Today’s phones offer exceptional sound quality, but sometimes it’s more convenient to have a device designed only for listening to music. The portable Bluetooth speakers have a very good sound for its reduced price, have more battery than most smartphones, a small size and some models are water resistant. All this makes them very sought after accessories that provide hours of entertainment.
If you are interested in an economical portable speaker and you do not know which one to buy for less than fifty, here we bring you our comparative guide of the best Bluetooth speakers. We have tried the most popular models and we offer you our experience. From the Bluetooth quality, the design and of course its sound.
The Sony SRS-XB10 is the best Bluetooth speaker. We are facing a portable speaker of a fairly compact size, an easy design to pick up by hand and we also have a small silicone strap to hook it. The body is rubber, the sound comes from the top and we have resistance to water and IPX5 dust, so we can listen to music from the shower, the pool or the beach without fear of getting wet.
In addition to its good design, what most surprises the Sony SRS-XB10 are two of the fundamental aspects in any Bluetooth speaker: the battery and the sound quality. The Sony speaker has lasted up to thirteen hours of use, being second only to the Tribit XSound GO which is considerably larger. But if there is one point that has clearly made us opt for the Sony SRS-XB10 is its sound. In spite of the size it has blunt basses and very clean means and trebles without distortions. A level performance outstanding sound for a device of its price.
A round product without important weak points and that allows you to enjoy your music for longer and in better quality. Sony usually offers devices with a fairly high price, but the quality / price of this SRS-XB10 is excellent. A Bluetooth speaker with NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 to pair it with a second model, hands-free and a level of battery and sound that makes it stand out above all alternatives.
JBL Clip 2
The JBL Clip 2 are almost iconic. We are facing a Bluetooth speaker with a characteristic design and away from the rest. It is designed to take it anywhere thanks to the integrated carbine that incorporates, an addition that we find very useful and practical. It is also a very lightweight speaker with a body resistant to water and IPX7 dust. In fact, it is the waterproof speakers that best support wetting. The sound is not distorted and can actually float on water thanks to its more flattened design.
In addition to its excellent design, we have a first class sound. They are not very powerful, but the mediums and highs reproduce them with a very high fidelity. Even with the volume at maximum we do not notice practically distortion and the music sounds clean and strong .
If you are looking for an outdoor Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Clip 2 offers a very good Bluetooth connection, it incorporates a 3.5mm jack to listen directly by cable and has the best design of all we have tried. The autonomy is in the middle, but its sound signed by Harman is also the clearest and most pleasant.
Anker SoundCore mini
The Anker SoundCore mini has been a surprise. Of all the analyzed we are facing the smallest Bluetooth speaker but it has nothing to envy at the power level. Its sound is clear, with amazing bass for its size and a pretty good sharpness.
The design of the Anker Soundcore mini is minimalist, practically smooth except for the volume control buttons and connections, among which we find a microSD card reader. It is not sturdy but for less than twenty it is an excellent option for those looking for an interior Bluetooth speaker. In addition we have obtained about ten hours of autonomy, so it is also among the best in the aspect of the battery.
How to choose a good wireless Bluetooth speaker?
Wireless speakers are of all types, from the most compact and with a refined design focused for interiors to the most resistant designed to take them anywhere. Although in general we should look at the same aspects to get our purchase right. As we usually do in our buying and comparative guides, here we leave you with the key aspects that you must set to buy a Bluetooth speaker …
- Speaker style, design and size: The first decision when buying a portable Bluetooth speaker is to see if we want it to listen at home or to take away. There are some with handles that facilitate their transport, while others have very minimalist designs but more designed to be on top of the furniture still. In second place is the size, we have some in the form of a small tube and others in the form of a more elongated bar. Usually the seconds usually have more power but are more difficult to transport.
- Weight, quality of materials and resistance: One may think that the speaker is left on the table and we forget about it while it is playing, but we must remember that they have the word ‘portable’. We must take into account aspects such as resistance to water and its operation when wet, if they are very heavy and if the materials are resistant to bumps or scratches.
- Bluetooth connectivity, NFC and reception quality: Although they have improved a lot, we still find some Bluetooth speakers with Bluetooth connection problems when we move away. At this point it is recommended that the speaker has at least BT 4.0. It is also interesting that you have NFC to make the pairing or directly 3.5mm jack to connect it.
- Battery: Normally these Bluetooth speakers will take you to the beach or the mountain. A whole day or a weekend with the background music to cheer us up the day. The bar-style speakers are larger but usually have more power and battery. However, in some cases the little ones can overcome some great ones. We have theoretical hours of autonomy and hours with the maximum volume, there being a big difference between the two values.
- Sound quality: Although we are talking about cheap speakers, the sound quality that these devices can offer surprises many times. Here there are many parameters to take into account, from power, frequency, accepted codecs, compatible audio formats, address where the sound comes from …
- Extras such as USB, radioFM or card reader: The last aspect to consider is perhaps the least important but may justify paying more for the speaker. Some include radioFM to not depend on the mobile, others allow to connect a USB and many have a slot to add a TransFlash or SD card.
Continue Reading: Making the leap to wireless headphone
What our tests are based on?
The recommendations of our purchasing guides are based on previous experience, the fruit of several years of testing and analyzing all types of technological devices. For Bluetooth speakers we have opted for nine wireless speakers that we have been testing for about three weeks.
It is the case that Bluetooth speakers have hundreds of different options and is that despite trying almost a dozen different models, there are still quite a few candidates that could have fit into this comparative guide. We have chosen to bet on the best-selling speakers and a couple of models of each type. Compact speakers such as the Sony XB10B, the Anker SoundCore Mini or the Xiaomi Speaker 2 and more powerful and heavy Bluetooth speakers such as the Energy Sistem Box BZ3 or the DOSS SoundBox. In addition to the type of loudspeaker we also wanted to know the differences between the brands with the most travel in the world of sound and those with technically very interesting products at demolition prices.
The strategy we have followed to analyze these speakers is to use them as we would in case of buying them. Being economic devices we value many aspects such as design and battery.
To test the sound we have mainly used Spotify, in high level from various Android phones and extreme quality of 320 kbps from the Macbook. More than enough tracks to appreciate at this level the difference in quality between one and the other. From each of them we have exhausted their battery with the volume slightly above 50% and listened to all kinds of songs to check the various tones. Mainly the tests have been indoors but we have also taken them to a getaway.
Design: Speakers of all sizes and shapes
The design of the Bluetooth speakers can vary a lot, although in general they follow a pattern that allows us to classify them in two types: the mini ones, which are a small tube no bigger than a glass and the speakers in box format, bigger and heavier. The first tend to bet on the design and although its size is smaller, usually surprise as soon as you turn them on. The second format is very common in loudspeakers of higher range and what we have seen is that in models of less than 50 is used to incorporate more battery and power, but not always with an increase in sound quality.
In aesthetic matters we can differentiate between those who opt for a minimalist design, very focused on interiors, and those who have a more adventurous style. The first type highlights the Xiaomi Mi Speaker 2 with a rotating volume control and an appearance that goes almost unnoticed when we place it on the furniture. Of the second group we are clearly with the JBL Clip 2, which highlights the inclusion of a carbine to tie it to the pants or backpack. Some like the Sony SRS-XB10 or the Tribit XsoundGO also incorporate a strap to hold them, although they are far from the security offered by the JBL system.
Other additions that we have seen and can have your audience are the LED light of the LG PH3, a Bluetooth speaker in the form of a small lamp or the Energy Sistem Box BZ3 and its screen that shows us information about the radioFM or the menus. Beyond these add-ons all Bluetooth speakers have as a priority a design focused on the control buttons and the position of the speaker.
Each speaker has them in a different position but almost all have a button to turn on, one for the Bluetooth, one to pause or play and two for the volume. Some also have buttons to pass songs and in case the speaker has a radioFM, also a button to change the mode. The buttons of speakers like the DOSS Soundbox are tactile, in the case of economic models like the Muzili they are common plastic buttons and in the models with a more careful design they are covered with rubber, an option that is the one that we find in the models of LG, Sony, Tribit or JBL.
Here we leave the comparative table of dimensions, weight and connections of the models analyzed for this test. We must understand this selection as a representative sample but we see that models like the JBL Clip 2 are very light, few incorporate the latest version of Bluetooth and where the FM radio is usually reserved for box-style speakers.
|ANKER SOUNDCORE MINI||67 x 67 x 67 mm||215g||AUX, microSD, microUSB||BT 4.0||Microphone, passive subwoofer|
|SONY SRS-XB10B||75 x 75 x 85mm||290g||AUX, NFC, microUSB||BT 4.2||Microphone, IP5X resistor, volume buttons, amplifier|
|XIAOMI BLUETOOTH SPEAKER 2||60 x 60 x 93mm||260g||microUSB||BT 4.1||Microphone, control volume swivel|
|LG PH3||90 x 90 x 123mm||380g||AUX, microUSB||BT 4.0||Microphone, volume buttons, main LED|
|JBL CLIP 2||141 x 94 x 42mm||186g||3.5mm jack, microUSB||BT 4.2||Microphone, IPX7 resistance, volume buttons, integrated carabiner|
|TRIBIT XSOUND GO||170 x 56 x 58mm||381g||AUX, microUSB||BT 4.2||Microphone, IPX7 resistance, volume buttons|
|MUZILI||180 x 44 x 62mm||340g||AUX, microSD, USB, microUSB||BT 4.0||Microphone, radioFM, volume buttons|
|ENERGY SISTEM MUSIC BOX BZ3||210 x 64 x 64mm||352g||AUX, USB, SD card, microUSB||BT 4.0||Microphone, radioFM, volume buttons|
|DOSS SOUNDBOX||168 x 74 x 69mm||560g||AUX, microSD, microUSB||BT 4.0||Microphone, radioFM, volume buttons|
The connections are another differential point between the design of each other. Except for some very minimalist models such as the Xiaomi mini, in general they all have an auxiliary connection, as well as microUSB to charge them. In the box type models it is also common to find USB and microSD or SD card reader, both one option and another are very interesting because it allows us to connect an external memory and play music without the need of a bluetooth device from which to send the songs.
The own speaker usually occupies great part of the body of these devices. They are mostly oriented vertically and are composed of a single woofer. In models like the Tribit XSound or the DOSS SoundBox we have double loudspeaker and a passive radiator to increase the bass.
Many Bluetooth speakers are designed for both indoor and outdoor, although there are models that are clearly focused on a place. Models like the Anker or the LG PH3 are clearly to have them in the furniture, while others are more durable and resistant. The Sony SRS-XB10 or JBL Clip 2 are surrounded by rubber and are resistant to water and dust. Eye, do not allow to immerse them but there is no problem if you drop water or use them in the shower.
If the water hits directly on the loudspeaker the sound has problems but when emptying the water it will be heard again. The JBL Clip 2 suffers less and has an advantage over the rest; Being light and flat it can float for a while on the water.
The design of a bluetooth speaker may seem secondary, but in the end it also has a relevant role when it comes to using it. If it is very nice but uncomfortable to wear we will leave it still and if it weighs a lot we will have to carry the backpack or leave it in the car. The controls are also important as it will cause us to control the music from the mobile or from the device itself. At this point those with the buttons at the top are the most comfortable.
Connectivity and Bluetooth
It strikes us that very few Bluetooth speakers incorporate NFC, a very practical connection but that still does not have enough pull in the most economical models. In fact, some of the mobiles that we have used do not have this technology either.
On the other hand, the Bluetooth that we find has at least version 4.0. Absolutely necessary so that the autonomy of these devices is sufficient. The connection via Bluetooth is usually fast and we do not find many problems as they also have A2DP support, although it is true that in some we have more stability than in others. Our favorites are the JBL CLip 2 and the Tribit Xsound GO, while the Muzili and the LG PH3 have had the odd start.
If we are next to the coverage is perfect in all of them, but if we move away the distortions begin. The connection range is between 10 and 20 meters, but beyond the theoretical number depends a lot on the model and the day, since sometimes it fails in a few moments but not in others. For how small it is, the reliability of the Anker Soundcore Mini is surprising again.
These Bluetooth speakers also incorporate a microphone so they can be used as hands-free. Especially noteworthy is the noise cancellation of the Sony SRS-XB10 and in a second level the Energy Sistem Music Box BZ3. The rest remains at similar levels.
Continue Reading: Who is winning the war for wearables market?
Sound quality: What Bluetooth speaker sounds better?
If you are going to buy a Bluetooth speaker you should know that for less than 50 an excellent sound quality is achieved. Not far we have a level of fidelity comparable to the high-end devices, but they are surprising for how good they sound despite the size and cost.
When it comes to betting on one or the other, you have to decide what you want them for. If we are simply looking for power we will be interested in buying a speaker in the form of a box, where the volume is usually higher. Models like the DOSS Soundbox and its dual 6W speaker get up to about 90 decibels.
This power is usually lower in the mini speakers, but at the moment of truth the difference between 3W and 5W is not so much. It is useless to bet on a loudspeaker with more power if it is later distorted and the bass is artificial and noisy. For example in the case of the Energy Sistem Music Box BZ3 we note that at maximum volume we do not obtain the desired precision. Otherwise it is the Muzili, where theoretically we have a lot of power but then the sound lacks strength.
Large speakers often include passive radiators to improve sound quality, while smaller ones are usually based on a single transducer. The Xiaomi Mi Speaker 2 is an example, although in models like the SoundCore Mini a passive one is added to improve the bass.
Here we leave the comparative table of our experience with the sound of the different Bluetooth speakers after trying them for a few weeks. We offer you the strengths and weaknesses of each speaker and a score of 1 to 5, with the highest score being the scale that marks the sound that we liked the most in this range …
|POWER RMS (WATTS)||SOUND STRENGTHS||WEAKNESSES SOUND||PUNCTUATION|
|ANKER SOUNDCORE MINI||5 W||Passive subwoofer and amazing bass for its size. Great level.||It has radioFM but it is unusable. The sound is not as 360º as it promises.||4.5 / 5|
|SONY SRS-XB10B||5 W||Low blunt and without distortions despite being in maximum volume. Excellent level for your price.||For commenting on some detail, slightly abuse the bass.||5/5|
|XIAOMI BLUETOOTH SPEAKER 2||5 W||It does not distort and has a good level of means.||Insufficient power and somewhat canned sound.||3/5|
|LG PH3||3 W||360º sound||Generally unsatisfactory sound quality. Very loose bass and music lacking energy.||2.5 / 5|
|JBL CLIP 2||3 W||Great level in media and highs. Very good fidelity in maximum volume and maintains quality despite being wet.||With the volume below 50% it sounds too loose.||4.5 / 5|
|TRIBIT XSOUND GO||6 W||Great power, robust bass and pretty clean sound.||It suffers a lot from the basses.||4/5|
|MUZILI||6 W||It has radioFM and the power is acceptable.||Flat sound, distorted highs and little blunt bass. Insufficient.||2/5|
|ENERGY SISTEM MUSIC BOX BZ3||6 W||Good level of means and serious with the volume to 50%.||Distort too much with the volume to the maximum.||3/5|
|DOSS SOUNDBOX||6 W||Of the most powerful, enough for outdoors.||The sound is perhaps not as clean as in other models.||3.5 / 5|
The Sony SRS-XB10 has offered us the best sound of all we have tried. At almost all levels he was right with the tones, the power is sufficient and the blunt bass, justifying that ExtraBass technology that they promote.
In a second step we find the JBL Clip 2, also with a very clean sound and to which we can only attribute that it is necessary to place the volume above 50% to have enough power. Not as sharp as the JBL model but with more powerful bass is the Anker SoundCore Mini, highly recommended to make the room slightly rumble without distorting the sound.
Then we choose the speakers in box format like the Tribit XSound GO and the DOSS SoundBox. They go over power and bass although when the songs are not based on the basses, their shortcomings are noticed. Still two models that achieve a good balance between your commitment to the subwoofer and more crystal clear sounds. The Energy Sistem Music Box BZ3 would have entered this group if it were not for a bad experience when we put its volume to the maximum.
The speakers focused on the design as the LG PH3 or the Xiaomi Mi Speaker 2 fail to stand out in the sound. Other models of these same manufacturers will get a good level, but in particular these two speakers are a couple behind. Worst situation is that of models like the Muzili, a box-shaped loudspeaker that promises a lot at a very competitive price but in the day to day the difference is noticeable.
Battery: Which models hold more time?
We already know how these bluetooth speakers sound. But, how long can we be listening to music with them? In general more than one day and almost all of them with a greater autonomy than the mobile phone. And that’s testing them with a mobile phone like the Mi Max 2 that offers a huge battery.
Except for the Muzili that did not manage to survive the whole morning, the rest offers autonomy of several days. As is logical, the battery life is not the same if we listen to music with the maximum volume not 50%. At first we did some test with the average volume but we realized that the analysis could be too long.
In some models we can spend several days listening to music that the battery will not run out. This led us to do the autonomy test with the volume at 75%. The average of autonomy that we have obtained is between 7 and 10 hours, with box-shaped devices having the most battery power. The music has been sent via Bluetooth, in case of playing the audio from the internal memory or an SD card the autonomy will be slightly higher.
The battery of the Tribit XSound GO takes almost five hours to complete but it has lasted more than 16 hours. The secret is inside, where we find a battery of 4400 mAh.
Initially we thought that the seconds would be the DOSS SoundBox and the Energy Music Box BZ3 with batteries around 2000 mAh. However, the Sony SRS-XB10B and its 1400 mAh battery lasted thirteen hours, surpassing the speakers in box format with a much larger size. The Anker SoundCore Mini has 1,800mAh and also enjoys exceptional autonomy. Behind are the Xiaomi, LG or JBL, the latter with a battery of only 730mAh but capable of holding us for about seven hours.