If you’re looking for a buyer’s guide, you’ve come to the right place. This isn’t necessarily a top 5, but simply, the best Bluetooth speaker in each class that I’ve personally tested. I will be mentioning both PROS and CONS and my recommendations, my list isn’t the end all be all, but… I’m coming in completely unbiased and backing it up with my tests. As always, I’ll leave my affiliate links in the header of each paragraph. Click on those links to get the most updated prices in real time – you never know when they might go on sale.
JBL FLIP 4
A killer sound signature in a durable, compact package.
Starting with the small category, you gotta get the JBL Flip 4. This has one of the best bass response in its class, it’s one of the most rugged, and this seriously looks good. Wrapped in nylon fabric, it is extremely rugged and with an IPX7 rating, it’s capable of being submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes up to a meter of water, though keep in mind, it doesn’t float. That’s one of the drawbacks. Bluetooth range reaches about 50 linear feet, and battery life is also impressive. With my testing at 50% volume, at the 14 hour mark, I still had 50% battery life remaining.
JBL Connect+ also comes with the Flip 4, allowing you to connect up to 100 or more compatible JBL speakers. For one hundred dollars, this is one of the best ones out there. As much as I wanted to put the Sony XB20, I went ahead and passed because the LED’s only shined one color, it only had an IPX4 rating, meaning it was only splash proof, and the battery life I tested was 9 hours versus the 14 hours here. Not to mention, the XB20 did put our pretty sweet audio, but… it sounded very similar to the Flip 4. In the end, the JBL had more value in my opinion.
Loud for its size with neutral bass, the Wonderboom is a super rugged little ball of music.
The second best small Bluetooth speaker on the list is the UE Wonderboom. All of the UE products can take a beating. The Wonderboom after numerous drops and after being buried in mud can still survive after repeated abuse. Also considering the Flip 4 and XB20 doesn’t float, the Wonderboom thankfully can. It’s IPX7 certified, meaning it can be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, making this perfect for those taking it onto the lake or having it near the pool. Battery is good with 10 hours and 20 minutes at 50% volume and Bluetooth range is claimed at 100 feet, and worked throughout my house, through floors and walls.
As far as the audio experience goes, the Wonderboom isn’t as bassy or deep as the other small class speakers, not even close so you do lose that. But it provides forward mids and an enjoyable, casual sound. Not to mention, this outputs 360-degree audio while most other speakers can’t. The reason why this is on here and the Bose Revolve wasn’t, is because the Revolve cost a bit more and at higher volumes didn’t sound any better than the Wonderboom. Not to mention, it’s not as rugged as this speaker. This one is going for $99, but again, I’ll leave my links at the top of each paragraph for you to check updated prices.
JBL CHARGE 3
Aptly named with almost 21 hours of battery life, a charge-out port, waterproofing, and great Bluetooth range.
Moving on to medium-sized speakers, JBL does kill it with Bluetooth speakers. The Charge 3 has amazing battery life at 20 hours and 48minutes of testing time. This speaker is IPX7 rated so it can be submerged, but better yet, it does float. And the same braided fabric shell is available keeping the speaker tough, strong and abrasion resistant. The Charge 3 does have the new JBL Connect Plus feature, allowing you to connect to practically an infinite amount of speakers so they can all play at the same time. The additional benefit of getting this one over the others, you can Charge your phone as there’s a USB out on the back… having the speaker work like it’s a power bank.
Bluetooth range is reaching 40 linear feet but if you want a wired connection, there’s a 3.5mm port back there as well. Audio-wise, it’s not 360-degree audio but, the Charge 3 is one of the most direct firing speakers available. This will surely fill up small to medium-sized rooms, and it somewhat pushes large rooms too. The audio signature is bright and forward, and the high’s are never too harsh to become distorting. This one goes for 150 dollars and it’s the mid-tier I highly recommend that has tons of value.
The middle child of Sony’s XB lineup, the lightshow and sound signature step it up a level.
Second, on my mid-tier speakers, this is the time I’ll recommend the Sony speaker, it’s the XB30. The aluminum grill makes a return, as does the durable housing. Like the rest of the lineup, unfortunately, the speaker is only splashproof with an IPX4 rating, you cannot submerge this. Sony does offer something similar to UE’s Double Up or JBL Connect plus, but Sony is limited to ten speakers which is surely enough for most people. Bluetooth range gets you around 60 linear feet, and as for the battery life, you’ll be getting around 15 hours at moderate volume with the LED’s on.
The biggest perk or reason to get these are those LEDs. They pulsate and strobe like the smaller model, but, they now come in a variety of colors that can be customized with the app. Lastly, with the XB30 you get a punchy, bass-boosted sound signature that’s slightly deeper than the Charge 3, with forward, bright mids. The highs were slightly rolled back, but overall, the speaker has great audio, especially for 89 dollars. And yes, this mid-tier, I’ll repeat, it’s going for $89 on Sony’s website, or… you can check using my Amazon affiliate links in each paragraph title.
JBL PULSE 3
The most visually stunning lightshow I’ve seen on a portable Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Pulse 3 is the ultimate ambiance machine.
Last up, and yes, it’s another JBL speaker… But, I’m sure it’s going to be a conversation starter. It looks like a lava lamp, but way better. All of these colors can be customized, the patterns can be customized, and the Pulse 3, this will surely be a conversation starter for friends and guests that are stopping by. The speaker is super glossy and feels to be hard plastic up top, it might be glass so that’s something to be careful about. It is fingerprint prone as well, though it’s hard to tell when it’s illuminated.
Bluetooth range is right around 64 feet, and battery life does take a hit, as the speaker has to power all the LEDs. In my testing, it reached just over 7 hours – it’s really a tradeoff between lighting and battery life. As for the sound experience, the Pulse is slightly above neutral, but not quite bass-boosted as the Pulse 3. It can’t quite hit the depth the XB30 as well, but again, what you’re paying for is the light show. Although the audio is not at the level of the two other speaker’s, it’s still good audio in general. Mids are forward, though, with the 360-degree sound, you do lose some of that attack. It’s still very much capable of filling up small to medium-sized rooms. Again, at $200, I recommend this if you’re into a conversational piece while having good audio for your domain.
The Revolve Plus is one of the best sounding, most durable 360-degree speakers you’ll find in the price range.
Jumping into the big speakers… If you’re on the fence on the Revolve or the Revolve Plus from Bose, spend a little extra money and get the PLUS model. This sounds much better. The speaker is compact, especially for the large speaker category. The aluminum body and handle makes the overall shape very convenient. It’s bump resistant with an IPX4 certification, durable but perhaps better as an indoor speaker and some light use when you’re outdoors. As for Bluetooth, I reached 40 linear feet in testing, and the battery died after 10 hours playing at 50 percent battery. Finally, a recent update allows the Bose Revolve Plus to interact with Amazon Alexa, providing a better alternative to the UE Megablast.
Moving into audio, the bass is extremely impressive, reaching surprisingly booming levels. It wasn’t at all distorted and provided a great depth for the average consumer. Balance filled out the midrange, without being overly bright or forward, and the highs didn’t have roll off or harshness. In a large room, the Revolve Plus fills up space really well, especially when paired with another Bose speaker in “party mode”. Overall, the speaker isn’t as durable as some others on the list, but it provides a loud, balanced sound with 360-degree audio, and that most recent firmware offering Amazon’s assistance is seriously a plus. The Bose Revolve+ is going for $300.
With a battery life over 27 hours, as well as water, shock, and dust resistance- nothing can stop the Fugoo XL.
Next up on the list, if you’re wanting something ultra-rugged, the Fugoo XL after my testing proves it’s a tank. It’s an older speaker, but it’s IPX7 rated which I did confirm does float. The Megablast doesn’t, and the JBL Xtreme is only splash proof as well. It’s rock solid, dustproof and shock resistant. Too proved this worked I dropped this repeatedly and nothing came about. Battery life is one of the best, at 37 and a half hours with medium volume, the other big speakers are not even close to that.
And last, this is perfect for an outdoor speaker, there’s 360-degree audio. There are speakers on literally every side. Fugoo does have a bassy signature and once in a while may muddle the midrange a bit on bass heavy music. The mid-range is neutral and isn’t bright or overpowering and the high frequencies play without distortion. With a price of 200 dollars, it’s on the cheaper end of the large speakers on my list but comes with tons of features for those looking for something absolutely rugged. Again, my links are in the header of each paragraph.
Straight out of the seventies with gold knobs, acoustic fretting, and the classic Marshall sound, all packed into a Bluetooth speaker.
For something a bit different, I wanted to include a speaker I reviewed some time ago but people are still buying because of its uniqueness and styling. At 350 dollars, the Marshall Stanmore looks like the classic guitar amps and cabinets used in rock and roll of the 1960’s. The front has the same acoustic fret grille cloth on the front and you get gold accents and knobs which completes the look. It’s seriously premium and well made. The switches and knobs up top allows you to adjust treble, bass, and volume individually. The speaker is meant to be stationary, as it doesn’t have a built-in battery and it really is more of a lifestyle product, rather than a regular Bluetooth speaker.
The sound quality is perfect for rock music, some pop and does ok with EDM and hip-hop. It’s because there’s slight bass, it’s not really bass focused or bass boosted. That’s probably the only drawback that I wished it would have slightly more bass for those other genres. The Stanmore does have a good emphasis on guitars and snare drums as the mid-range to high frequencies are crisp and accurate. When I tested the loudness, this will work for medium to some large sized rooms as well. Also, keep in mind there’s no built-in battery and it’s surely not as portable. The Stanmore is meant to be more of an at-home speaker. Either/or, this thing looks retro and classy, the audio performance is great for those into its respective genres.
For only $150 dollars, you get an extremely strong sound, awesome lighting, and an entire day’s worth of battery.
Alright folks, to the very last one… I know, the JBL Xtreme is what you’re thinking. It’s honestly an amazing speaker, I still highly recommend it and if you don’t purchase the one I’m about to show you, the Xtreme is the PERFECT alternative. But keep in mind, the Xtreme is honestly showing it’s age. It’s only splash proof, the Xtreme only has a 15-hour battery life while others are offering more and last, there’s a cheaper option out there. The biggest reason why I still recommend the Xtreme is its audio quality. Bassy, bright, forward and simply in-your-face audio while keeping most of the audio quality intact.
But with that being said… I gotta hand it over to the Sony XB40. It’s going for $150 right now, offers up to 24 hours of battery life, and the audio signature, it sounds very similar to the Xtreme. It’s only splash resistant as well like the JBL, but considering pricing, the battery life AND, obviously these crazy LEDs, I think the XB40 wins with this year’s roundup.
The XB40 is loud for medium to large rooms. This looks great with the ability to adjust the colors of the lights, to have a strobe effect that’s not available on the XB30, and the fact it can go longer than other speakers is a huge plus. This speaker is best for some of my favorite genres: EDM, Hip-Hop, and Pop. It accentuates the beat and makes the music exciting and explosive. The midrange compliments the bass, clear and detailed, and the highs have no ear tinging or listening fatigue. Its perfect for small to medium rooms, but even pushes large room territory. Overall, it is my highest recommendation of the year, and at 150 dollars, at least the time of this review, it’s a great deal. Even if it goes up to $200, I still think this is worth it.
Alright, that’s it for this list, I hope it helped you out in some way. I know there are a ton of speakers to choose from but in my testing, these are the best of the best. Be sure to help support our work here by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you on the next one.