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Wireless Bluetooth speakers have become ubiquitous indispensable gadgets. Everyone has one somewhere, and use cases vary from person to person. Maybe you use your speakers as a soundtrack at home or in the shower. Maybe you can take it with you to the park or the beach. And then there are those who take their portable speakers with them wherever they go – sharing their music from their bike or backpack with anyone nearby.
Best Wireless Waterproof Speaker
I know a lot of people who have older bluetooth speakers and if yours still works, there’s no need to upgrade to something new right away. But received Bluetooth speakers
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Good in recent years. Sound quality continues to improve, battery life reaches new records, and it’s more reliable and durable than ever.
If you’re buying a new speaker, start by determining the size you need. In this guide, I mostly stick with portable Bluetooth speakers and exclude anything that isn’t practical to take on the road. From there, you need to weigh other criteria like sound quality, ease of use, durability, and extras like hands-free functionality. Some speakers allow you to create stereo pairs of two of them, and some companies include “party” capabilities that allow you to pair multiple speakers together. If you don’t care, you can get a small bluetooth speaker for only $25. But all the choices here go a little further in terms of features and style.
Bose’s SoundLink Flex is sturdier and more durable than it looks. Photo by Chris Welch/The Verge
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I don’t know what engineering magic is put into a Bose Bluetooth speaker; I just know that going back to the Soundlink Mini II they just sound cleaner and
– at least to my ears – than any competitors of similar size. The $149 SoundLink Flex is Bose’s latest portable speaker, and it continues to live up to its reputation.
Despite only being a mono speaker (not unusual for Bluetooth speakers), the SoundLink Flex delivers really big sound with incredible bass. And most importantly, this lower range isn’t muddy or boomy. Everything about this dynamic is rich and clear. This is even more surprising when you consider that it only supports the basic Bluetooth SBC codec, rather than AAC or the more advanced LDAC. Still, this speaker sounds great.
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Bose’s latest Bluetooth speaker, the SoundLink Flex, delivers impeccable, detailed sound quality with an incredible amount of bass for its size, all in a rugged design you can take anywhere.
You can expect around 12 hours of battery life, and like many of the other speakers in this guide, the SoundLink Flex is IP67 rated for dust and water resistance. Boss is very confident that it can handle drops and floats. Whether you place the speaker horizontally or vertically, Flex automatically optimizes the equalizer for any orientation. And it also works better than most as a speakerphone with built-in microphones. Not everything about the SoundLink Flex is perfect: its buttons aren’t easy to use by touch, and it’s odd that Bose chose to use Bluetooth 4.2 instead of the newer version of the spec. But if those are my biggest complaints, it’s fair to say that the SoundLink Flex is a winner.
The UE Boom 3 has been a popular Bluetooth speaker for a few years since its release. Photo by Vieran Pavic/The Verge
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It’s honestly a bit overwhelming that I’m still writing about UE Boom 3 in 2022. This speaker was released in 2018 and has been used by Ultimate Ears ever since. Maybe that says something about how stagnant the Bluetooth speaker market has become, or maybe UE hasn’t come up with anything to top the $149.99 Boom 3. Or maybe that’s a testament to just how good the Boom 3 portable speaker is.
Few portable speakers are as popular as the Ultimate Ear Boom 3. With 360-degree sound, a waterproof design, and easy controls, it’s no wonder this Bluetooth speaker has stayed with us for so long.
The company considers this an “advanced” approach to the 360-degree cylindrical speaker design pioneered in previous booms. And with 15-hour battery life, a fully waterproof design that floats in swimming pools, and those big, rugged volume buttons, the UE Boom 3 still holds its own. Its standout feature compared to older models is the magic button, which allows you to quickly play a specific playlist by pressing and holding the top button. But what has given the Boom 3 such staying power is its simplicity, solid construction and satisfying sound. While the Boom 3 lacks the detail and harshness of some competitors, the drivers, firing in all directions, create a large soundstage. But as a vegan, there’s a lot to like.
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It’s important to have reasonable expectations if you’re looking to buy Sonos Roam. The company’s larger speakers often deliver sound quality that sounds bigger and more voluminous than you’d expect, but that’s not necessarily the case for smaller ROMs. Don’t get me wrong: while it won’t fill a room with music, it’s more than capable of delivering clear, vibrant sound, whether you’re sitting next to it or using it as a shower speaker.
The Sonos Roam is a small, highly portable Bluetooth speaker that integrates with the company’s popular home audio platform. It also supports hands-free voice commands via Alexa or Google Assistant.
Rom’s real strengths are its smart and tight integration with the Sonos home audio platform. When you’re at home, Roam streams music over Wi-Fi, giving you better fidelity than Bluetooth. You can easily switch playback from the Roam to another nearby Sonos speaker with the touch of a button, and as long as your player supports Bluetooth, it’s an inexpensive way to add a player to your Sonos system. You can easily group it with other Sonos speakers for multi-room playback. If you want to use the ROM as a smart speaker, choose Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for hands-free voice commands.
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Sonos recently released the slightly cheaper Roam SL which lacks a built-in mix. But if you’re not against the presence of a microphone in your gadgets, I’d stay away from the Roam SL. This will only save you $20, but you’ll lose some notable features like TruePlay audio quality auto-tuning, the aforementioned Sound Swap feature, and (obviously) all voice interactions. For $99 or $129 I could see it. But $159 is too much to ask for the Roam SL.
If you’re looking for something more powerful, the JBL Charge 5 is more powerful than the UE Boom, both in terms of size and sound reproduction. I’m not a fan of JBL putting an oversized logo on their new speakers; So much for subtlety. But if you don’t mind that aesthetic, the Charge 5 meets a lot of demands on functionality.
It’s an endurance champion: up to 20 hours of continuous playback. As for the battery, a unique trick offered by the Charge 5 is its ability to charge external devices: there’s a USB-A port to recharge your or a friend’s phone while you listen to music.
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The JBL Charge 5 is a powerful Bluetooth speaker with a marathon battery life of up to 20 hours. It also allows you to charge your phone through the built-in USB-A port.
My main disappointment with the Charge 5 is its mono driver, which has to mix stereo content. When you’re working with mono portable speakers, there may be snippets of songs or certain instruments that aren’t as common as stereo speakers. And while the Charge 5 doesn’t sound as clean and detailed as Bose’s SoundLink Flex, it’s more noticeable here.
The Sony SRS-XB43 delivers powerful stereo sound with deep bass. Also, you get a light show with music. This speaker is more than capable of playing outdoor party soundtracks, especially if you turn on its Extra Bass mode.
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The Sony SRS-XB43 is a large Bluetooth speaker that is perfect for both indoor and outdoor parties. Powerful stereo speakers sound great with plenty of bass and you also get a customizable light show.
It also has an extra jack (a rarity featured here) so anyone can plug in and play audio if you don’t want to deal with Bluetooth. But if you do, the XB43 also supports Sony’s LDAC codec, and like the JBL Charge 5, there’s a USB-A jack on the back for plugging in your gadgets.
The headphone jack has disappeared from most phones these days, and unfortunately the aux input is also increasingly disappearing from many Bluetooth speakers. But this gives you the best of everything. It weighs six and a half pounds, so it’s not the speaker you’re going for
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