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.
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.
Creative iRoarFull Review
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.
B&O Beoplay A1Full Review
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.
UE Roll 2Full Review
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.
CB3 Audio Armor XL
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.
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.
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