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The best portable Bluetooth speakers that can go literally anywhere

Using your smartphone or tablet’s built-in speakers should only ever be a last resort if you want to listen to your favorite playlists on the go. Instead, you’re going to want a great pair of headphones — or if you’re more inclined to listen to your tunes out loud (or even with friends), a nice portable speaker. Plenty of portable Bluetooth speakers are high-quality, while also offering the flexibility of enhanced battery life and convenience. These are great for taking out with you while you’re hiking, or simply for when you’re traveling and you still want to listen to your tunes on the go.

But what should you look for when buying a portable Bluetooth speaker? We’re here to help.

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What type of sound quality do you need?

Will you be using your speakers solely for music? For podcasts? Maybe a bit of both? You should decide that now, because it will surely factor into what kind of speaker you end up getting — whether that’s surround sound, Dolby Atmos, something for the great outdoors, or just plain old stereo (which is also great; don’t feel pressured to get something super fancy and expensive if you don’t really need it).

Not all speakers provide the same kind of sound quality, so it’s important to know exactly the kind of listening experience you’re looking to get before you make the purchase. Typically, smaller speakers are more portable, but their sound quality isn’t quite as exceptional as a bigger device. Consider whether size or sound quality is more important to you.

What’s the deal with wattage?

When you’re shopping for a new speaker, you’re going to see the word “wattage” often. While that might be meaningless to you when you see it on a product page, it’s actually a pretty simple concept. Basically, wattage defines the limit of how loud your speaker can go without distorting the sound. Unless you enjoy really blasting your tunes or you regularly host parties, 50 watts is normally going to be more than enough for the average listener. But if you really like to crank it up to 11, the more watts, the merrier. While smaller portable Bluetooth speakers tend to have lower wattage, there are certainly some exceptions (which you’ll see within our picks below).

How many speakers do you need to buy?

We always say that you should choose quality over quantity. Having one or two amazing speakers is going to get you better results than having multiple speakers that are just OK. Plus, having too many speakers around is just going to take up an unnecessary amount of space. If you have the room, we think two speakers maximum is the perfect number. Two speakers are especially ideal if you listen to a lot of music — music is normally recorded for a stereo setting, so having a left and right channel will do wonders for fidelity. And if you have a smaller space with good acoustics, one really good speaker should do the trick.

Does it need to be waterproof?

No, but it really can’t hurt. Even if you’re not planning on taking your speaker out by the pool during the summer, it’s not out of the question that it could be a target for spills no matter where you have it in your home. It would be a shame if a rogue glass of water ended up being the demise of your brand-new speaker, so if you have the option to go waterproof, do it (unless you have your heart set on one that doesn’t have that feature).

What are the best portable Bluetooth speakers?

If you’re not much of an audiophile and want to step away from using your smartphone’s built-in speaker, don’t get too stressed over whether or not the bass is strong and the mids are crisp. Go with the form that suits you best, and you’ll be satisfied regardless. Here are our top picks for the best portable Bluetooth speakers.

UE Wonderboom 2(opens in a new tab)

Best For Activities
Credit: Ultimate Ears
  • Battery life: 13 hours
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Voice assistant: No
Buying Options
$99.99 from Amazon(opens in a new tab)

The UE Wonderboom 2(Opens in a new tab) is a powerhouse for its size and price. It’s the perfect size for traveling — you can easily stick it in your bag without it taking up any real space — and it’s rugged enough to endure the normal bumps and bruises that an active lifestyle brings with it. In fact, you can drop it from heights of up to five feet and have it survive. It’s also waterproof and floats if you drop it in water, and features a healthy 13 hours of battery life.

But the mark of a good speaker isn’t just how portable it is. What matters most is the sound — and again, the UE Wonderboom 2 performs, though it lacks the deep bass of some larger speakers. All in all though, it has excellent sound for its size.

Bose Soundlink Revolve(opens in a new tab)

Best Surround Sound
Credit: Bose
  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • Waterproof: Not completely, but water-resistant
  • Voice assistant: Yes
Buying Options
$219 from Amazon(opens in a new tab)

This sleekly designed speaker is portable and offers true 360-degree surround sound, making for a great listening experience. The Bose SoundLink Revolve(Opens in a new tab) can also be paired with a second speaker for stereo sound or integrated into a Bose audio system.

The speaker is easy to use and features a built-in mic that can be used to take phone calls or use your phone’s smart assistant. It also features a good battery life of 12 hours, though the charging dock must be purchased separately.

Sonos Move(opens in a new tab)

Best For Smart Homes