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 March 9, 2020, to make note of the JBL Flip 5 in the notable mentions section.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers under $100
The best of the waterproof speakers is the UE Boom 3
We were never a huge fan of the 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. Instead, it’s 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. If you want a similar build to the UE Boom 3 with added smart speaker functionality, check out the UE Megablast.
You’re going to want to check out some alternatives like the Bose Soundlink Revolve+
Most durable speakers tend to be small, super portable, and rugged. It’s rare to find a water-resistant speaker that also looks good, but if you want quality design, then check out the Bose SoundLink Revolve+. This isn’t cheap but you get what you pay for: a gorgeous Bluetooth speaker that’s perfect for hanging poolside in the summer.
Bose SoundLink Revolve+
It’s worth mentioning that this speaker is IPX4 certified; so although it can take a splash or get rained on no problem, you’ll want to avoid throwing it into the pool. Although the SoundLink Revolve+ isn’t portable enough to strap to your bag, it does include a small handle for moving from place to place. It has a battery life of roughly 16 hours and even lets you access Siri or Google Now via a button right on top of the speaker. The lantern-like design that allows it to pump out 360° sound, so regardless of where you are in relation to the speaker, you’ll be able to hear it.
Searching for the best-sounding waterproof speakers? 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
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
Anker is no stranger to making affordable products that get the job done. The Soundcore Flare does more than sound good for the price. It also looks good. It’s hard to find a budget speaker with any amount of style and if you do, it usually sounds terrible. The Soundcore Flare might not be the best-sounding speaker on this list (see: JBL Charge 3), 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 FlareFull Review
The Soundcore Flare 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 colorful LED halo on the bottom. Unlike some other products that use colorful lights to look cool, the Soundcore Flare does it tastefully with the lights being more of a design accent than the main feature.
Throw in the fact that you can pair two of these together for double the sound and it’s a steal. Especially since one of the only downsides would probably be that it doesn’t get very loud, so doubling up on the waterproof speakers is a nice workaround. Anker announced the Soundcore Flare 2 at CES 2020, which retains its tapered, cylindrical design but adds a ring light to the top panel.
Notable mentions for the best waterproof speakers
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- 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.
- Anker Soundcore Sport XL: Anker has made yet another quality bang for your buck speaker. For the price, you can’t go wrong.
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.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Working at SoundGuys is each of our day jobs, so you can bet we’ve clocked in countless hours testing a wide array of audio products. This hands-on experience has allowed us to quickly discriminate between the good and not-so-good products out there. As far as waterproof speakers are concerned, seeing as most of these are Bluetooth each pick has to be good given Chris’ hatred for all things Bluetooth. Adam, on the other hand, has been a SoundGuy for four years now and he’s heard the best of what the audio world offers. And before working with SoundGuys, Lily spent time independently reviewing audio products, working for her college radio station, and enjoyed all sorts of highs and lows alike. If you have the time, we implore you to read up on our ethics policy.