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.
Editors’ note: this list was edited on March 6, 2020 to reflect changes in price.
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 2 is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker
As with many successors, the Anker Soundcore 2 takes what was great about its predecessor and improves what was just OK. It’s a 12W, IPX5-certified speaker, so it can withstand strong jets of water but not full submersion.
Anker Soundcore 2
Aside from that, and a negligible redesign, the Anker Soundcore 2 and Soundcore are virtually identical. Both provide 24 hours of playback, with speakerphone capabilities and playback controls. Due to the increase in power, the bass is more emphasized, and generally speaking, the Soundcore 2 gets louder. For just under $40, this is the perfect on-the-go speaker for filling a common area.
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.
Related: Sennheiser Ambeo 3D soundbar
Always moving? 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.
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, and it comes with 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
If CES is any indication, the smart home is more relevant than ever. Companies are running with even the most ridiculous 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.
- 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Anker Soundcore Flare: This is an excellent portable speaker, and it rocks an LED strip light at its base. Unfortunately, it’s price increase removed it from the running as a top pick, but even at ~$60, it’s a great value.
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.
Why should you trust us?
Maintaining and updating this site is each of our day jobs, and collectively, we’ve accrued over a decade of experience with our fingers on the audio industry’s pulse. We try to directly test as many products as possible to paint a clear picture of how each product compares to others.
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