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Best cheap Bluetooth speakers
Music is a social experience, which is why cheap Bluetooth speakers are exploding in popularity. Every party needs music, no matter where it takes place. The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune on speakers to set the tone because the cheap Bluetooth speakers market is booming. Here are our top picks that won’t break the bank.
- This list of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers was updated on October 23, 2023, to add the recently reviewed Skullcandy Terrain Mini XT and the Sony SRS-XB100 to our Top Picks, adjust formatting to our current style, and answer more frequently asked questions.
- If you are able to spend a bit more, check out our list of the best Bluetooth speakers for less than $100.
If this were a list of headphones or microphones, frequency response charts would be at the end of each image gallery. However, we don’t currently take frequency response measurements for speaker reviews. You can learn more about how to read our charts here.
Always on the move? Bring the JBL Clip 4
The JBL Clip 4 comes from a lineage of other successful portable speakers, the JBL Clip 2 and, later, the still quite good JBL Clip 3. Improving on a tried and true concept, the JBL Clip 4 has an IP67 rating, an improved carabiner, and a whole new design. Whereas the previous iteration has no dust resistance, this one can hang at the beach in the sand.
Weighing 240g, the Clip 4 also features a 10-hour battery life, charged via USB-C (as opposed to micro-USB on the Clip 3). Unlike the Clip 3, JBL ditched the 3.5mm line-in on the Clip 4, which is annoying for some, but lossless audio is not going to make or break your sound quality on this kind of speaker, so Bluetooth is fine.
The 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 UE Hyperboom. 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. Keep in mind it’s more of a rough and ready, attach to your bike or sing-along in-the-shower type speaker.
The Sony SRS-XB100 is small but mighty
The Sony SRS-XB100 is a pocket dynamo that you can take pretty much anywhere. Despite its small size, it punches above its weight in durability. With an IP67 rating, this gadget isn’t afraid of getting wet in the shower. Toss it in your bag without a second thought—the 16-hour battery life ensures it’s up for any adventure. Plus, it’s made from recycled plastic, which is a nod to sustainability without skimping on quality.
Audio-wise, the SRS-XB100 doesn’t disappoint either. Its full-range driver and passive radiator manage to squeeze out more bass than competitors like the Skullcandy Terrain Mini XT. You can even pair it with another SRS-XB100 for a fuller sound experience. Google Fast Pair and voice assistant compatibility are neat extras, although don’t expect this speaker to double as a smart home hub.
On the downside, the SRS-XB100 isn’t room-filling loud, and its companion app is a bit of a dud—just battery stats and firmware updates. The microphone quality for calls leaves something to be desired as well. Plus, once the battery’s out, prepare for a tedious 4.5-hour charge time.
In a nutshell, for $59.99, the Sony SRS-XB100 delivers straightforward utility with a surprising amount of flair. It’s a great pick for anyone needing a reliable, portable sound source. Just don’t expect it to be the life of a large party. But if you’re hitting the trails or need a singing companion in the shower, it’s an absolute steal.
Do you prioritize durability? Make room for the JBL GO 3
The JBL GO 3 is durable. Not only is it IP67-rated, making it fully waterproof, but it’s also dust and shockproof. The main downside we observed with this speaker is that it doesn’t float, so you can keep it near the bathtub or the swimming pool, but you probably don’t want to put it in the water.
The JBL GO 3 is a great companion for day-long summer excursions because its battery lasts over 10 hours on a single charge. In terms of sound, the GO 3 isn’t the highest quality, but it isn’t meant to be. It produces pretty loud volumes considering its size and lets vocals come through clearly enough to hear the lyrics you want to sing along to.
The JBL GO 3 is pretty no-frills and is unfortunately not compatible with the JBL Portable app, but it has onboard controls to adjust volume and media playback. The speaker is made of a fabric covering and fits in the palm of your hand. It’s a great option for a speaker under $50.
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 some of the other soundbars we’ve tested, you still get a lot of speakers for not a lot of money. It’s not the best option for building your dream home theater system. Still, it’s a perfectly fine under-monitor speaker that makes listening to music, watching videos, or playing games that much more enjoyable.
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 of 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, even if it’s a bit older.
The Skullcandy Terrain Mini is made to last and doesn’t cost much
The Skullcandy Terrain Mini XT is a rugged, water-resistant Bluetooth speaker that doesn’t shy away from adventure. With an IPX7 waterproof rating, straightforward controls, and a modest $40 price tag, it’s designed for the budget-conscious consumer who values durability and ease of use over bells and whistles.
While it won’t win any awards for audio quality, it does the job for casual listening and small gatherings. It offers uncomplicated pairing, an LED battery indicator, and USB-C charging, embodying a no-nonsense, plug-and-play approach. It may lack high-end features like high-bitrate audio or an app for firmware updates, but these limitations are minor in the grand scheme of its core functionalities.
What sets it apart in a crowded market is its sheer reliability. For those who want a basic yet sturdy Bluetooth speaker without splurging, the Terrain Mini XT is an excellent pick. If you already own Skullcandy speakers, its Multi-Link feature adds a layer of versatility, allowing you to create a more expansive sound setup. Overall, it’s a steadfast performer that delivers on its promises without emptying your pockets.
The Anker SoundCore Flare Mini is one of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers
The Anker SoundCore Flare line of Bluetooth speakers is best known for the combination of design and solid sound quality, with different models catering to different price brackets. The Mini variant is Anker’s lowest-priced offering, and it provides loud sound in a compact form.
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. Extra features include 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.
Best cheap Bluetooth speakers: Notable mentions
- Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen)($49 at Amazon): The smart home is more relevant than ever, and companies are rapidly expanding with a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) product ideas. Anyone with multiple devices will benefit from the hands-free voice controls of the new Echo Dot (5th Gen).
- Anker Soundcore 3 ($50 at Amazon): This IPX7-rated speaker has an (albeit narrow) stereo configuration with an impressive 24 hours of battery life on tap. It’s compatible with other Anker Soundcore speakers for party modes, and the app has an equalizer to boot.
- Anker Soundcore Flare 2 ($55.99 at Amazon): Gain all the features of the Flare Mini, but with more powerful drivers, Soundcore app control, dual LED halo lighting, and better sound quality at a price tag slightly above $50.
- JBL Clip 3 ($48 at Amazon): Although the Clip 4 has replaced it, the JBL Clip 3 is cheaper. It also has a 3.5mm input missing from the new version and a longer-lasting battery. The build and design are different, and the carabiner feels less robust. Even so, find one on sale, and it may be worth the savings.
- Philips S3505 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker ($42 at Amazon): In a décor friendly casing, the S3505 Bluetooth speaker has an IPX7 rating, a small size with a handle, a built-in mic for phone calls, buttons on the front face, and it charges via USB-C. The battery lasts 10 hours, which isn’t terrible but perhaps not the best. Still, it’s quite a package for the price.
- Sony SRS-XB13 (on the product’s website): 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 for 16 hours, no matter where you take this speaker. Occasionally, you can nab it for under $50.
- TOZO PA1 ($33 at Amazon): TOZO has loaded the TOZO PA1 with an impressive list of specs for well under $50, making it a great outlier candidate. Firstly, the IPX7 rating means it’s virtually waterproof. Dedicated buttons on the top save you from reaching for your device to alter playback or even EQ (although there’s an app too). The built-in mic means you can answer calls without disconnecting, and 12 hours of battery life is perfectly good for most folks.
- Tribit StormBox Micro ($52 at Amazon): This one is set to compete with the JBL Clip series, by sporting the same IP67 rating and a small form factor you can attach to a bike.
- UE Wonderboom 3 ($91.99 at Amazon): This speaker isn’t quite under $50. However, it is a handy little speaker with an IP67 rating and a loud sound. Its battery life is 14 hours, plus you can pair it with a second one, and it floats if your pool party gets rowdy.
What you should know about cheap Bluetooth speakers
What is a Bluetooth codec?
Just like wireless headphones, Bluetooth speakers use specific Bluetooth codecs to determine how files are transmitted from a source (phone) to a receiver (speaker). Different codecs produce different amounts of latency when streaming, and the most common of those that have the lowest latency and the highest streaming quality are aptX and AAC if you’re an iOS user. With that said, many Bluetooth speakers only use the basic SBC codec, which can mean you might have some latency when using the speaker to watch videos.
What are IP ratings?
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. IP ratings denote the dust and water resistance of a particular product. Oftentimes, a product will be rated something like IPX4, and the X is just a placeholder for what would be a dust-resistance rating. For a product to withstand full submersion, it must be at least IPX7 or higher.
Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
How we chose the best Bluetooth speakers around $50
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 had already reviewed and knew to be good. Nothing here is going to make it into the MoMA, but for around $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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Frequently asked questions about cheap Bluetooth speakers
While these two little speakers are of a similar size, they differ in a few minor ways. One of the major selling points of the JBL Clip 3 is that it has a built-in carabiner clip, making it easier to attach to a backpack or anything really. The JBL GO 3 only has a loop, but if you have a carabiner of your own, it is easy to use it in the same way. The JBL GO 3 also has an IP67 rating, whereas the Clip 3 has an IPX7 rating—this just means that the Clip 3 doesn’t have a certified dust-proof build, but both speakers are waterproof. Another notable difference between the two speakers is that the Clip 3 includes an auxiliary port, whereas the GO 3 can only connect to a source device via Bluetooth. Lastly, the Clip 3 includes a microphone for making calls, but the GO 3 does not.
When the Anker SoundCore Flare Mini has a low battery, the power button blinks in red.
For the money, the Skullcandy Terrain Mini is the loudest small Bluetooth speaker on our list.