Music is a social experience, which is why cheap 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 that 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 can be hit or miss. 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 cheap Bluetooth speakers. 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.
What you should know
Plenty of listed speakers here are water-resistant, so here’s a quick rundown of Ingress Protection (IP) ratings and what they mean to your specific model.
Here’s the important split seen in the listed headphones:
Full charts are available here if you’re so inclined.
The Anker SoundCore is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker
The Anker SoundCore is a small speaker, but it has a crazy-long battery life. This will easily last a full day. Aesthetically, there is nothing really special, but what do you expect with cheap Bluetooth speakers? It’s a small, plastic box with a few handy playback controls up top that let you do everything from skip tracks to adjust volume.
Anker SoundCoreFull Review
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. 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 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. For small gatherings and personal use, however, it’s perfect.
Look fly on the cheap with the DOSS Soundbox Touch
You’d be hard-pressed to find a speaker that sounds decent at less than $50, but throw in a few really unique features on top of that and it’s damn near impossible. But that’s what makes the DOSS Soundbox Touch so interesting. As you may have guessed from the name this speaker fitches the typical playback buttons found on most other speakers in favor of a touch sensitive control panel. You can switch between inputs, skip between tracks, and adjust volume simply by tapping the appropriate areas on the top of the speaker. The glowing circle up top actually acts as a volume dial, so going clockwise raises the volume while counterclockwise lowers the volume. A small detail, but it’s pretty cool either way.
DOSS Soundbox Touch
The speaker features dual 6W drivers that do a decent job at delivering sound. If you’re a fan of a strong bass you probably won’t get enough of it here, but it does a surprising job at providing clarity in the mids. You will find some distortion at full volume depending on what you listen to, but for the most part you shouldn’t have too many issues. It comes with Bluetooth 4.0 which puts it squarely in the normal range of about 33 feet, but also comes with a 3.5mm input and micro SD card slot for when you don’t want to connect over Bluetooth. Playback should also last you a full 12 hours before you need to throw it back on the charger so if you’re looking for a way to listen to music while out and out this isn’t a bad option.
Always moving? Bring the JBL Clip 2
JBL Clip 2Full Review
Previously, we had the Clip+ on this list, but it’s since been refreshed with a very worthy upgrade. The new JBL Clip 2 is one of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers you can get. The hard plastic grille is gone; in its place, you’ll find a fabric covering that gives it an IPX7 rating and a much better look and feel. The built-in plastic carabiner has also been replaced with a metal one, but the most important internal upgrade has to be battery life. The previous model maxed out at five hours; you can squeeze eight hours 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 has been on this list before for their M4 durable speaker, but the new and improved M6 has kicked its predecessor off with an even more impressive array of features. Sure the M6 is a little bigger when compared to the M4, but it’s still fairly easy to carry around. It has a small hook so you can attach it via carabiner to a pack should you want to bring music with you on a hike, but it also has a more durable build. While it’s still made mainly of plastic, it’s not completely dustproof, waterproof, and shockproof with an IPX5 rating, though we’re sure those all have their limits it’s still nice to see the company improving the durability of an already durable product.
Two 3.5W speakers pump out a sound that, we admit isn’t the best, but it does so loudly. So if you just want to jam to your favorite tunes while being outdoors this is an easy way to do that. Up top, you’ll find all of the buttons for playback controls that let you pause or play music, adjust volume, and pair to new devices while inside is a battery that should provide roughly 12 hours of constant playback.
Creative MetallixFull Review
So what do we recommend as the “bang for your buck” item on what is more or less a “bang for your buck” list? The Creative Metallix Bluetooth speaker. This speaker isn’t as cool to look at as some of the other options, it isn’t as portable, and it isn’t as durable, but for only $29 this little guy packs a punch. As far a sound goes, it’s a little better than you might expect from a speaker of this size. You won’t get much of a low end (obviously) and mids can be lacking in detail, but considering the size it’s still fairly impressive.
It’s not exactly a durable speaker, but it survived a few bangs and bruises during our full review without a problem. It has a decent connection that will keep your music playing up to around 30 feet without skips or stutters, and if you happen to get two of these you can pair them up for stereo sound which is a neat little trick. You can plug in an audio cable or pop in a micro SD card if you don’t want to play over Bluetooth, and there’s also a few playback controls built into the bottom of the metal speaker and even an FM tuner should you want to listen to the radio.
Considering this speaker is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand it’s good how much Creative managed to put in here without sacrificing too much on sound. Creative claims a battery life of 24 hours but that’s really only if you leave the volume at about 50%. At normal listening volumes, we got closer to 9 hours, which is still good enough for a day out.
How we chose
A simple search on Amazon reveals hundreds of options from a myriad of manufacturers, and that’s just for cheap Bluetooth speakers, so how do you know what 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 to. These cheap Bluetooth speakers just nee to be functional and better than average, which these are.
If you have any good recommendations for cheap Bluetooth speakers 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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