Buying Guide for Portable Bluetooth Speakers and Sound Systems


It’s that time a year again. The “holidaze” are upon us and with it 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 Bose® S1 Pro™, a rechargeable battery-powered multi-position PA system that can be used on a table, 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, that can deliver professional-sounding output, then look no further than the Mackie FreePlay, which comes in three sizes, accommodating any size room or application. The larger FreePlay Live offers the most output, with 150W and a frequency response of 60 Hz to 20 kHz. The Live can be placed on a tabletop or attached to a microphone stand with an included adapter. The medium-sized FreePlay Home is a tabletop speaker with 60W of power and a frequency response of 70 Hz to 20 kHz. The smaller-sized FreePlay Go is compact enough to throw in your purse or backpack (approximately 3 x 3 x 8") and features 40W of power and a frequency response of 85 Hz to 20 kHz.

Mackie FreePlay GO Portable Bluetooth Speaker

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 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 employs a 20,000mAh rechargeable battery, which provides up to 24 hours of operation on a full charge. The two-way, four-speaker system is powered by a 60W amplifier. There’s an indoor setting, which has deeper bass and richer sound, while the outdoor mode is more expansive, with a longer battery life. Additionally, the Boombox features dual USB ports, allowing you to charge any compatible device.

JBL Boombox Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Another fantastic speaker that’s designed to withstand the elements is the FUGOO Tough XL, which uses six active speakers, dual passive bass radiators, and a built-in rechargeable battery with up to 35 hours of operation. The speaker is IP67 rated, which provides solid protection from dust, and it’s waterproof for up to 3' for 30 minutes. The tough enclosure is made from fiber-reinforced resin and solid aluminum, making it one of the best shock-resistant speakers, great for serious outdoor activities such as off-road biking, hiking, climbing, and more. Check out some of the other FUGOO portable speakers, which offer the same IP67 rating, but in sleek and compact form. Another unusual Bluetooth speaker is the ION Audio Surf, which is not only rated IP67 (waterproof to 3' for 30 minutes), but also floats. The speaker employs a 26W amplifier to power a pair of full-range drivers, as well as a rear-firing bass radiator for extended low-end punch. Great for the beach, or in the pool. What’s more, it has a built-in microphone, which allows you make and receive phone calls or access your phone’s voice assistant.

FUGOO Tough XL 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 playtime. 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 provides a dock for quick and easy charging.

Bose® SoundLink Revolve+™ Bluetooth Speaker

Another highly regarded Bluetooth speaker for the home is award-winning, Danish-designed Vifa Oslo, which features an upright, compact design with an integrated handle that just begs to be carried from room to room. Its woven wool cover offers a warm touch that is revered for its resistance and the way it beautifully ages. Internally, the Oslo uses two full-range drivers and two woofers, which are mounted mechanically back to back in a force-balanced configuration and supported by two passive radiators. With a frequency range of 55 Hz to 18 kHz, the Oslo is optimized for low distortion and high precision. Do check out the other models from Vifa, because they are all spectacular. Another model to check out is the MEGABLAST, from Ultimate Ears, which offers a variety of unique features, such as Wi-Fi streaming, Amazon Alexa integration, and multiple far-field microphones with beam forming and noise-cancellation technology to help pick up your voice commands at a distance. The 16-hour lithium-ion battery powers the 360° speaker system and features deep bass.

Vifa Oslo Compact Rechargeable 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 and portable Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is a waterproof (IPX7) speaker with 360° of sound, delivered from active drivers and passive radiators with a respectable frequency response of 80 Hz to 20 kHz. The internal battery offers up to 10 hours of playback, while the hang loop allows you to connect an optional carabiner to clip onto your belt loop or bag.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Another pint-sized 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 Go2, which is waterproof (IPX7) and works as a noise-canceling speakerphone. No Bluetooth? No problem, because it includes a 3.5mm audio input. The JBL Clip 3 is a palm-sized 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. With that in mind, it’s worth checking out the best sellers on the B&H website.

JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

In Conclusion

This wraps up our portable Bluetooth speaker roundup. As you can see, there is a ton of options, from full PA systems to tiny pocket speakers. With so many options available, I hope you find this list useful. If you have questions, feel free to contact us through the B&H website or head on down the SuperStore for a hands-on demo. On a personal note, I’ve been loving my IK Multimedia iLoud! What’s your favorite Bluetooth speaker? Drop a comment below!