by Adam MolinaDecember 28, 2015

There’s nothing better than connecting wirelessly to a device that can play your favorite song from across the room. There are a ton of different speakers out there as every company big and small scrambles to put a speaker of their own out on the market. We’ve sifted through a bunch of them and made a list of some of our favorites that won’t cost you your favorite limb so let’s get into it, these are our top picks for the best cheap Bluetooth speakers.

Anker Soundcore

by Anker – ($35.99) Amazon.com

AnkerSoundcore[1]

 

Anker continues to surprise us every time they release a new product. Previously we had the Anker MP141 on this list, but after giving the Soundcore a listen we knew there was a new speaker that deserved to be on this list. The Anker Soundcore is a small speaker with big sound and an even bigger battery.

Aesthetically there is nothing really special or amazing about this speaker. It’s simply a black rectangle with the Anker logo in white on the grille up front. On top of the speaker are some handy buttons that blend in nicely with the smooth plastic finish and they provide you with some solid playback options and controls. Right from the speaker you can pause or play music, control volume, and even answer and end phone calls. The built-in mic isn’t anything to go crazy over, but it’s functional and that’s all that can really be asked from a Bluetooth speaker.

Specs aren’t everything, but it’s nice to know that Anker didn’t skimp out on any of the technical details as the Soundcore is rocking Bluetooth 4.0.

They even extended the reach of the Bluetooth signal somehow doubling the standard range 33ft to about 66ft. In our full review this did have some limitations, but overall it worked fine. Probably the biggest reason to get the Anker is the amazing battery life. Usually in a sub-$50 speaker we keep expectations in check so as not to be disappointed. Anything around 10 hours is usually decent for the price, but the Soundcore blows that expectation out of the water with 24 hours of constant playback. It charges via a micro USB which at this point everyone should have a few lying around their houses so even if the battery does die out you can easily charge it back up. That said, while we were testing it we only had to charge it back up once.  if you’re main priority in a speaker is that it requires minimal charging, this is the way to go.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t sound good, because it does. The dual drivers and patent pending spiral bass port combine to virtually eliminate distortion at any point in the frequency range. That said don’t expect to power a party with it since it doesn’t get too loud, but for small gatherings and personal use it’s perfect.

The Anker Soundcore has about 1,400 reviews already on Amazon and has a score of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Not too shabby for a speaker of this size.

Buy from Amazon


CB3 Ultra Slim Bluetooth speaker

by CB3 Audio – ($49.99) Amazon.com

CB3 Ultra Slim Bluetooth Speaker

First off the Ultra Slim is just that: ultra slim. It measures only 8.5 x 4 x 1.8 inches so it’s perfect for throwing it in your bag or even slipping it in your pocket for some portable sound. The thing that immediately jumps out about this speaker is the aesthetics. It’s definitely a pretty piece of work with an all aluminum unibody design that somehow maintains a lightweight feel. Up top are four black buttons that keep with the modern design while giving you some more flexibility in terms of playback controls.

 

Underneath all that metal are dual drivers that pump out the mids and highs but directly in the middle of the speaker is the Ultra Slims most notable feature.

There’s actually a suspended bass radiator which adds a nice pump to the low end frequencies. Not to mention it just looks really cool when music is playing and you can see it go to work in front of your eyes. CB3 threw in Bluetooth 4.0 so you can play wirelessly from up to around 30 feet away. That said you still have the option to hardwire in your device via a 3.5mm input so if you haven’t jumped on the Bluetooth streaming bandwagon yet, you can still play your music. Besides that there’s even a built-in microSD card slot, so however you like to enjoy music it has you covered.

Should you decide to connect with Bluetooth the speaker will automatically reroute audio so you won’t miss any of your phone calls. You can choose to accept or reject a call straight from the speaker and thanks to the built-in microphone, you won’t even have to go reaching for your phone. Battery life is around 8 hours which isn’t the longest we’ve seen but it definitely isn’t the shortest. Eight hours is solid enough to get you through all but the most extreme usage cases and for the price, you can’t go wrong.

The CB3 Ultra Slim is a brand new speaker, so it doesn’t have too many reviews on Amazon but so far it has a solid 4.4 out of 5 stars and climbing. Available in 3 crisp colors: Silver, Gunmetal Gray and Champagne Gold.

Buy from Amazon

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


DKnight Magicbox II

by Dknight – Amazon.com ($33.99)

DKnight[1]

The DKnight Magicbox II is one of those speakers that slips under the radar in terms of popularity, but still packs a punch for the price. It’s the second iteration of the original Magicbox and even though it keeps the same physical footprint (6 x 2 x 1.6 inches), the internals have been given a noticeable upgrade. The new version has a 10W acoustic driver along with an improved passive radiator that when paired together can give the MagicBox II a max volume 30% louder than the original.

The passive radiator also helps to give a nice boost to the low end so that the boost in volume won’t cause any inaccuracies. In fact the bass is so strong that it comes with something called a Basspad, which is literally a pad that you can put the speaker on to prevent the rumbling from pushing it off the table. Needless to say if you prefer a stronger bass without sacrificing quality, this one might be for you.

It also has a 2000mAH battery that DKnight claims has enough juice to last you a total of 10 hours of constant playback.

That’s not mind-blowing by any means but it’s enough to get the average person through a full day of use. The Magicbox II uses Bluetooth version 4.0 and has a range of about 30 feet so you shouldn’t have any problem with skipping as long as you stay roughly within that range. If you don’t have a  Bluetooth compatible device you can always plug in via the 3.5mm input.

On the top of the speaker you’ll find six buttons that control playback, volume, and let you answer phone calls directly from the speaker. Pretty useful if you decide to leave your phone on a charger somewhere nearby. There are few things more annoying than having to constantly unlock your phone to change the song.

The Magicbox II comes in three colors: black, red, or blue. It’s just over 6,500 reviews on Amazon and 72% of those reviews are a perfect 5, giving it an overall score of 4.5 stars. Not a bad bang for your buck option considering that you can get one for only $33. If you’re interested you can read our full review here.

Buy from Amazon


 JBL Clip+

by JBL – ($49.95) Amazon.com

JBL Clip+[1]

 

Are you really surprised to see a JBL product on this list? We aren’t either. At this point the company has a proven track record of some quality products for a low price. The newest speaker to add to that list is the JBL Clip+. If this seems to be ringing a bell, it’s because the original Clip made on our list last time, but the new Clip+ takes everything that made the original so good and adds another great feature: splash-proofing.

Just to be clear this still doesn’t mean that you can go swimming in a pool with it, but at least rain won’t be an issue. Even washing it off under a running faucet won’t be enough to damage this and for less than $50 that’s a great feature to have. Especially when the speaker itself is designed to be taken with you on outdoor excursions. The speaker maintains the same original carabiner clip design that so many people loved, making it simple to clip it to a pack or belt loop on those occasions when some background music would be welcome. The Clip+ connects wirelessly via Bluetooth but still has the built-in 3.5mm audio cable on the back for those that don’t have Bluetooth capable devices.

The speaker has a built-in mic so that you can easily answer phone calls as long as your phone is within range.

Another thing that was (unfortunately) kept identical between the two models is the battery life. JBL claims a battery life of 5 hours which still isn’t the greatest, but shouldn’t get in the way of average usage. On one side of the speaker you’ll find the power button along with the Bluetooth pairing button and a pause/play button that also lets you answer and end phone calls. On the other side of the Clip+ you’ll find two buttons for raising and lowering volume. There’s also an LED light that, besides letting you know when the battery is low or fully charged, also shows you when you’re connected via Bluetooth.

If hands-free controls are a necessity for you when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, the Clip+ offers everything you’ll need shy of skipping and replaying tracks. For any situation where a table or desk won’t be readily available, this a great option from JBL considering the price. It’s available in 8 different colors so chances are you’ll find one perfect for you. It’s been given a 4.0 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, so if you’re curious to find out why you can pick one up for yourself.

Buy from Amazon


As Bluetooth speakers get better and cheaper, we’ll be sure to keep this list updated to match our top picks. If you feel we missed a good speaker or want to share your personal favorite, be sure to drop a comment below and let us know.

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