Music is a social experience, which is why Bluetooth speakers have been exploding in popularity. When is the last time you went to a party that didn’t have music? If you were able to bring your favorite tunes with you wherever you go, why wouldn’t you? Well it turns out plenty of people feel the same way because the cheap Bluetooth speakers market is booming.
You can spend hundreds of dollars on a speaker and know exactly what you’re going to get. Top notch build, good sound quality, and maybe an unforeseen feature or two. But when it comes to Bluetooth speakers under $50 it’s kind of a crapshoot. Are you actually getting a good speaker or is just something that plays sound? That’s where this list comes in.
We narrowed it down to five main categories that we think would be most useful to anyone looking for a speaker in this price range. Keep in mind that because these items are so cheap, most manufacturers need to make a few sacrifices. A great sounding speaker might not be the most portable, and a super durable one probably isn’t the prettiest. It seems obvious, but knowing what’s most important to you and what sacrifices you’re willing to make will make the final decision much easier.
How Do We Choose?
A simple search on Amazon reveals hundreds (if not thousands) of options from a myriad of manufacturers, but how do you know which to choose? Well to be honest it’s borderline impossible to test and review them all, but you can do a ton of research and gather up the best options, which is exactly what we did.
After ordering a bunch of the top options we narrowed it down to a few of the products we had already reviewed and know to be good, and then a few others that surprised us for the price. Of course nothing here is going to make it into the MoMA, but for less than $50 it doesn’t need. It just needs to be functional and better than average, which these are.
Anker SoundcoreFull Review
The Anker Soundcore is a small speaker, but it has a crazy long battery life. This’ll easily last you a full day. Aesthetically there is nothing really special or amazing about this speaker. It’s a small plastic box with a few handy playback controls up top that let you do everything from skip tracks to adjust the volume. The Soundcore is rocking Bluetooth 4.0 and an above average range of about 66ft. In our full review this did have some limitations, but overall it worked fine. 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. 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.
CB3 Ultra Slim
If you just want a speaker that plays music and looks awesome, go for the Ultra Slim by CB3 Audio. The Ultra Slim is just that: ultra slim. Perfect for throwing it in your bag or even slipping it in your pocket for some portable sound. The feature that immediately jumps out about this speaker is the aesthetics. It’s a gorgeous slab of metal with playback buttons lining the top of the speaker. 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. You’ll also get built-in microSD card slot and 3.5mm input, so however you like to enjoy music it has you covered. Battery life is around 8 hours which isn’t the longest we’ve seen but definitely isn’t the shortest. Solid enough to get you through a solid listening session or Friday night get together. Available in 4 crisp colors: silver, gunmetal gray, champagne gold, and rose gold.
Disclosure: CB3 Audio is a partner brand of SoundGuys.com
JBL Clip 2Full Review
Previously we had the Clip+ on this list, but it’s since been refreshed with a very worthy upgrade. Now this is kind of cheating because this speaker is a little more expensive than $50, but just barely. We think the extra $5 you spend is worth it because the new Clip 2 is one of the best portable speakers you can speak at any price point. The hard plastic grille is gone and in its place you’ll find a new fabric covering that gives it an IPX7 waterproof rating and a much better look and feel. The built-in plastic carabiner has also been replaced with an actual metal one, but the most important internal upgrade has to be battery life. The previous model maxed out at 5 while you can squeeze 8 out of this one. Sound quality is also good enough for a hike, picnic, or even for the shower, but don’t expect it to get loud enough to power your backyard BBQ.
Omaker M4Full Review
The Omaker M4 isn’t really a new speaker, but it’s one that’s still impressing. To be fair you should probably lower your expectations on amazing sound quality right now, but if you’re rough on your electronics and need something durable, this thing is a tank. It has a rugged design with plenty of hard plastic and metal, and also comes in a bunch of colors including army camo, black on black, black and orange, and this pretty cool dark green and gray color. It has NFC so you can easily connect to compatible devices. Up top you’ll get four buttons that give you all of the usual suspects in terms of playback controls. You’ll be able to adjust volume, skip between tracks, pause or play music, and also answer phone calls. Battery life is also spec’d at 12 hours so if you need all-day music, this might be the way to go.
Cambridge Soundworks OontZ Angle 3
If you’re getting tired of square blocks of metal, maybe you should try mixing it up with a triangular one. The OontZ Angle 3 comes in a slightly different form factor and has a triangular design that’s a little more visually appealing and practical when you set it down. Dual drivers are also aimed slightly upwards for better listening angles, which is probably where it gets its name from. It has a splash proof IPX5 build so even though it shouldn’t be fully submerged at least you know it can survive a spill or two. On top of that it has a 12 hour battery life which makes it great for an all-day party or picnic. You’ll find playback controls on the side of the speaker which lets you pause/play music, skip to the next song, and also adjust the volume to your liking. There’s also an integrated mic for voice calls should you need it.
If you have any good recommendations that weren’t on this list, make sure to drop a comment down below and help out your fellow audio lovers looking to make a purchase. We’ll keep this list updated to reflect new and inexpensive speakers as they come out.
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