by Adam MolinaNovember 23, 2016

Moving on with closing out our best lists for 2016, we’re taking a look at the best Bluetooth speakers. This is one of those categories that’s almost impossible to keep up with entirely. Even I’m surprised with how quickly Bluetooth speakers became good. Though they’re still fairly expensive when compared to wired speakers of similar quality, the perk of being able to throw it in a bag and leave the house is worth it to a lot of people, including me. Making sure to bring a speaker with me to the beach or the park is almost second nature now. We’ve broken down this list into which speakers are the best in their categories well as those that are the a great value. Or as we like to say, “Bang for your buck.” So without further ado, let’s get into it.

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The Best

Creative iRoar

Previously we had the Creative Soundblaster 2 on this list, but it’s been dethroned. Now the best all-around best Bluetooth speaker you can get is the Creative iRoar intelligent Bluetooth speaker. The SoundBlaster speakers are great for a number of reasons, and that’s been carried over to what Creative is calling their most intelligent speaker to date. The iRoar has three drivers and two passive radiators inside that provides a nice full sound. Bass is deep and highs are detailed without ever becoming piercing. Battery life is spec’d at around 20 hours and there are touch sensitive controls on the front of the speaker so you can control the audio without reaching for your phone. If you want to change any aspect of the sound you can also EQ it yourself via the app. That app also lets you take full control over the rest of the features the iRoar offers as well. You can download apps that make it a guitar tuner, alarm clock, and a bunch more. You can even connect it to your TV and run audio off of it if you choose to. However you want to use this speaker, you probably can.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
No
Battery Life
20 hours
Weight
4.2 pounds
Size
8.19 x 10.24 x 3.46 in
Pros
Sound qualityConnection optionsBattery
Cons
SizePrice

Anker Soundcore Sport XL

There’s a ton of inexpensive Bluetooth speakers, but how many of them are waterproof? Take it a step further, how many of them actually sound good? It turns out that how much you spend on an object is related to how good you think it is. Who’da thunk? With that in mind, plenty of people, including us, really loved the Soundcore Sport XL by Anker. It’s only about $60 and is IP67 certified so you can submerge it in up to a meter of water. It has an exposed bass radiator on the back for a little extra low end, but it doesn’t get in the way of anything of the other frequencies for the most part. It has a 15 hour battery life and is just small enough to fit nicely in a backpack. Overall, this is a solid all-around choice for a bang for your buck speaker.
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
IP67
Battery Life
15 hours
Weight
1.73 x 6.93 x 3.19 in
Size
1.32 lbs
Pros
DurablePrice
Cons
Design
Best at Home

Fluance Fi70

One of the more large speakers we’ve ever reviewed was the Fluance Fi70 Bluetooth speaker. This is one of those cases where bigger definitely means better. So naturally, this speaker isn’t portable. If you’re looking for something to throw in your backpack on your way to the beach, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a speaker that will fill your house with the sound of music, this is the way to go. Because of it’s size it’s able to provide really impressive sound quality. The speaker is about waist height but is surprisingly easy to assemble. For such a large speaker it has a gorgeous design and wouldn’t stand out in anyone’s living room assuming you have a good spot for it. Sure it’s a Bluetooth speaker, but it also has a good amount of inputs so you can hook it up to a TV or entertainment system. On top of that there’s an FM/AM radio built-in and a 3.5mm audio jack if you play your music from something like an old iPod classic. Up top are touch sensitive controls that let you control your music and switch inputs whenever you need. It’s a nice touch (get it?) and it works really well. On top of that it also comes with a small remote so you can control your audio without ever leaving the couch. All the features are great, but what really sets this speaker apart is the sound. Dual 8” subwoofers provide a full low end while the mids have their own set of dual drivers, along with the highs which have dedicated tweeters. Again if you have the space, this is a good choice.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
94.5 pounds
Size
34.1 x 28.5 x 18.1 inches
Pros
SoundComes with remote controlDesign
Cons
Heavy

House of Marley Get Up, Stand Up

Normally we pick a good quality inexpensive speaker for our bang for your buck picks, but every now and then we have to shine light on a great value even if it isn’t cheap. This time that goes to the Get Up, Stand Up Bluetooth speaker by House of Marley. Just like the Fi70, this Bluetooth speaker isn’t the most portable. It’s design incorporates two 4.5” woofers and two 1” tweeters in a single custom bent housing. Keeping with House of Marley values, the housing is made of birch or walnut wood and recyclable plastic so you can enjoy your music with a clear conscious. If you don’t really use Bluetooth around the house you can plug in your source device via an auxiliary input as well. Sometimes it kind of feels like big audio companies are kind of just throwing products into the market to see what sticks, and if that was the gameplan for House of Marley then the Get Up, Stand Up is a winner.
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
10.3 x 23.9 x 13.2 in
Size
15.6 lbs
Pros
Sound qualityBuild quality
Cons
Needs to stay plugged in
Best Portable

Marshall Stockwell

You probably know Marshall from their legendary guitar amps, what you might not know is that they took that legendary design and turned it into a Bluetooth speaker a few years back. It had great sound, and it was technically portable, but not really. Now they’ve fixed that with the Marshall Stockwell speaker. It’s slimmed down, but keeps the same classic amp design. Up top are metallic knobs for controlling the treble, bass, and overall volume. Inside is a battery that’ll get you roughly 25 hours of playback so you can take this with you to a friends party and feel confident that the battery won’t die halfway through. Though the Stockwell isn’t the smallest and MOST portable speaker, Marshall has made sure you can at least throw this version in a bag pretty easily which gives it this spot on the list. Unlike the last versions which looked like giant gorgeous amp-like lunch-boxes.
Bluetooth
Yes
Battery Life
25 hours
Weight
2.65 lbs
Size
7.52 x 12.05 x 5.08 in
Pros
Build qualityDesignBattery Life
Cons
Case doesn't fit too well

CB3 Audio Ultra Slim

You’ve probably never heard of this one if you’re new to Sound Guys, but the CB3 Ultra Slim can be found for less than $50 and as it’s name implies, is super thin. If you just want something that you can slide in your pocket for cheap, this might be for you. Being being crazy slim, it still has some other features that makes it best bang for your buck portable option. For one, it has a passive bass radiator that makes it really fun to look at. Sure it helps with the low end, but pulling this out of your pocket at a party is a feature on its own. It has a unibody aluminum design which means it’s also pretty durable. We wouldn’t exactly consider it rugged, but it can survive the average accidental drop every now and then. Of course one thing any speaker this size is not going to do is shake the room with bass, but it is pretty decent considering it’s size. Battery life is about 8 hours so although you might need to charge it after a days use, but you can be confident that it’ll at least last you a few hours. They come in three minimal colors that match your phone or computer, so if you’re all about color coordinating this might make you happy.
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
No
Battery Life
8 hours
Weight
0.05 pounds
Size
0.7 x 4.2 x 2.3 inches
Pros
SizeDesignSound
Cons
Average low end
Best Durable

Braven BRV-XXL

Braven is a company known for durable speakers, so a giant boombox-like speaker from them isn’t exactly surprising. That said, the BRV-XXL is surprising. I should’ve known because of it’s size, but this speaker gets loud. Beyond that, it sounds really good as well. The lows are strong but concise, and vocals come through loud and clear. You can even adjust the bass and treble settings with built-in controls. Then there’s all the features. This speaker has IPX5 certified so you can party through all kinds of weather conditions, it has 15,600 mAh battery that gives you about 14 hours of playback time, and there’s a USB out so you can take full advantage of that giant battery and charge your phone. If you’re looking for an outdoor speaker for any backyard parties or tailgating events, the BRV-XXL should be on your shortlist.
Bluetooth
Yes
Battery Life
14 hours
Weight
18 lbs
Size
8.25 x 20.25 x 9.5 in
Pros
Build QualityUSB output
Cons
HeavyPrice

CB3 Audio Armor XL

Normally this spot would be filled by something from JBL, but we found something that we like just a little bit better again from CB3. For an inexpensive durable speaker, take a look at the CB3 Armor XL. This is a waterproof speaker that’s as rugged as it look. You shouldn’t submerge it completely in water, but cleaning it under a running faucet should be fine. And getting caught in the rain isn’t an issue at all. As the name implies the Armor XL has a hard plastic casing that kind of looks like armor. It also has a grippy rubber that helps it to avoid water damage. It might not have as sleek as a design of some of the other products on this list, but that’s not what it was made for. The Armor XL has Bluetooth 4.0 and a battery life of about 10 hours. Up top are a few built-in playback controls that let you skip between tracks, adjust volume and even mute it, and pause or play music. The buttons are made of a soft plastic and embedded into the rubber of the speaker on top. Bass and kick drums come through loud and clear thanks to the dual 50mm drivers so if you enjoy a strong low end, you’ll like this one. Overall sound quality is pretty good on the Armor XL, but the sheer toughness of this speaker is the reason it gets a spot on this list.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
Yes
Battery Life
10 hours
Weight
2.72 x 7.99 x 3.11 inches
Size
1.81 pounds
Pros
DurableSoundMultiple playback controls
Cons
Average battery life
Best Design

B&O Beoplay A1

Sometimes, all you really want is something that sounds good and looks great. And if that’s your prerogative, then the B&O Beoplay A1 is the speaker for you. The company literally gets talented industrial designers to make their products, and the A1 is no exception. The A1 design is basically split into two sections. The top half is made of a durable aluminum that B&O claims will gain character as it gets scratched and dented. Not sure if that’s something you’d want to do to a $250 speaker, but at least they’re confident that it will survive a few mishaps. On the bottom half of the speaker you’ll find a hard rubberized plastic. Around the edges are a few basic playback controls that allow you to pause/play music and adjust the volume. This is also where you’ll find the power button, Bluetooth pairing button, and microphone button for voice calls. It’s not all sunshine and daisies though, we did have an issue with battery life in our full review. But if you’re okay with not leaving the speaker on max volume or throwing it on the charger every now and then, this speaker has crystal clear audio and looks beautiful. It has a surprisingly strong low end for a speaker of this size, but it isn’t overbearing. The mids and highs are also clear and the speaker does get surprisingly loud if you really want to push it.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
Splashproof
Battery Life
claimed 24 hours
Weight
2.25 pounds
Size
3.46 x 7.48 x 7.48 inches
Pros
DesignSound
Cons
Battery LifePrice
Best Portable

UE Roll 2

UE is one of those few mainstream audio companies that actually make some pretty good products. Case in point: the UE Roll 2. It has a very unique disc shape that, when paired with the nice waterproof fabric and handy bungee cord makes it a winner. The Roll 2 is an iterative update on the original, which means that if you have the original you don’t really have to upgrade. That said, if you don’t have the original the Roll 2 is a worthy pick-up. It’s IPX7 waterproof so you can literally pour water into the speaker or submerge it underwater (which we did in the full review) and it’ll come out fine. On the front are the giant plus and minus signs for volume and there’s a hook to attach the bungee cord perfectly placed on the back. Though you might not find the UE Roll 2 to be as beautiful as something like the Beoplay A1 or even something like the CB3 Ultra Slim, it’s still a good sounding speaker with a very unique design. For less than $100, you can’t go wrong.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
Yes
Water-Resistance
Yes
Battery Life
9 hours
Weight
1.05 pounds
Size
5.3 x 5.3 x 1.6 inches
Pros
WaterproofBungee cord
Cons
Limited playback controls

While we haven’t covered every possible price range or use case here, these picks represent what we feel are some of the best options for a few different use cases. If you’re looking for something that we haven’t covered here, whether it’s more expensive, more rugged, or just plain different, make sure to check out all of our reviews over at SoundGuys.com since we’ve reviewed a lot of stuff, so you’ll probably find what you’re looking for there. As always we’ll be sure to keep this updated with new picks and information so you know you’ll always be up to date.

Full disclosure: CB3 Audio is a partner of Sound Guys.

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