Music is a social experience, which is why cheap Bluetooth speakers are exploding in popularity. Every party needs music, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on speakers to set the tone because the cheap Bluetooth speakers market is booming.
Editor’s note: this list was edited on September 16, 2020, to address the fluctuating price of the JBL 3, and its availability through the Amazon Renewed program for less than $50.
What you should know about cheap Bluetooth speakers
Plenty of these speakers are water-resistant, so here’s a quick rundown of Ingress Protection (IP) ratings and what they mean to your specific model. If you want to take a deep dive, make sure to read our feature.
|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
The Anker SoundCore Flare Mini is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker
Anker’s SoundCore Flare line of Bluetooth speakers are best known for its combination of sleek design and decent sound quality, with different models catering to different price brackets. The Mini variant is Anker’s lowest-priced offering, providing consumers with a speaker that packs a punch in a miniature form-factor.
Anker Soundcore Flare Mini
With its two 5W back-to-back neodymium drivers, the Flare Mini delivers 360˚ sound for an immersive music listening experience. An IPX7 rating ensures that the party won’t stop, even if the speaker is out in the rain, or taking a leisurely 30-minute dip in the pool. Rounding out its feature set includes a modest 12-hour battery life, Bluetooth 4.2 support (connection range of up to 20 meters), and the ability to pair two Flare Mini speakers together.
Although the Flare Mini lacks clarity, the overall sound is very good for such a cheap speaker: amplified bass and low-midrange frequencies make the sound engaging and perfect for a pool party. For less than $50, it’s hard to find another Bluetooth speaker that can compare with the Flare Mini.
For a simple home solution, check out the Creative Stage Air
If you’re looking for an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, chances are it’s going to be small and portable similar to the other options on this list. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Case in point: the Creative Stage Air. While this speaker isn’t nearly the size of the some of the other soundbars we’ve tested, you still get a lot of speaker for not a lot of money. While this might not be the best option to build your home theater around, it’s a fairly solid under-monitor speaker that makes listening to music, watching videos, or playing games that much more enjoyable.
Creative Stage AirFull Review
Like most speakers of this price, the Creative Stage Air has fairly limited features so don’t expect to plug in HDMI and optical cables from your gaming console. For that, you should check out our list for best soundbars. The Creative Stage Air keeps it simple, supporting Bluetooth 4.2 with the SBC codec and 3.5mm input. It has a few annoying quirks, like automatically turning off to save power after 15 minutes of non-usage, but overall it’s a solid option for the price.
Always on the move? Bring the JBL Clip 3
The JBL Clip 2 was one of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers, but it’s been outdone. The Clip 3 comes with the same familiar fabric covering and remains IPX7-rated, as well as a redesigned carabiner for easier attachment to a bag
JBL Clip 3Full Review
The Clip 3 also features greatly increased battery life over its predecessor. Instead of just eight hours of playback, users are afforded 16 hours of listening before having to charge the Clip 3 with a micro-USB cable.
Sound quality is good enough for a hike, picnic, or even for the shower. Just don’t expect it to get loud enough to power your backyard BBQ like the Sony SRS-XB501G. Clarity and bass response aren’t great, but it gets the job done well enough. The same can be said for the microphone quality: It works, but you’re better off using your smartphone.
Editor’s note: The JBL Clip 3 has seen some recent fluctuations in price above $50. However, the product is available for less than $50 through the Amazon Renewed program.
See: Best shower speakers
Do you prioritize durability? Make room for the Aomais Sport II
This speaker retails for around $30 and is unusually durable. Not only is it IPX7-rated, but it’s also mud and shockproof. Plus, it includes a floatation accessory, which is absolutely adorable. The rubber exterior protects the speaker against drops and dings, making it the perfect speaker for the outdoors.
Aomais Sport II
This is also the most powerful speaker of the cheap Bluetooth speakers at 20W. It allows for loud volumes and strong bass reproduction, which is ideal for outside, where ambient noise may easily mask midrange and treble frequencies.
One of the most unique features of the Sport II is the quarter-inch tripod mount. This is intended to be used on bike handlebars, but who’s to say you can’t attach it to an actual tripod too? A full charge cycle takes 3 hours, supplying 8 hours of battery life. It’s not lightweight at 618g (21.8oz), but it’s durable and compact.
If you have a smart home, get the Amazon Echo Dot
The smart home is more relevant than ever, and companies are running with even the most ridiculous Internet of Things (IoT) product ideas. Anyone with multiple smart home devices, say a few Philips Hue lightbulbs or a smart fridge, will benefit from the hands-free voice controls of the Echo Dot.
Amazon Echo Dot
Of course, it’s not just a vehicle for smart home operation. Its speaker capabilities, while not extraordinary, are fine for the price: sound is audibly relayed. Users can connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or auxiliary 3.5mm input—assuming your phone has a headphone jack.
Back to voice control, though; Alexa has over 50,000 skills that users can command to make life presumably more convenient. From adjusting your thermostat to locking your doors, the Echo Dot will hopefully make your life a little more streamlined.
Cheap Bluetooth speakers: notable mentions
- Anker SoundCore: It’s nearly identical to the SoundCore 2, but lacks any IP certification; is a 6-watt, rather than a 12-watt speaker; and operates on Bluetooth 4.0, rather than 4.2.
- Anker SoundCore Flare 2: This speaker has all the features of the Flare Mini, but includes more powerful drivers, SoundCore app control, dual LED halo lighting, and better sound quality at a price tag slightly above $50.
- Anker Soundcore Icon Mini: With a form factor smaller than a deck of cards, paired with an IP67 water and dust resistance rating, this speaker is designed for the adventurer looking to take their playlist along for the ride.
- Anker SoundCore Motion Q: It falls in the same category as the JBL Clip 2, but its more traditional stout shape isn’t quite as portable. That said, the battery life and sound quality are more impressive than the Clip 2.
- Anker SoundCore 2: With a 24-hour battery life, an IPX5-rating, and 12W total sound output, you can’t go wrong with this sub-$50 Bluetooth speaker.
- Google Home Mini: Driven by the power of the Google Assistant, this smart speaker provides decent sound for its size, especially for songs using acoustic instruments.
- Oontz Angle 3: This is the runner-up for the best bang-for-your-buck speaker. It’s just over $20, is portable, and IPX5-rated.
- Sony SRS-XB12: The “XB” in the product’s name stands for Extra Bass, delivering a powerful low-end in a compact form factor. An IP67 rating also ensures that the party will go on, no matter where you take this speaker.
- Tribit XSound Go: If you’re familiar with the Sony SRSXB2, this will look familiar. It provides 24 hours of playback, is IPX7-rated, and can easily fit in a bag or purse.
How we chose the best cheap Bluetooth speakers
A simple search on Amazon yields 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, 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 already reviewed and know to be good. 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 need to be functional and better than average, which these are and do.
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