Bluetooth speakers around the $100 range tend to be the hardest to shop for. Most people don’t mind if a speaker that costs less than $20 breaks because it was “good enough” while it lasted. You might even be able to afford replacing it. But the point of no return is when you spend $100. It starts to become more of an investment than just a mere accessory for your phone. Bluetooth speakers under $100 need to be more than just good enough, they need to be great.
You expect there to be a certain level of durability and quality to the product, as you should. These aren’t cheap and though they’re not the most expensive or best sounding speakers you’ll ever hear, you still want to get your money’s worth. This list has a speaker for everyone, with a few staples and some you might not have heard of. But if it made this list, it deserves to be here.
JBL Flip 4Full Review
JBL has remained consistent with their Flip series, offering one of the best speakers you can get at this price point year after year. The Flip 4 is very similar to the previous model (the Flip 3), but it makes some improvements in a few key areas. For one it’s now IPX7 waterproof where the previous model was only splashproof. This means that you can now submerge it completely in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, though we’re not sure why you’d want to. Still it’s good to know that if you drop it in the pool you have some time before you have to go rescue it.
Another positive is that the new Connect+ button lets you connect this speaker with up to 100 others to play music in sync, but on the downside this feature isn’t backwards compatible with previous versions. So if you have a JBL Flip 3 and was going to double up with the new Flip 4 you’re out of luck. Battery life is also spec’d at around 12 hours when you leave the volume at around 50%, but if you play music on max volume you shouldn’t expect to get more than 4 or 5 hours out of it. But even with those caveats this is still one of the best speakers you can get if you’re looking for an all-around speaker that sounds good and is durable enough to go with you wherever you go.
CB3 Armor XL
If you like to listen to your music outdoors then you should give the CB3 Armor XL a look. The Armor XL can handle the toughest of conditions: mud, dirt, water, drops, this speaker can handle it all. Durability aside this speaker also sounds great, deep rich beats that are sure to be a party pleaser! It doesn’t have as sleek a design as some of the other speakers on this list, but this is this rugged section isn’t it? Who cares, as long as it’s durable and sounds good. This little cube also has Bluetooth 4.0, and it can play music for a straight 10 hours. As you would expect from a speaker that’s meant to be durable, it does have a few basic playback controls built in since you’re probably not going to want to bring your $600 phone near water.
Better to deal with the $79 speaker while standing in a pool than a phone. It has a power button, dedicated phone button for answering and ending phone calls, a mute button, track skipping buttons, and volume buttons. 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. The speaker also comes with a rubber strap that you can attach to the speaker so you can dangle it from a shower head or even a backpack. While a shower or a beach might not seem like a hostile environment for you, it is for electronics so a solid build is essential.
Disclosure: CB3 Audio is a partner brand of SoundGuys.com
UE Roll 2Full Review
UE might not be too into high end audio, but they seem to have a thing for bang for your buck audio. Case in point: the UE Roll 2. It’s not a huge improvement over the original (so if you can find the original for cheap it’s still a really good deal), but there Roll 2 is still less than $100 and you also get some added benefits as well. It gets roughly 15% louder than the original which isn’t much, but it’s enough to make some songs sound just a little bit cleaner and more enjoyable. It also has a range of roughly 100 feet, up from about 65 feet of the original.
Besides that, it hasn’t changed much. It’s still IPX7 certified so you can submerge it in water and also has the handy bungee cord on the back for hanging it. On the downside playback controls are limited to only the + and – buttons for adjusting volume, but you can connect up to 8 other UE speakers together via the free app. So if you’re looking for party speakers for you and your friends, getting a few of these might not be such a bad idea.
Sony has had plenty of success in a number of different tech categories, and audio is no different. Though they get plenty of acknowledgment for their headphones, they also have some really good speakers that sometimes slip under the radar such as the SRSXB2. This is a small and compact speaker that doesn’t aim to be the most durable, like some other speakers on this list. Instead Sony decided to focus on two aspects of the speaker: sound and design. And they succeeded in both. The “XB” in the name stands for “Extra Bass” and while this does have a little more of a punch in the low end, it doesn’t negatively effect the sound. At $100 and above, there might be better options than this speaker.
But because you can usually find it under $100 at around $70, it’s a great option. Design-wise Sony went with a rounded pill-like design that makes it looks kind of like an alarm clock. The speakers are also aimed slightly upwards which makes it perfect for setting down at a desk or bedside table and you’ll get roughly 12 hours of battery life out of it. Sony also threw in a few nifty features as well. You can easily connect to it via NFC as long as you have a compatible device and if you want to step it up a notch, you can sync it with another SBSXB2 using “Double mode”. If a modern design and a good sound are your top priorities, this speaker might be the one for you.
Anker Soundcore Sport XLFull Review
The Soundcore Sport is a great little speaker, but if you don’t mind spending just a few more dollars you can get the SoundCore Sport XL which is definitely what we’d consider bang for your buck. You can usually find it for about $59 and it’s plenty more speaker than you’re probably used to at this price point. It’s a tough and durable speaker with an IP67 certification that lets it withstand submersion up to 1m. Anker also touts that it’s shock resistant and though you probably shouldn’t go testing this extensively, it’s good to know that it can at least survive a drop or two.
Up top are a few playback controls so you can adjust volume, pause or resume music, and also skip to the next track. On the back you’ll also find a small exposed passive bass radiator that adds some extra power to the low end and at average volume you can squeeze out about 15 hours of constant playback which isn’t too bad. Overall, this is one of the best values you’ll find in the durable speaker category and it’s just slightly over $60.
There are tons of Bluetooth speakers in the world so we’ll update this list whenever one deserving the title of “Best” reaches our ears. If you have any suggestions or feel we missed a quality device be sure to let us know so we can check it out for ourselves. Who knows, your recommendation might pop up on the updated list.
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