Portable wireless speakers are all the rage right now, with bluetooth speakers available in all shapes and sizes, there are plenty of options out there if you wish to bag a decent speaker even on a budget.
The problem with portable speaker is the size limitation. Small speakers while portable have to content with small drivers and space.
For a deeper and richer bass as well as sharper high notes, you need a pair of tweeters and a decent sized sub-woofer as well as room to pump the volume, luxuries that portable speakers do not have.
Instead, small speakers have to get clever with passive bass radiators, small but strong drivers and design that works best in a speaker chamber that is no bigger than say a pencil case or a small box of chocolate. On top of that, it would also need to accommodate the digital amplifier, Bluetooth connectivity, NFC, Auxiliary connector, USB port for charging on some models and a high capacity battery that allows for hours of play time.
Quick Guide: What to Look For in Affordable Bluetooth Speakers
The market is flooded with budget options when it comes with Bluetooth Speakers. How do you choose one that fits your budget without compromising on quality? Here’s a guide to help you navigate through the choices and select the best budget portable wireless speaker for your needs.
1. Sound Quality
We are not expecting earth shaking or heart pounding bass, but the mid and high range has to be clear and loud. Also, the music must not distort or crack at high volume levels. If bass if what you are after then consider a bigger unit as small speakers are not known for producing good low range.
- Clarity and Volume: The primary purpose of a speaker is to produce clear sound. Even on a budget, look for a speaker that offers crisp audio without distortion at high volumes.
- Bass Performance: If you love bass-heavy music, consider a speaker with decent bass performance. However, note that in budget speakers, deep bass might be limited.
2. Battery Life
You are looking at around 10 – 20 hours of average battery life across the range. There is the odd unit with battery life under 10 hours but that is due to its compact and lightweight design, a compromise necessary for a portable unit.
- Duration: A good portable speaker should last several hours on a single charge. Look for a battery life that suits your typical usage pattern.
- Charge Time: Also consider how long it takes to charge the speaker fully.
3. Connectivity and Compatibility
100 feet range is the norm, anything more is a bonus at this price. Bluetooth is as Bluetooth goes is compatible with many of the devices out there. It w
- Bluetooth Version: Check the Bluetooth version. Newer versions like 5.0 or even 5.3 offer better range and more stable connections.
- Compatibility: Ensure the speaker is compatible with your devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.).
4. Portability and Design
- Size and Weight: A portable speaker should be light and compact enough to carry around easily.
- Durability: If you plan to use it outdoors, look for rugged designs that are water-resistant or waterproof.
5. Additional Features
- Built-in Microphone: Some speakers come with a built-in mic for hands-free calling, which can be a useful feature.
- Stereo Pairing: The ability to connect two speakers for stereo sound can enhance your listening experience.
- NFC and Aux-in: NFC for quick pairing and an auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices can be beneficial.
6. Ease of Use
- User Interface: Simple controls and easy access to volume and playback functions are essential.
- Voice Assistant Integration: Some budget speakers offer integration with voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.
7. Brand and Warranty
Yes, budget speakers are also offered by reputable brands. Gone are the days when in order to buy a budget bluetooth speaker, you had to resort to unknown and obscure brands. Big name brands are getting in on the budget speaker game giving buyers plenty of options. What’s more, they come with the standard manufacturer’s warranty, reliable customer support and they company won’t disappear from the shelves overnight.
- Reputation: Opt for brands known for their quality, even in their budget ranges.
- Warranty and Support: Check the warranty period and the manufacturer’s customer support options.
8. Reviews and Recommendations
- User Reviews: Check online reviews and ratings from other users.
- Expert Opinions: Look for recommendations from tech experts and audiophiles.
While it would be better than compared to speakers on your laptop, smartphone and tablet and in most cases a big step up, due to its size limitation, don’t expect it to perform like your cabinet speakers or full size setups . It is more suitable for a small room (bedroom or dormitory), for a satisfying personal performance or entertainment for a small group of people who happen to be sat around the speaker.
Top 12 Budget Bluetooth Speakers
In this article, we look at some of the best wireless Bluetooth speakers on a budget from reputable names such as Sony, JBL, Philips and Ultimate Ears. With the different speaker profile (shape and sizes) you would be spoilt for choice.
Offers impressive sound quality with deep bass for its size. The long battery life or 24 hours is the longer among our line-up and water resistance IPX7 rating makes it ideal for outdoor use. The two titanium diaphragm 16W drivers pushes up the volume with bass provided by its dual passive radiators. This is a boost from 12W on Soundcore 2. Use the BassUp to add even more bass. Other features include PartyCast to link 100+ speakers, Custom EQ via app for presets (signature, voice, treble boost, balanced) or customise your own, removable strap and easy reach controls on the top of the unit. However, auxiliary or line in has been removed.
- Special Features: 24-hour battery life, IPX7 waterproof, dual-driver setup, dual passive radiator for bass, PartyCast, BassUp, Custom EQ via app, strap
- Colour Options: Black, Blue, Gray, Red
2. JBL GO 3
The squad or camouflage design may not be for everyone but there are other colour options. With its waterproof and dustproof IP67 rated engineered fabric body, the portable JBL Go 3 is a great outdoor companion. Known for its ultra-portable design, the JBL GO 3 delivers clear and robust sound with high volume and surprisingly punchy bass from a ‘soap bar’ styled unit. It comes with a fixed strap next to the USB charging port on top and the controls are on the side with power and pairing buttons on the bottom.
- Special Features: 5 hours playtime, Compact design, IPX7 waterproof, built-in speakerphone.
- Colour Options: Blue, Black, Green, Gray, Red, Teal, Pink
Cambridge Soundworks doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the sound from their compact speakers. Now in its 3rd generation, the OontZ Angle 3 stands out for its unique triangular body design and consistent performance. The unit offers a good balance of sound quality and portability with controls conveniently placed on the side. The two drivers are angled up while a downward facing bass radiator supplies the 10W distortion free sound. On a full charge it will also up to 14 hours of playtime and has the option to use the 3.5mm Aux-in jack as source which is rare these days. There is also the OontZ Angle 3 Shower Plus Edition for the who like their music in the shower as it comes with IPX7 waterproof.
- Special Features: 14-hour battery life, water-resistant, triangular design, IPX5 water resistant, speakerphone. Pair with another for stereo sound.
- Colour Options: Blue, Orange, Pink or Red speaker grill
Delivers rich, clear sound with decent bass, the Tribute XSound Go has a dual 8W driver arrangement with bass radiators for loud volume, crystal high, crisp midrange and rich bass. If you must know, the passive radiator is forward facing and is sandwiched between the two drivers for more upfront sound. The speaker is also waterproof with IPX7 rating. The long battery life and sturdy build make it a great travel companion. Its curved edges makes it easy to carry around or use the carry strap to hand it up. Onboard microphone lets you access Siri or Google Now assistants, or take calls and TWS lets you pair with another speaker for more volume.
- Special Features: 24-hour playtime, IPX7 waterproof, built-in microphone, TWS pairing, 16W driver, removal strap.
- Colour Options: Black or Blue
5. Sony SRS-XB12 and SBS-XB100
A small speaker with a punchy bass boost. Durable and water-resistant, making it perfect for outdoor activities. Its compact design means it is no bigger than a cup of coffee yet powerful enough to be heard clearly outdoor. Sony uses Sound Diffusion Processor to expand the sound reach. A series of hollowed out gaps are placed on the bottom of the speaker. The chassis is both water and dust proof with IP67 rating. What is even more amazing is, at this size, it can squeeze out tunes for up to 16 hours and includes a battery level indicator. Pair it with another and you have stereo sound. Controls are on the side of the cylindrical body and the charging port has its own cover. Lastly, the attention to detail is impeccable down to the strap. Its multiway strap makes it easier to travel with the speaker and looping it over anything you can find. Also consider the SRS-XB100 with an updated model similar features.
Sony SRS-XB13 EXTRA BASS Wireless Bluetooth
- Special Features: 16 hours, USB-C, Removable Stripe, Extra Bass, compact, IP67 waterproof and dustproof, pairs with another for stereo sound. Versatile strap. Speakerphone.
- Colour Options: Black, Blue, Taupe (shown above) and Coral Pink
If you think Tribit XSound Pro is popular judging form the amount of reviews garnered, the DOSS SoundBox Touch has more than double the reviews and high ratings. Not only is it affordable, its 12W dual high performance driers delivers stereo sound and enhanced bass. A nice addition is the light touch controls. This adds a modern feel making changing tracks, volume, pairing and modes effortless. DOSS Soundbox Touch speaker has a waterproof IPX5 body and a long battery life of up to 20 hours at 50% volume. Unfortunately, charging is via a dated micro USB port and cable. The upside is it is really affordable and comes in a variety of colour choices.
- Special Features: Touch controls, 20-hour playtime, built-in mic. Waterproof IPX5. 12W drivers,.
- Colour Options: Black, Blue, Gray, Mint Green, Light Blue, Light Pink, Pink, Light Purple, Red, White, Yellow.
Skullcandy Ounce offers excellent sound in a durable soap bar like package. Its rugged design makes it suitable for adventurous users. The fixed loop strap lets you hook it onto a carabiner or cloth hanger. With IPX7 waterproof, it has a submergible body (1 m up to 30 mins) even with the engineered fabric mesh for the front. Turn it over and you will discover a backward firing passive radiator for bass. A full charge will allow it to pump out tunes for up to 16 hours. We love the iconic skull candy brand and quick access to controls on the front. The downsides are it does not support stereo pairing or multi link for party play so you are on your own.
- Special Features: 16 hours battery life, USB-C charging, ultra compact and lightweight, IPX7 waterproof, nylon carry strap, passive radiator, ease of control
- Colour Options: Black, Red, Gray, Green, Pink, Bone or Blue
Easily one of the most recognisable design, with its grenade styled body, the UE Wonderboom is an icon it itself. Others have tried to imitate it with its bright colour scheme and fabric covered body, we are looking at you JBL but they have some way to go still. It doesn’t come cheap however as it is priced to compete with the likes of Sony but is still under a 100. Known for its robust sound and 360-degree coverage, it is both compact and durable, ideal for outdoor use. It has a reasonable 13 hour battery life, is dustproof and waterproof with IP67 rating and has a super long Bluetooth range of 131 feet. Another interesting feature is it is floatable so will bounce back up in water if you accidentally dropped it. Pair with another for stereo sound or go wild in party mode. Oh and don’t worry if you get dirt or dues on the thing, not only is it shock and drop proof but dirt resistant too.
- Special Features: 360-degree sound, waterproof and dustproof, 13-hour battery. dirt resistant, drop proof, handy loop
- Colour Options: Hyper Pink, Active Black, Bright Gray and Performance Blue
The company has to be doing something write to bring not one or two but the third generation Soundcore Anke Mini 3. A competitor to Wonderboom 3 and Sony SRS-XB12, but at half the price or less, this ‘hand grenade’ or ‘coffee cup’ styled speaker has a compact design. Surprisingly the upward firing driver does offer 360 degree sound. It provides a well-balanced sound profile with a surprising volume level for its size. Use the Soundcore app or directly on the buttons to connect and control the speaker. You can also use the Soundcore PartyCast technology to link 100 or more compatible speakers, a party gimmick for sure. But the real reasons for getting this are USC-C charging, waterproof IPX7 and customisable EQ (sound equaliser). If you don’t mind paying a bit more, the Soundcore Anker Mini 3 Pro comes with music driven light show on top of all the features listed above.
- Special Features: 15-hour playtime, IPX7 waterproof, PartyCast function.
- Colour Options: available in black, blue gray or red
The Angle Solo is the smaller sibling of the Angle 3. It may be small but doesn’t compromise on sound quality, making it a good choice for personal listening. It uses the same profile as its bigger variety with controls on one end and comes with a handy strap. On a full charge, it will last up to 10 hours of playtime and can pump loud music even from a compact package. Its size is in the ball park of the WONDERBOOM 3 on a horizontal layout with a triangular shaped body. A handy removable strap makes this a great travel companion.
- Special Features: Compact size, 10-hour playtime, water-resistant IPX5.
- Colour Options: Black, Blue, White
This is possibly the most expensive portable Bluetooth speaker in our line-up but it is the most affordable in Bose portfolio. Ideal for use outdoor, indoor or even in the bathrooms, offering decent sound quality in a water-resistant design. It has a soft yet durable rubberised silicone exterior, strong enough to resist drops, dents, cracks and scratches. The back features a tear-resistant rubber strap. The body is also IP67 rated, waterproof and dustproof. Unfortunately, due to its compact size, the battery will only last up to 6 hours on a full charge with out dated micro-USB charging. But you get loud volume from the driver and it comes with a transducer and passive radiator for deep bass. Use it with Bose Connect App to update the firmware, customise the settings and more.
- Special Features: 6 hours, micro USB, water and dust proof IP67, rugged with rubber strap, Bose Connect App
- Colour Options: Available in black blue or white
12. JBL Clip 4
Successor to Clip 3 which, the Clip 4 has a carabiner design that makes it extremely portable and versatile. Good sound quality for its size, suitable for outdoor enthusiasts. Its small, rugged design, characterized by a handy integrated carabiner, makes it ideal for outdoor adventures or travel. Despite its compact size, the Clip 4 delivers a surprisingly powerful and clear sound with decent bass, standing out in its category. The battery life is commendable, ensuring hours, up to 10 hours of uninterrupted listening. Also, it boasts an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, adding to its durability. The only downside might be the lack of a microphone for hands-free calls, but overall, it’s a solid choice for anyone seeking a small, robust, and reliable speaker. Note that an Eco version is available with the use of recycled materials.
- Special Features: Ultra-portable, integrated carabiner, 10-hour battery life, IP67 waterproof and dustproof
- Colour Options: too many to list