Buying Guide for Portable Bluetooth Speakers and Sound Systems

It’s that time of the year again. The “holidaze” are upon us and with them comes the stress of finding the perfect gift for that special someone. I’m a terrible procrastinator, especially when holiday shopping, so I’ve compiled a roundup of the best portable Bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth speakers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Portability is subjective, so we’ll be looking at a broad variety of offerings. From beach karaoke and whitewater rafting to spreading holiday cheer with ambient background music or rocking out while preparing holiday comestibles, we’ve got something for everyone!

Pro Audio PA Systems with Bluetooth

If you are looking for a true portable PA system with Bluetooth compatibility, there are several professional products that are battery powered and relatively moveable. The JBL EON One is an all-in-one linear array PA system capable of delivering professional-quality audio for live performances, meetings, parties, events, and more. It may be overkill as a Bluetooth playback device, but if you are in the market for a room-filling PA system that can accommodate live instruments, vocals, music playback, DJ setups, and karaoke, this unit is hard to beat. Do check out the JBL EON ONE Pro, which offers some additional enhancements at a fantastic price. If the JBL EON ONE is too much, consider the IRX Series loudspeakers, which are offered in 8″ and 12″ versions and provide remarkable volume, clarity, and a total ease of use. The two-channel mixer and automatic feedback eliminator are great for singer/songwriter applications, plus they offer True Wireless Connect, which pairs two speakers wirelessly via Bluetooth. Need something more portable? Check out the Bose® S1 Pro™, a rechargeable battery-powered multi-position PA system that can be used on a table, on a floor, or on a stand. The S1 Pro™ features a 3-channel mixer with two XLR-combo input jacks and an integrated Bluetooth receiver with a wireless range of 30′. Use it as a floor monitor, practice amplifier, Bluetooth speaker, or full PA setup. At 15.7 lb, the S1 Pro is a truly portable option, delivering professional results in any situation.

Bose® S1 Pro™ Multi-Position PA System with Battery Pack

If you are looking for something smaller still, which can deliver professional-sounding output, then look no further than the Mackie FreePlay LIVE, which can be placed on a tabletop or attached to a microphone stand with an included adapter. With 150W and a frequency response of 60 Hz to 20 kHz from a 6″ woofer and two 1″ high-frequency drivers, the FreePlay Live pushes out robust sound for such a compact speaker system.

Mackie FreePlay LIVE Personal PA with Bluetooth

Another favorite portable stereo PA system with Bluetooth is the app-controllable Korg Konnect, with several enhanced features, including 17 voicings, 4 reverbs, and 3 FX, plus a built-in feedback suppressor, which comes in handy for live performances or karaoke events. And last, but certainly not least, is the IK Multimedia iLoud, a stereo monitoring system well suited for audio engineers and audiophiles. The two-way system is powered by four Class-D amplifiers and features time-aligned design with neodymium drivers, a tuned bass-reflex enclosure, and DSP processing. The iLoud can get very loud, yet still sounds smooth and accurate. This is my favorite choice for a small Bluetooth speaker, and great for most small to mid-sized gatherings. But wait, there’s more!! The iLoud also includes an integrated iRig circuit to connect your guitar, bass, or other instruments, including dynamic microphones, to your iOS applications, allowing it to be used as a practice amp or karaoke speaker with vocal effects.

IK Multimedia iLoud Portable Personal Studio Monitor

Portable Bluetooth Speakers for the Outdoors

For the active listener on the go, check out some of these offerings with great sound and water resistance, handy for being outdoors, at beach parties, on camping trips, and more. The JBL Boombox 2 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a rating of IPX7, which means the speaker can be submerged in water up to 3′ for 30 minutes and it will still operate. The Boombox 2 employs a 10,000mAh rechargeable battery, which provides up to 24 hours of operation on a full charge. The two-way, four-speaker system is powered by dual 40W amplifiers and offers a frequency response of 50 Hz to 20 kHz. Additionally, the Boombox features a USB port, allowing you to charge any compatible device.

JBL Boombox 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Another fantastic speaker that’s designed to withstand the elements is the Sony SRS-XB43 Portable Bluetooth Speaker that streams audio from your smartphone or tablet. The built-in battery lasts up to 24 hours in normal mode or up to 14 hours in Extra Bass mode, even with the lights active. The speaker’s IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating allows safe use on the beach, by the pool, or nearly anywhere. The Party Connect function lets you connect up to 100 compatible speakers to stream the same song all over the house. The party lights can also be programmed and synced.

Sony SRS-XB43 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Portable Bluetooth Speakers for the Home

If you find yourself moving from room to room and wanting to have your music follow you, a portable Bluetooth speaker is the perfect accompaniment. The Bose® SoundLink Revolve+™ is highly regarded as one of the best home speakers, with a 360° design for consistent, uniform coverage, a seamless aluminum body that’s rated IPX4, and a large lithium-ion rechargeable battery that provides up to 16 hours of play time. The unit can take calls and access your phone’s voice assistant, keeping your hands free. Two speakers can link together for stereo or party modes. An integrated flexible fabric handle makes moving around easy, while the integrated thread mount allows the speaker to attach to most tripods. The SoundLink Revolve+™ is charged by a micro-USB cable and an optional Bose® SoundLink Revolve Charging Cradle™ that provides a dock for quick and easy charging.

Bose® SoundLink Revolve+™ Bluetooth Speaker

Another highly regarded Bluetooth speaker for the home is the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17, which sports a unique speaker array that disperses sound in 360° for clear sound, no matter where you are. A 240W amplifier powers the 5.5″ full-range driver, three 1.5″ tweeters, and two 4″ bass radiators, which provide 37 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response for full, rich sound. The integrated smart features allow you to use the free Beoplay app to set up an alarm, pause, play, or skip songs with the remote feature, launch playlists, and customize your music to match your mood. And with up to 24 hours of continuous play time, you can keep going all day and all night. What’s more, the speaker offers a USB Type-C port for charging compatible mobile devices, so you can stream and charge simultaneously.

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 Bluetooth Speaker

Pint-Sized Portable Bluetooth Speakers

If you are on the go and need a better speaker than what’s on your phone or portable device, these pint-sized speakers just may fill the bill. They also make great stocking stuffers and small gift items for the holiday shopper. The compact Sony SRS-XB23 allows you to stream audio from your smartphone or tablet, wirelessly, from nearly anywhere. With an IP67 rating, the speaker is dustproof and waterproof and can be used at the beach or by the pool. Dual passive radiators work with two full-range drivers to provide enhanced bass performance and crystal-clear audio. The built-in battery lasts up to 12 hours in normal mode or 10 hours in Extra Bass mode.

Sony SRS-XB23 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Another pint-size waterproof option is the Bose® SoundLink Micro™, with a 40mm driver and dual radiators. This speaker pairs with devices over Bluetooth 4.2 with helpful voice prompts, enabling you to stream your favorite tunes. JBL has some tiny options that are big on features, like the JBL Go 3, which is offered in a variety of colored fabrics and is waterproof (IP67). No Bluetooth? No problem, check out the JBL Go 2, which includes a 3.5mm audio input and can double as a speaker phone. The JBL Clip 3 is a palm-size speaker that can also function as a noise-canceling speaker phone. This compact design features a built-in carabiner clip to keep it in hands’ reach, yet hands free. With so many choices of mobile Bluetooth speakers, this article could go on forever.

Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth Speaker