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 water and electricity don’t mix. That means if you want to bring your favorite speaker to the beach, you’re out of luck—unless it’s a waterproof speaker. Luckily, plenty of companies make water-resistant or waterproof speakers, but which is the best waterproof speaker? Let’s dive in to find out.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on February 25, 2021, to add information regarding the JBL Charge 5.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers under $100
The best of the waterproof speakers is the JBL Flip 4
The JBL Flip 4 is a perfect happy medium of a speaker when it comes to portability, sound quality, and convenience. Its IPX7 rating means it can be fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. (Editor’s note: Just beware that if you happen to have a defective product, you might find it difficult to get JBL customer support to replace your speaker past the warranty. Sara had a Flip 4 break due to water damage regardless of the claimed IPX7 rating.)
JBL Flip 4Full Review
While the JBL Flip 4 may not have as excellent of sound as its larger counterpart, the JBL Charge 4, it does a great job of balancing bass response with clarity. If you want to connect your Flip 4 to other Flip 4s, you can with JBL Connect+, but it’s not backwards compatible with previous iterations of JBL Flip speakers. Since the JBL Flip 5 is out, you can get the Flip 4 for a pretty affordable price, and it’s almost exactly the same as the newer model except for the improved battery life. It’s also worth looking into JBL’s refurbished program if you’d like to save a few bucks.
You’re going to want to check out the UE BOOM 3
For a long time, we weren’t big fans of UE BOOM speakers here at SoundGuys, mainly because you can get better sound out of something like the JBL Charge 3, JBL Charge 4, or even the Sony XB-41 speaker. That said, the clever design of the UE BOOM 3 really impressed us and took the top spot on this list. The speaker has been redesigned so that it doesn’t just have a cylindrical shape like the older model, but its also nearly the same size and shape of your average water bottle now, meaning you can bring it with you anywhere. The Sony XB-41 speaker that we had here before is still a great option, but its large size and substantial weight makes it far less portable.
UE Boom 3Full Review
You also get the signature +/- buttons on the front for volume control and can link the speaker with over 100 other UE speakers. If you and a friend both have UE speakers you can download the app and double up on sound. Battery life is roughly 15 hours of constant playback which isn’t great, but it does have an IP67 waterproof build. Additionally, like the smaller UE WONDERBOOM, it floats.
Searching for the best-sounding waterproof speaker? Go with the JBL Charge 4
The Charge 4 is the newest in the line-up and has a few minor improvements over the previous Charge 3. At launch, the Charge 4 didn’t offer enough of an improvement to justify the price difference between it and the previous Charge 3, but its huge price reduction makes it more appealing. You get USB-C charging as well as the new JBL Connect+ feature, which allows you to connect to up to 100 other JBL speakers.
JBL Charge 4Full Review
You also won’t be missing out on any of the features that made the Charge 3 great. You’ll still get a 20-hour battery and the option to charge your devices thanks to the built-in USB-A port on the back. Plus, you’ll get the same IPX7 waterproof build making it completely waterproof in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.
Related: JBL Pulse 3 review
What about the JBL Charge 5?
Earlier this year, JBL announced the Charge 5 at CES 2021. This update to the Charge line of speakers features a smaller build than its predecessor, an IP67 waterproof and dust resistance rating, Bluetooth 5.1, and 20-hour battery life. It also features a USB charging port for powering your devices on-the-go. PartyBoost is also available with the Charge 5, which allows you to pair it with other compatible speakers. It’s slated for release this April for $179 USD.
The UE WONDERBOOM 2 floats
Unlike the disc-shaped UE Roll 2, the WONDERBOOM 2 retains its predecessor’s cylindrical shape. The short, pudgy build is adorned with UE’s signature + and – volume buttons. Sound quality is fine. Sub-bass is lackluster, but midrange frequencies (e.g. vocals) are relayed clearly. This is great for singing along around the bonfire. If you need, you can switch Outdoor Boost mode on, which increases the loudness at the expense of clarity. As is the case with waterproof speakers, durability is key and the UE WONDERBOOM 2 is as strong as it is stout.
UE Wonderboom 2Full Review
It’s drop-tested up to 1.5 meters and has an IP67 dust- and water-resistant rating. This is improved over the first-generation’s IPX7 rating, so you can take this to the beach without worrying about grains of sand ruining the speaker. What’s more, this little guy floats and can be thrown straight into any pool party. The fabric covering that wraps around the speaker is dual-purpose. For one, it protects the internals while serving as an easy-grip texture even when it’s soaking wet.
The WONDERBOOM 2 features an updated elastic loop, which is stretchier than before. While battery life has greatly improved from the previous version, it still falls short of UE’s claimed 13-hour stamina. (Our testing yielded just under 10 hours of playback.) That said, the drawbacks are easy to overlook as this is an excellent companion for all of your summer adventures.
Looking to save some cash? Meet the Anker Soundcore Flare 2
Anker is no stranger to making affordable products that get the job done. The Soundcore Flare 2 does more than sound good for the price. This speaker features bigger drivers compared to its predecessor for a more room-filling sound. It might not be the best-sounding speaker on this list (see: JBL Charge 4), but it does more than we expected. Lows are strong and defined while vocals and other instruments in the mids come through mostly clear. There is some slight distortion in the highs, but it isn’t a deal-breaker. It’s the design that makes this worth the money.
Anker Soundcore Flare 2
The Soundcore Flare 2 waterproof speaker is wrapped in an IPX7 fabric and can play music in any direction, thanks to drivers that are placed all around the cylindrical speaker. Battery life is just okay at about 12 hours, but it’s enough to power the dual LED halos on the top and bottom. Unlike some other products that use colorful lights to look cool, the Soundcore Flare 2 does it tastefully with the lights being more of a design accent than the main feature.
Best waterproof speakers: notable mentions
- Anker Soundcore Flare: The original of the Flare series also has an IPX7 rating. It’s also got a portable and lightweight design, so it’s perfect for throwing in your bag to take to the beach.
- Anker Soundcore Flare+: For a few extra dollars, you get a more powerful speaker with improved bass reproduction, compared to the Flare 2.
- Anker Soundcore Flare Mini: This speaker is the budget option of the Soundcore Flare line up, sporting a similar build quality to the Flare 2, though with less powerful drivers.
- Bose SoundLink Micro: If you’re knee-deep in the Bose ecosystem and want a travel-friendly speaker that can withstand nearly anything, the SoundLink Micro is a great addition to have.
- Bose SoundLink Revolve+: This speaker used to be in one of the top spots of this list, but it’s not technically waterproof. It does have an IPX4 rating, though, along with omnidirectional sound, 16 hour battery life, and smart assistant access.
- JBL Boombox 2: If you want the biggest, the baddest, the loudest outdoor speaker JBL has to offer, check out the Boombox 2. It has four active transducers and two bass radiators for backyard-filling sound—all wrapped in a durable IPX7 waterproof enclsoure.
- JBL Clip 3: The Clip series has always been one to keep your eye on, but with a new design and a greatly improved battery life the Clip 3 is finally a true contender. Especially since you can usually find it for about $50.
- JBL Flip 4: If you’re looking for a waterproof speaker that’s less than $100 to bring to the beach or the pool, the Flip 4 is one of the best around. It used to be on this list as our bang for your buck pick until the Anker Soundcore Flare came around.
- JBL Flip 5: This has the loudest output of all the Flip speakers but doesn’t offer much beyond that over the fourth-gen model. In fact, it even nixes the headphone jack from its design while retaining the same, outdated Bluetooth 4.2 firmware.
- JBL Link Portable: If you need a Google Assistant-enabled speaker that you can take to the beach, this IPX7-rated speaker is for you!
- JBL Pulse 3: The Pulse 3 might not sound better than the Charge 4 and it’s definitely bigger than the Flip 4, but man is it a fun speaker to look at.
- Sonos Move: This premium speaker is technically not waterproof, but its IP56 rating still makes it extremely resilient against big splashes of water. It also boasts a reliable Bluetooth connection, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration, and AirPlay 2 support.
- Sony XB-41: Sony makes some of the best speakers around, and its waterproof speakers are no different. The XB-41 is a solid choice that was our best all-around pick for a long time, but it was kicked out by the more nimble and portable Boom 3.
- UE BLAST: This speaker has a similar build to the UE BOOM 3, sporting an IP67 waterproof rating and delivering 360˚ sound with added Amazon Alexa functionality.
- UE MEGABLAST: This is UE’s best-sounding portable speaker, featuring more powerful drivers over the UE MEGABOOM, an IP67 waterproof rating, and built-in Amazon Alexa voice control.
- UE MEGABOOM: It doesn’t quite stand up the best in its price range, but this is an excellent speaker nonetheless.
- UE Roll 2: It was already one of the best speakers you can get for the price, and the new and UE Roll 2 is even better. It isn’t much of an improvement over the original, but it is an improvement. It used to be on this list until the WONDERBOOM rolled around and replaced it. Why? Because the WONDERBOOM floats which we think is way more useful than being able to survive submersion.
- UE WONDERBOOM: If you’re not enticed by the improvements offered by the UE WONDERBOOM 2, the first-gen model is still a great pick.
Related: Best Google Assistant smart speakers
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 its 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:
|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
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 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 and cons 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 generally durable and often shock-resistant, too. You should do your best to avoid dropping any electronic as parts are subject to loosening at any moment; however, these devices are made with adventure in mind. Manufacturers want to ensure customer loyalty and product longevity, so waterproof speakers are usually tougher than your average speaker.
Another clear advantage is portability. Again, these speakers are intended to move around 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. Worst-case, you can always clip the speaker to the outside of your bag or toss it into your pack’s water bottle holster.
Related: Best waterproof headphones
As always there are some sacrifices that need to be made, and in the case of waterproof speakers, that sacrifice is sound quality. Drivers need to be protected from water and dust to varying degrees which means they don’t sound as clear as their non-waterproof competitors. 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 cost. This isn’t always the case, but most of the time waterproof speakers will be a bit more expensive because of the added feature. That said, if you’re looking for a waterproof speaker, the price of durability is easy to justify.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, none of the speakers on this best list have support for the feature. If you want to invest in an AirPlay-compatible speaker, be sure to check out our list of the best AirPlay speakers!