The Best Bluetooth Speaker…

The 30-Second Review

A good Bluetooth speaker will let you share music with friends. The best will also be easy to carry, offer useful features like waterproofing or long Bluetooth ranges, and sound better than others. To find our top picks, we consulted audio experts, looked across audiophile sites and consumer reviews, and then we tested 10 highly regarded speakers for portability, durability, and sound.

Most Portable

A compact and durable speaker that will survive anything from a weekend camping trip to a dip in the pool. Balanced sound quality makes it a great choice for relaxing at home or your next adventure.

Best Volume

A larger speaker that can produce better sound for those who need to fill a bigger room or cover more ground. It’s just as durable as our other pick, but its larger sizes makes it harder to carry.

The Best Bluetooth Speaker

Full disclosure: Bluetooth technology has limitations, which means these speakers won’t sound as good as wired speakers. So if you’re an audiophile looking for the best sounding speakers possible, Bluetooth speakers won’t be the best bet. But if you’re a general listener looking for a portable way to simply enjoy or share music without the hassle of headphones and wires, Bluetooth speakers are an excellent choice. The best will be easy to carry, offer useful features, and still sound better than the rest.

The UE Roll 2 impressed us with a durable and portable design that we felt comfortable using at home or while hiking with friends. It has a fabric mesh that covers the speaker and a rubber backing that prevents any scratches or dents in the case of accidents. It is also waterproof and can handle being under 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, which makes for great poolside listening. Speaking of audio, the speaker has great sound quality and was able to produce clear vocals and instruments we could picture using at a backyard barbeque. Its size will limit its volume, but the speaker is a solid choice for those who want a great sounding speaker for any situation.

If you need your tunes a little louder, the Fugoo Style XL is an excellent choice. Its larger size makes room for more powerful parts including two mid/woofers that give a boost to your bass. But rather than get lost in details of technical parts, the average listener can simply expect great and balanced sound that is strong enough to fill larger rooms or cover more ground than the UE Roll 2. Like our other top pick, the Fugoo is durable but adds increased dust resistance and the ability to float in water. It isn’t as portable as the UE Roll 2, though, and its large size and relative heft makes it harder to carry than some other speakers. Even so, it’s portable enough for sharing great music with friends around the house or a day trip to the lake.

Our Picks for the Best Bluetooth Speaker

Most Portable

UE Roll 2A great sounding waterproof speaker that’s easy to take on the go.

If you’re looking for an easily portable speaker that sounds great and does it all, we can’t imagine a better pick than the UE Roll 2. It’s our favorite Bluetooth speaker because it sounds great and earns its reputation for being one of the most durable and sturdy speakers on the market. An IPX7 rating means it will survive immersion in water for up to 30 minutes, and it can even withstand being buried in mud. The UE Roll 2 a reliable speaker that you can listen to at home, while camping, and anywhere in between.

In terms of portability, the UE Roll 2 excels. It has a flat design that took up less space in our backpacks than more common cylinder or bar-shaped speakers such as the Bose Soundlink Revolve or VAVA Voom 20. The bungee strap also allowed us to strap the speaker tightly to bikes and backpacks for great audio quality on the go.

Comparison2 for Bluetooth Speaker

L-R: UE Roll 2, Bose Soundlink Resolve,
VAVA Voom 20

On top of that, the UE Roll 2 is incredibly light and comes in at about .75 pounds — half a pound lighter than the similar Beoplay A1, which felt noticeably heavier in our hands. And if you’re tossing a speaker in your backpack, you’ll definitely appreciate the lighter weight. Of course, this doesn’t mean the UE Roll 2 feels cheap. The speaker has a tough fabric covering that removes the risk of dents or scratches. The closest competitor in terms of overall quality, the Beoplay A1, has an aluminum covering that is prone to dents or scratches. While Beoplay markets the potential for scratches and dents as a way to preserve memories… we’d rather not remember the moments where we damaged a $250 speaker.

At first glance, the UE Roll 2 takes a minimalist approach to features. The speaker only has four buttons for volume, pairing devices, and turning the speaker on and off. Our tester was thankful for the large plus and minus buttons on the front of the speaker compared to the hard-to-see volume buttons on the Beoplay A1.

Volume Comparison for Bluetooth Speakers

The UE Roll 2 isn’t perfect, though. The speaker doesn’t offer a button for skipping or playing previous tracks, so you’ll need to keep paired devices like your phone handy to do so. Competitors like the Bose Soundlink Revolve have controls for skipping songs, and when we returned to the UE Roll 2 we missed the ability. But we didn’t consider this a deal breaker once we learned of the hidden features the UE Roll 2 offers.

The minimalist design will satisfy those who simply want to listen to music, but we were surprised to learn just how much the UE Roll 2 was capable of. The stand-out feature is the block party mode that allows 3 people to connect to the same UE speaker and share music. By using an app, you and up to two of your friends can play music through the UE Roll 2. In addition, whoever is playing DJ will be able to bounce between everyone’s playlists even if you’re using different music services such as Spotify or Apple Music. We thought it was a nice touch for sharing music in social situations.

Screenshots for Bluetooth Speaker

Other than that, the speaker can pair with another UE Roll 2 for stereo sound and includes standard features like pairing with two devices such as a phone and laptop. The UE Roll 2 also has a respectable battery life and lasts for around 9 hours at half volume. High volumes will cut the battery life short — the UE Roll 2 only lasts 3 hours at max volume. But even the high-end Beoplay A1 only lasts for about 3 hours on max volume and 5 hours at half.

As for sound quality, the UE Roll 2 is surprisingly impressive. Vocals and lead instruments come through crisp and clear. The speaker handled the powerful vocals of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” without any distortion or fuzz. Audio sites confirmed our experiences. The Sound Guys reported a strong mid-range with detailed vocals and a smooth treble range without harsh cymbals. What Hi-Fi? echoed the Sound Guys and reported clear guitar strings from the Guns N’ Roses as well as nuanced vocals with Fiona Apple. Both sites report a little trouble with the bass, which is expected with Bluetooth speakers. Our tester also felt the UE Roll 2 lacked a bit of depth compared to the Beoplay A1’s prominent bass. Even so, we were impressed by how good the UE Roll 2 sounds especially when considering it only costs $100 or half the price of close competitors like the Beoplay A1 and JBL Flip 4.

Laying the speaker flat will produce omnidirectional sound — audio will play in every direction. But the included bungee strap also means you can hang it up to direct music toward you and your friends. We appreciated the ability to point the speaker toward us outdoors where competing sounds like nearby traffic or leaf blowers made our speakers just a bit more difficult to hear. Wiggins told us “omnidirectional sound does cause problems when you place them near walls.” He explained “you’ll get some reflection when you place it near walls, which can make sound quality worse; directional will be better for pushing sound where you are at.” We like the UE Roll 2 for giving us the best of both without the drawbacks. The fewer tradeoffs we have to make for our audio quality, the better.

Best Volume

Fugoo Style XLA loud and durable speaker for those who need to cover more space.

For those who need a larger speaker, the Fugoo Style XL is an excellent choice. Out of all the speakers we tested, the Fugoo Style XL was able to get the loudest with minimal sound distortion. Add to that an incredible 27 hour battery life (at half volume) and durable design, and you’ve got a speaker that can handle anything from sitting by a campfire with friends to a large dinner party.

The main strength of the Fugoo Style XL is its volume. The speaker was able to fill a rooftop patio with music with ease, and our tester reported that even medium volume was more than enough for an office conference room. All of our large speakers like the Libratone Zipp were able to produce higher volumes than smaller options like our other top pick the UE Roll 2. But compared to the Fugoo, the Libratone couldn’t compete.

Comparison3 for Bluetooth Speaker

With all the volume, some may worry about high notes distorting or music sounding like it’s full of static. But we were surprised by how consistent the speaker was in producing balanced audio quality at high volumes. In our tests, we instantly noticed the powerful bass during songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA.” Oluv of clavinetjunkie fame confirmed our experience and reported a deep and punchy bass with the Fugoo that adds depth to music. The Sound Guys also described the Fugoo Style XL as a speaker that offers a lot of bass without interfering with vocals. Competitors like the Braven BRV-X weren’t terrible, but the less balanced bass response was noticeable even to our less trained ears.

Same speaker, different cover.While the Fugoo comes in 3 different options (Style XL, Sport XL, and Tough XL), the only difference between them is the jacket that surrounds the speaker. Swapping the jacket will change the durability (more on this later). But the actual or core speaker is called the Fugoo XL, and all 3 styles rely on it for producing sound.

The two audio sites slightly disagree when it comes to clarity in the treble range — clavinetjunkie describes a little distortion or muffled sound while the Sound Guys report present and clear violins. We played Lindsey Stirling’s rendition of “7 Years” to see if we could pick up on any issues within the treble range that experts noted. We found ourselves siding with clavinetjunkie, and our tester reported the violins sounded a bit muffled or fuzzy at higher volumes. That said, we had to set the volume at a level that was too high for use indoors and couldn’t pick up on the distortion when listening outside. While there are technically other speakers on the market that get louder than the Fugoo Style XL, we like that the Fugoo Style XL maintains balanced sound quality for use both inside and outside.

Although it sounds great indoors, the Fugoo is undoubtedly designed with the outdoors in mind. The Fugoo is IP67 certified, which means it can handle exposure to dust and be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. Unlike our other top pick, the Fugoo Style XL also floats — the UE Roll 2 relies on a proprietary floatie that isn’t practical outside of a pool and costs $20 to replace if lost or damaged.

Float for Bluetooth Speaker

The Fugoo Style XL also comes with a removable jacket that can be replaced with the more durable Sport or the nearly indestructible Tough jacket. Competitors like the Libratone Zipp come with removable jackets as well, but they only change the aesthetic. While different colors are nice, switching from green to red won’t save our speaker if it falls off a table or at our campsite.

Jackets for Bluetooth Comparison

Take the jacket off for better sound.The Fugoo’s jacket will help protect your speaker when outdoors, but we found taking it off actually improves sound quality. Like any speaker, removing anything between you and the sound will allow audio to reach your more directly.

The Fugoo Style XL is the toughest out of the speakers we tested, but it isn’t without flaws. The large size and hefty weight of three pounds makes it more difficult to carry. In addition, it doesn’t come with any handles or straps like the UE Roll 2. If you want to add a handle or shoulder strap, it will cost you an extra $8 on top of the already steep $180 price. However, it’s still far more portable than the bulky Libratone Zipp and sounds better than the similar-sized Braven BRV-X.

The speaker has standard features such as skipping or playing previous tracks, but adds support for Google Assistant, Siri, and phone calls. During a test call, our volunteer on the other line told us, “I can barely hear you,” and eventually asked us to just talk on the phone. This was disappointing considering the aforementioned price, but ultimately, sound quality and durability won us over. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little convenience, for a versatile speaker with more powerful volume, the Fugoo Style XL is an excellent choice.

Others to Consider

B&O Beoplay A1Less durable than our other picks, but this speaker sounds amazing.

If sound quality is the be all and end all for you, the B&O A1 is our recommendation. Simply put, the speaker sounds amazing. We’d even go so far as to say it outperformed larger speakers such as the Libratone Zipp and one of our top picks, the UE Roll 2. So why didn’t it take the top spot? It just isn’t as portable or versatile.

The speaker has a sleek design, but is noticeably heavier than the UE Roll 2 and doesn’t offer any protective coating. We felt anxious about taking the speaker with us while hiking or camping due to the risk of scratches or dents. B&O advertises the ability to scratch and dent the speaker as a way to “make it your own.” To us, that feels like a marketing strategy to compensate for the lack of a protective case. In addition, the speaker doesn’t have an IPX water resistant certification, although it is splash proof and will survive spills.

UE and Beoplay A1

L: UE Roll 2. R: Beoplay A1

But if all you need is a portable speaker to use at home, the B&O A1’s sound quality was the best we tested. When we listened to Fleetwood Mac’s “the Chain,” we found the famous bassline satisfying and fun. At the same time, the speaker was able to handle the higher pitched and detailed vocals of Emi Meyer’s “If I think of you” without masking the softer piano. Sound site What Hi-Fi? had a similar experience and reported that the A1 was able to produce bass with a depth that the UE Roll can’t match. They also report a balanced treble and midrange for crisp high notes and smooth vocals. Audiophile On reported a punchy bass and spot on midrange that avoided distortion.

A word of caution: The speaker advertises a 24-hour battery life, but almost every review we came across online reported a 3-hour battery life on max volume. You can play music while the speaker is charging, but we feel this reaffirms the speaker is best for home use. In a perfect world, we’d have both the UE Roll 2 and B&O A1, but the versatility of the UE Roll 2 gave it the crown. The B&O is a hefty investment with a starting price of $250, which is $70 more than the louder Fugoo. But if you’re willing to pay for a balanced speaker that sounds better than it should at its size, the A1 won’t disappoint.

JBL Clip 2A small speaker you can take anywhere, at the cost of lower sound quality.

Like the name suggests, the JBL Clip 2 comes with a carabiner clip that makes it easy to attach to backpacks or even rock climbing harnesses. It’s also incredibly small, fitting in even the most crowded backpacks for weekend adventures. It won’t sound as good as larger speakers, but does sound surprisingly good for its size.

Unlike the much larger Fugoo, the speaker sacrifices sound quality for portability. Both of the small speakers we tested sounded noticeably worse than our medium and large speakers. Our tester reported a much weaker bass and a lack of clarity with softer instruments. The crashing cymbals of Pearl Jam’s “Immortality” sounded noticeably faint and distorted at loud volumes. When we compared our results to Major Hi-Fi’s, we weren’t surprised to see descriptions of distorted music at higher volumes. The Sound Guys reported that vocals overpowered finer details of a song and that the treble range was cut back. In simple terms, there’s truth to what our experts told us about sound quality and size.

JBL Clip 2 for Bluetooth Speaker

That’s not to say that the JBL sounds terrible, and it’s still a far better option than playing music off your phone. We found the clear vocals of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ “Howling at Nothing” to be impressive for a speaker this small.

The main reason it isn’t a top pick for us is simply because we found the UE Roll 2 to sound better and be portable enough for most needs. But like the UE Roll 2, the JBL Clip 2 is IPX7 certified speaker and durable enough to survive even larger falls. A respectable 5-hour battery life will get you through most of the day. If you need an extremely portable speaker for longer trips where you need to pack light, the JBL Clip 2 is a good option with solid sound quality and a low price of $50.

Did You Know?

Bluetooth speakers aren’t the only wireless speakers.

Wireless speakers come in two options: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Unlike Bluetooth speakers, Wi-Fi speakers offer the advantage of lossless music. That is to say, they don’t compress audio like Bluetooth speakers do which can lead to lower audio quality. They also have a much larger range than Bluetooth speakers, and can cover an entire house versus the standard 30 feet of Bluetooth speakers.

That said, WI-Fi speakers can be tricky to set up, and sometimes run into compatibility issues with other devices. But rather than get bogged down in the details, it’s simply more important to know that a Wi-Fi system is better if you want a dedicated audio system in your house with exceptional audio quality. A Bluetooth speaker is easier to set up, is more portable, and better suited to use inside the home and outdoors. Budding or current audiophiles may prefer Wi-Fi speakers in their homes, but a Bluetooth speaker is a great companion for more general listeners.

Marketing claims can be misleading, so we debunked common ones.

Our experts warned us that manufacturers will make misleading claims about their speakers in order to make them look more impressive. For example, the great sounding B&O A1 advertises up to 24 hours of battery life, but we learned that it actually only lasts for about 5 hours at 50% volume and as little as 3 hours on max volume. Wiggins told us that many manufacturers use the terms advertise “idealized cases.” He explained the speaker “will last up to 24 hours, but only if you turn it on and play no music.” We made sure our top picks would actually last long enough to get you through the day. The UE Roll 2 actually exceeds its advertised battery life at 50% volume with 10 hours of playback, while the Fugoo Style XL clocks in with a nearly absurd 27 hours at 50% volume. Max volume will decrease these numbers, but we don’t recommend setting them that high in the first place. Both of our picks get quite loud, and we found 50% volume was more than enough for most situations while also protecting our ears. No matter which speaker you choose, Wiggins advises using weight to debunk battery claims. He told us “if a speaker advertises 24 hour playback but feels too small or light in the hands, there’s not enough battery in there.”

Some speakers will also use loudness to make misleading claims about audio quality. For example, our experts told us that specs such as peak music power or volume may have high numbers that look impressive, but should be taken with a grain of salt. Wiggins told us that “the peak music power they advertise might only have lasted for 10 milliseconds during testing” and Skinner explained “This ‘bragging’ of ever higher numbers is often cited as the sacrifice of sound quality for loudness.” In any case, our experts advised listening for speakers that could produce high volumes without leading to distortion, and our top picks were up to the task.

Lastly, some speakers advertise stereo sound for a better listening experience. Wiggins told us that “speakers that advertise stereo sound don’t really improve sound quality.” According to Wiggins, you’ll want two speakers placed separately from each other to pick up on stereo sound, “otherwise your ears will pick up a single sound source.” He also told us “a more powerful speaker” will mostly make up for the lack of stereo as well. The UE Roll 2 allows you to pair with another UE Roll 2 in order to create stereo sound. If you do pair two speakers, our experts advised spacing them about the same distance from each other as you’ll be to your speakers. So if you’re six feet away from your speakers, you’ll want to space them six feet apart. The Fugoo Style XL doesn’t pair with another Fugoo, but was loud enough to fill a large room without needing help from another speaker.

The Best Bluetooth Speaker: Summed Up

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