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If you want to listen to music outside, during some al fresco activity with friends, or even while you shower, etc., headphones aren’t always going to work, and you don’t want to rely on your phone’s unimpressive, built-in speakers. Instead, grab a great Bluetooth speaker designed to deliver solid, portable sound. Many are water-resistant, small enough to clip to a backpack, and/or loud enough to sustain a party. Whatever your listening needs, there’s a speaker to support them. Of course, buying new audio gear can get pretty expensive pretty quickly; from headphones to earbuds, speakers to adapters, we often spend well over $100 bucks. Luckily, a few solid options out there won’t leave you penniless or cringing at distorted audio. The best cheap Bluetooth speakers might not possess fancy features, but they can still deliver when it comes to everyday listening.
- Best overall: Anker Soundcore 3
- Best waterproof: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3
- Best portable: JBL Clip 4
The best cheap Bluetooth speakers: Reviews & Recommendations
Best overall: Anker Soundcore 3
- Battery life: 24 hours
- IP rating: IPX7
- Bluetooth range: Up to 66 feet
- Impressive battery life
- Customizable EQ
- Optional bass boost
- Voice assistant feature is lacking
- A little distortion at top volume
The Souncore 3 is a stable, solid, inexpensive Bluetooth speaker with great sound from a compact form. Available in four colors, this unit packs a punch with a 16-watt output, driving dual 1.5-inch drivers housing titanium diaphragms, and dual passive radiators to support low-end. You’ll also get BassUp technology, which further lights the lows to try and tackle the problem most Bluetooth speakers have, i.e., flimsy bass. You’ll also be able to select from three EQ presets or customize your own via the Soundcore app.
Bluetooth 5.0 isn’t the latest in connection technology (5.4 devices are starting to hit the market), but it is stable with a range of up to 66 feet. PartyCast compatibility means you can link up to 100 Soundcore speakers together for even more coverage, volume, and immersion. An IPX7 rating means it’s practically waterproof and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in a meter of water. Finally, 24 hours of battery means you can quite literally rock out all day (and night).
Best waterproof: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3
- Battery life: 14 hours
- IP rating: IP67
- Bluetooth range: 131 feet
- Easily portable
- Can be submerged for up to 30 minutes
- Impressive volume
- No microphone
- No USB-C charging
The WONDERBOOM 3 from Ultimate Ears is a great option for any listener who needs the perfect shower speaker or pool-party pal. The unique design is an immediate eye-catcher, and the sound quality is genuinely impressive for its size. Power by two active drivers and two passive radiators, coverage is pretty great with solid reproduction across the lows, mids, and highs. Granted, it doesn’t have the heart-pounding bass a larger speaker would, but will certainly do for poolside, lakefront, or river raft listening. Plus, it can be paired with a second WONDERBOOM for even better stereo sound. An Outdoor Boost button at the bottom of the speaker adjusts the sound to suit your environment better.
If you’ve ever seen a picture before of the WONDERBOOM 3, chances are it’s bobbing around in a pool or being sprayed with water from a rogue splash. This is, yes, because of target ads, but also because this tiny but mighty speaker is genuinely well-suited for “aquatic” listening. The IP67 rating means it’s essentially waterproof. Specifically, you can submerge this model in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It’s okay to accidentally drop this speaker in the pool, bathtub, or ocean. This rating also means it’s also protected from dust and debris.
Build-wise, you get a stable rubber loop at the top of the speaker that can easily clip to a backpack or make for easier carrying. You’ll also get large, easy-to-use, onboard controls, so you won’t have to get your pruney wet fingers all over your smartphone just to change the volume or skip a song. The WONDERBOOM 3 comes in four fun colors, including “Hot Pink” and “Performance Blue.” (And, if you dig the aesthetic and budget becomes less of a concern, the new, much more expensive EPICBOOM brings a lot more bass and even more battery to the party, while remaining floatable.)
Best portable: JBL Clip 4
- Battery life: 10 hours
- IP rating: IP67
- Bluetooth range: 32 feet
- Excellent design
- USB-C charging
- Good volume
- No fast charge
- No wired connectivity
The JBL Clip 4 is a small speaker designed to keep you connected wherever your travels take you. Weighing just over half a pound, with an integrated carabiner clip, you can attach this speaker to your backpack, suitcase, bike handle, lunch box, belt loop, etc. There are rubberized grips on the speaker’s backside to increase stability, and the textured wrap covering most of the speaker is easy to hold onto. All in all, this is the easiest speaker to grab and go; plus, it has an IP67 rating, so you can even attach it to your shower rod, beach tent, or foldable kayak (yes, it’s a thing).
Sound quality is pretty solid for such a small unit thanks to an impressive dynamic driver; plus, it can get loud for a 5-watt output (JBL knows how to build a potent party speaker). Yes, it’s a little lacking in low-end, but that’s par for the course. Overall, this little guy sounds great. Sound can be controlled by five onboard buttons and charges via USB-C.
If you don’t want to play the $80 market price for the Clip 4, check out early models, like the Clip 3, which are still available for just under $50.
Here are other options we think sound like a good investment:
- Best battery life: Tribit XSound Go
- Best compact: JBL GO 3
- Best smart speaker: Echo Dot (5th Gen)
- Best to strap on a bike: Tribit StormBox Micro 2
- Best for conference calls from a campsite: Sony SRS-XB100
- Best with RGB lights: TREBLAB HD-Mini
Q: Can cheap speakers sound good?
Yes, cheap speakers can sound good. Of course, the more you can invest, the more options you’ll have when it comes to special features, more powerful drivers, better frequency response, etc., but you don’t necessarily have to spend thousands to get good sound quality. Generally speaking, smaller speakers can’t carry the sonic load a larger speaker can (hence why portable Bluetooth speakers often lack low-end), but this doesn’t mean you can’t find something inexpensive that will suit your listening tastes. Of course, if you’re an audiophile a cheap Bluetooth speaker isn’t going to live up to your standards.
Q: How can I improve my Bluetooth battery life?
There are a few things you can do to improve the battery life of your Bluetooth speaker. While you can’t magically make it extend its absolute maximum playtime, you can try to prevent an early battery death. The first thing to do is to lower the volume. If you are listening at max volume all day, your speaker is going to die significantly faster. Second, when you’re not using the speaker, ensure it’s off. Some units power down automatically after a certain period of time when nothing is playing; others need to be manually shut off.
Q: Is a Bluetooth speaker battery replaceable?
Technically, yes, you can replace a speaker battery, but to answer a question with another question, do you really want to start welding and reattaching wires? There are a few YouTube tutorials that can talk you through the process, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you might as well try as long as you take any necessary safety precautions. However, if you’re not ready to take on the project, it may be time to either check the warranty or start shopping for a new model.
Q: How much does a cheap Bluetooth speaker cost?
Our recommendations range in price between $55 and $86. But everyone’s definition of affordable differs, and there are great portable Bluetooth speakers at every conceivable price point.
Final thoughts on the best cheap Bluetooth speakers
- Best overall: Anker Soundcore 3
- Best waterproof: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
- Best portable: JBL Clip 4
The best cheap Bluetooth speakers don’t have to sound dingy. In fact, many options provide solid sound for less. While shopping, consider your top priorities for your budget-friendly speaker. Do you emphasize battery life, portability, water resistance, or sound quality? Once you can answer this question, you can pick out an excellent speaker without spending a fortune.
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