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As audio technology has improved over the years, the cost of portable wireless Bluetooth speakers has dropped. Even better, regardless of the price, the sound quality across the board is pretty darn good. True, you might have some limitations set by the size of the speaker (typically an inferior bass quality), but the convenience offered by a portable speaker offsets these minor quibbles.
We’d have to say that a portable Bluetooth speaker is the best way to take your music with you anytime and anywhere you want. Not only can you stream your tunes from a computer, tablet or phone, but you can also use a small speaker as a speakerphone for calls or meetings that you actually want to hear with that all-important Bluetooth connection.
We continue to review mini Bluetooth speakers at a steady clip here at CNET. This buyer’s guide offers a look at our current favorites, with a focus on small and lightweight models that are well-suited for travel and still have excellent sound output. Those are the ones that have solid battery life, produce great sound, and don’t cost too much. If you’re looking for the best portable Bluetooth speaker for you, read on.
Bose’s SoundLink Micro is arguably the best-sounding Bluetooth speaker for its tiny size. Seriously, your audio will sound amazing. Although it’s a little pricey for a Bluetooth speaker, Bose did shave $10 off its list price, bringing it down to $99. It’s fully waterproof — not just water resistant — and available in three color options.
Read our Bose SoundLink Micro review.
Tribit’s StormBox Micro is one of the best sounding pocket-sized Bluetooth speakers I’ve tested, with bigger bass and volume than most other tiny speakers.
Aside from its great design, Bose’s SoundLink Micro stood out because it was able to deliver more bass than every Bluetooth speaker in its size class, and it also managed to have limited distortion at higher volumes. And it’s the Tribit’s bass and overall volume level for its tiny size that allows it to stand out.
It’s IP67 dustproof and water-resistant (it can be fully submerged in shallow water for a short time) and has up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels with USB-C charging. Like the Bose, this Bluetooth speaker has an integrated strap so you can clip it to your backpack or bike’s handlebars.
Anker’s Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 and managed to slip beneath my radar, which is a shame because it’s arguably one of the best-sounding speakers under $100, if not the best. A little larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, it’s still compact and manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition under $100, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It’s also fully waterproof (IPX7 rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung’s Galaxy phones that support it.
Read our Anker Soundcore Motion Plus review.
With its new canister-like design, perfectly sized to fit in a chair cup holder, Sony has created a portable Bluetooth speaker that has a design you’re probably familiar with from popular speakers like the UE Boom and JBL Flip, which have been upgraded over the years with improved bass and battery life.
An Extra Bass model, the SRS-XB23 definitely has a warmer sound. It delivers better sound with more bass and volume than many of the cheaper generic Bluetooth speakers you can find on Amazon in the $40-$70 range on Amazon. It’s also a sleeker looking Bluetooth speaker that’s available in five different color options: black, taupe, coral red, light blue and olive green. Some colors are available for $10 less.
Equipped with two new full-range drivers and passive bass radiator, it delivers 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels and is waterproof, dustproof, rustproof and shockproof with an IP67 rating. It has USB-C charging and can connect with up to 100 other Sony speakers using Sony’s Party Connect feature.
Not only does this fully waterproof Bluetooth speaker (IPX7) have improved battery life and better sound than the Clip 2, it’s more durable, according to JBL, thanks to the integrated carabiner framing the entire perimeter of the speaker, acting as a bumper. It has a built-in rechargeable li-ion battery, which lasts up to five hours on a single charge, and is one of the top speakers for its tiny size. It sells for $60.
Read our JBL Clip 3 review.
The Tribit MaxSound Plus is about 30% bigger than its sibling XSound Go and costs about $25 more, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best sounding speakers in its size and price class. It has a long-lasting rechargeable battery and superior audio quality for a Bluetooth speaker.
Read our Tribit MaxSound Plus review.
JBL’s Flip 5 ($120) is slightly bigger than the Flip 4, with improved audio sound with a little more bass. It has an IPX7 waterproof certification, which means it can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and survive. Tribit’s StormBox is cheaper and plays louder, but I like the tonal balance of the Flip 5 better. Its rechargeable battery uses USB-C charging, which is better for future-proofing.
The Sony XB01 is a splashproof mini wireless speaker (that doesn’t mean that it’s a waterproof bluetooth speaker — don’t take this one in the shower or anything), and is available in multiple colors. And it offers great sound for the price. (It lists for $35 but is being regularly discounted to less than $25 and sometimes less than $20.)
Read our Sony SRS-XB01 review.
We liked Ultimate Ears’ original Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker, which sounded good for its compact size and was also waterproof. Now the company has released the Wonderboom 2, which is a touch bigger than the original and sounds slightly better, with more bass and a special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble.
Like its predecessor, the fully waterproof Wonderboom 2 carries a list price of $100 but often sells for less. What’s different is the IP67 rating that means it’s dustproof, more shock-resistant and also able to float. It also has 30% better battery life — up to 13 hours at moderate volume levels, according to Ultimate Ears — and you can link two together to create a stereo sound pairing by simply pressing a button on each speaker.
At $33, the Tribit XSound Go is one of the top speakers with Bluetooth connectivity for the money. Besides sounding decent, it’s also fully waterproof. It also has incredible battery life, able to play continuously for up to 24 hours with its lithium-ion battery.
Read our Tribit XSound Go review.
Last year, Sony made some small improvements to its little canister-style speaker, one of the smallest in its Xtra Bass line. The SRS-XB12 puts out surprisingly big and great sound for its small size and boasts 16 hours of battery, as well as IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating (if you accidentally drop it in water it floats). You can add another speaker to get stereo sound. While it lists for $58, sometimes you can find it for around $40. Available in multiple color options.
Tribit’s StormBox speaker looks like a cross between a UE and a JBL speaker. We suspect that’s not an accident. Fully waterproof, it costs about $30 less than the JBL Flip 5 and produces bigger sound and has up to 20 hours of battery life. Tribit’s XSound speakers are probably a better value, but the Stormbox is more stylish. It also has a rechargeable li-ion battery able to power up to 20 hours of continuous playtime.
1More is known for its well-priced in-ear headphones. But its first Bluetooth speaker is also quite decent. Its strength is its bass performance for a speaker this size. While it doesn’t have the clarity of the Flip 5 or UE Wonderboom, its bass has a bigger sound. It can be laid flat or hung vertically using a built-in lanyard. I preferred its sound when the speaker was facing me (not up). It lists for $100, but 1More is selling two for $149 that you can pair together for stereo sound.
Full disclosure: This is the only product on this list we didn’t test in person. But we found much to admire in its predecessor, the Oontz Angle Plus, back in 2017. This one has marginally better battery life, slightly bigger sound and is more water-resistant than the Plus, and it offers stereo pairing, too. We’ll have a hands-on evaluation soon, but we’re including it here based on our positive experience with the Plus and the enthusiastic 4,800-plus user reviews on Amazon, where it sells for $35 to $40. Plus, it has all the hallmarks of a best portable Bluetooth speaker.
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Source: Cnet News
Keyword: Best portable mini Bluetooth speaker for 2020: JBL, Bose, Sony and more