Everyone has a different outlook on how much is too much when it comes to audio. What some people consider a steal, others consider expensive. Here at SoundGuys we’re very aware of this, and try to make it easier for anyone looking for new audio products. We’ve already done the best Bluetooth speakers you can get for under $50 and under $100, so now it’s time to up the ante. If you have a bit more to spend or are ready to make an investment in sound, these are the best Bluetooth speakers under $200 available in 2020.
Editor’s note: this list of the best Bluetooth speakers under $200 was updated on January 11, 2021, to mention the Marshall Emberton.
The best Bluetooth speaker under $200 is the JBL Charge 4
This fabric-covered speaker is fully waterproof with a certified IPX7 rating, and you don’t need to worry about its durability. It also floats in water, so if you do drop it in the pool, it makes for an easy rescue. Don’t be too off put by its bulky size: it’s portable enough to take to the beach or on a camping trip.
Editor’s note: See editor’s note under JBL Flip 4 about the questionable reliability of JBL’s IP ratings.
JBL Charge 4Full Review
The Charge 4 is very similar to the JBL Charge 3, particularly when it comes to its sound. It is bass-heavy profile can occasionally mask vocals, but not so much that it is a problem, especially since most of us prefer that bass-heavy sound signature—overall, this speaker has great sound. Bluetooth connectivity extends up to 10 meters, and its battery life is about 13 hours and 45 minutes, even though it is advertised as having 20 hour battery life. The speaker doubles as a portable smartphone charger and using this function will deplete the battery.
The JBL Charge 4 has JBL Connect+ which allows you to connect up to 100 JBL speakers together to create a pseudo surround sound system. Unfortunately, if you have an older JBL speaker that doesn’t have JBL Connect+, such as the JBL Charge 3, there is no backwards compatibility. In other words, you can’t connect these older speakers to the new ones. If the ability to connect up to 100 speakers is not important to you, the JBL Charge 3 has JBL Connect, which allows you to connect a few speakers together for a stereo sound, and is a budget option. We didn’t select the Charge 3 for the top product is because it is likely to be discontinued soon.
What you should know about the best Bluetooth speakers under $200
What is an IP rating?
IP ratings stand for Ingress Protection ratings, and refer to how well a product is protected against water and dust. The X in IPX7, as an example, is a placeholder for dust-protection. So, if a product is rated IP67 for example, it has a 6 rating for dust and a 7 rating for water.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
|IP1X||✓||A solid object > 50 mm|
|IP2X||✓||A solid object > 12.5 mm|
|IP3X||✓||A solid object > 2.5 mm|
|IP4X||✓||A solid object > 1 mm|
|I5X||✓||Dust-protected, small solid objects won't interfere with device operation|
|IP6X||✓||Any amount of dust, completely dust-tight|
Bluetooth audio quality doesn’t stack up to wired audio
If you consider yourself a true audiophile you may find that Bluetooth audio quality just doesn’t do it for you. That’s because wired audio quality is almost always better than Bluetooth audio quality due to Bluetooth codecs cutting out data and adding unwanted noise in the transmission process. To shrink the gap in quality between your Bluetooth speaker and your wired speaker, we recommend looking for aptX or aptX HD codecs, or, if you have an iPhone, the AAC codec. Keep in mind that this list of the best Bluetooth speakers under $200 factors in convenience, portability, and durability as well as audio quality.
The UE Megaboom 3 is a great pool party companion
The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 has an IP67 rating and is ultra portable. It has the size and shape of a water bottle, so you can store it in your cup holder when biking down to the beach. The speaker produces 360 degree sound, and while its sound quality isn’t the absolute best, you can customize the EQ on it with the BOOM app if you don’t like its preset.
UE Megaboom 3
The Megaboom 3 allows you to pair up to eight Bluetooth source devices, and has Bluetooth multipoint, meaning you can connect up to two source devices at the same time. This means you and your friend can take turns picking the music at your pool party. With the BOOM app, you can connect over 150 UE speakers using the PartyUp function, and this is backwards compatible with all previous generation BOOM speakers.
Stay home with the Sonos One (Gen 2)
The Sonos One has the native smart assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and you can activate them via your voice. While this speaker supports Bluetooth Low Energy to simplify the initial setup process, it streams audio from your smartphone over your home’s Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth. The speaker is humidity resistant, so you can put it in the bathroom, but it does not have any official IP rating.
Sonos One (Gen 2)
The sound quality of the Sonos One is great. It has two digital amplifiers, a tweeter, and a dedicated mid-woofer, so it produces well-balanced sound across the board. Some might find that it is a bit bass-heavy, but its bass response doesn’t mask the mid frequencies. If you buy two Sonos One speakers, you can connect them for stereo sound. Additionally, the Sonos One (Gen 2) is backwards compatible with the Sonos One (Gen 1) for stereo output, as well as surround sound when paired with a Sonos Playbase or Playbar.
Related: Best smart speakers
The Bose SoundLink Revolve makes it easy to host any party
This speaker offers fantastic omnidirectional sound; though, omnidirectional sound is always a bit spread out compared to directional sound. This mechanism can make it harder to perceive detail and clarity from your music. However, if you throw parties often, omnidirectional sound is ideal: it emits sound with equal loudness from all directions, so no matter where your guests stand, they can hear the music.
Bose SoundLink Revolve
In addition, you can pair this speaker with one other compatible Bose Bluetooth speakers and use the Bose Connect app to enable either Stereo Mode or Party Mode. You can also pair your Bose SoundLink Revolve with Bose Home speakers using Bose SimpleSync.
The Bose SoundLink Revolve has an official IPX4 rating, so it can handle splashes, but you shouldn’t submerge it underwater. It’s also super durable, and you can drop it tons of times without it denting in any way. This speaker is portable and offers up to 12 hours of battery life.
Go small and cheap with the JBL Flip 4
If the JBL Charge 4 seemed a little bulky and pricey for you, the JBL Flip 4 is a wonderful alternative. It has great loud sound for such a small speaker, and is fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. Its sound signature is balanced and has an exaggerated bass response, but not quite as amplified as the Charge 4. The main downside of the JBL Flip 4 is its battery life. If you use it on maximum volume, it only lasts 4 hours, whereas if you use it on 50-75% volume, it can last up to 12 hours. When you take it outside, you’re bound to crank it up to max volume and will fall on the shorter end of the spectrum.
JBL Flip 4
The JBL Flip 4 offers JBL Connect+, so you can link up to 100 JBL speakers that have this functionality, but it is not backwards compatible with JBL Connect speakers. Additionally, while the Charge 4 has the ability to charge your smartphone, the Flip 4 does not.
Editor’s note: Sara tested a JBL Flip 4’s IPX7 rating by submerging it in a pool for about 10 seconds, and it came out broken. The speaker still produced sound, but the sound was shrouded by a loud crackling. JBL customer support stated that the one year warranty had passed, and defective products out of warranty could not be replaced for free. Considering JBL is a company whose big selling point is its waterproofing, this was disappointing.
Best Bluetooth speakers under $200: notable mentions
- Bose SoundLink Color II: This little speaker is small and portable and, though it isn’t fully waterproof, it does have an IPX4 rating. For its stout size, it produces pretty loud audio and the quality of the sound is pretty good.
- Bose SoundLink Mini II: If you like Bose but want a more directional and less bass-heavy sound than the Bose SoundLink Revolve, go with this little speaker. It is an older model, so it doesn’t feature app compatibility and you can’t pair multiple for stereo sound, but it’s audio quality is focused and great for personal listening.
- Marshall Emberton: This little speaker is shaped like a guitar amp and has good sound quality just like an amp should. It also has an IPX7 build so it’s great for taking to the beach. Its connection strength is strong and is uses Bluetooth 5.0, but it doesn’t have a microphone so don’t try taking calls through it.
- UE Boom 3: If you want to save a bit but like the idea of the UE Megaboom 3, the UE Boom 3 is very similar. It’s loud, it still has that IP67 rating, and it can be paired with up to 150 other UE Boom speakers and the Megaboom 3 itself. The only major drawbacks are slightly degraded audio quality and no Bluetooth multipoint.
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