Portable Speakers Review
Why Get a Portable Speaker?
The top performers in our review are the Fugoo Style, the Gold Award winner; the UE Boom, the Silver Award winner; and the Sol Republic Deck, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of our top 10 speakers.
Portable speakers allow you to bring your music just about anywhere imaginable. Portable speakers today are rugged and durable while providing good sound quality, regardless of how small they are. These speakers are great for listening to music while you're hiking, camping, at the office and even in the shower. If music is something you can't live without, mini portable speakers are a great way to keep the music going at all times in a variety of settings.
Portable speakers are small and lightweight. The majority of these speakers weigh less than a pound and are only a few inches tall and wide. Since they are so compact, they can fit just about anywhere. You can easily slip them into a backpack pocket or place them on your office desk without taking up excessive room.
Most of the speakers are water-resistant. This means if you use your speaker outside and a little rain shower happens, you don't have to worry about your speaker instantly shorting out. Most of the speakers are also resistant to dirt, sand and impact. This makes these speakers perfect for your outdoor adventures.
You can connect to these speakers via Bluetooth or by 3.5 mm (1/8-inch) cable. Bluetooth is the preferred method, as it does not require any wires running from your device to the speaker. All you need to do is pair your device with your portable speaker. After you are paired with your speaker, all of the device's audio streams to the speaker.
Perhaps you aren't the outdoor type, but you still need a speaker in your home or apartment for entertainment. Portable speakers are great in a home setting as well as the outdoors. You wouldn't think it upon first glance, but these speakers can pump out ample volume. You can turn up these small portable speakers loud enough to fill a room with ease and also maintain solid sound quality. Although portable speakers are lightweight and small, they are not cheap or poorly made. They provide good sound quality – much better than your iPhone, Samsung or laptop computer's speakers.
One of the greatest attributes of portable Bluetooth speakers is the battery life. The portable speakers we reviewed all feature rechargeable batteries and carry long battery life before you need to recharge. You don't have to worry about being a quarter of the way through your hike when the battery decides to die on you. The long battery life ensures that you'll have music playing through the entirety of your event or adventure. You can visit our learning center for articles on portable speakers for more information on this topic.
Portable Speakers: Our Evaluation
There are many portable speakers on the market to choose from, but when you select your speaker, one trait should trump all: performance – or, more specifically, sound quality. Even very small speakers can sound great. The perfect portable speaker also has a long battery life, a small but rugged design, and a range of connectivity options. We evaluated the top 10 models based on the following criteria:
In our ratings, we took into account each speaker's ability to reproduce an array of frequency ranges and paid attention to whether the bass and midrange were balanced and detailed. Another feature that will better your listening experience is an omnidirectional design, which mimics stereophonic surround sound.
Second only to audio quality is the life of the battery. You don't want a speaker that needs to be plugged in and recharged every couple hours. The longer the battery life is, the longer you can stay out on your adventure without having to worry about your speaker dying. You want a portable speaker with an extended battery life – anything over 10 hours is optimal.
The faster your battery charges, the better off you will be. You don't want to waste several hours waiting for your battery to charge on your wireless speaker. The faster your battery charges, the quicker you will be out and on the go with your speaker.
You want your speaker to be able to handle the elements. For a Bluetooth speaker to be portable, it needs to be durable. This means that it can handle bumps and drops. The best Bluetooth speakers are even water- and sand-resistant, allowing you to play them around the pool or beach. Many Bluetooth speakers have mounts and straps that allow you to take them hiking, biking or rafting.
Portable Speakers: What Else Is Important?
Beyond sound quality, battery life and durability, there are a few other factors to consider when you are looking for the best portable speaker available. Your speaker should be able to go wherever you go, and additional features help ensure your speaker can come along for journey.
Straps & Mounts
Some portable speakers have additional accessories that you can purchase for your portable Bluetooth speaker. Portable speakers that strap or mount to your backpack, bike or tent are desirable, because this gives you easy access to your speaker and keeps it out in the open for you and everyone to hear clearly.
The size and weight of your speaker are important aspects of the design. If you plan on using this speaker for backpacking and hiking, you want to carry as little weight as possible. You are going to want a speaker that is lightweight and small enough to fit into backpack pockets or small enough to strap to your backpack or bike without being annoying to carry. Small and lightweight speakers are best for heavy outdoor use.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Portable Speakers: Our Verdict
The best portable speaker for you depends on a number of features and factors, but most importantly, you need to make sure the sound quality is on par. Well-made portable speakers are durable and provide decent battery life, so you aren’t limited as to where you take your speaker – whether it's the beach, a hike or the pool.
The Fugoo Style is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner. No other portable speaker boasts a battery life as long as this portable speaker does. The speaker can last up to 40 hours on one charge, far surpassing the second-best battery life in the lineup – 16 hours. This speaker also features a number of active and passive drivers that create omnidirectional sound that is loud and clear. It has one of the best frequency response ranges among portable speakers and is resistant to water, impact and dirt. This is the best portable speaker reviewed within its price range.
The UE Boom is our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner. It doesn't have as an impressive battery life or frequency response as our Gold Award winner, but like our top choice, it is water-, dirt- and impact-resistant. This speaker also gets loud without compromising sound quality. We found it sounds just as good as our top choice. It is a little bit bigger and heavier than the Fugoo Style, but it's certainly a great choice for a portable speaker.
The Sol Republic Deck earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award. This speaker not only projects loud and solid sound quality, it is also the bargain choice of our lineup. This portable speaker only costs a third of the price of many of its competitors, yet it retains many of the attributes of a top-rated portable speaker. It isn't impact-resistant like our top two choices, though, and it doesn't have the option for additional straps or mounts. It is smaller than the UE Boom, but its battery life is five hours shorter than the UE Boom's. All in all, the Sol Republic Deck is a quality portable speaker to consider if you are on a budget.