Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
The Wonderboom 2 has a natural sound and a cool design, and it’s built to survive almost any outdoor adventure.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $82.
The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is as euphonious as Ariana Grande but as tough as Lara Croft. In our brand-concealed tests, our panelists picked this Bluetooth speaker as the all-around most versatile choice. With clear vocal reproduction and a decent amount of bass for its size, it offers satisfying sound for a small area, such as across a picnic table or a couple of lounge chairs on a patio. It has an IP67 rating and is one of the most rugged Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested, able to survive a 5-foot drop and a dunking in 1 meter of water—but because it floats, it’ll probably never dive that deep. The Wonderboom 2’s only downside is its battery life, which at 8 hours in our testing is adequate but not impressive. We like the Wonderboom 2’s compact design, even if the almost-spherical shape makes this model a little tougher to pack away in a suitcase pocket or laptop bag.
JBL Xtreme 3
The Xtreme 3 plays loud enough for outdoor parties yet sounds smooth enough for relaxed listening—and it’s built to survive rough handling.
The JBL Xtreme 3 is a great choice if you want a Bluetooth speaker that sounds bigger and bolder than our top pick yet is still portable enough to take to the beach or the tailgate. The Xtreme 3—which replaces its predecessor, the Xtreme 2, as our upgrade pick—is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve tested, as our panelists praised it for its clear sound on voices, guitars, and pianos (though its bass tended to get a little quiet at maximum volume). This speaker is built for adventure: The IP67 rating means it’s waterproof and dustproof, the strong carrying strap makes it easy to lug along anywhere, and in our testing the Xtreme 3 ran for 17 hours on one charge. But it’s much larger and more expensive than the UE Wonderboom 2.
Tribit XSound Go
The Tribit XSound Go is the best speaker we’ve heard in its price range, and it’s compact and waterproof to boot.
If you want to spend the bare minimum on an all-around good portable Bluetooth speaker, the Tribit XSound Go is a great choice. Its sound is obviously clearer and louder than that of almost all other budget Bluetooth speakers. The XSound Go is small enough to slip into a laptop bag or an already stuffed suitcase, and it runs 10.5 hours on a charge. Plus, it has an IPX7 rating, which means it’s sufficiently waterproof to survive a half-hour dunking in 1 meter of water, and it has a speakerphone function. Tribit recently upgraded the XSound Go with USB-C charging and stereo pairing.
The SRS-XB33 has a detailed, clear sound, with a rugged design and lots of features.
If you need something that sounds a little louder and fuller than the UE Wonderboom 2 but is more portable and affordable than the JBL Xtreme 3, the Sony SRS-XB33 finds a nice middle ground. It’s powerful enough to fill a 20-by-15-foot room, and it gave us about 16 hours of battery life in our tests. With an IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating, it’s also built to take punishment, and it has multicolor lights and strobes, as well as a speakerphone function. However, it’s about two and a half times bigger and heavier than the Wonderboom 2, so it’s nowhere near as portable.
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
The Hyperboom plays loud enough to fill a backyard yet offers sound quality comparable in many ways to that of a good small stereo system.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $450.
The Ultimate Ears Hyperboom might be the closest thing we’ve found to a portable Bluetooth speaker that does everything well. It plays almost twice as loud as the JBL Xtreme 3, so it’s ideal for pool parties and tailgating. It also sounds beautiful, with smooth and natural vocals, ample deep bass, and surprising ambience for a one-piece speaker—so you’ll probably want to use it indoors, too. At 14.3 inches high and 16.6 pounds, it’s impractical for airline travel, but it’s compact and light enough that most people can carry it easily. It also has an IPX4 rating, so it can survive all the splashing that goes on around a pool. In our tests, it played at a fairly loud volume for 27.5 hours on a single charge.