Hot weather means two things: pools and beaches. But those aren’t the best places to bring your electronics. It doesn’t take a scientist to know that impure water and electricity don’t mix. That means if you want to bring your favorite speaker to have some tunes on the beach you’re out of luck, unless of course that speaker is waterproof. Luckily, there are plenty of companies making water-resistant or waterproof speakers and all of them are hoping their product is the one you grab with you before you head out. So which ones are the best for you? Let’s look at some of the important things you should know before making your purchase.
The best waterproof Bluetooth speaker is the Fugoo Sport XL
If you’re headed to (or throwing) a pool party, one speaker that you’ll want by your side is the Fugoo Sport XL. Fugoo prides themselves on making durable speakers, and their products usually have a sound quality to match their build. But the Fugoo Sport XL takes what we like about the company and puts it into an extra large waterproof speaker perfect for the pool.
This speaker has 8 drivers placed strategically around the speakers in order to provide you with quality sound regardless of where you’re standing. The Fugoo Sport XL isn’t exactly the most portable product, but if you want to power a party it’s definitely the way to go. The drivers consist of two mid/sub drivers, four tweeters for the higher notes, and two passive radiators. The placement of the drivers isn’t the only reason this speaker can push out sound in all directions; it also has a clever shape that helps it distribute sound evenly regardless of where you’re standing relative to it.
Fugoo Sport XLFull Review
Up top are buttons that allow you to control playback right from the speaker, so you can keep your phone safely away from water and still be able to fully control your music. There’s a play/pause button, skip forward and skip back buttons, volume controls, and a multifunction button that lets you access Siri and Google Now. There’s also a 3.5mm input if one of your friends (or you) still prefer to use an iPod classic. Both the Sport XL and Style XL jackets will even float so if it drops into water it won’t sink to the bottom before you can get to it. On that note, one other cool feature is the built-in USB output that allows you to charge you or your friends devices. If you’re worried about that taking a toll on the battery life of your speaker, you shouldn’t. The Fugoo Sport XL is rocking a giant battery that should provide you with 35 hours of constant playback, so charging phones for a day at the beach will barely put a dent in it.
Since this is a best waterproof Bluetooth speakers list, it’s time we talk about that. The speaker jackets are IP67 certified meaning that you can remove the speaker and swap out the covers of the Sport, Style, or Tough and still be protected from water and dust. It’s completely submersible up to 3 feet for 30 minutes which is great if you want to share your good taste in music with the fishes, or if you accidentally drop it in a pool. The Tough XL jacket won’t float, but at least you know that it’ll be safe up to 3 feet. The Fugoo Sport XL isn’t cheap in any sense of the word—it costs around $229—but you get what you pay for: one of the best waterproof speakers around.
What We Considered
Whittling down an entire product category to only a handful of recommended products 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.
Depending on what the list is covering, the categories within it might change as well. Some remain constant through all lists such as “Best All-Around” or “Bang for your Buck,” but others might change. For example, a list discussing the best headphones might have a pick for “Best Active Noise Cancelling,” but that isn’t an important factor when it comes to something like a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. So each list has a few different categories that are relevant to the kind of products that are being discussed.
The last thing we consider when choosing a product is what other people are saying about it. We review as many products as we can get our hands on, but 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, chances are we’ll gain a bit of insight or knowledge just by seeing what the community, or former colleagues we trust have to say.
Why you should 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.
We should also state that we regularly update these lists as items become available. However, we only add them if there’s a really solid reason for doing so. Usually, we have to use it first—unless there’s some mind-meltingly awesome feature or price-change that would deem a test or re-test unnecessary. As you can imagine, that doesn’t happen often.
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’ll never even know if anyone did, though I suppose the site going under might be a good hint.
You’re going to want to check out these alternatives
Besides partying, summer is also a time for getting out and exploring so if you’re looking for a speaker to be your hiking or cycling buddy, check out the IP67 rated Scosche boomBOTTLE+. The first thing you might notice about this speaker is that it doesn’t really look like a speaker (at least not in shape) but there’s a reason for that.
Scosche designed the boomBOTTLE+ to look like a water bottle (as you may have noticed) Weird? Sure. But also helpful, since it turns virtually every cupholder, whether it be the one in your car or the one on your bike, into an unofficial third-party accessory. If you have a backpack with a water bottle holder just slip this speaker in there and you’re good to go, though I would still make sure to carry a water bottle so you don’t dehydrate. Similar to the Fugoo, the cylindrical design of the Boombottle+ lets it pump out sound in 360 degrees. It has two 50mm drivers and a passive subwoofer packed into a shape that can fit in your backpack. On the side of the speaker are three buttons: volume up, volume down, and a multifunction button.
Scosche boomBOTTLE+Full Review
The speaker has a 6000mAh battery that can be charged via a micro USB that’s accessible through a small waterproof flap. That 6000 maH is enough to give it a solid 13 hours of constant playback in our full review so it should definitely last the average day trip. As is the case with most waterproof speakers the flap serves to keep water out of the important ports, like the micro USB, that would otherwise be exposed. Under there you’ll also find a 3.5mm input, USB output to charge your devices, and two small switches. One switch lets you put the speaker into an outdoor mode which gives a noticeable boost to the mids and highs. In our full review we found that it was a little too much for indoors, but should help sound quality if you’re outside. Next to that is another switch that turns the Boombottle+ into the left or right speaker when paired with another Boombottle+ so if you get two you rock stereo audio.
Scosche hit a very particular niche with the Boombottle+ and like we mentioned before, it’s shape turns every cup holder into an unofficial third party accessory. Pretty clever. If you’re looking for a speaker to mount on your bike or stuff in your backpack on hikes, the Boombottle+ is a worthy investment. It comes in three colors: black/gold, black/space grey, and sport blue so you have a few options.
JBL Charge 3Full Review
There are plenty of nicely designed speakers to choose from, but if you’re going to be traveling somewhere with lots of water (hopefully a nice beach somewhere) then you might prefer one that’s also waterproof. JBL has more than a few waterproof speakers, but the one that most earns the highest spot on this list is the Charge 3. The JBL Charge 3 is a great speaker to bring with you on trips due to its size which falls somewhere between the Flip 4 and the JBL Xtreme. Talk about having the best of both worlds.
You’ll get the benefits of large speaker which include sound and battery life, in a size that can easily fit in a suitcase or backpack. The Charge 3 is covered in an IPX7 waterproof fabric that protects the drivers on the inside and, just like the Flip 4 and Xtreme, it too has an exposed bass radiator. This means that not only will the low end sound slightly better, but it will look way cooler (especially if you get a little water on it). Needless to say if there’s any vulnerable spot on the speaker, it’s this. Still if JBL says it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in a meter of water we’ll take their word for it.
On the bottom you’ll find a small stand incorporated into the design which is perfect for just pulling it out of a suitcase and placing it on a nightstand somewhere. You’ll get about twenty hours of battery life which blows a lot of the competition out of the water, and it also has the ability to charge your devices via a USB output. Another useful feature if you don’t want to leave your phone charging in the room, or worse if your phone is close to dying while you’re playing DJ at the beach.
On top of the speaker are a few playback controls like pause/play, volume control, and a Bluetooth pairing button, but you’ll also find the JBL connect button. Pressing this will allow it to sync up with other relatively new JBL speakers to provide a true stereo. The Charge 3 comes in white, black, red, and teal so you have options.
UE WonderboomFull Review
This isn’t the first time a UE product has made its way onto this list. Before the Wonderboom this spot was taken by the UE Roll 2, another oddly shaped waterproof speaker with a unique design. Unlike the disc shaped Roll 2, the Wonderboom has more of the classic cylindrical shape you’d expect to see from Bluetooth speakers. It’s a short and pudgy speaker with the signature + and – volume buttons that come on UE products.
As far as sound quality goes this speaker is definitely not going to be impressing anyone. It sounds good enough to use poolside or at the beach, but that’s about it. What is impressive is the IPX7 waterproof rating which, means that it can be completely for up to 30 minutes in up to a meter of water. Additionally, the speaker can also float: making it a great waterproof speaker for the beach, since you can drop it and not have to worry about losing it to Davy Jones’ locker. The fabric covering that wraps around the speaker is dual purpose, as it protects the internals of the speaker from water but also does a great job at providing grip for the user even when the speaker is soaking wet.
One feature that we found odd in the full review was the elastic loop on top of the speaker. The UE Roll has a similar one but it was much larger, allowing you to hang it from basically anywhere you saw fit. The one on the Wonderboom is way less helpful, being barely large enough to hang on a towel rack. As far as controls go this speaker has the two volume buttons on the front and two buttons up top. One of those buttons is the power button which doubles as the play/pause button when music is playing, while the other button is for Bluetooth pairing. You can also press the volume buttons down at the same time to hear a cute beep that tells you whether your battery life is full, moderate, or low.
Speaking of which, battery life is another pain point for the speaker if you use it on max volume. We got about two hours of constant playback in our testing, though to be fair UE said that it must have been an issue with our review unit so hopefully you fare better than we did. Still, even with our battery troubles we couldn’t help enjoying the Wonderboom. It’s a great little waterproof speaker that’s perfect for picking up and throwing in your bag on your way to the beach or to a friends house. Throw in the fact that it costs less than $100 and comes in six cool colors and it’s hard not to recommend for this specific use case.
JBL Flip 4Full Review
Sure, the Fugoo Sport XL is great, but as its name implies it’s a fairly large speaker. But maybe you need something a little more portable, and with better sound quality. That’s when you’d go with the JBL Flip 4. Two JBL speakers on the same list? They’re good, okay?
Essentially, you’d pick up the Flip 4 over the Charge 3 if you didn’t often find yourself in the position of needing to provide music for a wedding reception (Chris here: I did exactly that this summer). It’s also a much more capable piece of hardware than the Charge 3 in terms of raw audio quality, so listeners that just want some tunes in solitude may want to look here first. When Adam tested this model earlier in the year, he noted:
The Flip 4 sounds very similar to the previous model... There’s only a few subtle differences here as far as I can tell, one of them being in the highs. On the Flip 3 I found a slight distortion when the speaker was maxed out but that doesn’t seem to be an issue on this new model.
The only major sore spot here is the battery life. If you max out the volume, it’s only going to last you about four hours. That’s nowhere near the listed spec of 12 hours, and you can only achieve that by reducing the volume to about 50-75%. That’s a perfectly fine listening volume, but if you really need your tunes bumpin’, you’re going to want a more powerful speaker than the Flip 4.
We’re not the only outlet to like the Flip 4, but most people haven’t really updated their lists since the Flip 3 came out. While this is essentially the same unit that lots of people love, it boasts better waterproofing than the original—literally the only reason why it didn’t make this list for us until now.
Water-resistant vs Waterproof
The first thing to be aware of is just how much water can the product take? Not all speakers are created equal and some are more resistant and durable than others. One way to know exactly how durable a speaker is by looking at it’s IP rating. This is a set of standards that a product must be put through and survive in order to get the certification. The full charts are available here if you’re interested, but the common ones you need to know are these:
Depending on where you’re going to be using the speaker some things might be more important than others. If you’re taking it to the beach you might not be so worried about water damage (unless you plan on losing it in the ocean) but dust and sand resistance is probably something you should consider. Likewise if you’re going to be using it poolside there likely isn’t going to be a lot of sand around. But if it accidentally gets knocked into the pool it’s good to know just how waterproof it is.
Pros of waterproof speakers
So what are the benefits of a waterproof speaker? Besides the obvious advantage of not having to worry about water damage, they’re also usually fairly durable. Like any electronic dropping it isn’t a good idea, but these devices are made with the knowledge that users are going to be taking them out of the house. So they’re usually a little more durable than your average speaker.
Another clear advantage is portability. For the most part, these speakers are intended to move around easily with you. Sure there are beefier options out there for those of you who prefer sound quality over portability, but most are small enough to easily toss in a bag on your way out of the house.
Cons of waterproof speakers
As always there are some sacrifices that need to be made when you want one aspect of a product to be great, and when it comes to waterproof speakers: that thing is sound quality. Drivers need to be protected from water and dust to varying degrees which usually means they don’t sound as clear as their non-waterproof competition. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of speakers that sound great considering they’re waterproof but few can match comparably priced speakers designed for sound.
Another big con when it comes to waterproof speakers is the price. This isn’t always the case, but most of the time waterproof speakers will be just a little bit more expensive because of the added feature. That said, if you’re looking for a waterproof speaker it’s obviously worth the extra cash.
There are literally thousands of waterproof Bluetooth speakers you can choose from, and we went with what we think are the top 5. If none of these are really what you were looking for here’s a short list of products that we considered but for one reason or another ended up being scrapped.
- Sharkk Commando Bluetooth speaker
- UE Roll 2
- Cambridge Soundworks Oontz Angle 3
- Altec Lansing Life Jacket 2
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