Epic adventures deserve an epic soundtrack. Be it climbing at Silver Mountain, backpacking across remote parts of New Zealand, or conquering all who stand against you to earn the title of the beer pong champion. Your smartphone – together with services like Spotify – gives you an unlimited access to a stupefying collection of music, but the tiny built-in speaker is simply not good enough.
- Best Luxury Bluetooth Speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 15
- Best High-End Bluetooth Speaker: Bose SoundLink Mini II
- Best Mid-Range Bluetooth Speaker: UE BOOM
- Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker: Creative MUVO Mini
- Best Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Clip 2
Best Bluetooth Speakers
|Bang & Olufsen||B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beolit 15 Portable Bluetooth Speaker||473.24|
|UE||UE BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker||134.95|
|JBL||JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker||51.5|
|Creative||Creative Muvo Mini Pocket-Sized Weather Resistant Bluetooth Speaker||44.99|
What you need is a high-quality, portable Bluetooth speaker. Don’t waste your time going through countless knock-offs and rebrands that pollute online stores. We have narrowed our search for the ultimate Bluetooth speaker to just one device for each price bracket.
Best Luxury Bluetooth Speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 15
Have you ever spent more than $500 on a picnic basket? Neither have we. But the Beolit 15 from Bang & Olufsen is tempting us to do so. To understand why would anyone think that releasing a Bluetooth speaker that cost the same amount of money as a high-end smartphone is a good idea, you first need to understand the company behind this product.
Bang & Olufsen was founded in 1925 by Peter Bang, a successful Danish businessman with an interest in radio technology, and Svend Olufsen, his friend and capable businessman and manager. Their products found their way into luxury vehicles, such as the Aston Martin DBS, BMW 5 Series, BMW 5GT, BMW 6 Series, or Mercedes-Benz AMG models, and the company is unanimously recognized in the hi-fi community as masters of merging striking design with superb sound to create products that transcend utility, reaching into the domain of art.
With the Beolit 15, Bang & Olufsen has created a kind of picnic basket for the millennial generation. A generation of people who snack on catchy tunes rather than biscuits; people who watch internet shows on demand from everywhere they please; people who would rather spend money on a device that can help them create wonderful memories of the time spent with their friends than on gas for a humongous truck.
Cecilie Manz, the designer of the Beolit 15, has had to know the target audience well, given how likable the final product is. The entire speaker grill that envelopes the body of the Bluetooth speaker is made from anodized pearl-blasted aluminum. The buttons are slightly recessed into the body, preventing dust and debris from getting inside. The perfectly balanced handle is made from premium full-grain leather, making you feel like you are holding a one-of-the-kind musical instrument.
Under this impressive exterior is a large Li-ion battery that can keep the speaker playing for up to 24 hours. Quite an achievement when you consider that the Beolit 15 features 4 active drivers and 2 passive bass radiators, driven by dual Class D amplifiers.
The speaker is fully compatible with the Beoplay App, which lets you adjust the sound signature of the speaker to match your personal preferences. It takes but a drag of a finger on the screen to manipulate tonality and staging settings. Once you find the right sound, you can simply save it as a preset and easily access it later. And it’s not just the sound that you can customize. The Beolit 15 is available in 5 timeless color combinations, including champagne, blue, rose, and black.
- Deep bass
- Excellent sound
- Loud and clear
- Supports dual playback
- Beoplay App
If there is a company who could write a book on wireless audio design, it has to be Bose. With more patents and innovations under their belt than we could possibly ever list, Bose brings their signature audio quality to parks, beaches, and camping sites, with their SoundLink Mini II Bluetooth speaker.
Available either in black or silver, this small speaker cannot hide its big ambitions. Through clever construction and smart engineering, Bose was able to create big sound that you can take with you everywhere you go. The SoundLink Mini II produces deep bass, crisp highs, and detailed mids. The audio is mostly directed in front of the speaker, with little spread to sides. This can be advantageous when you don’t want to bother other people around you with your music, but it also means that you have to place the speaker in the right place whenever you want a larger group of people to hear the music.
But once you find the right spot, the SoundLink Mini II starts to shine. The built-in Lithium-ion battery can power it for up to 10 hours, and the packaging includes a handy charging cradle that extends the battery life of the speaker to infinity – pool parties, anyone?
We like that Bose included an aux port for wired listening even though the Bluetooth speaker features the latest Bluetooth technology for quick and efficient pairing and supports a simultaneous connection of two Bluetooth devices.
The sensible design language makes the speaker seem just as at home inside an office cubicle as it seems on a sunny, tropical beach. The versatile exterior is accompanied by an intuitive control scheme that revolves around a row of five buttons situated on the top of the speaker. There are dedicated buttons for music playback control, Bluetooth pairing, power, and even call management.
If you are wondering what advantages does the new version of the SoundLink Bluetooth speaker have over the previous one, we got the answer. The SoundLink Mini II comes with a speakerphone feature, allowing you to accept phone calls with the press of a button. The voice quality during phone calls is just as excellent as the sound quality.
- Powerful sound
- Great build quality
- Supports dual playback
- Provided charging cradle
- Lacking stereo separation
Best Mid-Range Bluetooth Speaker: UE BOOM
The UE BOOM is not to be confused with the UE BOOM 2 Bluetooth speaker, the second generation of the same speaker. There are two main reasons why we recommend the first generation over the second: it’s cheaper and it does just about everything that the younger brother can do. The two products are actually so similar that most people wouldn’t be able to tell them apart without a closer scrutiny.
Marketing pictures for the UE BOOM speaker always show people holding it in their hands, instead of showing the speaker placed on a table. That’s UE’s way of telling you that the BOOM’s sound spreads in every direction, immersing you and those around you in your favorite music.
And there are many reasons to do so. For such a compact Bluetooth speaker, the UE BOOM sounds surprisingly large. The bass is weaker when compared to Bluetooth speakers in general, but it holds up when you take into consideration the overall size and weight of the device. Mids and highs don’t leave almost any room for improvement, with their natural reproduction and perfect balance.
According to UE, music is all about fun and spontaneity. They don’t want you to kill the fun just because it seems like it’s going to rain or be very dusty. They want to increase the fun by selling you a device that can withstand everything that you can. With its removable rubber cover for the USB and aux ports, the UE BOOM is water and stain resistant. In other words, having it next to you by the pool is recommended, but taking it with you into the pool is not.
“The more the merrier” seems to be the motto of the UE BOOM. It supports up to 8 Bluetooth devices at once, all of which can easily connect via NFC. Instead of constantly connecting and disconnecting different smartphones, tablets, and laptops, everyone can remain connected at the same time and simply take turns to play music.
- Compact and durable
- Long battery life
- Water resistant
- Dedicated smartphone apps
- Weaker bass
Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker: Creative MUVO Mini
The Creative MUVO Mini has earned the title of the best budget Bluetooth speaker for offering much of what you get from some of the larger and more expensive Bluetooth speakers only in a smaller package.
The obvious restriction that goes hand-in-hand with the compact footprint is the maximum volume level that you can achieve with this Bluetooth speaker. Using it as the only audio source for larger parties and events is definitely not something that you want to do. Instead, think about it as a personal device that works best when used in a moderately quiet setting.
That being said, we wouldn’t want you to think that the MUVO Mini is destined to live on the bedside table. Creative designed the unit to comply with the IP66 international standard. As such, the speaker is totally dust tight and is well-protected against string water jets and waves.
Inside the speaker is a capable battery that provides up to 10 hours of juice before you need to recharge it via its microUSB port. Given how small the Bluetooth speaker is, it would be handy if it could be used as a power bank. But understandable budgetary restrictions most likely prevented Creative from including this otherwise handy feature.
What they didn’t omit was an integrated 3.5mm aux input for connection to other analog audio devices. Included is also a speakerphone functionality, which uses the built-in microphone to allow you to accept phone calls with a single button press.
The volume issue aside, the actual sound quality of the Creative MUVO Mini is fantastic. After you pair your smartphone or tablet via NFC and select your favorite album, the tiny speaker reveals its big musical heart. The directional radiator in the front helps the MUVO deal with sub-bass frequencies. Highs are clean, non-fatiguing, and mids are slightly accentuated to make vocals more prominent.
The MUVO Mini is available in four different colors, and we have to say that it’s an excellent choice for anyone who wants the convenience of Bluetooth speakers without having to pay their usual premium price.
- Sound quality
- Weather resistant
- Highly portable
- Great build quality
- Distortion at higher volume
Best Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Clip 2
Our last recommendation is for people who want the maximum portability even if it means compromising in terms of sound quality. The JBL Clip 2 is a puck-sized Bluetooth speaker with a built-in carabiner. Its target audience are hikers, runners, and all other active people who, for one reason or another, can’t afford to have their hearing impaired by headphones or earbuds.
Despite its tiny size, the JBL Clip 2 has a respectable battery life of 8 hours and comes with an integrated microphone to power the speakerphone functionality. Being able to accept phone calls with a simple button press is far more convenient than having to take out the smartphone out of the pocket.
The Clip 2 can withstand rain, spills, and even complete submersion in water, thanks to its IPX7 certification. We don’t see such a great level of environmental protection even on Bluetooth speakers that cost 4 or 5 times as much as this little guy. Another convenient feature is the 3.5mm jack located at the back of the speaker. Using this jack, you can connect the Clip 2 to your smartphone or tablet and extend the battery life.
The sound quality is actually very decent for the speaker of this size, but don’t expect to be blown away by the bass or maximum volume. What you get is a good sound detail, clarity, adequate loudness for podcasts, audiobooks, and calmer music listening.
- Very small size
- Decent sound quality
- Long battery life
- Speakerphone functionality
- Lacks bass
- Distorts at higher volumes