of portable speakers that pack power, punch, and durability into compact builds ready for the road. Taking just a few key considerations into account ensures you find the ideal model for your budget and needs.
So fire up that party playlist and take the show on the road with one of these outstanding portable Bluetooth speakers! With vibrant stereo sound in your pocket, the good times don’t have to stop when the party’s over. Anytime is the right time to grab your favorite portable speaker and sing, dance and enjoy sharing music with friends and family to the fullest.