Bluetooth speakers under $100 are hard to shop for. Most of us 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, rather than an accessory for your phone. Bluetooth speakers under $100 need to be more than good enough, though. They need to be great.
As you should expect for this price-point, there needs to be a certain level of durability and quality to the product. 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. If it made this list, it deserves to be here.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on November 21, 2018, to reflect price changes and include pertinent Bluetooth information.
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The JBL Flip 4 is the best among Bluetooth speakers under $100
JBL has remained consistent with its Flip series, standing as our pick among the best Bluetooth speakers under $100. The Flip 4 is very similar to the previous model (the JBL Flip 3), but it makes some improvements in a few key areas. Hence, why it leads the other picks for the best Bluetooth speakers under $100. For one, it’s now IPX7-rated. The previous model was only splash-resistant. This means that you can now submerge it completely in up to 1 meter 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.
JBL Flip 4Full Review
Another positive is that the new Connect+ button lets you connect this speaker with up to 100 others to play music in sync. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t backward compatible with previous versions. If you have a JBL Flip 3 and were going to double up with the new Flip 4, you’re out of luck. Battery life is reported to be 12 hours with volume levels at 50 percent, but if you play music on max volume, you shouldn’t expect to get more than four—maybe five—hours out of it.
Even with those caveats, this is still our pick, beating all other Bluetooth speakers under $100. If you’re looking for an all-around speaker that sounds good and is durable enough to go with you wherever you go, go with the JBL Flip 4.
What you should know about the best Bluetooth speakers under $100
- Ingress Protection (IP) ratings denote how dust- or water-resistant a given product is. Oftentimes, something will be rated IPX4—or something of that nature—and the “X” serves as a placeholder for the less-often-awarded dust-resistant rating.
- Sound quality for the money won’t compare to a great pair of desktop speakers or a home theater soundbar setup, but that’s fine since this is aimed at affordable options.
- Since these are Bluetooth picks, you should know that Bluetooth audio quality can’t hold a candle to that of wired. This is less pertinent to waterproof speakers than it is to wireless headphones or true wireless earbuds, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for AAC support if you’re using an iPhone or aptX for Android phones.
Need something durable? Hook the Bose SoundLink Micro onto a bag and go
The Bose SoundLink Micro is a portable speaker to be reckoned with. Weighing in at just 10.2oz—289g for those across the pond—this thing is tough. It’s IPX7-certified and outfitted with a rubberized silicone coating. It’s also one of the more portable Bluetooth speakers under $100. On the back, you’ll find an elastic, tear-resistant strap for hooking onto bike bars or a small tree branch.
Bose SoundLink MicroFull Review
As far as sound quality and features are concerned the SoundLink Micro is packed to the gills… hmm, maybe that’s why it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes. Kidding aside, this little guy packs a punch. The center multifunction button allows for playback control and virtual assistant access. Plus, if you want to pair your Amazon Echo Dot to the Micro, you’re more than welcome to.
Additionally, Bose properly implements multiconnect technology, enabling simultaneous connection to two devices. And, though it may be called “Micro,” it has a macro sound that nearly rivals the larger Bose SoundLink Color II. There are some downfalls, namely latency issues, but if you need a speaker to withstand the elements while accompanying you on your next adventure, this is a reliable choice.
The UE Roll 2 is one of the best Bluetooth speakers under $100 for modern-day vagabonds
UE might not be too into high-end audio, but they seem to have a thing for high-value 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 the Roll 2 fluctuates around $65, and you get some added benefits. For one, it gets roughly 15 percent louder than the original, which isn’t much, but it’s enough to make some songs sound a bit cleaner. It also has a range of roughly 100 feet—up from about 65 feet with the original.
UE Roll 2Full Review
Besides that, it hasn’t changed much. It’s still IPX7-certified, so you can submerge it in water. For something a little different, it has a handy bungee cord on the back for hanging it. On the downside, playback controls are limited to only volume adjustments, but you can connect up to eight other UE speakers via the free app. So if you’re looking for party speakers for you and your friends, getting a few of these might be a good idea.
Still looking for the best Bluetooth speakers under $100?
Even if you don’t regularly check the pulse of audio tech, you’ve probably heard of Sony. The company’s XB20 portable wireless speaker is given the “XB” title, indicating that it’s received Sony’s Extra Bass technology. Like its bigger brothers, the XB40 and XB41, the Sony XB20 features an LED. In this case, it wraps around the front of the speaker and emits a single color.
A great feature of the XB20 is that it’s compatible with Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec. Though, you may not have the desire to get into the thick of it now, just know that LDAC has the highest transfer rate of all Bluetooth codecs. If your source device is also compatible (Android 8.0 or above) then you’ll be able to experience superior streaming quality.
Additionally, you can connect up to 10 speakers with Wireless Party Chain, so if you want to fill your house with sound, more power to you. Regarding battery life, the XB20 affords up to 12 hours of playback time. The other noteworthy feature found with this speaker is its water-resistant, IPX5-rated design. Though you can’t completely submerge it like you can with the SoundLink Micro, it’s fully water resistant and can take more than a few splashes.
The Anker Flare is just another high-value product from the company
Lately, Anker has been revamping its Soundcore line. Among the refreshed products is the Flare, a portable speaker that—like the Motion Q—emits 360° sound. See, inside the cylindrical body are a set of back-to-back dual drivers that work in tandem with passive bass radiators. This allows for the Flare to have increased bass emphasis without masking the midrange frequencies.
Anker Soundcore FlareFull Review
Additionally, you can adjust the bass via the control panel; though, it’s still not comparable to something like the Sony SRS-XB41. Aside from that, you can pair two Flares for stereo sound, and the speaker is IPX7-certified. The Flare, like the SoundLink Micro and UE Roll 2 can handle full submersion. Again, it’s hard to believe that it’s just shy of $60.
How we chose
If a speaker made it onto this list, then you can be sure we’ve had first-hand experience with them and in many cases put them through our entire review process. Whittling down an entire product category to only a handful of recommended items takes a lot more work than you might expect. For one, not everyone is after the same kind of product. Just like how sound is different to every person, some products might check all of the boxes for some people and not for others. Which brings us to the second aspect of one of our best lists: categories.
We also consider what other people are saying about it. We review a ton of stuff here at SoundGuys but let’s be real: We can’t review all of them. So how do we remedy this? Research, research, research. In addition to the vast personal network of reviewers we’ve built in our time around the block, we’ve dug through forums, read reviews, scrolled through comment sections, and done everything we possibly can to gather as much information about a product we haven’t reviewed before putting it on a list. Even if we’ve reviewed a product, we’ll give our picks a gut-check by seeing what the community or former colleagues we trust have to say.
When we made our picks, we wanted to make sure that anyone buying them would be happy with their purchase, and that means a hard look at what makes a good* Bluetooth speaker. For most of us, that meant a speaker that sounded good, wasn’t too expensive and could withstand normal use where a normal person might want to listen to music.
- Anker Soundcore Sport XL: These are a great bang-for-your-buck option but lack the IPX7 rating, stereo pairing, and 360° sound that the newer Soundcore Flare has. Full review
- JLab House Party Wireless: This provides a house-filling sound for under $100 but succumbs to connectivity issues. Full review
- House of Marley Riddim: This is a stylish and portable speaker that’s constructed of recycled materials. However, it lacks aptX and any kind of water or dust-resistance.
- Braven Stryde 360: A tough little speaker that’s easy to bring with you wherever you go. Just don’t expect to get amazing sound quality out of it. Full review.
- Jam Hang Up: This compact speaker looks a bit like the Bose SoundLink Micro but instead of a semi-elastic strap, it features an adhesive pad that sticks to nearly any flat surface. At the time of publishing, it retails for less than $20.
Why should you trust us?
In addition to the fact that this site is all of our day jobs, both Adam and Chris have several years of reviewing consumer audio products under their belts individually. Having kept a finger on the pulse of Bluetooth speakers for several years allows us to be able to figure out what’s good, and what’s best avoided.
Considering Chris’ burning hatred for all things Bluetooth, if he approves of something—it’s damned special. In a similar vein, Adam has reviewed tons of these speakers over the course of almost three years, so he’s heard the best (and worst) of what the category has to offer. Then you’ve got Lily who has put in countless hours working at a radio station in a professional studio environment and even reviewed audio products on her own time before coming to SoundGuys. Needless to say, she’s passionate about audio gear.
These best lists may not always reflect your experiences, but they are our earnest attempt to get the right product onto your wish list. We do this because we genuinely want you to be happy with your purchases—none of our writers see a dime from partnership deals or referral purchases—and nobody here is allowed to benefit from steering you towards one product or another. While this site does make money from referrals, the individual writers are paid based on their work regardless of whether or not people clicked that “buy” icon. They will never even know if anyone did, though I suppose the site going under might be a good hint.
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