Large Wireless Speaker – Summer means more time outside and for most people music is an essential item in the sun. The portable Bluetooth speaker category has exploded in recent years, morphing into the boomboxes of 40 years ago — without the dual tape decks and with built-in functions for enjoying streaming music.
Whether you want to enjoy your playlist outside by the pool, beach, lake or river — and prepare for a sudden summer downpour — waterproof and waterproof outdoor Bluetooth speakers will give you peace of mind. Speaker options abound, from small enough to fit in your pocket to big enough to rock a block party.
Large Wireless Speaker
Expert: I’ve spent more than three decades testing audio equipment for outlets ranging from Audio to Rolling Stone. I’ve been writing about music for over 25 years and have interviewed dozens of great artists and producers to find out how their records should sound. What to Look for in Outdoor Bluetooth Speakers
Sony Xb33 Extra Bass Portable Bluetooth Speaker In Black
Sound quality comes first when evaluating audio equipment and general aesthetic style. But what matters is a solid set of features that make the speaker easy to use and comfortable to live with for the long haul. Sound and style are subjective—you can use your own ears and eyes to gauge those qualities—but certain features can make or break audio gear, no matter how good it looks. Of course, price is also a consideration and with higher costs comes more power and generally better sound quality. Prices here range from $60 to $350, so you can find a speaker that fits your budget and needs.
Look for longer battery life, but note that listed ratings are generally lower when the speaker is turned on at high volumes or when lighting features are turned on. The external Bluetooth speakers tested here offer between 6 and 24 hours of battery life, but this varies depending on factors such as volume and whether the built-in lights are activated. Expect an average jam time of 10 to 12 hours.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio frequency to share data over short distances. Check that the speaker connects not only via Bluetooth, but also via Wi-Fi, which provides better range without interrupting the music when you receive a phone call. Wi-Fi offers the option for multiroom audio by connecting to other Bluetooth speakers of the same brand, or connect to Apple Airplay or Google Chromecast if you plan to make the speaker part of a larger home audio system.
Sony Xp500 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker In Black
How do you plan to use the Bluetooth speaker outdoors? Will you throw it in your bag when you head out for summer activities, or will the speaker live somewhere outside the swimming pool? What kind of music do you listen to, is it for your own listening or as a soundtrack for family gatherings and celebrations? Will you be using it for hands-free phone calls or listening to podcasts and audiobooks? All of these answers will help you decide how big or small a speaker you should consider.
If you plan on pumping out tunes where water is involved, look for a waterproof or water-resistant speaker. Be sure to mention the product’s IP rating, which indicates ingress protection. IP ratings are written as IPXX, with the first X indicating resistance to dust and particles and the second indicating liquid resistance. Dust resistance IP ratings range from 0 to 6; Water IP ratings vary from 0 to 9. A product with an IP67 rating means it’s theoretically impervious to damage from beach sand and protected against submersion up to one meter for 30 minutes. Note that all IP fluid tests are performed in fresh water, as testing in salt water and chlorinated pools can cause corrosion.
Photo by Doug Newcomb // Available in Lagoon Blue or Sunset Red, this elegant speaker, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3, offers contrasting lights that pulse with music.
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As a surfer, kiteboarder, paddleboarder and swimmer, I’m never far from the water – and rarely without my music. In the summer, I work as a host at a waterfront park in Hood River, Oregon, on the Columbia River, so it’s a water sports center. I tested the speakers in rain and wind i.e. early fall/spring conditions in the Columbia River Gorge and carried the waterproof speakers on a standup paddle board. While I primarily evaluated the sound of the speakers, I also listened to them indoors, as they can do double duty as desktop or countertop speakers. I used a variety of streaming music, including high-resolution files. I also considered features such as battery power, lighting effects, and the ability to connect to other devices or additional speakers. Finally, I evaluated how they looked and felt.
JBL offers an extensive line of Bluetooth speakers (I own several and currently have a Flip 5 Rock), but the Charge 5 remains my favorite speaker. A long excursion speaker for high volume, a separate tweeter for excellent high frequencies and a bass radiator at each end for enhanced low frequencies, it emits clean, crisp and loud sound. With 20 hours of playtime on a full charge and a built-in USB power bank, you can charge other devices while you play tunes. An IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating helps you take this speaker anywhere. All that said, the Charge 5 bunch is one of the most aesthetically appealing.
This portable speaker is so small that it easily slips into the pocket of my board shorts, but a pair of integrated rubber straps make it easy to attach to bike tails, a belt loop, or anything else. Heading to the pool or the beach? An IP67 rating means it’s water-ready. It also works as a portable charger and has a water-resistant USB-C charging port. Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity offers a range of up to 120 feet. While the 2-inch speaker, passive radiators, and XBASS technology pump out decent sound for its size, the StormBox Micro 2 had the weakest output of all the speakers I tested.
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The Audio Pro A15 is the best speaker I’ve tested and its light gray fabric cover stands out in a sea of black Bluetooth options. Compatibility with Apple AirPlay2, Google Chromecast and Audio Pro’s own multiroom software positions the A15 as a great part of a larger sound system – and it even has Spotify Connect. The A15 supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and features six preset buttons for quick access to a favorite music source or playlist. Still, with just 11 hours of battery life, you’ll need to be near an outlet to charge it, and with its IPX2 rating, the A15 can only withstand light rain.
That’s the challenge with many portable Bluetooth speakers: If they’re not pointed at you, the sound suffers. Not only does this outdoor model deliver 360-degree sound, it also features dual speakers, passive radiators, and bass boost for less than its size. With 20 watts of power, it hits its limit faster than a larger, more powerful speaker. It’s an entertaining speaker after dark, with its twin “rainbow” lights — one above and one below — pulsing to the beat of the music. An IPX7 waterproof rating ensures it’s pool party-ready and will withstand a submersion in a drink. PartyCast technology makes it possible to connect countless Flare 2 speakers with their sound and lights synchronized.
If you need music for a big outdoor party, this is your jam. With a 5.25-inch woofer in a vented cabinet and a 1.75 soft-dome tweeter powered by 100 watts, the JBL Partybox Encore Essential is the most powerful speaker I’ve tested, with solid sound quality. Two-stage bass boost and variable lighting that syncs (and can be turned off) with the beat make this speaker the life of the party. The wired mic input is perfect for karaoke. An app lets you control music, update settings and adjust the colors of the light display.
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If you want to take your sound out on the water, this speaker will handle it. IP67 rating means it’s waterproof with a waterproof cover for the USB-C charging port, USB-A charging output and aux-in. Additionally, it comes with a handy strap. A single 3.5-inch titanium speaker delivers balanced sound, but there’s also an option for a bass boost that adds 2 to 3 dB of oomph. Another convenient setting offers increased clarity of podcasts and audiobooks. 20 hours of battery life will last for most outdoor activities. Owners report in online reviews that with just one speaker, the sound quality is lower than with mono and two stereo speakers, and adding a second speaker only produces twice the mono sound.
This speaker is a reliable outdoor and waterproof companion and, because it floats, a great music first companion on a boat. Its dual 2.5-inch pure
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